A newsreader is a software application specifically designed to read articles from Usenet. Because of the way that information is posted to Usenet, it must be decoded and often combined from split files before it is useful to the user. This is where a good newsreader can be very useful.
There are many newsgroup providers that offer web based Usenet surfing capabilities, and while this is very convenient, web based Usenet surfing is very limited in its ability to offer advanced features such as combination of split file messages, and are often slower than newsreaders.
The main advantage that a newsreader offers over a web gateway is the ability to simultaneously scan several servers and several groups at one time. This allows a newsreader to download content at much higher speeds than can be obtained from a web gateway, and is especially important when downloading large multimedia and software files. Another advantage offered by simultaneous connections is an increase in article completion. By scanning several servers and groups for articles, you can greatly increase your chances of finding all the parts to a large file that you are downloading. If a piece of a large file is missing from one server, a good newsreader will automatically search other servers for the missing piece. This would be very time consuming with a web based reader, or a low quality newsreader.
A newsreader can also save a lot of time, as it can be set to download all the files from your favorite newsgroups automatically, so you can just set it to download overnight, and come back to find all of your files downloaded and ready for use. Many newsreaders can operate on a set schedule. This allows you to set the newsreader to download at night so your Usenet downloads will not use all the available bandwidth during the day when you are using your line for work or general web surfing.
Downloading and viewing thousands of images becomes very easy when using a good newsreader. The newsreader can be set to download the images overnight, and when you return, you can have tens of thousands of photos to view. What’s more, these images can be sorted and displayed as thumbnails making it very easy to filter out the ones that you do not want before you save them.
While it may sometimes be advantageous to use a web gateway while away from home or for a quick content search, or to view some images, the convenience and power of a newsgroup reader makes it an essential tool for any Usenet User.