84. About Google Reader and RSS Feeds
RSS is a way of delivering information to your PC without you having to go out and visit a website to get that information. It is a special format used by websites and blogs to, in essence, broadcast information. Because the information is sent in a special format, you need a special reader to read the information. You view the information in the reader itself. The reader software enables you to choose which RSS feeds you want to read out of the many thousands available. Choosing an RSS feed is commonly called subscribing to the feed.
You can read RSS feeds in two primary ways. One way is to buy a special RSS reader or download a free one. An especially good for-pay reader is FeedDemon (available at www.feeddemon.com for $29.95). A good free reader is SharpReader (available at www.sharpreader.net). Downloadable RSS readers tend to be very powerful, with many features. The drawback is that they require installation, and if you're on a computer other than your own, you won't be able to read your RSS feeds. If you use a Web-based reader, such as the one Google offers, you can view your feeds by logging into the Web-based reader on any computer.
The other way to read RSS feeds is to use a website that enables you to read the feeds. Google offers several ways to read RSS feeds. Its Personalized Home page enables you to read the feedsfor information about how to do it, see Add RSS Feeds to Google Personalized Home.
The Personalized Home RSS reader is simple to use, but it doesn't have many features. Essentially, it enables you to subscribe to feeds, and that's it.
Google Reader, on the other hand, offers far more features and rivals downloadable RSS readers. It's easy to manage your RSS subscriptions, navigate through them, mail RSS items, and write your own blog entries about those RSS items when you use Google Reader.
So if you're just looking for a quick-and-dirty way to read RSS feeds, Personalized Home is the way to go. If you need more features, use Google Reader.