I haven’t done a tech type article in a while, which I’m feeling a bit guilty about, but yesterday lit a fire under my ass while discussing how to improve Sirius/XM radio with a friend of mine. Driving home after the discussion, I realized that the whole conversation would have made a great article, discussing hardware, legacy units, subscription models, and a blue-sky business plan.
This isn’t that article.
What I did think about, after the fact, was that I was using my browser during the discussion to look up various points. We take browsers for granted. At best, they are the unobtrusive frame for our internet experience. At worst, they are like a crying child at the mall. Our hands are tied, we’re always distracted by it while doing our business, and we just want it to grow up so it can take care of itself.
I have 3 machines:
-Dell Inspirion netbook running Jolicloud OS based on HTML5 and Linux.
-HP G42 laptop running Windows 7 (3GB RAM)
-Cyberpower custom build running Windows 7 (8GB RAM)
I didn’t include the processors here because I don’t have the exact specs off the top of my head, but I figured the ones above will be evident in the comparison. Bear with me. If you’re not a tech person, just remember “netbook, laptop, big fugly nerd computer.” I have a little tale of how each computer got to where it is now, but if you just want the pros and cons, skip down to the bottom.
I also didn’t include pictures because honestly, do you really want to see a picture of a browser window in your browser window?
IE8 vs. IE9 vs. Chrome
My netbook is lightning fast, which is partly because of the flash hard drive and the Jolicloud OS. Jolicloud runs like a tablet interface, and the majority of the software is run via cloud. Jolicloud recommends Google Chrome, so I have been running that for a while. Again, lightning fast, and on the small netbook screen, it take up very little space in the top toolbar and other navigation bits. I’ve had it for about 6 months now, and I noticed that when I need to jump online for a moment, the netbook is the device of choice.
My home computer, the big ‘un, has Windows 7 and came with Internet Explorer 8. This is very boring, it’s vanilla. Not that I’m trying to diss vanilla, it’s better than eating Elmer’s Glue, but you know, it’s not something that will take you to new places. Most links will launch a new window, so you can end up with lots of open IE boxes if you’re not careful to right-click and “open in new tab”.
The laptop is the same, Windows 7 and IE8.
Recently, I upgraded the home system from IE8 to IE9. The first observations were that it was cleaner looking, and had some great autorecovery features when pages crash. Also, crashes do not affect other tabs, so you don’t lose your 10 webpages just because lolcatz is having a bad day. I noticed though that after a reboot, IE9 takes a bit longer to load than IE8 on my laptop. So I compared, in a non tech spec methodology, the times to load pages and the ins-and-outs of IE8 vs IE9 vs Chrome.
I installed Chrome on the HP and noticed it was also faster on that laptop, and more stable. So is it my home PC that has other issues? With 8GB of RAM and a faster processor, unless my home computer is severely infected with something malicious (highly unlikely), I have to think that the young IE9 still has some issues to be worked out.
Chrome on the HP was easy to install, and I was able to import my existing bookmarks and update the default search engine, but I really felt like every check box was trying to trick me into the Google collective more than Microsoft. I guess a couple of anti-trust suits made sure MSFT gives you clear enough opt-outs, so I thank Bill Gates and the boys for being a monopoly.
After this conversion, here’s the nutshell:
-Fast loading and browsing
-Clean interface with little obtrusion
-Integrates well with my other google products
-Launches “new” windows as tabs
-Cumbersome customization; there’s no “ok” to save your homepages so you’re left wondering “did it save my changes?”
-Too clean; yes, too clean. The default view leaves you poking around to find some of the settings, wondering if you should right click on the top of the toolbar or tab, or do you click the wrenchy looking icon.
-Most webpages are optimized for IE8
-EASIEST browser for changing default search engines
-Old. Being behind the trends means you’ll get where you want to go, and most of the bugs have been long worked out, but you’re in a Toyota Corolla. It won’t ever get better, and you’re going to be left in the dust the longer you drive it.
-Terrible when a page crashes. Hope you saved those links, because the whole browser is going down.
-Fast (after initial boot up)
-Unobtrusive interface with more intuitive settings and customization than Chrome
-Why is initial boot up still taking longer to initialize?
-I haven’t noticed Chrome’s autorecovery… hmmm… you see what I’m inferring.
I’d say Google Chrome is the winner, after it’s installed and you set your customization. Point blank: go to the Chrome download site, watch the little pictures, and install it. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it will keep you happy while browsing with that “forget it’s there” positive experience.
For the Apple crowd, I don’t own any Apple OS devices other than my iPods, and my tangent experiences with their browsers left me unimpressed, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just, you know, a Camry.
And you Firefox fans? I’ve been skeptical of installing Firefox upgrades, mostly after seeing high memory use become a more common issue with upgraded versions after 2.0 was released. I’m not going to dog Firefox though because it still has a great experience (I used this on my netbook when it had Ubuntu, and it was fine).
Go out and give Chrome a spin. If you don’t like it, you can always uninstall it. No harm, no foul, no fanboys.
Finally, in one of those joyful moments of Murphy’s Law, regardless of which browser I use, the WordPress spellcheck function isn’t working today…
*UPDATE* NEW SAFARI ANNOUNCED AT WWDC BY APPLE. Looks like our choices continue to grow and change… looks promising…
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