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Start page in a box: Symbaloo

Put together tons of links with Symbaloo, which lets you organize a smattering of your favorite links in a giant, rectangular grid.

My dad is a staunch user of MyHQ, which lets you organize your bookmarks in little clusters of text links. While it's highly functional, the service hasn't been updated since mid-1999. Regardless, the big draw is its simplicity, portability, and near-instant load time, which is where Web start pages can really shine over standard browser bookmarking systems.

I've taken a look at quite a few of these sites over the past year, and one I think is good enough to pass my Dad's test is Symbaloo, which like MyHQ is incredibly simple to set up. It also runs fast. Instead of going the route of showing you a live page preview, a la Opera's Speed Dial or (review), Symbaloo lets you organize a smattering of your favorite links in a giant, rectangular grid. Depending on your display resolution, Symbaloo will scale itself to fit, along with providing quick and easy identifiers like site logos or icons to help you organize your links visually. In the center of it all is a search box that can be replaced with about two dozen various search tools that sit beside your bookmarks. You also can manually add more from a provided directory.

Make multiple tabs of link clusters, with all sorts of items from search links, to your favorite sites. CNET Networks

In addition to search tools and bookmarks, Symbaloo has a page that puts together links of the top news stories on Yahoo and MSNBC. While this isn't an entirely novel concept in and of itself, the way it's been implemented with stories getting real estate depending on their suggested importance is neat. It reminds me a lot of AOL's Mgnetnews service, which launched in July, although with less usefulness considering the stories aren't coming from your saved bookmarks

Subjectively, I found Symbaloo's speed to be plenty fast enough for my needs. My one quibble is how it handles grabbing site icons--which is hit or miss. One of Symbaloo's competitors Startpix, (which is in private beta), has solved this problem by simply taking each site's Favicon and using it as the link.

Symbaloo's got several other projects in the hopper, including integrating Google Maps, a contact manager that uses people's faces as their grid icon, a live TV guide that can be tuned to your preferences, and a screen-sharing app. There's also a Firefox extension, similar to those found on other bookmarking platforms like, Ma.gnolia, and Mister Wong to let you save sites you come across to one of your start pages. They've got most of their roadmap on this "secrets" page, which ironically isn't all that secret. Also worth checking out is the aforementioned Only2Clicks, which does just about the same thing with live thumbnail previews.

[via Lifehacker]