If you are a power RSS reader, I’m sure you mourned the passing of Google Reader a few months back. But once we were past the initial gnashing and wailing of teeth, we began to search for replacements. A lot of my colleagues swear by Feedly or Digg, but I never really melded with either of them. Instead, I was looking for something really simple, minimalist, and perhaps similar in appearance and functionality to Google Reader. And something that just worked. I’m afraid I’m rather picky about what web apps and software I will continue using.
When I met BazQux, it was love at first sight, and I knew it was meant to be. A fast RSS reader, it operates on fast servers, and is completely reliable. I just wish I knew for sure how to pronounce the really weird name.
The first thing I need to point out from the get-go is that BazQux is not free. You get to test it for free for 30 days, and then you have to pay per year to keep using it. But in my view, this is an insurance policy. Free services have a nasty habit of shutting down suddenly. But if a service has paid customers, like myself, then hopefully that money will entice them to keep the service running, and also make improvements.
But more on the payments later. Let’s dive right in and take a look at what BazQux has to offer.
A Very Google Reader Feel
You need to log into BazQux using one of the following — a Facebook account, a Twitter account, a Google account (for those of you who detest the very idea of social media), or an OpenID account (do people still use OpenID?). Once you do, you will be taken straight away to the main screen to begin your 30 day free trial.
The box to either subscribe to a feed, or to import an OPML file from another RSS reader is in the top left hand corner. Once you start subscribing to feeds or importing OPML files, your screen will begin to fill up.
The feed count goes up to 500, and anything over that is displayed as 500+. If you access BazQux via a mobile device (which we will also get into shortly), you can see the actual number of unread feeds, but on the web interface, anything over 500 is just marked with a “+”.
It is also worth noting that BazQux allows you to subscribe to Facebook and Google+ pages, as if they were RSS feeds. Simply add the URL of the page and you will get all the updates as they occur.
Once you have subscribed to a feed, you have several options. First of all, you can decide whether or not you want :
The List View
The Mosaic View
The Magazine View
There are also two other views – Expanded (Without Comments) and Expanded. “Expanded” refers to seeing all of the feed items open and available to read, without the need to click on them first.
If you choose the “Expanded” option, you will also see the comments for each post at the bottom, pulled in from sources such as Reddit, Livejournal, Disqus, Facebook widgets, and “blogs with comment feeds” (I assume by that it means the default comment systems on places like Blogger and WordPress).
Sorting, Renaming, & Folders
Once you’ve decided what “view” you want, you then have several more options. First, if the blog name is slightly weird — such as all caps, or all lower case – then you can choose the “rename” option to type it in the way you prefer. You can also sort by oldest or newest feed items, create and choose folders to place your feeds into (if you have a lot and you feel the need to organize them a bit), and finally unsubscribe from the feed.
Sharing Via Social Media
As can be expected from an RSS reader, you can share posts via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), send to Instapaper, Pinboard, Pocket, Evernote, and also share via email.
A really cool thing about BazQux is that if the feed you are subscribed to is a partial feed, then you can click the “Readability” icon at the top, and immediately, the full feed post is fetched for you and opened. You don’t even need to have a Readability account first.
The downside is that, being Readability, all unnecessary fluff like images are stripped out, and you are left with just the text. However, this is still an ideal way to read the post, and if you want the images, you can still click through to the site later.
You’re probably asking at this point about mobile access. After all, in this day and age, if there “isn’t an app for that”, then it’s pretty much useless, right? Well, no, not really.
According to BazQux, it has a “Google Reader-compatible API” and so this means that certain RSS aggregators can link to your BazQux account, pull in the unread feeds, and BazQux can sync with them back to keep things updated. In the several months I have been using BazQux, I never had a problem with it on my phone or tablet. On my iPhone, I use Feeddler, and on my iPad, I use the excellent Mr Reader.
In the BazQux options (top right hand corner), you have to go to the mobile options section, and set up a mobile username and password for yourself. Then use this to sign in, via the mobile app.
Now, You Mentioned Something About…Paying?
Yes I did. We are all a bit spoiled after having the free Google Reader for so long, but look what happened to that. The sad truth is that either you are the product, or you are the customer. If you want to be the product, and switch from app to app constantly, then fine. That’s up to you. But others, including myself, prefer to be the customer, and that means paying for the service, and financially keeping it afloat so it can continue on indefinitely.
But the good news is that the cost is not prohibitive. Considering the use I get out of BazQux every day, I am actually getting quite a bargain. You can choose how much you want to pay, from three options. Or as I like to call it, the “stingy tightwad option”, the “reasonable option”, and the “loadsamoney option”.
Option 1 (stingy tightwad) is $9 a year. Option 2 (reasonable) is $19 a year, and Option 3 (Loadsamoney) is $29 a year. If you go for the $19 reasonable option, that amounts to just over 5 cents a day. I mean, come on, how can anyone argue about 5 cents a day?
If you do argue, and stop liking it after the trial period, BazQux easily allows you to export your feeds out. It’s as easy as getting them in. Sign up for BazQux and let us know what you think of it. Does it have a chance of matching Google Reader’s standards? Or am I hopelessly delusional? The doctor says I am delusional but I am hoping you guys will say otherwise in the comments below.