Newsgator Mobile beta – a review

Saw this morning via the NewsGator blog that they’ve released a beta of NewsGator Mobile for Windows Mobile Smartphones and Pocket PCs. Hey, I’ve got one of those! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, I’ve dutifully downloaded it, drove it around the block, took some screen captures, and I’m here to report on my findings.

The download is only about 415KB (you give them your email, they send you a download link). It only takes up about 900KB of space, so I installed it to Main Memory.

This is the main interface screen (with a handful of sample feeds I subscribed to – I read over 800 feeds in Bloglines). Your list of feeds is controlled/synced with NewsGator Online. Don’t have a NewsGator online account? Well, you have to get one if you want to use this app. I can’t find any option to allow you to manually add a feed subscription. I guess that rules out being able to add a feed from your mobile device, too. Have to wait until you get back to your desktop, and hope you remember what you were going to subscribe to. You can see the basic menu options here, too – manage your feeds, go into settings (where your only options are to enter your NewsGator online credentials, and to change the location where the feed files are stored – I moved mine to my Storage Card).

This is the feed view, where you see the new feed items that have been downloaded. Nothing too fancy here – looks like the Messaging app, and every other RSS reader for Windows Mobile I’ve ever seen. Yawn.

And here is what it looks like to actually read a post item. Just plain text – the links and inline images have been stripped out completely (compare the original post, with links and images). Because, you know, Windows Mobile devices can’t handle heavy duty things like links and images. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The verdict? it’s an RSS reader. It doesn’t really do much to differentiate itself from other standalone readers on the Windows Mobile platform, and unfortunately, it doesn’t come anywhere close to the experience you get reading feeds using Bloglines Mobile in Pocket IE, which actually handles links and images. In fact, it seems you’d get a better experience using NewsGator’s own mobile web online reader. I’d show you what that’s like, but I’d have to upgrade my account to their $19.99/year NewsGator Online Premium Package to get access to it. I guess the software version of NewsGator Mobile does give you the ability to sync your feeds, and read them offline, though you do need some sort of internet connection on your device anyway to accomplish the syncing. I’m more of an evangelist for the “always connected” lifestyle, rather than “occasionally connected”.

A word about performance – the application itself seemed pretty speedy (launching, etc.), but anything that involved an internet connection felt extremely slow on my Verizon EVDO connection (where I average about 600Kbps download speeds). Maybe this has to do with me storing feeds on my 1GB Kingston SD card, but it was slow enough to be really irritating, and if I were using this as my main reader, it might be a big enough problem to make me quit using it altogether.

NewsGator doesn’t have a bad product here. I like the folks at NewsGator a lot, and most of their products (NewsGator Inbox, FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, etc.) are absolutely top notch. I just don’t happen to be a NewsGator user. If I were, and all of my feeds were synchronized among the NewsGator family of readers, keeping my read state intact no matter where I’m reading from, then NewsGator Mobile would be a great addition to the family. If that describes you, and you have a Windows Mobile device, then give this a try. It just so happens that I’m a Bloglines user, and that, coupled with the fact that I am of the opinion that the software-based offline model for RSS readers on Windows Mobile is far less effective than a light, live, mobile web interface, means that NewsGator mobile just isn’t for me.

Anyone else give this a whirl? Am I missing something terribly cool (or awful) about this app? Let me know in the comments. And if Greg or anyone from NewsGator is reading this, Hi Guys! Nothing personal, OK? ๐Ÿ™‚


5 thoughts on “Newsgator Mobile beta – a review

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  2. Hey Josh,

    Thanks for your input and trust me it wasn’t taken personally. You make some great points. The reason I removed the links was because when the user started to navigate links, the browser component started to cache the history causing major memory pressure and ultimately resulting in the application being forced to hibernate. I am working on ways to get that functionality back into the reader and that is now a priority (see, you are making a difference and we appreciate that)!

    And you are spot on that this reader is geared toward existing NewsGator users. We made a decision early on that a mobile news reader was most effective as an extension to your desktop/web RSS experience and maintaining state was critical.

    If you ever do decide to switch over to NewsGator, I think you would find the sync’ing very cool ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Josh, thanks for taking the time to take a look and thanks for being honest w/ your feedback. That is the only way we can make the product better.


  3. Josh,

    You bring up another great point about running across a feed you want to subscribe to and currently not being able to… that is in the roadmap btw. In the interim you can clip a post and then when you get back to your desktop, you can subscribe. It is not ideal, but it would work for now until this feature is added.


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