Price: Free, $US20 Pro
- Syncs with Google Reader
- Multiple viewing modes, including a newspaper-like home page that organises feeds in a more old-school format for easy browsing.
- A ton of fully customisable keyboard shortcuts that let you do pretty much anything without ever putting your hand on the mouse.
- Single-click sharing to Google Reader
- Item tagging that lets you easily search through your read items by tags you assign
- Keyword watching that will alert you to any feeds in which your defined keywords pop up
- Automatic podcast downloading for audio feeds
FeedDemon’s strengths lie in its configurability: you can view your articles in a long list, like Google Reader, or view them in a more traditional three-pane setup, like other feed readers. The ability to customise nearly every keyboard shortcut in the app is fantastic, too, especially when you have a ton of feeds to root through. Google Reader syncing is also a must-have, and its more advanced features like keyword watching are great for those with tons of feeds. And, of course, it’s great for all those things you can’t do from a web app, too, like automatically download podcasts and read your feeds offline.
FeedDemon’s biggest downside is its less-than-pretty interface. It certainly isn’t a joy to look at, but its power more than makes up for that fact. All our other issues with it are fairly nitpicky, and only affect you if you’re coming from other apps. For example, if you view your feeds in the more Google Reader-like mode, it won’t automatically expand each article for you — it’ll only show you a summary. You need to click on it or hit an extra keyboard shortcut to read the full article. Similarly, in the more traditional three-pane view, it won’t let you read all your feeds from a single folder. You have to read each feed one at a time, even though you can read entire folders in the Google Reader view. Again, it’s nitpicky, but these small quirks are pretty annoying at first, especially because there’s no reason it should act like this when almost all other established readers do it the same way.
There are a lot of feed readers for Windows, but none of them are particularly wowing like FeedDemon. If you’re looking for something a bit simpler, more traditional, and less ugly, RSS Bandit is a good option that syncs with Google Reader. It’s designed to look like Outlook and isn’t quite as configurable, but will suit most people just fine. RSSOwl is also another popular option, though it’s also pretty ugly and doesn’t sync directly with Google Reader.
In fact, if the feed readers on Windows aren’t doing it for you, I’d recommend just using the Google Reader web app. It won’t give you offline support or certain advanced features, but coupled with something like the previously mentioned Minimalist Reader extension, you can configure it to your liking and get straight to reading your feeds, without “learning” how to use it.
There are a lot of other news readers for Windows, but we find FeedDemon and the Google Reader web app to be the most notable, and will suffice for just about anyone. If you have a favourite that we didn’t mention, share it with us in the comments.