So we do have our own daily visited websites. I can’t live without my daily dose of Techcrunch and Lifehacker. And then, there are the usual ones – Facebook, Twitter, GMail etc. Now, although browsers like Chrome, Opera and Firefox with addons do allow users to have a start up Fast-Dial page which has links to those highly visited links, there is still a big link missing in the amount of stuff we want. Of course, that void has been filled to some extent by the father of all start-up pages – iGoogle. iGoogle is highly customisable, with gadgets, widgets and feeds. You can add a lot of stuff to keep your iGoolge engaging, but again, adding too much stuff makes it cluttered and takes ages to load. And not to forget, you have Themes on iGoogle.
Enter a new alternative to iGoogle – 44tips.com, a website run by some awesome developers at picturesque Amsterdam [ I am imagining that they have an awesome view in their office ] The first thing you notice about the UI [user interface] on 44tips is that the site design is simplistic, clutter-free and quite minimal – yet, pretty. The colours are basic dark grey and Orange with a twang. Both remind me of Firefox somehow, which means-it works for me. Let’s explore the usability and the features on this website, and if it is worth making it your homepage. Shall we? The first thing once you hit the website is that it asks you to create a new account. Although you can use the features on the upper tab without creating an account. However, you will not be able to save your favourites [which we'll explore later]. But it’s better to just go ahead and create an account – coz it’s easier rather than relying on your browser cookies. Also do remember to change your country preferences. Else, you’ll end up watching a lot of stuff in a language you wouldn’t understand. [That happened to me ] Also, when you create an account, you are asked to add your delicious account name and/or flickr account if you want to integrate it with 44tips, which is great.
A quick run through the website shows that the different tabs on the top divide the site into sections such as – collections, feeds, news, music, social, photos, etc. Add to that there is a search bar in the middle. Like the design, but there is a problem with the navigation. It is a huge page of content when you go for any one of – Music, Video etc. And so, to go the next page, you need to go to the bottom right, and find a small arrow button as the one shown below.
Its a bit annoying to place the mouse pointer precisely on that small space. It should have placed somewhere in the middle of the page, and please make the arrow bigger. A quick round-up of what the pages do:
Collections: Shows some nice goodies -like Facebook apps, and lotsa other goodness. I believe this links are collected from Del.Icio.Us.
Daily Tips: It’s something similar to the above, but worth checking out.
Feeds: Need I say. You can add your own feeds, and ditch that Google reader. Kidding. I cannot ditch Google reader.
Friends: Creates a Mosaic of the pictures of your Facebook and/or Hyves friends. But nothing more than that. All that you can do is to send them message informing about 44tips, or visit their profile via 44tips’ mosaic. A very pretty UI must say.
Games: The best one of all the tabs. It features legendary games such as Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia, and Solitaire. But there’s no Bejeweled here #fail. Games are divided into Men, Women, Kids I and II, and Girls. Apparently, Women like to play Deal or No Deal . But playing Prince of Persia was awesome, and it brought back a lot of happy memories.
Messages: You can add your Twitter, Facebook, Hyves of Linked In account here. It will act as a status updater. But to use this, you’d have to be registered as a user with 44tips. There are no provisions to add multiple twitter accounts, or lists from Twitter.
Music: It collects links from YouTube and Last.Fm.
News: Brings in news feeds and is sub-divided into different sections – Tech, Politics, Science, Health etc. This is great, but you can’t actually replace Google News.
Photos: It’s a well thought out Visual search which aggregates images from Flickr. I like it.
Radio: Even on the USA-selected website, the Radio tab shows the following.
I translated it using Google Translator – from Dutch to English and it means: Click and listen to your favorite radio station I tried clicking it, but it didn’t work. So, as of now Radio is not here on 44tips.
And finally Video: which accumulates YouTube links only. I haven’t seen any video links being gathered from other video sites such as Vimeo or DailyMotion, which is a bummer. As for customization, you can add/delete any of these tabs using the + button in the end.
Final Verdict: 44tips is definitely a very useful content aggregator. It is ad-free at the moment, and most of its features can be used without even registering. It’s social skills are still quite limited, although you can still use the basic tweeting feature if you are not too fussed about using Lists etc. The music and the video tabs are a breeze to work with and the Flickr image search is pretty awesome.
I’d like to see the Radio working, along with a Tiny URL generator somewhere. And I need more Games. That’d surely make me happy. And with time, we could probably see more regions been added. I am however sceptical about the revenue-model of this website. Does it only use the user-email IDs as contacts for future marketing avenues, and well, the other accounts associated? It is a tough model to generate revenue, as there are no ads on the website. This is a good thing for us users.
But at the end of the day, 44tips has a lot to offer, but there is no real amount of user customisation that is available on iGoogle. iGoogle also has a lot of themes, gadgets and widgets to choose from which we would like to see on 44tips. But taking 44tips for what it is, my verdict is – It surely is worth being the homepage on one of your browsers. Works just fine on IE7 and above, Firefox, Opera and Chrome. Haven’t tested on Safari, but should work fine. Do lemme know in the comments, what do you think about 44tips and if this review was helpful. Cheerio!