IntroductionIf you’re a news junkie who’s gathered a growing list of frequently updated Web sites you just can’t stop yourself visiting several times a day and could easily get out of control, try downloading one of these handy news readers for the purest possible hit. They’ll take the stress out of keeping up with your habit. Some RSS (Rich Site Summary)-based content readers are standalone and some work within or alongside your email client. There are plenty of Mac OS X-compatible readers to be found to download from various sites. They come in various forms and prices. You can get freeware, Lite versions and fully featured applications. The reader applications work by checking pre-defined sets of Web site RSS feeds usually offering just the headline and a summary of the site’s story. The list that appears then lets you click on and visit the referring site directly to read the full article via your Web browser. When a site’s content is updated, the newsreader refreshes to show you a new article has been published and marks it as new or unread until you click on it. Obviously news readers work at their best if you have a broadband connection to the Internet - as using 56K modems means the speed at which they can retrieve news headlines is slow and frustrating. Come one, come all
There are thousands of freely syndicated news Web sites and online blogs. Syndicated content like this seems to be the next step in the Internet revolution for sharing communications from person to person via their desktop computers. RSS uses XML code to make the process of sharing content between Web sites much easier. The main advantage in using a standalone news reader to check favourite sites is that you can check several in one go and don’t have to go and visit them all individually every single time you want a news update. Plus if you leave the newsreader running in the background on your Mac, you can set it to download at certain timed intervals - meaning you’ll always know when a new headline has been published without having to check the Web site just in case. We reviewed the full version 1.0 of NetNewsWire in April 2003 and look at the free Lite version here. It’s a fast, easy-to-use reader with many useful features. If you don’t want to fork out for the full version, the Lite version is perfectly acceptable for daily news checking. It also offers a bandwidth checker, a customizable interface and ability to add more feeds via some useful links integrated into the menus. NewsMac is a fully customizable newsreader just recently updated for Panther. You can select which items you would like to have in the toolbar at the top of the main window. You can add and remove channels and listings, and rearrange the order so your favourite important bookmarked news is positioned exactly where you want it. The new Collections drawer lets you store favourite feeds in one place, and has a mode for syncing with Palm-like devices. A built-in Feed Finder works by linking to major directories that catalogue various sites that host their own feeds. These can be added to your drawer full of information sources. A Collections section helps to keep multiple feeds in tidy sub-groups. Keywords can be highlighted to draw attention to the headline featuring those words. NewsMac also features a Sync Devices button much like Apple’s iSync: it allows Palm PDA devices to sync with customized channels. NewsMac’s layout is reminiscent of a typical basic Web browser. Easy-to-use buttons are available to arrange bookmarked feeds - plus it comes with utilities that let you sync with an iPod or iPod mini via a dock connector. Tickers and lists
NewsFan is different from the rest of the readers reviewed here in that it features a desktop-ticker news-alert. It seems to work pretty well, but it could easily become as distracting as spam pretending to be legitimate emails. This too relies on a permanent Internet connection. NewsFan also has an automatic translation tool. You can add keywords to narrow down the headlines it spiders for and to make sure you get the most relevant items. Sounds and actions can be added to alert you to which article has just been published online. NewsFan also offers a history and bookmark menu and a basic built-in Web site browser. Amphetadesk is built as an open-source application, and is fast and efficient at pulling the latest hot news down from your chosen sites. When launched for the first time, it reaches for the latest data channels and then presents them in your preferred browser as a list. You can add or remove more channel addresses or browse through a ready-made list alphabetically. Although seemingly the most simple of the bunch it works the way it should but with fewer bells and whistles than the others.