Reading blogs has become a primary source of news for me. I sorely missed FeedDemon when I switched to Mac. Then I found about about NetNewsWire, but dawdled on buying it. Surprise, BOTH are now free. My favorite apps list just got bigger and free-er. I'll expand on the details of each below.
Feed readers make your blog reading more productive. Yes, I know about Bloglines and Google Reader (and other web-based readers), but these desktop readers are my preference for a few reasons. Those who live in the browser or bounce between machines may prefer web-hosted solutions. However, putting me in front of a browser, leaves me itching to hit a few favorite bookmarks, check AdSense, frequent flyer miles and other BBADD ideas (Browser-based Attention Deficit Disorder). Plus, lately I've been getting paranoid about having ALL my data at Google, so I spread the data to make the harvesting a little harder, even if that expands the password/identity hassles/risks.
The "fog of surfing" quickly crushes my plans for focused RSS raids in Firefox (apologies to Carl von Clausewitz). In contrast, I find that FeedDemon gives a comforting and quick "customized newspaper" my favorite feeds. NetNewsWire has a little different interface paradigm, but I can still sail through feed faster than plain surfing, Firefox Sage extension surfing or using Bloglines and succumbing to BBADD temptations.
UPDATE 1/11/07: Nick Bradbury himself discusses, Why Use a Desktop RSS Reader? (Note he does NOT make it a all-or-nothing argument like some).
Windows RSS Reader: FeedDemon now $0
FeedDemon comes from the genius of Nick Bradbury, who also developed the original HomeSite HTML editor. I bought FeedDemon years ago when he sold it directly. I've always loved the newspaper view and the innovative blog-search-results-feed. The search lets you create a "feed" that is the dynamic results of searching across blogs-- VERY handy when you want to stay on top of emerging news on a few related topics of interest.
Mac RSS Reader: NetNewsWire now $0
This one is a little newer to me, but I'm liking it a lot after 2 days of heavy use. NetNewsWire has the features you'd expect and a nice capability to open posts in either your preferred browser or the built-in browser. Opening things in the built-in browser reduces the clutter, while still letting you easily read the full-featured verison of the posts. Besides an nice Outlook-eque 3 panel view, the NetNewsWire browser pane also includes sharp, useful thumbnail views of each open "tab" of blog posts content.
Both readers really shine if you use the feature to clean-out infrequently read feeds (literally NetNewsWire "dinosaurs"). For further blog-reading productivity boosts, you can become a FeedDemon speed demon by applying the Inbox Zero techniques from the 43 Folders organizational site to RSS reading. I've tried it and it works great!
Speaking of BBADD behavior, have you seen the Gizmodo CES horseplay? I'm not sure I'd be proud of that.