Attensa Online is a free basic RSS reader, available via both Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. Similar to NewsGator, Attensa has products for purchase that fill a more feature-packed roll as News Readers. Attensa for Outlook ties into Microsoft Outlook similar to NewsGator Inbox, and Attensa Mobile (available soon) is targeted to mobile device users. The free Attensa Online product also plays a role in the other product offerings, mainly as a central synchronization tool, so you can access your feeds from anywhere.

Accessing news from anywhere has always been a useful part of the Internet experience. And Attensa Online answers that need in full with a simple, easy to use, speedy news reader. Attensa can be accessed from anywhere via browser, using a nice AJAX interface that makes reading your feeds quick and simple.

Before we get too far into this review, here are some links to read up on what RSS, ATOM, Web Feeds, OPML, and news aggregators are.

The main attraction of Attensa is the simplicity of the interface. The list of feeds are on the left, while the scrollable reading pane is on the right. I was impressed with the ability to scroll the reading pane while the feed list remained stationary on the left. NewsGator Online does not have this ability, and you will enjoy not having to scroll back to the top of the page to move to your next feed. In addition, you can adjust the reading pane using three different view types. One displays the feed contents in a one-line-per-post view that makes efficient use of space, the second option shows two lines of the body of each post in a list view. Both of these view options use the upper-half of the reading pane for the list, and use the bottom half as a viewing pane – there are options to turn this off/on. The third (and my choice) shows three lines of the body text of each post, and allows for more space in the view list. The bottom viewing pane is not available in this view and each click of a feed’s post opens a new browser window (or tab) that displays the full post at the respective website.

There are the standard tools which allow you to mark posts/feeds as read, delete them, import new feeds via OPML, or add them manually. Again, there is no method for exporting your list of feeds once you’ve set them up. You can manage the feeds, by folder or category, but little else.

The simplicity of the AJAX implementation here is great, because all commands are available via a right-click on a feed or folder. It is quite intuitive to right-click and “mark all read/unread”, or to delete the feeds/folders. Performance was snappy in both Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 1.5 with very little hesitation between feed loads.

The casual or “newbie” RSS consumer will appreciate the simplicity and easy to read layout of Attensa online. Similar to NewsGator Online, seasoned RSS users would probably pass on the service as it simply does not offer any compelling functionality to match more mature feature-rich news aggregators.

  • Pros: Fast, simple to use, easy to read layout, tie-ins to other product offers
  • Cons: No export utility, restricted view options, other products offer little incentive to use service, online service is limited to other Attensa products


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