Tried and Tested: Top 5 Alternative Web Browsers
We all know the most popular web browsers, we use them everyday. But there are other browsers out there just as feature-filled and even faster.
The Big Five
We've had our taste of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer which are the most popular and widely used browsers in the world.
All of the aforementioned are installed in my PC. You might ask - why so many web browsers, isn't one enough? Well, if one is good enough, I just might settle for that. But it isn't so. One browser might start faster than the other, or load web pages more swiftly, or have better security and privacy features, or generally have more comprehensive functions, or add-ons and can be customized as to looks and settings. It boils down to personal preferences.
For example, I watch online video with a browser which has a built in flash player. For photo-intensive sites, I utilize another browser with a rendering engine which loads images faster. In other words, I use a specific browser for a particular browsing need.
When I noticed my latest version of Firefox was loading pages at a snail's pace, out of curiosity I searched for alternative browsers and I came upon dozens for Windows alone. I tried them, and the following passed my scrutiny:
1. Pale Moon - It is not exactly an alternative but more an alter ego of Firefox. It is open-source and based on Mozilla Firefox, and most Firefox extensions and plug-ins are compatible with Pale Moon. So what's the difference? Pale Moon is the optimized, custom-built and fine-tuned version of Firefox, which means, based on performance tests, it is 25 percent faster than Firefox. A one-fourth discrepancy may not be a lot but that speed counts significantly if you're on a slow internet connection. A most welcome feature is the presence of a page load progress indicator and a file download indicator. These are handy tools missing in Firefox, and for that alone, Pale Moon is thumbs up for me.
2. K-Meleon - This browser is lightning fast. It is now my main browser for online video watching. YouTube videos load fast, there is even no buffering. Yet this browser is based on the same Gecko layout engine as Mozilla Firefox and uses native Windows application programming interface. What also impressed me is the extensive customization options - lots of settings, tools and preferences to set and suit your most discriminating browsing habits. Furthermore, it is lightweight and not resource-intensive. I can live with this browser alone on my PC, and that's saying a lot.
3. SlimBrowser - This should be the standard for web browsers. They must be light, speedy and customizable. What's great about SlimBrowser is that you can make it as plain and simple or as robust and powerful, depending again on your personal preference. First time users may find the default interface cluttered or overloaded. You can work on it by removing or adding buttons, controls, tabs, options and make it look and perform however you want it to suit your browsing requirements. Organize and manage it intuitively. This is probably one of the most customizable browsers out there.
4. LunaScape - When you have the three most popular rendering engines (Trident, Gecko, WebKit) integrated into a single browser, it means comfortable high-speed browsing. It can switch to any engine either manually or automatically and use the most suitable one to display page contents. Hence, speed is a non-issue here. It is fast. One look at LunaScape's user interface and you know it has been well thought out. It has that professional modern look, and can even mimic a familiar desktop environment with a floating sidebar dock where you can access all your favorite add-ons. This browser supports thousands of Gecko add-ons plus many others tailor-made for it. For the tweak geek, LunaScape comes bundled with over a hundred built-in functions designed to provide the technology edge in web browsing.
5. Maxthon - When I read that the latest version of Maxthon draws web pages 200% faster than Google Chrome, I just had to try it to believe it. I have been using the words "fast" and "speedy" interchangeably to describe the browsers in this article. While I have no way of benchmarking and validating the claim of Maxthon against rival Chrome, but this I can say now - Maxthon is super-fast! If for that alone, no wonder it won the CNET WebWare 100 Awards in 2008 and 2009,and was #97 in PCWorld’s list of the 100 Best Products of 2011. The latest release, Maxthon 3, supports both the Trident and the WebKit rendering engines. Maxthon can switch between Ultra Mode, which uses WebKit to render up-to-date sites, and Retro mode, which uses a legacy engine for older sites. It also features safe browsing, lots of toolbar apps, smart drag-and-drop, autofill, multisearch, and ad and pop-up blockers. Fully featured, impressive, easy to navigate, and powerful! I just made Maxthon my default browser!
All the above listed alternative browsers have security and privacy features, and all are meant to make our web browing experience convenient, easy, safe and enjoyable. I never knew many of these alternative browsers until I made my research for this article and actually tried them. The above five passed with flying colors and are highly recommended by this writer. Try them. But here's a cautious note - you might find these alternative browsers so engaging, robust and intuitive that you might just forget the other regular browsers. It happened to me. Using the above browsers in a full week's time, I totally forgot Firefox and Chrome!