Netscape has posted Netcaster Preview Release 3 to their Web site. While I think you owe it to yourself to check it out (it's a quick, automatic update) I cannot recommend this product at this time. Here's why:
  • To subscribe to Netcaster Channels, you now have to sign up with Netscape's "Inbox direct" program. I don't use Netscape Mail, and I suspect most other Navigator users don't either. This should not be a pre-condition.
  • Viewing a Channel full-screen is now the default (as it should be). But when you click on most links in the Channel that is displayed full-screen, it opens a floating Navigator window! Come on, Netscape, I want that to open in the pre-existing full-screen navigator Webtop, not in a new window. Besides, the floating window that appears is usually too tall for my display and you CAN'T resize it! This should be customizable. Microsoft's IE 4.0 does this right: when you click on a link in the IE 4.0 Active Desktop, a new window does NOT open.
  • I don't know if this is a problem with Netscape's "dynamic" HTML or just a fundamental problem with Netcaster, but the display is SLOW. I have a Pentium 166 with 64 MB of RAM and 4 MB of video RAM and nothing should display this poorly on my system. If you're really interested in trying something slllloowwwwww, try one of the Marimba Castanet channels.
Hopefully, Netscape will fix these problems which, for me, add-up to me not ever using it. You should make your own decision, however: it is a lot smaller than IE 4.0, at least, and the sliding Netcaster window, though very slow, is pretty cool.

As for new features, this third beta adds a Channel status light. Channels that have been updated with new content have a green light, while those experiencing errors in transmission will have a red light. If the Channel has no new information, it will have no light at all