First, let me say that I am a pitiful, lazy man. I promised reviews of three RSS aggregators and only provided two (for Aggie and FeedReader). The other aggregator I intended to review is AmphetaDesk, and I’m only getting around to publishing it now, even though it’s the first aggregator I ever used. There are other aggregators of note, but they don’t fall into my sweet spot, which is free aggregators that happen to run on Windows boxes.

First, the basics. AmphetaDesk is an application written in Perl and is available for both Windows and Mac OS X. It works similarly to Aggie, in that the executable scans your list of RSS feeds and dumps out a list of articles to a Web page, and then launches a browser pointing to the page it generates. (I should actually say that Aggie is like AmphetaDesk, because AmphetaDesk is much older than Aggie.) The key difference between the two is that Aggie simply points the user to a static file stored on disk whereas AmphetaDesk has a built in HTTP server that it serves up the story list through. This is cool because it makes AmphetaDesk infinitely more hackable than the other tools. Want to add a feed using a hyperlink? It’s easy with AmphetaDesk. In that sense, AmphetaDesk is really the tool for the power user.

Since it compares most closely with Aggie, there are two advantages of Aggie over AmphetaDesk. The first is that Aggie’s default skin is a bit nicer than the default AmphetaDesk skin, mainly because it can be set to only include items that were published since the last time you checked those feeds. The second is that Aggie is multithreaded so it checks all of your feeds very quickly. The return, though, with AmphetaDesk is that it’s infinitely more hackable. And you don’t have to download the 20 meg .NET runtime to use it. One of the other nice things about AD is that Morbus Iff is a very active maintainer, and there’s a significant community of people tweaking and skinning the application.

In short, if you’re the sort of person who’s unsatisfied running an untweaked application, AmphetaDesk is the aggregator for you. It works fine untweaked, and indeed is trivial to set up for even the novice user, but I think it shines when you’re willing to put in time to get more out of it.