News readers Signing up

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To get started, you'll either need to sign up to a web-based news reader (which can be accessed from your normal web browser, such as Internet Explorer), or download suitable software. The really good news is all of the readers we've tested are free.

Registering with the web-based services on test is easy; note that with Newsgator you should select the free web-based option. However, Thunderbird and Opera aren't dedicated news readers so set-up is less straightforward. Thunderbird is an email program with an added news reader and Opera is a web browser.

Be aware that when first installing Thunderbird you'll be given the option to import your existing email settings from your current email program. If you're happy with your existing email software, you can elect to only set up an 'RSS news and blogs' account, which is what we did.

Opera is also confusing initially because there are no news reader options available until you visit a web page that has a feed (such as Reuters). This brings up an RSS button in the browser's address bar. Click it to subscribe, you'll then see a permanent 'Feeds' option on the main menu bar.

Tip: A square icon with radio waves is the new RSS icon to look out for; if you use Firefox then you'll already see it show up in your web browser whenever a page has a news feed or podcast (see Online radio), and Microsoft plans to incorporate it into Internet Explorer 7.