[Updated 2009-04-20 TidyRead, Readable, Readability]
Bulk of Internet is text. Sometimes design skills (or lack of any) make that text unreadable or unfitting specific monitor/resolution.
There are quite a few online tools to transform web pages in form better suited for reading so I decided to compare those.
What was I looking for
- good for widescreen layout (I use 19” 1440×900 monitor);
- easy and fast to use (via bookmarklet or otherwise);
- saving traffic for use on notebook with mobile Internet;
- possibly flexible enough to be used on N810 tablet (its browser could really use some help).
To not point fingers I am taking my own recent review of Dell Vostro 1310 as example page. Here is how it looks like for those RSS subscribers who should visit site once in a while. :)
Service works by filling form with URL or using bookmarklet (superior and faster according to instructions).
Result is presented in overlay over original page. And improvement is quite poor:
- not much change except font;
- unnecessary eye candy;
- bookmarklet didn’t work, saying my post is not a detectable article.
- interface got more dynamic, allowing to choose style and print page.
Only available as bookmarklet that must be first customized by selecting combination of text style, size and side-margins (effectively column width).
Clean and customizable looks.
- correctly determines and shows core content;
- strips styling from images, which may break layout;
- additional buttons for fast reload original page, print and share by email;
Available as form and bookmarklet.
Choice of liquid layout is questionable but filtering is great:
- URL format is easily scriptable;
- strips page of everything (including images) except text;
- encrypted version available.
Similar to Readability – bookmarklet that requires initial customization. Displays text in overlay column.
- good customization;
- didn’t work for me at all across different sites and browsers. Fail.
- even more customization options;
- bug fixes to improve compatibility;
Closer to online application. Its goal is to prepare page for printing. Can easily break layout and hardly single-click.
- good bookmarklet if you often print pages;
- bad and messy for reading.
Optimized for mobile. Strips everything (up to styling) except text.
- easy URL format but no native bookmarklet;
- character encoding issues;
More of a service, displays page framed by own links.
- strips most of styling and scripts but leaves images;
- easily scripted;
- additional services.
Not even sure how service is properly called. :) Very mobile-centric.
- easy URL format;
- gives a choice of loading or skipping images;
- downsizes large images;
- auto-discovers RSS links;
- splits long pages into few.
There is no ultimate choice with clear distinction between services either aimed at desktop or mobile usage. Most suffer from complete lack of options, developers make decision for user which is rarely good approach when text is involved.
My personal choice for now would be:
- Readability for reading at desktop (customizable, works and looks good);
- Finch for mobile connection (flexible, good filtering).
Bugfixes and rapid increase of functionality on some of services. So far Readability is still my main choice and works very smooth.
Do you use any kind of text formatting to read online? What is your way of making reading in browser most comfortable?