Two Excellent, Customisable Start Pages Worth Trying As iGoogle Replacements

Google may be shutting down the super-customisable iGoogle start page, but that doesn't mean you're stuck without your daily dose of news and other widgets. Here are two great alternatives to iGoogle that you can use as your new do-anything start page.

NetVibes Is A Super-Customisable Start Page For RSS Geeks

NetVibes has long been a popular portal for news, weather, email, and other customisable widgets, and it's a good choice as an iGoogle replacement. As with iGoogle, you can choose from a myriad of different widgets, including weather, news, Gmail, Facebook and Twitter, stocks, a to-do list, and more blogs and RSS feeds than you can shake a stick at. It has a lot of specialised widgets for more popular sites, but you can also embed web pages and other objects into your page as well.

The Good: What makes NetVibes really cool is its customisability. You can create as many different tabs as you want, each with its own set of widgets, and each with its own movable layout. That means you can have up to four columns of widgets, some wide, some narrow, arranged in many different ways. It also has a stack of pre-made themes as well as the ability to create your own, so you can really customise how it looks. Plus, it's an awesome RSS reader. You can exit the widgets view to go into a very Google Reader-like interface, so you don't need to use a separate RSS reader if you don't want to. It has everything you need.

The Bad: The main downside of NetVibes is that it can be a little difficult to use at times. Dragging widgets around isn't nearly as easy as it should be, and sometimes creating new widgets from feeds can get a little frustrating. Moreover, some of the widgets can be downright ugly, especially if you're creating your own from scratch (seriously, they look horrible). Its selection of widgets isn't bad, though, so you'll have to try it out to see if you can get by without having to deal with ugly ones.

Protopage Is An Attractive Start Page That's Dead Simple To Use

Protopage is very similar to NetVibes: You have your own customisable page to which you can add widgets, create customisable tabs, and change themes to fit your desires. It has a number of built-in widgets, but most of the widgets you'll create yourself by typing in a feed, connecting it to your email or social networking account, or creating one from a web page.

The Good: Protopage is significantly easier to use than NetVibes. Dragging widgets around is smooth as butter, and you can resize any individual widget to take up more than one column (unlike Netvibes, where you can only choose from a premade layout or resize entire columns at once). Creating new widgets is easy and intuitive, and feed widgets look much better than regular feed widgets on NetVibes. Anyone can get up and running with a good-looking page in minutes as it's a bit more one-size-fits-all.

The Bad: Protopage is a bit more limited when it comes to its built-in widgets. Its list is pretty short, although most of them can cover your needs just as well as NetVibes'. For example, NetVibes has a dedicated widget for Gmail, Yahoo and other mail clients in which you just type in your credentials and go, whereas Protopage only has one mail widget that requires you to connect via IMAP. It takes a bit more work, but it works with everything. It also doesn't have any specialised feeds for specific news sites like NetVibes does. You just type in the site and Protopage spits out a feed. The feed widget isn't quite as customisable as the ones you'd get on NetVibes, but it is arguably much better looking.

It's hard to say whether one service is better than the other since they each have their own advantages and disadvantages. On the whole, we'd recommend NetVibes to those of you that are willing to tinker a little bit longer with your page, and like the idea of switching between widget and feed reader mode. Protopage is a bit better if you want a simpler, but slightly less powerful page that looks good without a lot of work. They're both worthy alternatives, and you don't need to create an account for either until you actually want to save your settings — so go ahead and give both a shot. After all, you have until November 2013 before iGoogle kicks the bucket.


Comments

    Is it just me or do both of these feel like lackluster alternatives?

      They suck. They're not intuitive, require too much work, and just doesn't compare to iGoogle.

        Very hard to find relevant content. When asked for local news or weather, the search gives me Brazil, Australia, everything but US content...Don't know if it's just not available in a way NetV can carry, or what...

          Well, a replacement would be nice indeed, but it can’t really match the original iGoogle and doesn’t really add value to your startpage... I feel it’s somehow a downgrade from the original iGoogle.

          You you will enjoy the change, I felt a real Upgrade after I start using http://startific.com
          It has a beautiful interface, you will love it!

            Since iGoogle is closing, any valid replacement is welcome. But, in my opinion why settle with just a replacement? If you want a real UPGRADE that add value to your startpage, I warmly recommend to everyone, to try www.startific.com

            It’s a brand new platform, and an upgrade from so many points of views.

    Isn't necessity the mother of invention?

    What about My Yahoo! ?
    http://my.yahoo.com/

      My Yahoo looks like a bad cartoon.

    Dear Lifehacker:

    Thank you for your suggestions. I had heard of Netvibes, but not of Protopage. I will have a look at Protopage.

    I like My Yahoo, but the problem with it is that some RSS feeds simply stop working -- one day you go to My Yahoo and the feed's title and last postings disappear. An announcement appears saying that there aren't any recent feeds from the website.

    If you don't remember what website you were following through that particular RSS feed, you have basically lost the feed permanently.

    Thanks for posting this. I was absolutely panicked this morning when I saw the pop-up that iGoogle is being discontinued. It has worked so well for me, and I wasn't sure what options there are. I personally don't like anything that I've tried by the ISPs, as they are too busy and filled with advertizements. I need simple!

    I've just found ustart.org and, so far, am very impressed with it.

      I also am using ustart.org. Its very good and I found it to be closer to igoole than netvibes

        I can't seem to get ustart.org to connect to my gmail account. I keep getting password error. I have imap enabled.

    My Yahoo is virtually identical, well the way I've set it up it's identical to igoogle. I've had both running for years so I've been able to compare. Yes, some of the feeds over the years have fallen over, but I figure that's the feed's, not the aggregator's issue.

      Yahoo sucks. AT&T is affiliated with them too, and They Suck as well. Ads are everywhere and the default home page is mediocre and cartoonish.

    I love protopage - so easy. the resizable boxes are really cool. only problem i have is email boxes. I just set up 2 - one for yahoo and one for gmail - really easy but gmail comes up but yahoo won't. just get message that mail is unavailable. I know i set it up right - any suggestions? I plan to ditch gmail and any other google product so its important to get the yahoo box working so i can view mail. SCREW GOOGLE

    Set up a Protopage, took a while as I had to manually set up Widgets and then saved it and waited for my activation email. And waited. And am now 8 hours later still waiting. Nothing. Not a great start as I spent a while and now I cannot access my blinking page. Be warned save the page first and then spend hours tinkering in case you find yourself locked out like me!!!!!

      I'm at 48 hours with no activation email. I've sent two feedback/support request emails - no reply. I've tried two different email addresses - no activation emails received.

      Are they overloaded by igoogle switchers? Is Gmail blocking them?

        check your spam folder maybe?
        I got my activation email instantly. I activated before I made any customisation.

    @sydey...
    The article indicates that protopage email uses IMAP. I don't think Yahoo! Mail will give you that unless you pay for the premium email service. See this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo!_Mail#Free_IMAP_and_SMTPs_access That would most likely be the problem.

    Wow - what a disaster. I see about 30,000 technology and science headlines a year using iGoogle and have been recommending this consistently for years - now it appears I'm being forced to abandon my iGoogle homepage and move to myyahoo or something else! I'm sorry, but scrolling down through 200 headlines isn't the same as seeing all the headlines organized exactly as I want them on 10 separate portal type pages with the layout I want. I feel abandoned by Google and now I'm really forced to move to another portal altogether which means I'll mostly stop using Google!! This smacks of the Netflix disaster.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Well I just tried out Protopage and it seems pretty good. Works very similar to iGoogle. Doesn't have as many built in apps but I managed to add most of them by searching and pasting in the webcode.
    Missing a few things I liked from iGoogle but overall I'm fairly happy with the replacement so far.

    MyWay has been around for something like a decade, and appears to once again be relevant. I recall it was like MyYahoo, but less cartoon-ish, but not as nice as iGoogle. (www.myway.com)

    I am now starting to use Protopage. it seems a lot like igoogle and has some features igoogle does not. this could help keep my productivity layout just how I like it. And easy to use custom page background etc. This may work better for me. We'll see once I get deeper into my custom tabs and gadgets etc. But this looks promising.

    I think google is starting a downward spiral. igoogle dead, google search is now censoring sites and mostly news. google phone is a flop. google networking site ghost town.

    Can anyone tell me how to get my Google Callendar to show up in Protopage?

    I've got everything else pretty much how I like it, but just this one thing still bothers me.

    I will miss iGoogle. Maybe they fear apple will sue them for having it begin with a lowercase "i". Even worse is Google stated they were discontinuing it because there are so many other options out there, but there aren't any as good as iGoogle, and Google did not suggest alternatives. Shame on you Google. You are falling below your ethics and loyalty lines by killing iGoogle.

    For gadget developers, an alternative to host their gadgets: http://host.gadget-blog.ro/

    nothing compares to iGoogle. hope they will not shut down this great web service.

    ustart.org is a reasonable alternative

    ustart.org sent me my user name and password in a clear text email. They obviously do not take user security into account. Do not trust them with anything.

    MyYahoo used to be pretty good (I've been using it since the nineties) but in recent years has become corrupted with ads. Applets that used to work perfectly well have been broken (to force you to view ads), news feeds come almost exclusively from Yahoo news which is frequently padded with articles promoting Yahoo. Logging in takes forever because the login page downloads a video ad. I was in the process of moving to iGoogle but now am looking for alternatives. These two seem like good candidates.

    Why do you think iGoogle is departing? Google doesn't make money on it! No one wants ads on their "home" page. It's a fact. So they decided to kill it. I have migrated to Netvibes and it is a damned good althernative. I found it is at least as customizable as iGoogle. I still go back to iGoogle because it's "comfortable" but as soon as its gone, I probably won't miss it too much. Tried 'em all and Netvibes rocks.
    What have you got to lose?

    Nollr (nollr.com) is a new start page project currently in beta. Its an entirely web-based start page, and built to flex to the user's device -- so its accessible on all your devices (laptop, tablet, mobile) regardless of browser, hardware, or software. It handles everything from images, to videos, to web apps and widgets like calculators and weather widgets. Its free and all about being open and transparent. Check that one out!

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