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Bloglines is one of the best free Web-based RSS newsreaders we've tested. It requires no software installation, so you can access your newsfeeds from any Internet-enabled computer. Bloglines better handles dozens of subscriptions than do the lightweight RSS readers built into Web browsers or login pages such as My Yahoo, but information professionals might prefer NewsGator.
Signing up for Bloglines took us less than 60 seconds in our tests. To start, enter your e-mail address and password at the Bloglines site, then reply to an e-mail confirmation, and you're good to go. Like most newsreaders, Bloglines provides a quick-pick listing of popular feeds for immediate sign-up, including the usual suspects Slashdot, BBC News, and the New York Times, as well as dozens of others. Like Google Reader beta and NewsGator, Bloglines offers a search bar that lets you type in a word to hunt for feeds related to that subject; for instance, our hunt for anteater retrieved 39 blogs.
It took us only a few minutes to learn Bloglines' well-organized interface, where its rival Rojo involved more study. We appreciate Bloglines' keyboard shortcuts, and its navigational tabs allow you to jump between your list of newsfeeds (with summaries of recent stories from chosen blogs or news sites) and your own blog, should you wish to host one with Bloglines.
Bloglines supports most content-syndication formats, including the biggies RSS and Atom, and it's available in 10 languages. If you're checking news from a smart phone, the mobile edition of Bloglines can fit on your tiny screen. By installing the Sub With Bloglines button in Internet Explorer, it's simple to subscribe to a blog or news site you stumble across. For instance, if you select the Bloglines button from IE's Favorites menu, the site is automatically added to your feed list.
Nevertheless, we have a few minor quibbles about Bloglines. For instance, we'd like to see a preview pane that lets you sneak a peek at a blog entry or news item without having to click on a headline; Google Reader and Pluck have this. We also wish the Sub With Bloglines feature were on an IE toolbar for easier access. (By comparison, Firefox, Mozilla/Netscape, and Safari all place the Bloglines button on a toolbar.) And unlike many other newsreaders, Bloglines doesn't let you update subscriptions more than once an hour--although hourly updates are probably fast enough for all but the busiest news sites. Nor does Bloglines support tagging; Rojo does.
True to its name, Bloglines offers a decent set of tools for bloggers. You can easily start a public or private Weblog (hosted by Bloglines) by clicking the My Blog tab and entering your username, blog title, and description. Exporting your feeds as a blog roll is a snap. Bloglines lets you post feeds to your blog with just two mouse clicks, or save them to your Clippings folder for later viewing. Unfortunately, Bloglines doesn't support support blogging features if you use a third-party blog host.
For support, Bloglines offers a short page of FAQs to cover the basics. Despite the lack of a searchable knowledge base or user forums, we like that you can access tech support via an e-mail form should you need advice from a person.
Overall, Bloglines is a solid choice for blog addicts and news junkies. Even the greenest of Web surfers can become proficient in Bloglines in about an hour--the mark of solid newsreader.