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Summary:

Whether you use Windows, or Mac OS X you are going to have a hard time determining which browser to use, which is right for you? Choosing a browser is basically like choosing a car, a car that will take you down the Information Super Highway. […]

Whether you use Windows, or Mac OS X you are going to have a hard time determining which browser to use, which is right for you? Choosing a browser is basically like choosing a car, a car that will take you down the Information Super Highway. Between browsers that do nothing, to browsers that do everything. We’re about to figure out which one is right for you.

Safari – This browser is the default browser that is packaged with OS X, it’s clean cut, simple, and it gets the job done. A simple word analogy would describe this best; Safari is to OS X, as Internet Explorer is to Windows. This browser has a very intuitive and easy to use interface, and it’s fast; if not the fastest of browsers on OS X. But where you gain speed, you lose features. Safari is the bare bones of what you need in a browser; no extensions, no plugins, no themes. It’s a browser simple as that, but it does have full compatibility with OS X, becuase well…it is OS X.

Firefox – Firefox is everyone’s favorite web browser. This is that web browser, that everyone has something that they will love. I originally got into Firefox when Mozilla first came out, I hear of it on the old glorious days of TechTV, and downloaded it. Soon I heard of the project we’ve known to come and love as Firefox. I’ve used it on PC ever since, and I pretty much force my family to use it as well. Now if you noticed how I worded that I didn’t say I’ve used it on Mac ever since. That’s because it’s slower on Macs, it’s not native to Cocoa, which means it runs slower. When I first made the switch to the Mac platform it was all I knew of so I used it, but very soon after downloading it, I noticed it would crash periodically, and it ran, and loaded webpages slower than it did on PC. Of course this is no fun, especially with Firefox. When I use Firefox on the PC I have mutliple extensions loaded up, themes, the works. Of course this only slowed it down more, and made it crash even more frequently; this is when I progressed onto other browsers.

Camino – After I figured out that Firefox just didn’t feel right in OS X I learned about Camino. Camino’s slogan is “Mozilla Power, Mac style” and it is just that. It’s fast, less frequent crashes, and it has more features than Safari. However, it still lacks extensions, plugins, and skins of it’s brother Firefox. However with sites like Pimp My Camino, you can still add extended features, and skins to Camino though scripts and little tricks.
Opera – Even though I was thoroughly satisfied with Camino, and continue to use it regularly. It still missed something, that X-Factor. So I went to the next browser I heard of, Opera. First and foremost, I’m going to address what I liked most about Opera, Widgets. Opera has it’s own individual widget engine. It’s almost like the program Konfabulator is right with in the browser. At first I thought the widgets would minimize with the browser, but they don’t. They sit right atop the desktop just like any other widget, however they are not really affected by Expose. So reaching your widgets is sometimes annoying. It’s almost a reminder of the good old Windows XP days where you have to dig through all of your windows just to find your desktop or a folder or another window. However, if you close Opera, your widgets close as well; this is kind of annoying because there are a few widgets I really like, and I hate having to have a browser open just for a couple widgets. Among Opera, I’ve been using it for about a week, and it has not crashed once, and it’s reasonably fast at loading webpages, and running in general.

Omniweb – I’m not a huge fan of this particular browser, but through my time of using it, it didn’t crash. It browsed the web, and got the job done. A few thing in particular that I really liked about the browser is that it offers the ability to have open different workspaces. Now if you aren’t sure what a workspace would be, it is the tabs, windows, and pages you have open for a particular project. Now say you are working on a project, and you want to start work on something else, without totally abandoning the old project, just create a new workspace. This option will hide all the workspaces except the one you want to work on, then you can change it if you need to. The tab managment system is nice, however I’m not sure that I personally like it. Rather than a small bar at the top with tabs, it has a bar that you open and close on the side of the browser window which shows small thumbnails of each tab. I like the thumbnails, but I’m not sure how I like having to open a sidebar to access my tabs.

Shiira – In my opinion the best way to look at Shiira is an alternative to Safari; it’s simple, and works. It lacks features on the end of extentions, plugins, and skins. However it isn’t as bland as Safari seeing as it’s a bit more colorful, and it allows you to change a few minor details with how the browser looks.

Flock – As far as features go, Flock is the cream of the Crop. If you blog, upload, and find yourself totally obsessed with RSS, this is the browser for you. It has full integration with all of your Web 2.0 needs. This includes Del.icio.us integration with sharing your bookmarks, a very nice Flickr upload feature, blogging feature that works with most major blogging platforms. Great things are coming from this browser, it’s fast, it doesn’t crash, and it has more features than you could ask for. As well as the ability to add extensions. I loved the idea of this browser, and I tried using it for several weeks and convinced myself that I liked it. But it’s almost that there are too many features, and that it’s too good. I found that I still used my old ways to blog, upload, and bookmark; rather than using the great features of Flock. The plethora of features are astounding. For instance, say you are typing a blog entry, and you want to include a photo. You upload the photo to Flickr or Photobucket, tag it, then pull that photo into the blog editor, and type an entry. All in all, it’s not a bad browser by any means, it’s just a bit too much to take in at once.

I tested each of these browsers for roughly a week to 2 weeks, and there are plenty of other browsers out there for Windows and OS X. So in the never ending search for a browser to fit your needs, God-Speed.

  1. Flock has lots of potential but it takes some time to soak it all its features. It still feels a little clumsy and slow in comparison to Safari or Camino.

  2. You might be more fond of the powerful feature set and speed of OmniWeb if you were using version 5.5, which is currently in testing (sneaky peek builds).

  3. Shiira is fast. Very fast, in fact. One of the things I like about it is that its download window is a sidebar, unlike Firefox’s, which is a separate window. The only downside to Shiira is that it chokes on secure sites.

    You also left out iCab.

  4. Nice article! I recently have been searching around for new browsers to explore and I’d have to agree with your comments on each of those browsers. (I settled on Camino for it’s speed.) Might I also suggest Songbird. It’s basis is Firefox with XUL and a media player integrated into it. It’s a fresh and different approach to browsers.

  5. I use quite a few plugins in safari… mostly related to adblocking and getting rid of the fugly brushed aluminum.

    I’ve tried everything else on your list and just could never bring myself to totally switch. Camino is nice… Firefox is ok… Safari is my kind of girl though :p

  6. Safari is the bare bones of what you need in a browser; no extentions, no plugins, no themes.

    Well, that’s not entirely true. Safari HAS plugins. Just check PimpMySafari.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with Camino as the browser of choice.

    Until Firefox fixes this (IMO) rendering bug, I can’t stand to use it on OS X, since it crops up in probably 75% of pages in my experience.

  8. There are plenty of plugins for Safari, although certainly not as many as Firefox. Safari is stinkin’ fast though, faster than any other ones I’ve tested. All the features in Flock are better handled in their own applications, IMHO (ecto, cocoalicious, etc). Camino is my backup if Safari won’t render it properly, which isn’t very often. Also, if you do like OmniWeb-style thumb tabs, Safari has a plugin that will add it.

    Adblock – SafariBlock or PithHelmet
    Everything else – Saft
    Thumb tabs and more – SafariStand

    (granted, Saft and PithHelmet cost a negligible shareware fee)

  9. Sorry, but it’s Cyberdog all the way for me!

  10. I discovered Flock recently, and I have quickly become addicted to it. I can’t imagine browsing any other way. I like all the integration with the various accounts : Flickr, WordPress, del.icio.us, etc…

    Even the RSS feeds allow you to post directly to your blog…

    My problem now is having subscribed to too many feeds…my productivity is suffering.

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