13 Comments

Summary:

I realize this is a subjective question, so let me explain why I’m asking. Yesterday, I got the "Google Reader" bug. Sure, I tried the Google RSS reader some time ago but not recently, so I gave it another go yesterday and an amazing thing happened: […]

Google_reader_1

I realize this is a subjective question, so let me explain why I’m asking. Yesterday, I got the "Google Reader" bug. Sure, I tried the Google RSS reader some time ago but not recently, so I gave it another go yesterday and an amazing thing happened: I got through all of my feed items. For the first time in months. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that Google Reader is the best for you; everyone’s style and workflow is different, plus our needs change over time. I’ll just say that in 15 minutes, I was hooked and promptly made the move full time to Google Reader because it works well for me.

So how did this happen? What was so different? Three things stood out from the experience.

  1. Navigation through my feeds was extremely fast due to the keyboard shortcuts. The J and K keys for example, quickly move you through the stories. There’s a complete list of shortcuts here.
  2. I rarely had to move my eyes because every story in the full view queue appeared in the same spot. If the top-most story was of limited or no interest, a quick press of the J key replaced it with the next story in the list.
  3. Clipping a story to read again or blog later was yet another quick keyboard press. Tapping the S key "stars" the post.

There are more features that boost productivity here, but I wanted to focus on the main ones because they all share a common theme: keyboard navigation. And that leads me back to my question.

On a slate Tablet PC or UMPC, your interaction with the screen via touch or active digitizer is the enabling factor. So maybe Google Reader won’t work nearly as well for me on the Samsung Q1 or other Tablet. Rest assured, I’ll dust off Dial Keys and see how well it works with Google Reader, but I’d love to see some of the on-line RSS readers add a few on-screen navigational links that are easy to tap on a Tablet. If Google (or someone else) can do that, I’d bet I’d get through my feeds daily on a Tablet PC.

What RSS reader are you using on a Tablet PC or UMPC and are you finding it easy to navigate via the screen? If you have a Tablet PC with a keyboard (integrated or external), give Google Reader a five minute perusal after checking out the shortcuts and let me know what you think.

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  1. Jerad from Indiana Friday, December 29, 2006

    I must agree with you here. Google Reader is awesome! However, it doesn’t satisfy the need for offline viewing. If there was a Google Reader download that kept the feed list synchronized, allowed for offline viewing, and then updated the list of “read” feeds, it would be perfect.

    The other suggestion for Google Reader is to place the “next” and “previous” links in the expanded view much like the ones in Gmail.

  2. I use Netvibes for my online feed reading – it lets you create tabs of RSS feeds, easily clicking between them to read the news.

    It’s a very good reader and constantly updated. There may be better and I will give Google Reader a go but Netvibes meets all my needs.

  3. I use Sage, a Firefox extension. No idea how suitable it is for a tablet PC (will find out in a few weeks when Lenovo finally gets around to shipping out X60’s). I can’t use any hosted service as a number of my feeds are inside a corporate firewall and thus not accessible to the likes of Google Reader.

    I do second Jerad’s desire for a good offline reader.

  4. I use the RSS reader in Thunderbird. It automatically groups my different feeds, and it works pretty much like scrolling through e-mail messages. I can get through my feeds pretty quickly using only the subject line. The only thing I don’t like is that if I view the messages off-line, I don’t get the images downloaded (though maybe there’s an option to download the images when the message is retrieved).

  5. Eric Y. Theriault Friday, December 29, 2006

    I tried Google Reader, but since I usually read blogs in slate mode, I found the interface less interesting. Aside from the hotkey issue you’ve already mentioned, I seem to rarely use the bottom 3 inches of my screen and this is where the interesting buttons are in Google Reader. I also seem to remember some issue with fewer images than I get in Bloglines but maybe this was with the previous version.

    As such, I’ve stayed with Bloglines. In Firefox, I use the grab and drag plug-in which allows me to quickly scroll through articles, and I use a lot of tabs (I wish Bloglines had a way to do this automatically instead of right-clicking for it each time). I still wish that there was a quick way to jump to the next article instead of drag or scrolling while searching, but for the most part it works great for me.

    eyt*

  6. I am in the same boat, got back on tablet pc bandwagon finding a deal on a tc1100. got rid of q1 awhile back and ux50, really wanted tablet for one note again. anywho. the slickest reader I have come across works decent in landscape, but not so good in portrait. It’s called newzie. You should check out the interface it labels feeds by post, making things hot if a post was recent. full screen it’s a lot of fun. I have been using google reader for a bit, its decent, especially if you use multiple machines. My verdict is still out. I have used feed demon as well, very full featured but not free. The hunt still continues

  7. I agree Google Reader is the best RSS reader for tablets. I’ve used Onfolio and NewsGator before. Online/centralized sync is a huge deal for me since I read news from many devices and I also really liked the javascript per-post read flags in Onfolio. Google Reader is the only one that combines the two. The main problem I had was the inability to sort in increasing chronological order, but they added that recently.

    Few additional “tricks” you can do with Google Reader:
    – “u” keyboard shortcut which hides/shows the feed browser and gives you more real-estate on a smaller screen
    – using the free “StrokeIt” utility and mapping the keyboard shortcuts to pen strokes and then reading the news in a tablet mode
    – both “starred” and “shared” items are available as secondary RSS feeds and you can point other RSS readers to those links, so you can sift through a lot of articles quickly with Google Reader, but you can read the starred with other RSS readers later (including mobile since the mobile Google Reader sucks)

    Few improvements I would like to see in the Google Reader:
    – search your starred/shared items!!! I mean, it’s Google, right? I almost couldn’t believe this was not available… unless I’m missing something.
    – perisist/remember the expanded vs. list view on a per feed basis. Some feeds are better in expanded, some in list mode.
    – better mobile web access, pocket IE supports AJAX, right?
    – need more accurate counts than 100+, at least up to 1000.
    – some kind of cached/pre-fetched mode, so you can sync before hoping on a flight and then flush the buffered read flags when you get back online.

  8. How many feeds do you subscribe to that you can’t get through them all?! That’s what I want to know!

    I subscribe to about 70 and go through them all 2 or 3 times per day using Google Reader. I go feed by feed when the post count is 100+, reading the headlines of sites with 8 or more new posts. Once the overall count drops below 100, I switch to “All Items” and again read only the headlines. A simple tap on the screen of my Pepper Pad 3 (excellent for RSS, by the way, on account of its scroll wheel) expands the interesting headlines, and I tap the little icon to star items as I go along.

    I haven’t found Google Reader to work as well on a Samsung Q1P (DialKeys are too obtrusive) or Sony UX180P (screen is too small), but I use it anyway. My main gripe about the program is that it takes too long to update. Sometimes I get posts 2 hours after they’ve been published! FeedBurner told me it should never take more than 30 minutes, so I’m assuming the problem is with the reader…

  9. #1 for me is still the ability to view my feeds on any pc. So that rules out thick client RSS readers. I’ve used Bloglines for a couple of years for this reason. I have tried Google Reader, and wasn’t that impressed. I like the ability to collapse the feeds list with tap of a buttone, or tap of the stylus/finger.

    I keep meaning to go back and give Google Reader another try, especially if it archives and allows searching like gMail does, now that would be awesome =)

  10. Wizz RSS (Firefox extension) is the main one for me!

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