by May 29, 2012 0 comments

Web browser is one of those entities that see frequent updation and iteration all the time. So, to declare a particular browser as sacrosanct does not make sense. Keeping the same notion in mind, we at PCQ Labs conducted a web browser shootout to help our readers decide their new web browser. Speed, security and resilience to virus and threats are some of the key elements for deciding a browser for any user. Six web browsers in their latest avatars, namely Opera 11.62, Firefox 11, Chrome 18, Internet Explorer 9, Sea Monkey 2.8 and Safari 5.1 were tested on Windows 7 with several benchmarks, along with due consideration being paid to factors like ease of use and new features they promise.

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Speed & performance

The foremost expectation from a web browser is speed; its ability to open pages quickly and then navigate at the same pace. For this, we ran a benchmark called PeaceKeeper. This tests a browser’s capacity with page rendering, social networking, complex graphics, text parsing, DOM operations, data (string operations), etc. It works with desktop PCs, notebooks, netbooks, tablets, smartphones and many other devices, and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, etc.

At the end of the test, your browser receives a score indicating its overall performance. It’s simple to compare scores by running PeaceKeeper again in a different browser. Changing browsers to one that’s faster can mean that pages with dynamic content will be more responsive. It also tests the HTML 5 format for videos and other files that it can support.

JavaScript language & Flash

This is a JavaScript benchmark, which tests the core JavaScript language. It is designed to compare different versions of the same browser, and different browsers to each other. This test primarily focuses on actual problems that developers solve with JavaScript today, and the problems they may want to tackle in the future as the language gets faster. This includes tests to generate a tag cloud from JSON input, a 3D ray tracer, cryptography tests, code decompression, etc. This is an important test for Flash gamers, as it tests how your computer and its current settings run flash games.

Ease of use

The interface of a browser and the convenience in finding the tools with ease was given importance in our shootout. For instance, the zoom button in Opera 11.62 allows you to zoom-in with a single click. Whereas in Chrome, you have to open the settings to access the zoom button. Also, a browser with a clean interface but with plenty of hidden buttons won’t slow your work even by a second. The arrangement should be regular and hence convenient to use.

Special Features

Last but not the least, is the feature set that these browsers have. New features distinguish them from their predecessors. Feature like open source development can be useful for IT professionals or support for Flash can help a Flash gamer decide his browser. Opera Turbo, for instance, in Opera makes accessing a website quite fast by saving up on the data used during browsing. It does so by compressing a webpage through Opera server software. Therefore, more features a web browser has the more desirable it becomes.

Google Chrome 18

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The new Chrome has included some new features, such as Chrome Instant, Flash and PDF display. This makes it the only browser with built-in Flash and so one doesn’t have to undergo the process of downloading Flash player from Adobe’s website. With the inclusion of a PDF reader, installing Adobe plug-ins for viewing specialized Web content won’t be needed anymore. Also, noteworthy is the zoom button with plus and minus options that saves you the effort in opening another submenu for zooming in and out.

The new Chrome ought to be appreciated for the speedier browsing experience it provides, possible due to hardware acceleration, security tools like Sandboxing and malware warnings. It supports HTML5 and multiple tabs without slowing down the browsing speed, and has customizable extensions. We tested the browser on Peacekeeper, which tests various aspects of a browser, including web page rendering, social networking, complex graphics, text parsing, DOM operations, and data (string operations). Chrome was the winner with a score of more than 2500, leaving other browsers far behind.

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Bottomline : Featuring a minimalist design, Chrome in its latest avatar is faster than before and is an out and-out winner in performance benchmarks.

Apple Safari 5.1

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Apple Safari 5.1, the flagship browser from Apple runs well on Windows 7 with all the new features that it offers on Mac. A few welcome changes include a clutter-less web page followed by the new reading list and security features. However, it isn’t as fast as Chrome and is also not compatible with HTML5. The reading list feature is unique and allows you to save interesting articles for reading later on.

There is a new privacy screen where you can access the data Safari has stored for each site: cookies, caches, databases, etc. This data can be deleted along with Flash plug-ins with a single click. The security settings that allow or deny access to your physical location have been improved with more options like denying access comletely or once for each site. The new downloads manager allows downloads to be accessed immediately. It appears on screen hidden behind the downloads button, which also acts as the download progress bar. This feature is also available in Internet Explorer 9.

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Bottomline : Improved JavaScript performance, a clutter less web page along with the new reading list and security features, the new Safari 5.1 is not as good as Chrome but is definitely competition to Opera and Firefox.

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Opera 11.62

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Featuring an improved UI, Opera 11.62 has speed dials, just like Opera 11.5. The web page allows you to stack numerous speed dials at a time, where you can put your favourite websites for instant access, just like Chrome. Accessing a website is a breeze, and using Opera Turbo, you can save on the data used during browsing. Turbo compresses a web page through the Opera server software. Google Chrome also has a similar utility, called Google Web accelerator, but Turbo does a better job. It supports HTML5 and so can run websites that are compatible with HTML5.

The other feature that make Opera 11.5 faster is the use of hardware acceleration, which means processing is done through a graphics card and not through a CPU (a GPU is better at depicting graphics on a web page than a CPU). The browser looks cleaner and lighter with very few buttons, including a hidden panel button on the left bottom that shows your bookmarks, widgets, notes, history, etc. The browser can save a web page as a cache which can be accessed using other browsers as well. This feature is unique to Opera.

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Bottomline: The new Opera browser features some exclusive tools like the Opera Turbo, multiple speed dials and stylish page stacking. Overall, it is a workable alternative to Chrome.

Internet Explorer 9

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Internet Explorer 9 supports the HTML5 standard, which lets you access all websites designed using the HTML5 standard. It also supports hardware acceleration which means processing will be dependent on the GPU instead of the CPU, thereby making graphics rich and fast. Internet Explorer 9 uses the same engine as the Microsoft Security Essentials anti-malware package. The browser checks websites and downloads and warns you if an app you’re going to download isn’t signed or if a website seems inappropriate.

Privacy tools allow one to block elements such as those that gather browsing data. But that doesn’t apply to ads. Internet Explorer 9 has a unique download indicator, which shows the download progress on the browser icon itself. It is an improvement over its precursor IE8 and the browser has done well in JavaScript execution. Apart from the feature, the browser is way behind Chrome and Opera in performance.

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Bottomline: The best JavaScript performance, and with all ingredients required of a good browser, such as GPU support, HTML 5 and security tools, make IE 9 a close competitor to Chrome.

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Mozilla Firefox 11

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Firefox 11 may not be as fast as Chrome but in JavaScript performance, it is quite fast and second only to IE 9. It is ready with hardware acceleration and supports syncing for tabs, history, passwords and also add-ons among multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets, without bothering even once about the OS. It also allows importing of settings, cookies, history and bookmarks from Chrome.

However, the syncing process is not without setbacks. You can’t determine if it’s happening at a particular moment or not. The only way you can be sure is by checking the browser on all devices. Moreover, the browser doesn’t have features like built-in Flash, PDF reader, and Instant Page View that loads pages instantly, as is done in Chrome. A new feature called Tilt allows developers to use a 3D tool when inspecting page elements. The CSS Style editor allows you to change CSS code and paves the way for more interactive designing of web pages, thereby making it easier and faster for designers and developers to go through multiple designs.

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Bottomline: Firefox 11 may not be as fast as Chrome but in JavaScript performance, it is very good and only second to IE 9.

SeaMonkey 2.8

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SeaMonkey 2.8 is an all-in-one Internet suite, which not only provides browsing capabilities, but has an email client, built-in chat and a website editor to create basic websites. It also offers useful features like a password manager, customizable toolbars and the ability to restore sessions. SeaMonkey is built on Mozilla’s source code; hence the Internet browser has been graced with many of Mozilla’s security features and provides protection from viruses and fake phishing websites. However, despite the Firefox connection, we were disappointed by its slow speed.

Seamonkey 2.8 supports CSS text-size-adjust property along with HTML5. Files can now be stored in an indexed DB. View Source is now enabled for .eml files as well. However, it is now possible to import/save e-mail messages from .eml text files to folders. It also boasts of a new Add-ons Sync engine, while a Tabs toolbar has been added for Thunderbird and Lightning compatibility.

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Bottomline : SeaMonkey 2.8 is an all-in-one Internet suite that is more customizable than others but is slow despite being built on Mozilla’s source code.

Scan this code for more info.
To download a barcode app, SMS to 56677 from a mobile phone with Internet access and camera.

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