Thursday, 19 June 2008

A comparison of web browsers

It’s Thursday. That can only mean one thing: it’s geeky review time!

(Peppy theme tune… fade… push in on presenter)

Thank you. Today we’re going to look at internet browsers. I’m not very good at reviewing things, so heavy bias and half-arsed testing are pretty much a given.
Opera 9.5
It may have the worst shortcut icon of any program in history – a boring red ‘O’ – but this browser has long been a very slick piece of software. This latest version is more than a simple refinement though – it’s a total overhaul. The new look is a radical change but thankfully it kicks arse while retaining the familiar functionality. The best feature is ‘Speed Dial’, which can be set to open upon launch and lets you enter up to nine of your favourite sites as thumbnail images that can refresh automatically. This lets you see if a certain site has been updated without having to visit it.

Looks: 9
Speed: 8

Firefox 3
The popularity of this browser is increasing all the time and it has been generally recognised as the best choice for those wishing to escape from Microsoft. Mozilla, not wishing to rest on their laurels, have tried to keep ahead of the game with this latest version… but it’s a shocking disappointment. If you haven’t already downloaded it, don’t bother. In fact, I don’t know why I’ve included the link. The interface looks like it was designed on a Friday afternoon by the tea boy and for reasons I can’t imagine the browsing tabs don’t appear by default. (Yes, you can change this in the preferences, but that’s not the point.)

Looks: 2
Speed: 7

This is the standard web browser for Mac users, but it’s also available for Windows. In my experience it’s undoubtedly the fastest browser of them all – pages load very quickly indeed – but you won’t be able to appreciate that because your eyes will be bleeding from the horrendous interface. It’s standard Mac fare – a brushed steel effect minimalist snooze-athon. Far worse though is the font smoothing, which makes all text look smudged and messy. You can’t turn it off, either – there are just options for how much smoothing you want. Why not none? (I’m hard and edgy. I like hard edges.) Like Firefox, the tabs are missing by default but unlike Firefox there doesn’t appear to be a way to override this.

Looks: 1
Speed: 10

Internet Explorer 8
This is only a beta release at the moment but on first impressions, it’s exactly the same as version 7 apart from a few features that you’ll never use anyway. It’s still slow, it’s still clumsy and it’s still the most likely browser to display pages incorrectly.  

Looks: 5
Speed: 5

If you use Internet Explorer and you’ve never tried any other browser, just do it – I bet you won’t go back. They’re all free to download and all have their strengths, but I’ll be sticking with Opera.

(Peppy music fades in… fade to black… credits)

Next week: Vegetable peelers


editingrequired said...

as i commented here just 2 days ago, you're a sick, sick man graham.
pls, pls get some help soon...

Hermit Guy said...

Button it, or I'll cancel the roundup of vegetable peelers in protest. Then everyone will suffer.

editingrequired said...

why oh why is the first victim of war always potato peelers?

Hermit Guy said...

Perhaps their enemies have thick skin.

editingrequired said...

no to mention eyes in the back of their jimmy sommerville-shaped heads...

editingrequired said...

a potato (peeled and ready to mash it up):

and the true falsettista: