Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Google Chrome - A Review

logo_sm (by changyang1230)After years of hush hush, Google finally released its own Internet browser called Google Chrome! Check out the following links for more information:

If you have some ten minutes to spare, go ahead and try it out now! In fact earlier this morning, I spent ten minutes to download and play with it, and ended up almost missing my bus. :P

And now, time for a quick review after two hours of browsing with Chrome! My apologies in advance for the occasional technical remarks that might be boring to you.


My overall feeling for Chrome is that it's a stripped-down version of Firefox plus the Webkit (Safari) rendering engine plus some Opera designs (the tabs on top, the start page etc). And oh ya, the incognito (private) browsing from IE8.

The design and browsing experience feels so much like Firefox, at times I even forget that I am in a different browser. The only time the difference shows is when the webpage rendering differs from my expectation, e.g. the big "B" in my ReCom signature (it's small in Firefox but big in IE and Safari), or the chatbox in ReCom.

I can't help but to sense the irony in seeing Chrome as a stripped-down version of Firefox: Firefox was the stripped-down version of Mozilla suite when it first began before it gained all its fancy bells and whistles and when the bloat and memory complaints began to pour in. And now with Chrome, I can't help but to ask whether we are going through another cycle of "strip down and bloat over time" process again. In the few hours that Chrome is released, I have already seen discussion threads in various places asking for this and that feature to be added to Chrome. Eerm.

Of course no review of Chrome would be justified without mentioning its multi-threaded processing feature. So far I haven't seen any obvious advantage or problems from this distinct programming approach, and I think it will take time before we could ascertain the difference this will make.

Speed wise, I would say I put the rendering speed on par with Firefox 3.0.1 on my machine. Tab changing is snappy. Digg loading is definitely fast, despite the not-too-good result in the Celtic Kane javascript speed test.

Now for the minuses. The lack of extensibility is first sorely felt with the reappearance of advertisements throughout the Internet. ReCom, Digg, Sinchew and so on. After using adblock in Firefox all the while, I have grown so unfamiliar with what ads look like. Apart from the adblock, there are other features that I would sorely miss including Greasemonkey, Forecastfox, extension, and hey, the very new and cool Ubiquity from Mozilla Lab! Now there are rumours that Chrome may eventually allow extensibility, but to what extent this will affect its speed, stability and the "streamlined-ness" remains a contentious topic.

There are also some problems with scrolling. The lack of smooth scrolling is quite detrimental to the browsing experience - and hey, talk about things we take for granted in Firefox, IE, Opera etc.

Last but definitely not least: what the hell happened to RSS support?

UPDATE: After one hour of usage, Google Chrome crashed for no obvious reason. Unfortunately, it did not live up to its "kill one tab, save the whole browser" claim - the whole browser had to be ended and restarted.

Overall, Google Chrome provided an excellent albeit slightly-limited browsing experience for me, and considering that it's the first public beta version, I would give it a score of 9.5 out of 10. However, for the time being I will still stay with Firefox due to the reasons listed above and my familiarity with this beloved browser. :)


day-dreamer said...

Hahaha~ I knew this would be coming out from you sooner or later. :P

Overall, Chrome is a nice browser but it lacks some of the features from Firefox which I've grown so accustomed to. And it's hard to Facebook on Chrome, so I think the technical team would have to spend more time to improve it.

If only we can have the things we're so used to (from Firefox) in Chrome plus its original appealing features, I think it would be a very nice browser to use. But then, it wouldn't be so lag-free as it is now?

Ka Lip said...


changyang1230 said...

day-dreamer: Haha I always write about the launch of web browsers eh? :D By the way I am back to using Firefox full time. Chrome didn't win me over for more than one day.

Ka Lip: Haha ya, their "evil plan" totally got uncovered. :P They claim it to be a mistake, but who knows. They removed that particular clause by the way.