What's the first thing you see when you fire up your browser? If you said "default web page", you defnitely need this article. Everyone has a list of websites they visit routinely, and yours could be email, social networking forums, news sites, blogs, or just about anything else that fascinates you. The point is, there are sure to be some sites that you visit regularly for updated information.
This may be lesser known, but those who use it,may be assured that;this site features a huge array of widgets (or 'flakes' as they call them), the most flexible layout options, and a robust back-end.
Pageflakes has Google search integrated right into the top section of the page, and yes, the cursor goes straight there on page load. The interface is pretty simple to use – there's always a big Menu button located on the top right that contains all the flakes you can add, along with settings and customization options. You can choose from a good number of themes – there's something for everyone!
To my delight, Pageflakes does offer a four-column interface instead of the standard three columns used by the other two. That aside, things are far from perfect. The widget selection is extremely limited. There's minimal support for Google applications, barring the regular Gmail, Search and Calendar. While some widgets are absolutely brilliant in their design, there are others that were buggy throughout my tests. Even the basic Wikipedia and Face book widgets were far from practical or perfect.
All I can say is that if you find the widgets you're looking for, Pageflakes is definitely the best-looking of the three options. Otherwise, you could wait, until you find one here..
-Best-looking of the 3 options
-Very few Google services supported
-Some widgets are a bit buggy
Speed and simplicity are the two biggest assets of Netvibes. What I really like about this site is that you can keep it as straightforward or as complex as you like – and in either case it will deliver.
Though it has a pretty cool widget for search (which shows the immediate result within the widget box itself), you'll have to click on the search box to activate it. I'd have loved it if the widget had the same cursor grabbing function as iGoogle, but then again, the search here is a widget, not a part of the base page.
Netvibes too has a tabular page setup, and all the widgets in the tabs are refreshed each time you launch it. The best part is there's absolutely no lag in the startup time, which makes it very functional.
There are a lot of personalization options. The themes here are not as dynamic as in iGoogle but they look pretty good. There are little other customization options like adding icons and changing colors of your tabs to keep things personal. Surprisingly, you don't have an option to select the number of widget columns on your pages. You have to stick to the default three-column setup, which is ideal for most monitors, but kind of wasted on a widescreen. You can however, adjust the width of the columns by simply pulling them at the edges.
-Clean Web 2.0 interface
-Fast loading times
-Doesn't feature all of Google's services
-Limited to 3 columns per page
if you're the type who practically lives off Google, via Google Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Orkut, Reader, etc. the choice is pretty clear already. iGooogle is the most compatible startup page you will find with these applications. The design is pretty minimalist, but considering that the biggest selling point of Google is its simplicity, I can't cut any points for that.
What I like best is that the Google search bar is permanently integrated into the page header – this not only cuts down your need to look for a good Google search widget but also ensures that your cursor is always present in the search bar by default when the page loads, so you can just type away your query when at iGoogle.
You can have multiple tabs on your homepage, and classify widgets according to category or usefulness. The vast widget library covers almost everything you'll want, and configuring and personalizing widgets is very straightforward. You can add a personal touch by selecting custom headers for your page, many of which change according to the time of the day. You can even create personal widgets, without the need to know any HTML and other programming languages. It's true these widgets tend to be a bit limited in nature, but it's still a great value-add.
The biggest gripe I have with iGoogle is its loading time. Of all the personal homepages I tested, iGoogle took the longest to fire up. It also has a limitation of having only three columns of widgets per page. Considering I use a widescreen monitor at 1680x1050 resolution, I could easily make space for a couple more columns per page.
-Easiest to add widgets/configure
-Maximum Google compatibility
-Looks a bit bland
-Limited to 3 columns per page