I like to consider myself somewhere in between a bleeding edge and outside the norm type of user when it comes to computers. So when I happened upon an article reviewing the new features of Google’s Chrome 3, I decided to give it a try… again.
I did try Chrome when it was released and was very unimpressed. It struck me as Firefox without the frills. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a bad thing, but why switch from what works to the other side that is a “knock-off”.
Earlier this week, I dove in and installed the latest incarnation of Chrome. The install was typical and easy. It installed without a hitch and asked if I would like to import my Firefox bookmarks. I did this and it even put my bookmark toolbar in the same place as Firefox. Once installed, one of the first features I
noticed was the “New Tab” screen. This screen presents you with the sites you most visited as screen shots and recently closed in chronological order below that as a list. This feature is pretty nice and makes me wonder how I lived without it before. Note that you can add this functionality in Firefox via plug-ins but it’s good to have built in as part of the browser.
System Resource Usage
Being that I’m very aware and somewhat obsessive about system resource usage, I then immediately proceeded to check Chrome’s memory and CPU use. While looking through the process list in the Windows 7 task manager, I soon noticed that Chrome was running multiple processes. Like Internet Explorer 8, it runs each tab as a separate process. This benefits the user considerably because when you close a tab, it’s like closing a program releasing system resources with it. It also means that if for some reason a web page freezes up your system, your not forced to close the whole browser and possibly loosing where you were. Comparing Chrome with Firefox and IE8 as far as memory usage, they all came up about equal, give or take. Not enough to weigh a decision in the favor for one over the other if you have anything that resembles a modern computer.
One of the first thing you’ll notice while using Chrome is that it is very slick and minimal in the approach of appearance. There aren’t army of icons that IE8 throws at you or the endless amount of options and customization Firefox allows for. Now to try out actually surfing the internet with this shiny new browser. I typed in www.xbox.com/forums which I know to load slowly in other browsers to test out loading speeds. Just like in IE8 and Firefox the Xbox forums site also tripped up while loading a bit. Deciding that maybe that wasn’t fair test considering the site I aimlessly browsed a handful of other sites such as Digg, YouTube, and Facebook. Chrome loaded these sites in my opinion a lot faster than IE8 and a little faster than Firefox. After a couple of hours of using Chrome I decided it felt noticeably smoother than the other browsers also.
Going into Chrome, I didn’t think that I would like this browser based on past experience. Now after about a week of using it along side Firefox (I don’t usually use IE8), I’m a lot more impressed with it than I thought I would. Mainly it does what a browser supposed to do minus the sugar coating. It simply browses. And does it quickly. I haven’t come across a page that Chrome didn’t render correctly myself but it’s a known issue. Otherwise as far as browser go, I think the latest version of Chrome is much great. Now for the million dollar question. Is it worth switching from Internet Explorer 8 or Firefox? If you’re using IE8 exclusively then your probably not reading this anyways. IE8 fails at so many things in my opinion I won’t get into them all here. In comparison to Firefox though it gives it a good run for its money. Really here, I think it will come down to user preference. If you fancy yourself a power user and need the Firefox plug-ins to do certain tasks or have just grown attached to them like so many others then you might want to check out Chrome but may find yourself quickly going back to Firefox. If you need a browser to just email, browse, and do social networking, Chrome is worth checking out. Actually the biggest strike against Chrome at this point in the game is the lack of plug-ins. If Chrome had a plug-in system similar to Firefox or simply allow Firefox plug-ins then I think they would convert a lot more people over to their browser.
Bottom line is that Chrome is a late comer to the browser game. Although it is a very nice attempt at offering an online interaction experience that is different, it has a lot of ground to makeup. Is it worth trying. Yes. Will it replace your current browser? Probably not for most people but is probably great for minimalist and people who have a panic attack if they’re browser doesn’t load fast enough.
Here’s a video walking through Chrome 3 and some of it features. This video was done by mvkVirtual who has an awesome English accent.
Leave me a comment if you like Chrome, hate it, never will try it, or whatever else you have to say.