Monday, September 08, 2008

Burning Chrome

I downloaded Chrome on day one and have been using it in conjunction with Firefox for the last couple of days. I have to say that I rather like it.

First of all, the interface is very uncluttered. I like uncluttered. I've been hiding toolbars in Firefox and IE for a while now so having no real toolbars is a refreshing change. There is a bookmarks toolbar that can be displayed or hidden.


The rendering engine works well and pretty quickly. For all the hoo-ha about speed of browsers you hear bandied about back and forth between Firefox (yeah), IE7 (meh), or Safari (blah). Although Safari does render text better than the other two.

Set up is easy as Chrome imports everything from IE or Firefox, including saved username and password data in addition to your bookmarks. Transitioning is easy as you can just use your websites like before. Go to your newspapers or forums and your in without fuss.

I even sort of like the 3 options tabs: Basics, Minor Tweaks and Under the Hood. It's mildly informative and mildly juvenile.


There are downsides. The two biggest are this: rich media content and extensions.

Extensions first. There aren't any. I guess you can use your Google homepage widgets, but for someone who's got his Delicious extensions and Scribefire and what not else already set up the way he likes it Chrome will remain a novelty install and not a default browser.

Rich media content. The way that Chrome opens each tab in it's own process rather than threading means that the memory is managed superbly. Compare that the memory leaking memory hog that my beloved Firefox is. But something has gone wrong in the implementation. The way content on YouTube or Quicktime files is displayed tends to freeze the entire browser.

While Firefox may take up most of a gig of memory if you leave it open all day, it handles 3 tabs of YouTube, a Daily Show clip and Bill Maher's New Rules in QT format with aplomb. Chrome gets an intestinal blockage and, as my grandmother used to say, doesn't know whether to shit or go blind. This is particularly ironic given that the stated purpose of throwing Chrome out there is to improve the display and experience of rich content and online applications.

Chrome is not the future of web browsing, nor is it an unqualified improvement on current browsers. But it is a tentative step in a slightly different direction. It will be good to see what happens in release 2, but for now it's just another browser.

No comments: