The RSS experiment: BloglinesOn to week #5 in The Great RSS Experiment; this week's spotlight is on Bloglines. Unlike the personalized home-page tools of the last couple of reviews, Bloglines is a more "traditional" RSS reader (if anything Web 2.0 can be called traditional). Functionally, it's similar to Google Reader, but with a few more bells and whistles.
What was interesting to me was that Bloglines has a couple of add-ons that allow you to use it more as an application. I installed Bloglines Notifier for Windows (I believe there's also a Mac version), which runs in the system tray and pops up a notification whenever new items appear. That worked so well that I didn't need to keep my Bloglines page open, which I personally found convenient. Anyway, here's the scoop:
Usability: 3/4 Functionally, Bloglines is fairly straightforward and has some interesting customization options. I found the notifier really improved usability for me, or at least efficiency. I waste a lot of time checking on RSS updates, and the automatic notification eased that process. Bloglines has a simple layout and does allow you to rearrange content to your liking (unlike Google Reader). I'm not sure I liked the frames-based approach, but that's probably just personal preference.
Features: 3/4 Bloglines does allow you to add some non-RSS content, such as weather forecasts, but it integrates them as if they were feeds. It's a little unusual, but at least gives you a few more feature options. The notifier was a big plus, if you don't feel like having a browser window open all of the time. Bloglines also supports OPML, an XML format that allows you to import your feeds from other readers. Apparently, Google Reader also supports OPML, as I was able to export my feed list from Google to Bloglines. That was a huge plus.
Overall, I liked Bloglines quite a bit. I'm probably more inclined to use something with more personalized home-page options, and the layout of the Bloglines page wasn't quite what I wanted, but the notification plug-in more than made up for that. If you prefer a straight RSS reader (and if you like Google Reader but want more features), then Bloglines may be a good bet for you. On deck next week: Netvibes. After that, my wife and I will be taking a much-belated honeymoon to Paris, so the debabblog will be on hiatus from May 5-15.