Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Review of 7 Web Browsers.

The Internet sure has come a long way since I first discovered it in 1993. MMOs, email, and streaming video are things that all of us have taken advantage of due to all of the technology that has been developed. Still, the bread and butter of the Internet has been surfing the web. This isn't the old days of AOL where companies were excited to announce that they had a channel on the service. Now EVERYONE has a website. Homeless actors, small companies, and entertainment moguls have websites. Even I have two. It is for this reason that when you're sitting at your computer (or the Apple Store's) that it is important you are comfortable with the thing that gets you to your website: your web browser.

Once again, this isn't the old days of AOL where there was only Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. There are several web browsers out there that people rely on to communicate, learn, and waste tons of time that could be better spent. I downloaded seven different web browsers onto my Windows computer to test. I'll tell you what I noticed about them that was good, and what I didn't like. Best of all, I was able to ask some of my people on Facebook and the Pwtorch message board what they thought as well.

As a side note.: If these web browsers are not available for the Mac, I'm sorry. That's why I don't own a Mac. They tend to get the same stuff that windows gets, but a year later.

Also, as a second side note..: I don't work for the man, so my opinions are honest and sincere. I'm not saying I'm against selling out and working for the man, but for now I do not.

As a third side note...: I am just going by what I noticed on these web browsers. If there is some cool feature I missed, I am sorry. They should have done a better job of forcing me to see it.


Google Chrome:

Don't you remember when you thought Microsoft was taking over the world by purchasing and producing anything and everything? Google is Microsoft for the 21st century (until some other company takes their place.) You knew they had to come out with a web browser because they have something for everything. I'm even writing this article on Google documents.


Chrome is best described as "clean." There's not a ton of buttons like other browsers which keeps it from looking sloppy and cluttered. Trust me, you know how it feels to have a clean environment whether it's your computer desktop, house, or web browser. If you're like me, you hate using other people's computer's because you bookmark so many web pages that it's impossible to remember where you like to visit. Chrome has a feature to import all of your bookmarks and settings from your Firefox or Internet Explorer. The only other feature that I notice for Chrome is the Incognito Mode. While some people may call it porn mode, it's useful for more than just smut.


Let's say you're planning on surprising your significant other with a new car, you might not want them to see that you've been on the Mercedes Benz (or Hyundai) website. Incognito mode
won't show your browser history, search history or cookies to whoever uses the computer after you. Just consider it our little secret.
Chrome also has a "most visited pages" feature.
This lists your most viewed web pages with screen shots. This is particularly useful if you can't remember why you love the Internet in the first place.
Besides that, I didn't notice anything else spectacular about Google Chrome, but it's clean and safe, and I can't argue with that.
AOL Explorer:
Now we have AOL Explorer. I was not impressed with this browser one bit. It crashed and froze up a lot. There was very little in the way of innovation for this browser as well. The only thing that it had was the ability to see screen shots of previous pages on the back button

There were some buttons on the left side of the browser which for someone like me is usually annoying. I like the maximum amount of screen space possible unless its for a worthy cause. Signing on to AIM or icq is not such a cause.

This was my least favorite browser, and I wouldn't mind if someone could explain why a former powerhouse like AOL could let their name get put on something that no one should want to use.

Microsoft Internet Explorer:
When you are the man, you will have your fair share of detractors, but when you are not the man anymore that people really spew their venom. The once almighty Microsoft which used to dominate the Internet browser scene still has a fairly competent browser, but so many years of stagnation are going to make it hard for people to make it their default browser again. In fact, you could say some people hate Internet Explorer (IE). Let me open my quote book if you will.
"Definitely Firefox. It ain't IE and it never crashes."

"do you want (your) baby... to know that his mother uses inferior products?" (in response to some saying that she uses IE)

"I wish IE would just die already."

"i guess IE is for the less cool ppl lol."

"less frustrating than explorer." (when talking about why he likes Firefox)
"IE sucks a$$"
"Freak." (response to somoene else saying they like IE)
"Umm... If everyone else is saying Firefox, then don't you think you should try to fit in a little better and at least lie?" (response to someone who said he liked IE.)
"Liar." (whe someone said IE was the least annoying web browser)
"Much faster than IE." (comparing Chrome to IE)
All that negativity is probably more than IE deserves. IE has all the bells and whistles of a standard browser, but not much else. The only thing that I liked was the "Suggested Sites" feature.
This allows you to see other websites that have the same theme as the site you're viewing. I was on imdb.com, and my suggested sites were: Rottentomatoes.com, netflix.com, Yahoo movies, etc. That could be useful if you're doing research for a particular subject such as web browsers or something like that.
The best thing this browser has going for it is that it's the preloaded browser when you buy a Windows based computer. Most people who said they liked it mentioned that it does what they need. That same attitude makes me think that the only reason anyone uses IE is because it's the first one they saw.

Internet Explorer also has the "most viewed webpages" tab which comes up when you open a blank page. It's about the same as Chrome's so no screen shot for you.
Once again, IE is perfectly acceptable, but there was a time when Microsoft wouldn't put out anything "perfectly acceptable."

Safari:

This is an Apple-centric browser as it's the default for all Apple computers and Iphones. I have to be honest, it got a little "crashie" for me. It could just be my set up, but an application crash is an application crash.

One cool thing Safari has going for it, is that you can customize your toolbar by dragging and dropping different items on there.


You can be as fung shui or as Messy Marvin as you like. Let's say you don't have a printer, then why would you need a printer button on your web browser.


Safari has a top sites mode.


While it's the same ol' stuff, I do give it credit for being a little more stylish than the other ones.

There's also a Private browsing mode for smut lovers...or someone buying a new Hyundai for his wife. One problem I noticed is that it's hard to tell you're in private browsing because you don't have the creepy sleuth in the upper right hand corner the way you do for Chrome.

As a little tidbit for our vision impaired readers Safari allows you to set a minimum font size for all pages that you view. No more super small text for people. It's just plain annoying anyway.


That was actually quite impressive, and a pretty good reason to give Safari a shot.



Opera:

This one was a bit of a treat, and one of the reasons why I'm glad I started this little project. Opera is the web browser for the Nintedo DS and Wii. If you don't have either system, then you may not have heard about it. Opera's big feature is the "Speed Dial" feature.



This feature is like the "most visited web pages" feature on the other browsers, but it allows you to choose your nine favorite websites. That's pretty cool, but the really cool part is that you can decide how often those web pages update.



I think this is a huge decision maker when deciding your favorite web browser. If you're like me, and you have ten websites open at once, this could help you out. I feel like I'm working security at huge department store. If you've seen Matrix Reloaded I kind of feel like the guy near the end of that movie too.
Opera also has a "Wand" feature.



It's your typical autofill feature, but it's a lot better if you're the only person that uses that computer.

There are also "tiles."



Once again, if you look at a bunch of websites, this might help you keep track of all the madness.

There are also a handy selection of widgets to get. They range from crossword puzzles to world facts. It's all the stuff you'll see on an iGoogle page, but you can have them anywhere. You can also download different skins to give your web browser a different look as well. Like Safari, Opera enables you to add and remove whatever buttons you want on your browser.

Opera claims to have voice support. I just found out about this while writing, so I did not try it out. They claim you can give your browser commands with your microphone. You can tell it to go to the next website in your list, or you can even have it read selections of text back to you. Feel free to try it out if you decide to download it.

Other than that, I was very happy with this browser, and besides the fun features, there were no crashes or freeze ups to report.


Mozilla Firefox:

This is the big dog...or fox. A very brief history of how Firefox came to be courtesy of Wikipedia. Netscape and Internet Explorer are battling for Internet supremacy. IE was free Netscape was only free for non-commercial use. IE was preloaded onto every computer (including Apples from 1997 to 2002.) Microsoft had tons and tons of money to advertise, and Netscape didn't. Netscape finally threw in the towel in 2008. The people from Netscape developed a web browser that tried to gain a foothold. They named it Phoenix, but some people complained about copyrights. They named it Firebird, but some other people complained about copyrights. They named it Firefox, and no one complained.

Technically it only has 22.9% of web browser usage, but from my research it seems to be the people's choice. People brag about Firefox being safer. They worry less about viruses. I have no idea if Firefox is better at stopping viruses, but people think it is, and that's what's most important. People also say it has better pop up filters. My personal favorite though is the automatic spell checker. I hate spelling errors. It's a pet peeve of mine, so if I see a red squiggly line under anything I write, I want to make sure that I figure out the right spelling.

The biggest treat for Firefox is the add-on support.



I honestly have added on so much stuff to Firefox that I can't tell what came with the browser, and what I downloaded. I have add-ons that change the skins of my browser, a weather forecast, and a bookmark organizer. Almost all of the browsers have this, but once again, Firefox is the people's choice. When someone wants to develop something for the web, they usually will do it for Firefox first.



If you just look at the screen shot, you'll see what I mean. A big plus is that with Firefox being open source there's no telling what heights they'll reach.

Flock:

This is the last browser we are studying, and it's a lot of fun. It was completely developed using the open source of the Firefox codebase. It is special because it focuses on social networking. Facebook, Myspace, Blogs, Tweets, Youtube and so much more can be handled from here.

On the left column, you can have all of your Facebook status messages, and on the top column, you have can photo streams from Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, and many many more.

If you're a blogger, this can be very fun too. You can log into any of the dozens of blogging hosting services out there, and do all of your blogs from a little mini screen instead of going to the website. Even if this sounds difficult, Flock has dozens of Youtube videos explaining very clearly how to do all of this.

You can also navigate all of your twitter feeds better, find and share media with your friends, and read news feeds.


All in all, this was my favorite of all the browsers. I love nifty things, and this one is nifty to the max.


The concludes my listing of all the web browsers. I started this task on Thursday, and was having so much fun, I decided to write about it. I hope you found a good reason to try a few of these browsers out (or all of them.) Just a quick thanks my Facebook and PWTorch community for responding to my questions. Without your complaints about IE I wouldn't have felt halfway interested in writing an article about all the other web browsers out there.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

2 comments:

CW said...

...never heard of Flock. Learn something new every day.

a ji o ji suno ji said...

These people are truly talented people. I give them thumbs up for being able to create such wonderful websites.
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