Google Reader vs. Netvibes

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 22, 2007
Updated • May 26, 2013

I have been using Netvibes to subscribe to and read feeds from other websites and recently decided to give Google Reader a try to see if the hype that it created was justified at all. I really like the options to customize the feeds into different windows and tabs in netvibes, I added some on different subjects such as tech and software and can switch between those tabs for fast access. Drag and Drop is used to move feeds around which makes this feature very fast.

15 feeds with the latest seven articles can be displayed on my screen without scrolling using Netvibes and I was a little bit disappointed when I saw how Google Reader handled the feeds. Google Reader does not use tabs but folders to sort feeds. Folders and Feeds are displayed on the left pane which does not have much space if you keep the folders expanded all the time. (a scroll bar appears if you reach the bottom, happens after about 20 feeds and 5 folders)

About 25 feeds are displayed in List mode in the main window of Google Reader, if you have more you have to scroll again. Expanded mode displays the content of every feed on a single page just like Google Groups displays the content of the discussion.

Reducing the text size in Firefox makes everything more accessible, does anyone know if there is a Firefox add-on to customize the text size on certain pages and leave the default size for the rest?

I don't like the way Google Reader displays the feeds, I tend to get a great overview in Netvibes when I access it. I see which site has updated articles. In Google Reader I have to take a look at the left pane and see if there are new feeds (and probably scroll down to the feeds that are of interest) or take a look at all updated feeds of a certain folder to find the ones that are of interest.

Google Reader on the other hand pulls more than the maximum of ten feeds from a website. Netvibes has a maximum of ten feeds that are pulled from a new source, Google Reader pulls about 180 at the first time and if you scroll down to the last ones it pulls more from that site.

Google Reader feels a little bit faster than Netvibes, not enough to make it a significant advantage though. Both Google Reader and Netvibes make it possible to import feeds from an OPML file and both do not offer the feature to create one Netvibes does not offer a way to export one I was not able to find the option in Netvibes. I had to manually enter all feeds from Netvibes into Google Reader. Took a while as you can guess.

My conclusion is that I will stick with Netvibes for now and wait until Google changes the arrangement of feeds on their site. I don't want to scroll to read feeds which is the greatest disadvantage of Google Reader at the moment.

Update: Google announced that it will retire Google Reader in 2013.


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  1. Neil Williams said on May 31, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    You might also be interested in a brand new start page available called Funky Homepage ( It’s comprised mainly of Google gadgets (as well as Gadgets from other sources), live news feeds (with your choice of news provider), daily Bushisms, daily jokes, horoscopes, videos, weather (up to 5 locations), interactive calendar, Google calendar viewer (for up to 5 Google calendars), comic strips and lots more besides. It also lets you choose your own search engine, colour scheme, etc.

    Unlike many of the other personalised start pages available, there’s no need to create an account and it’s all already set up for you, with the most popular gadgets organised by category and sub-category. So there’s virtually no setting-up work required by the user, making it ideal for the mainstream audience and those (like me) who can’t be bothered to do all the work of setting up their own page. More adventurous (and less lazy) users can choose to add their own Google gadgets and RSS feeds, but most people just use the gadgets and tools provided.

    Unlike Netvibes, PageFlakes and all the other AJAX powered home pages, Funky Homepage does not use a drag and drop interface. Instead it allows you to select from a drop-down list of the most “popular” gadgets and feeds – “popular” according to the Google gadgets most popular list, that is. As such, it’s not really intended to compete with the flexibility of Netvibes and PageFlakes, but instead is intended to address a gap in the market for those who want something a bit more funky than Google or Yahoo, but without all the setting up required of Netvibes and Pageflakes. So only the most popular gadgets are offered. Although it still maintains a large degree of flexibility for the more adventurous users, allowing them to enter their own feeds and gadgets, should they wish. Whether you like it or hate it, at least it offers an alternative from the plethora of AJAX-powered homepages that are now available.

  2. kalind said on January 24, 2007 at 10:43 am

    A correction! Right after I wrote the earlier comment, I saw that Google has remedied the situation and I was able to add more content to my google homepage. I can vouch for the fact that just before writing this comment this feature was not available. It is a recent phenomenon. However, the maximum number of tabs that can be added is fixed at 6. Apart from this there is a new preview feature incorporated in the interface.
    Best regards,

  3. kalind said on January 22, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I agree with Mr. Fatih Arslan when he says that google reader is comparable to bloglines. If you personalise google homepage then you can get the same feel as netvibes. However, I am sure that you will find netvibes to be much better.First obvious difference is that netvibes is quite colorful. Apart from that in netvibes you can add an unlimited number of RSS feeds and tabs. In google homepage one can not add more feeds after a certain number is reached. Six tabs are the maximum one can add.
    Let me take this opportunity to compliment you for the excellent blog you are running. I am a huge fan of yours and I am fascinated with your technical acumen.
    Best regards,

  4. Martin said on January 22, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Alex this would have saved me some time, thanks for the find. Edited the article accordingly

  5. Jens Nedal said on January 22, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Hm, i agree on this, its about how one likes to consume rss feeds personally, and i don’t think i could work with netvibes at all.

    I have 150 subscrptions ongoing, with about 30 tags or so, some even multitagged. I select the tags as i go ans start reading with the shortcuts that google reader provides (free of mouse totally :)).

  6. kurt wismer said on January 22, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    the preference for one or the other really depends on how you prefer to consume rss feeds… netvibes will show you the most recent entries in your feeds whether you’ve seen them before or not, leaving you to remember what you’ve already looked at – google can be set to only show you things it hasn’t shown you before… if you’ve got 200 subscriptions, that’s a big help…

    i think a lot of people who use netvibes like to see multiple subscriptions side by side and pick and choose what they look at, but in google and similar readers one generally consumes all feed items (or at least all their titles and decide from there if you want to look further) under the assumption that if the feed is worth keeping it’s usually because most of the items are worth reading…

  7. Alex said on January 22, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Hey guys, you can export OPML on netvibes, see

    quite hidden, i agree :)

  8. Brian said on January 22, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    I hate scrolling too. But that’s why I love Google Reader. It has hotkeys. I just “j” through all my feeds, an extremely fast way of seeing all items from each feed.

  9. Devdatta Akhawe said on January 22, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    I think a GreaseMonkey Script could easily accomplish that. Infacti it might already be ther, if not I am sure you could write it. I am kinda rushed right now , maybe over the weekend! sorry!

  10. Martin said on January 22, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Well I still think it makes sense to compare them because I’m using Netvibes only for RSS feeds and nothing more.

    I do not need the additional features nor do I need the tagging abilities of google reader.

  11. Fatih Arslan said on January 22, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Netvibes is not a rss reader. It’s only showing your the higlights of the feed. For a better and efficient reading is Google Reader much better. You can add tags, share your items, look how much you read the last 30 days, export all your rss feeds. I mean Netvibes and Google Reader are not worth to compare. Both are different and has different ways to use, and they show that in their own way. You could compare Bloglines and Google Reader.

  12. Martin said on January 22, 2007 at 12:36 pm


    thanks for the tip. i have edited the article accordingly. I’m using Netvibes only for RSS feads. It surely does offer many modules that expand it beyond a pure RSS reader but you do not have to use them at all.

  13. Jens Nedal said on January 22, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Google Reader does offer a way to export the whole feedlist, onvluding tags under Settings -> Import/Export.

    I guess the approach of Netvibes and Google Reader are different. The only thing that irks me with Google Reader, is that loading the additional feeds in the right pane, makes scrolling slower.

    I will give Netvibes a try, though for my taste it offers to many features. I rather like the decentralized way that Google keeps its apps seperated.

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