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google reader replacementGoogle Reader is sun-setting and shutting down on July 1st RIP Google Reader: Google's RSS Reader Will Shut Down On July 1st [Updates] RIP Google Reader: Google's RSS Reader Will Shut Down On July 1st [Updates] Google Reader, Google's popular RSS application, will be shut down on July 1 of this year. The company has revealed the news in a blog post that spells the end for another batch of Google... Read More . Like most Google services, it was free – and in a world where many Web services are free, it’s easy to forget that developers need to eat, too. If you’re not the one paying for their lunch, then the money comes from advertisers. And that means you’re the product, not the customer: Those developers will use what they know about you to tailor ads that are likely to be relevant to you.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I, for one, like to feel as though I’m the customer. That’s why I like the idea behind Feedbin, an RSS reader that costs $2/month. Feedbin is gutsier than most paid services: It doesn’t even have a free trial option (except for an unadvertised three days, as you’ll see below). If you want to try it out, you’ll have to give them your payment details. Either that, or read this review, because I’m going to do that right now.

Signing Up

Feedbin’s signup screen is austere in the extreme – it almost looks like someone forgot to style it:

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These guys don’t beat around the bush. There are no sales pitch on this page, and no friendly images of happy humans. Just a bunch of text boxes asking for my hard-earned money. At least they won’t bill me if I cancel within three days, which is something.

Getting Started

Once you pay, you get to a screen that looks like this:

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Again, note the complete lack of explanation texts or wizards. Feedbin just assumes you know what you’re doing – there’s literally no handholding. Okay, let’s find out how to import my Google Reader feeds:

By going to Account > Import/Export I get an option to upload my OPML file. It doesn’t even say it’s looking for an OPML – I guess I’m expected to know that on my own.

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After feeding it with my OPML, the screen was rapidly populated with my feeds, and Feedbin suddenly started looking quite a bit more attractive.

In Use

This is what Feedbin looks like when it’s populated:

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You’ve got your list of feeds on the left, the current feed’s stories in a vertical list in the middle, and then a roomy reading pane on the right. Let’s take a closer look at the feed and item lists:

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So, each feed has a little badge showing the number of unread items. The items list shows enough of an excerpt about each item to let me decide whether or not I even want to bother reading it (useful for “firehose-style” websites that have very active feeds). One annoying interface quirk is that when you click on a feed, its first item is not automatically selected and displayed. You must click on the feed, then click the first item, then read. You can also click on the feed and then tap Space on your keyboard.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Speaking of the keyboard, Feedbin supports a number of keyboard shortcuts:

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Unlike Google Reader (and Vim), it doesn’t use J and K to navigate entries, but the more traditional arrow keys. This seemed like a good idea at first, until I realized I can’t use the down arrow to scroll long entries: If you’re reading a long post and want to scroll down, tapping the down arrow is actually going to take you to the next item in the feed. The only way I found to scroll through an individual item is by tapping Space, which scrolls an entire screenful at a time. Worse still, if you tap Space by mistake and want to scroll back up, you’ll have to reach for your mouse. This is really the biggest drawback Feedbin has, for me.

Sharing, Filtering and Social Features

Found an amazing story on some blog? Did someone post a striking image on their Tumblog you can’t wait to share with friends? That’s great, but Feedbin isn’t going to help you there. I would put a screenshot of its social and sharing features, only there are none. I mean, literally, none. Not even a tweet button or anything like that. If you liked Google Reader’s old sharing features, you may be better served by something like The Old Reader.

Feedbin also eschews any sort of intelligent (or semi-intelligent) filtering. If you have so many feeds that you need some algorithm to help you figure out what items you should read, you might want to check out Feedbooster A Google Reader Alternative: Sort & Filter Your Busy RSS Feeds With FeedBooster A Google Reader Alternative: Sort & Filter Your Busy RSS Feeds With FeedBooster How many feed readers have you tried so far in order to tame the Niagara of feeds? I admit I have done my share. After so many years, the tried and tested Google Reader and... Read More , a reader with a strong emphasis on filtering.

Summary: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • A very clean, ad-free interface.
  • The service is fast.
  • No handholding, assumes you know what you’re doing.

Cons:

  • No way to scroll up and down individual items using the keyboard.
  • Absolutely no sharing features.

Overall: Feedbin gets the job done. I can’t help but admire its business model and gutsy attitude towards billing, but until they fix the horrible scrolling issue, it’s not a service I’ll be able to use personally. If you don’t mind scrolling with the mouse, don’t often share items (I don’t), and want a clean and simple reader, this is it.

Will you be trying it out? Is there another reader you’re using?

  1. Nate
    July 2, 2013 at 3:34 am

    FeedBin.me just had a price increase to $3.00 / month. I'll pass. I can only think did this because of the mass amount of Google Readers forced to find a new home tomorrow. That's a pretty lame move.

  2. Low Kian Seong
    April 28, 2013 at 5:14 am

    Feedly ?

  3. Nigel
    March 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Does Feedbin enable you to group feeds into folders?

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 28, 2013 at 7:46 am

      I believe it does, but am not totally sure.

  4. Mosey
    March 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Looks very promising.
    He recently added a mobile optimized site along with a text extractor for reading full articles on the site.

    I'm pretty sure he has an API if anyone wants to make a mobile app.
    Seems like he's adding features at a decent rate.
    Keep in mind this is a brand new site. Opened very recently.

    Regarding the price he recently added ability to pay $20 for the year.
    I have no problems paying for a service I use daily. Especially if it helps improve the site and if the developer actually listens to my feedback.

  5. Glenn
    March 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I like the vertical view--looks pretty much like Thunderbird (which has always been a feed reader, too). Depending on the type of feed/article I'm subscribed to, I'm now using either Thunderbird or Brief (Firefox add-on). I even like it better than Google Reader.

  6. Josh
    March 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    This sounds like the way to go for now. But google reader only exports my subscriptions as an xml file. I've been looking for a way to convert the file into an OPML but can't find a proper way to do it. any help out there?

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Sure: The XML you get from Google is actually an OPML file. That's confusing, I know, but that's how it works... Just feed Feedbin (or any other reader) with the XML google gives you, and you should be golden!

  7. Herb
    March 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Maybe Google enough for desktop purposes but no android app that syncs with desktop is deal breaker.

  8. Daniel Escasa
    March 20, 2013 at 9:01 am

    <quote>
    Worse still, if you tap Space by mistake and want to scroll back up, you’ll have to reach for your mouse.
    </quote>

    Are you sure about that? I can scroll back on just around any web page by using <Shift> <Space>

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 20, 2013 at 9:26 am

      hmm, even if so, it's only by full pages, so not that usable (imho).

  9. SaapeXD MoHods
    March 20, 2013 at 4:46 am

    Its neat ! But still not upto the google reader standard! :/

  10. Bethany
    March 20, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Reminds me of Caffeinated for Mac, actually.

  11. Bobulated
    March 20, 2013 at 2:06 am

    I don't mind paying 2 bucks, heck, I would pay Google 2 bucks to keep Reader alive. That being said an app with mystery navigation and set up plus limited functionality is probably not going to be at the top of my list to send even that much money to.

  12. Terry M
    March 20, 2013 at 2:02 am

    If you have time and hardware to set it up, Tiny Tiny RSS is a free and minimalist feed reader.

  13. Tug R
    March 19, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I have nothing against supporting developers, I just wish there were other options beyond a monthly subscription model. Like Max said, a one time fee would be more appealing. (At least for me.) I would much rather pay $10 or so once than pay every month.

  14. Ben Ubois
    March 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    This is great Erez. I liked this review so much, your scrolling suggestion just went to the top of my list.

    Thanks,

    Ben

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 20, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Awesome! Feel free to ping me once implemented :D

  15. Max
    March 19, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    I don't think 2 bucks a month is worth it. If it was just a one time payment like an app store payment I would be fine with it but 2 bucks A MONTH?

    I think I'm going to wait and see what digg comes out with.

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