I have settled on Google Reader as my RSS aggregator since they came out with the last upgrade (9/2006). My last aggregator was RSS Bandit. Google Reader has a slick interface and the article summaries are pulled/cached on Google server(s) so they usually come up pretty fast. Reader uses a lot of asynchronous rpc calls (known to some of you as AJAX) to provide a responsive experience. I love the ability to use keyboard shortcuts to do things such as moving to the next article, mark all items in a feed as read, etc.
Some people find the Google Reader Start Page useless… I sorta like it ok. Anyway, with the latest version, you can override the default Start Page with your own.
Another unique thing that Google Reader does is that it collects your reading statistics. It can tell you how many feed items you read in the last week/month out of the total items received. While this data is interesting in itself, I can see the potential of using it to automatically determine the most interesting items based on everybody’s reading statistics. If you can accurately track how long people spend reading certain items (hint: check the keyboard, mouse and scroll wheel movements), there is gold to mine there. Oops, did I just give away the main idea for my upcoming Web 2.0 startup?
One problem I have had so far is an HTML rendering issue in Internet Explorer 7 with certain feeds. I have not seen it lately so perhaps it has been fixed.
If you are already a Google Reader user, it provides an easy way to share interesting items from your feeds. When you run across something you want to share in Google Reader, just press shift-s or click on the Share link and the item will show up in your Public Shared Items web page. You can insert a clip into your blog to display the shared items there too. For Bloggers users, there is even an easier way.
Speaking of sharing items, you can also do the same thing with any of the social networking service these days. Del.icio.us comes to mind. With del.icio.us, in addition to Network Badges and Link Rolls, you can also have the ever more popular Tag Rolls. More ways to help the occasional bloggers out there add some signs of life to your blogs without having to actually write original/substantial/interesting content!