How many web sites do you visit each day to read the news you’re interested in? Increasing numbers of people are discovering how useful a new reader can be thanks to the fact that updates from all of the sites you’re interested in can be viewed in one place.
News Bento is a streamlined Windows 8 news reader that can be used to subscribe to newsfeeds or used to access feeds you have added to Google Reader.
If you’re new to news readers, News Bento serves as a very gentle introduction to this type of app. As soon as the app is installed, you’re presented with a number of news feeds to get you started. This includes tech feeds, those with more of an entertainment slant, as well as those concerned with world event.
The tiled interface is wonderfully visual, with each tile representing a new feed and scrolling through the latest news stories. News Bento looks, feels and works in much the same way as the Windows 8 Start screen and tiles can be re-organized by simply dragging and dropping to the desired location.
Basic customization options are available by right clicking on any of the tiles. You can quickly remove any that you are not interested in, and you can choose between two different tile sizes. This is something of a limitation as it is likely there are sites for which you would like to display tiny, or differently shaped tiles.
Right clicking a tile also gives you the option of pinning a particular feed to the Start screen. This is great on tablet devices, but it is also quite valuable for desktop users. It means that you are able to see the latest posts from your favorite web sites before your desktop has even loaded, and again you have two tile sizes to choose from.
The tiled view only gives you a very broad overview of what is going on with a particular feed – the tiles are image heavy and you’re unlikely to able to determine much about the latest posts. This means that the first screen really serves as little more than a starting point from which you can see which feed you want to view in more detail.
Click through an individual feed and you’ll be presented with a display of the first paragraph of all of the latest news stories. Again, this takes something of a tiled look, but there is more text to read this time around.
Going further, you can then read individual stories by just clicking a tile. The magazine style view that’s used for stories is easy to read and looks good, but there is no scope for customization. It is not even possible to change the size of text, but for most people this should not be an issue as things look pretty stylish and the text is well sized, but this is still an oversight.
Navigation is possible using touch, a scroll wheel, with the keyboard, or the on-screen controls. For most people, scrolling or using arrow keys is going to be the method of choice, but the ability to move between pages of an article and also articles in a feed with the neat slide-out side-controls is a great touch.
There are a couple of ways you can add extra feeds to News Bento – after all, the default selection is not going to be to everyone’s taste. Click the ‘more new’ link at the bottom of the screen and you can then choose from a number of other pre-defined news sources.
If you can’t find something that takes your fancy, you can search for a feed or add one you know to exist. This opens up a virtually unlimited world of news and also gives you the option of searching for news feeds that are specially tailored to subject you’re interested in.
Anyone who makes use of RSS feeds has undoubtedly discovered how useful Google Reader is for accessing feeds on different machines and devices. News Bento can be used to import feeds that you have already added to your Google account so you can use the app to keep up to date with the feed you are already subscribed to.
You have the option of adding individual feeds, everything you have in Google Reader, or just display new items, regardless of which feed they come from. It might not replace the Reader web site, but it complements it well.
News Bento manages to strike a balance that many other news readers miss. Perhaps most importantly, it looks wonderful and even those who are anti-Windows 8 will have to conceded that the UI is a pleasure to work with.