There's no place like home page: 8 iGoogle alternatives

If you're an iGoogle user, here are 8 alternatives, some of which are just as good -- and one or two of which are better.

1 2 3 4 Page 2
Page 2 of 4

Netvibes Basic

Netvibes has been around since the early days of Web portals, and while its bread and butter is now Web analytics for businesses, it still offers a consumer-friendly personalized dashboard where you can monitor anything and everything: news, e-mail, status updates, tasks and so on. And it's much more attractive than iGoogle ever was, though there's a bit of a learning curve in getting your site set up.

Netvibes
Netvibes

To get started, click on Get Started in the Basic option. (You can also purchase a VIP version with customer support for about $40 a year, or a Premium version that adds brand monitoring, social analytics and other features for $499 a month.)

From here you can enter a topic you want to track (say, Android or Warren Buffett), or choose from one of several popular "themed" dashboards: News, Social, Productivity, High-Tech and so on. These create a widget-filled, iGoogle-reminiscent page oriented around that central theme. If you prefer, one click switches you to Reader view, which puts all your feeds into a list (more like Google Reader than iGoogle).

The High-Tech dashboard is a fine example of how slick Netvibes can look and how smart it is at aggregating information. It starts you out with five tabs (including Computer, Blogs and Podcasts), each loaded with widgets, but you can easily add more tabs, widgets and RSS feeds. The way Netvibes handles story presentation is especially cool: When you click a link inside a widget, a new pane appears with a scrolling list of stories on the left and the main text in the right. Close the pane and the stories you've read are grayed-out within the widget.

You're not limited to a single dashboard, either. You might have one for High-Tech, another devoted to business-related search terms, and a third for productivity. Each can be customized using a variety of pretty themes, and Netvibes even lets you resize columns just by dragging and dropping edge handles.

Bottom line

Portal duty may not be the company's primary purpose, but Netvibes rocks at it.

Protopage

A solid iGoogle alternative, Protopage incorporates that same grid-based widget concept, makes it look nicer and adds a few worthwhile amenities -- starting with a search bar that's not limited to Google. Rather, type your search term(s), then click the icon for any of over a dozen destinations: Amazon, eBay, ESPN, IMDB, Wikipedia and more. (If you just type your search term and hit the Enter key, it searches whichever site appears first in the list, which you can rearrange to your liking.)

Protopage
Protopage

The only real downside? Ads. Specifically, a big ol' banner ad that sits atop the search bar and widgets. It's understandable -- developers gotta eat -- but fellow iGoogle-alikes igHome and iGoogle Portal manage to peddle their widgets ad-free. That said, if you really like Protopage and are willing to pay for it, an ad-free annual subscription runs $29.88.

Protopage starts you with a varied selection of widgets in your Home tab, but also provides Bookmarks and Notes tabs to demonstrate how else you might use the portal. The Bookmarks widget (which can reside in any tab) is a good way to keep your favorites close at hand, while Notes offers a nice dedicated page for Sticky Note-style reminders. You can choose the colors and column widths for your tabs, but also drag widget handles across columns to increase or decrease their size. As for wallpapers, Protopage offers a smattering, but gives you fine controls if you want to assign specific colors or even pull an image from a URL.

The site can't import any existing iGoogle settings you might have, but other than that it's a winner.

Bottom line

Even if Google weren't shutting down its portal, you'd be well served to make the switch to Protopage.

1 2 3 4 Page 2
Page 2 of 4
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon