A couple of years ago I created myself a startpage. It is pretty much just a list of subject links which open a list of links in a frame, nothing fancy, no widgets or anything (I suppose it is more like a bookmarks page, but I thought of it as a start page). I’ve since got myself a nice iGoogle homepage, and have been exploring some of the other options out there…
Feedraider is not exactly a startpage, but an rss reader on a webpage. It is very simple, in a good way. I really like it. You can view your feeds as a Deck (where the feeds are displayed by source. This also displays any cartoon/image posts in full), or as a River (which, as well as sounding quite nice, handily sorts the feeds by time of last updating (in largish increments – 30 mins, 60mins, 2 hrs etc).
The only problem is that when I uploaded my (admittedly rather large) list of blogs, it took a very long time to download them all, as it just displays the last x number of posts, rather than new/unread ones – though it will mark posts as read, this just displays them in a different colour, rather than removing them.
Anyway, not something I plan to use, but it does look lovely.
Funky Homepage is a slightly different start page, in that it is pretty well limited to one computer, as it works by cookies. You can select a colour scheme (including purple, so that’s me happy), and choose between narrow, standard and widescreen formats. There is a clock in the top left corner, from Labpixies, which you can change the look of using skins. It has 4 tabs – start, news, fun stuff and tools, and promises a future shopping tab. It claims to be “god-damn funky” but I remain unconvinced. It is not especially useful, limited as it is to the computer you set it up on, and it is not as nice to use as the some of the other start pages I have looked at.
iGoogle is obviously slightly different in the world of start pages. It is, for me at least, a nice bolt-on around the search engine. I go to my iGoogle page usually to do a search. The rest of the stuff around it is a nice distraction – if something catches my eye, I’ll take a look. My computer logged me out of iGoogle last week, and I only logged back in today – so I clearly didn’t miss the personalised stuff that much. Anyway, it is easy to use – just select gadgets from those available, create your own etc etc. There’s far too much to say about it really.
MyGetGo is customisable – you can select a theme for your page, with different colour schemes etc. You can have multiple pages. It has a number of different modules: bookmarks (in text or button format), pictures, news/rss, search engine, and a notepad, and more are planned for the future. The pictures module allows you to upload your own photos, and then send them as e-cards. It is easy to change the layout of your page by drag and drop. You can keep the page private, or make it publicly available.
Netvibes is not as pretty as the Your Minis startpage – though again it is easy to add content by drag and drop. You can edit the gadgets/widgets (whatever) but you can’t change the colour, or overlap, and it is actually a little fiddly to move things around. You can create new tabs though, and choose icons for the tabs. You can also change the theme of your pages, and add wallpapers and things. The slightly strange idea is that you have two pages – a private one, and a public one within your ‘Netvibes Universe’ so you can share stuff, and keep other stuff hidden.
Pageflakes allows you to set up a page, and add ‘flakes’ to it. Flakes are basically the gadget/widget/containers. There are a large selection of flakes to choose from, and you can arrange them on screen using drag and drop. It is very easy to make changes to, add, or delete flakes. You can have multiple pages, give them names, change the layout, colour etc. You can also share pages with friends, or make the page public (share it with everyone). Also has a ‘blog flake’ so you can publish your own blog.
Protopage is another very easy to use startpage. You click to add new widgets, drag them around the page, edit them etc. You can change the colour scheme (though it caused it to freeze up when I tried this), and if you turn gravity off (I love this idea), you can position your widgets more freely, so they overlap. You can have a clock, to-do list, photos etc from the main list of widgets, or add your own rss feeds etc. It has multiple pages/tabs, and you can add your own new ones. Plus, it has a cute dog (Protopuppy) you can play with – what more do you need?
Your Minis is a place to find widgets to add to your blog/webpage/startpage etc. There are loads of different widgets available, arranged in categories. It also has its own startpage, which is very easy to use – just drag and drop, and you can arrange/rearrange items, overlap things, and new tabs.
Others include: Eskobo, WebWag, It’s a Start and more…
This is not an exhaustive list, because, quite frankly, I was getting exhausted trying them all out. I’ve found a couple of contenders that I will try out a bit more, but for the meantime I’m pretty much going to stick with iGoogle and my old home-made page.
Read/Write Web has a number of articles on start pages which are worth a read.