Review: Freerange, paidContent edition

editors-choice-small.jpgReview: Freerange, paidContent edition
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9.0/10
Link (includes OTA): http://paid.mwap.at
Cost: Free

This app was announced a while ago. I wanted to write about it then, but didn’t have the time. I have a little time now. ;-)

I have to admit I am not familiar with paidContent. Apparently, it is a big site focused on business and with a lot of their own content. Maybe they wanted to make themselves better known by ignorant people like me who had never heard of them before, so they decided to have their own version of the Freerange RSS reader. If you already have a yearly subscription to Freerange, this article probably won’t interest you. If you don’t, cup your ears. This is a free ad-supported version of Freerange, with all of its features and a little extra. If the words “ad-supported” scare you, let’s have a look at those ads already and get past that, shall we? Click the images to see them in full size.

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And that’s probably all the advertising you are going to see. Nothing but the usual Freerange opening screen with a big ad at the top. While it is big, it is only present in that one screen, not permanently visible as one might expect. It’s not obtrusive at all, and it is very effective. If you click it, you get a little presentation that hopes to get you interested and a very polite invitation to learn more. A very good solution indeed. You don’t have to click at all, and it is gone as soon as you open one of your channels or folders.

Well, there is some more advertising if you really want to be grumpy and call that “advertising”. You get 4 compulsory paidContent.org channels, i.e. they can’t be removed or even renamed. That does feel a little aggressive or obtrusive, but I got used to it quickly. Their content is not bad at all, I actually became a reader. That’s what they wanted all along, isn’t it? :-) My only complaint about it is that each one of those channels is an individual folder in the opening screen, each one containing only one feed, which results a little messy as you can see in the screenshots. Why not have one single “paidContent feeds” folder?

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From then on, it’s Freerange as usual. You can add your own feeds and yes, images are supported plenty! :-) Almost everything you find in the old Freerange is supported, except for two things as far as I can remember:

  • themes: you just get the paidContent red-and-gold theme, which I happen to like immensely;
  • no Web-based back-end where we can manage our subscriptions, everything has to be done right on the device.

The absence of Web-based management is indeed a disadvantage. Although the usual Freerange catalogue of suggested feeds is there, most of my favorite feeds are not included in their catalogue so I spent quite some time copying and pasting feed addresses from an e-mail I sent myself. That was not fun at all. On the other hand, there is a new feature. My stock version of Freerange gives me 3 choices for opening links in the articles:

  • Internal browser
  • Phone’s browser
  • Choose every time

This version brings two new options:

  • Phone’s browser (Google)
  • Phone’s browser (Skweezer)

These are especially converted versions of the intended page as offered by Google mobile reader or Skweezer. That is a very nice touch, although many pages are reported non-existing when I browse that way. :-( And since I am in complaining mode, here is something that really bothers me. The “send article” feature has a very bad problem witn accented characters (very common in Portuguese). Look at these screenshots, they say it all:

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Sent to myself:

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The picture on the left is my Blackberry. The one on the right is Kmail on my desktop. Notice how accented letters (á, ê, õ, ç) get all mangled up. And that happens both in vanilla Freerange and the paidContent edition.

And I am pretty much done with my complaining. Everything else works fine and a bunch more of screenshots should be enough to wrap this up:

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Pros: FREE fully-featured Freerange, excellent all-around RSS reader that renders articles and images like no other.

Cons: lack of Web-based feed management; problems with certain characters when sending/sharing articles; four compulsory channels that take up four compulsory folders in the opening screen.

Up to you whether these are pro or con: ad-supported; compulsory feeds.

My rating: 9. Loses one point due to the lack of Web management and the problem with characters.

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