Web Worker Head to Head: iGoogle vs. Netvibes

Web workers know what we like when it comes to the technology that makes our unconventional work lives a little easier. And when we like something, we’ll go to the mat for it against the competition as many of our most popular comment threads can attest. So here’s your chance to lobby for your hero and maybe convince a fellow web worker as to the error of their ways in a new feature we’re calling the “Web Worker Head to Head.” We’ll give you the contenders and the first round (aka our opinion), you continue the battle in the comments. At the end, we’ll see who’s left standing. No hitting below the belt, please.

First up: iGoogle vs. Netvibes, the heavy-weight battle of the AJAX personalized home pages.

iGoogle

New word for something that’s been around for quite some time, but no one was quite sure what “ig” stood for. Now we know it means iGoogle. Just about every web worker already has a Google account (or two, or three) so the initial page may vary based on which account is currently signed in. Like other Google pages, the page is heavy on functionality, light on graphics and style.

Jab! Google’s services are integrated into the page, so if you add the Gmail, Calendar or Reader modules it will automatically pick up your data from those services. Knock-down! But as we pointed out in our comprehensive review of AJAX start pages, Google could do a better job here. While you can now compose a message from the Gmail module, you still need to load a separate window.

Google is trying to up the pretty on their dry pages with themes that are keyed in to your location, so they will subtly change depending on the time of day/season.

Fancy footwork! For mobility, iGoogle is the champ. Your personalized home page is easily viewable on mobile devices without changing any configuration on the page. Netvibes requires you to create and maintain a special mobile tab for that content.

Clinch! Both Netvibes and iGoogle are trying to build community around their start pages. In iGoogle, you can share individual modules with friends. In Netvibes, you can share modules or entire tabs. iGoogle has recently announced a “build your own” gadget feature that lets you create customized widgets in an easy-to-use interface and share them, rather than the more complicated API programming usually required.

Netvibes

They’re no Google, but for a company that does just one thing they’re doing alright.

Jab! Since Netvibes is just a homepage, you don’t have to log in and out to access different services the way you have to do with Google (if you have an account for work-related email and services, and an account for personal-related email and services). Netvibes themes, while they don’t change based on the time of day, are prettier right out of the gate:

Like Google, you can add multiple tabs, but Netvibes presents better options for customizing tabs.

Google wants you to share your gadgets with friends, Netvibes invites you to share entire workspaces with the world.

Upper cut! If you add your own feeds, Netvibes wins by a mile.

Netvibes includes a “next->” button at the bottom to view older headlines, shows the read/unread state clearly and allows for a one-line summary of content. iGoogle gives you headlines, with an option to expand to read more. That’s about it.

For that reason alone, Round 1 goes to Netvibes.

Your turn. Tell us what makes iGoogle or Netvibes the winner in your cage match.

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