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Times review

Verdict:

Needs Mac OS X 10.5

Review Date: 2 Jun 2008

Price when reviewed: (about £15)

Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull

Our Rating 2 stars out of 5

There are plenty of decent RSS readers for Mac OS X and many of them are free. So for developer Acrylic to charge $30 (about £15) for Times it has to be pretty special, right?

Times tries to be different by displaying RSS feeds like a newspaper, making full use of Leopard's fancier graphics effects to present news feeds as they might look if they ever got printed in a quality broadsheet. What's more, an option in the application's preferences lets you switch on a Page curl mode, so that clicked articles appear underneath the front page as it curls downwards. The text on the front page remains visible but back-to-front, as it should be when viewed from behind. It all looks gorgeous.

So plenty of eye candy, then. But actually using the app is an exercise in frustration.

Having opened an article to read it in full, there's no obvious way to close it again. You can hit escape or click on the main headlines to do that, but you can't go straight to the next unread story. You have to close the first one, return to the headlines, then open the next. It just feels laborious.

Stranger still for an RSS reader, there's no visible indication of whether an article has been read or not. There's a shelf on which you can save articles you want to read later; but it's only wide enough for four of them. Subsequent additions get added to piles, forcing you to scrub over a pile with your pointer to find out what's in it.

Times might look interesting, but it doesn't make reading RSS feeds easy - in fact, it makes the whole process more time-consuming. There are no keyboard controls for opening, closing and skipping between articles, so everything has to be done with the mouse pointer, which takes far longer.

The visual effects and layout might appeal to people with very few feeds to track and plenty of time to do so. However, news junkies and web professionals will find this too slow an experience for frequent use, especially when there are so many free, and faster, alternatives around.

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