Browser battles: Which browser is best for you?

On the information highway that is the Internet, browsers could be likened to your preferred mode of transport

June 5, 2009
Browser battles: Which browser is best for you?

How fast they run and how stable they are makes a significant difference to your daily online experience. The main players recognize the importance of the browser market, and all are competing to become your preferred means of accessing and experiencing the Internet.

Therefore, it is well worth periodically revisiting each of the main competitors, exploring what the latest version of each browser has to offer and comparing them to one another.

Google’s Chrome

As would be expected from the online search giant, Chrome is exceptionally fast, simple and easy to use. This straightforward simplicity is arguably one of its greatest strengths, and more than a little reminiscent of Google’s search engine. The site address bar doubles as Google’s search box (a boon for habitual searchers), bookmarks can be created with a single click, and tabs enable you to open multiple pages within one browser window.

Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 7 was riddled with problems, and the latest iteration of Explorer was tasked with solving them. Happily, there are definitely improvements to the browser’s stability, and a host of new, interesting features, such as colour coded and dynamic tabs, crash recovery and web slices.

Mozilla Firefox 3

Firefox is open source and yet one of the most stable browsers currently available. The latest version, Firefox 3 performs admirably and offers a familiar browsing experience. Its ability to handle more than thirty simultaneous tabs of complex websites without any problem is testament to its stability.

Its only weakness is that the more extensions that are added to it to customize and increase its feature set, the more memory it consumes and the more frequently it wants to download and install updates, which can become annoying after a while.

Safari 4

Safari’s most noticeable feature is the unmistakably Apple feel to the browsing experiencing, whether you are running it on an Apple Mac or PC. Its look and feel is distinctively different to the other browsers, with pages, history and bookmarks being presented in a Cover Flow type view. Additionally, Safari offers developers a set of development tools within the browser itself.  Along with admirable speed, Safari offers smoothness of operation and intuitive ease of use. 

Opera 9.6

Widely regarded as the best browser on mobile platforms, Opera’s dominance on handhelds shows in its PC browser version with its speed dial feature. This offers one-touch access to favourite sites, stored in one of nine quick connect slots, much like you would be accustomed to on a cell phone.  A new feature on Opera 9.64, Feed Preview, enables you to preview the content of a feed before subscribing to it. With a miniscule 5.4 megabytes footprint, Safari consumes little space and almost rivals Chrome for speed at times. However, it does lack support for some sites.

Speed and memory consumption

In descending order of speed, Chrome, Firefox and Opera proved to be the fastest to boot up and refresh pages. Safari’s speed was on par with Opera, while Internet Explorer was significantly slower than the others.  In the reliability and flexibility stakes, however, Firefox came out on top, while Safari and Opera offered a slightly different twist on the browsing experience. IE 8 certainly proved to be an improvement over IE 7 but was still the slowest browser tested.

On memory consumption, the picture was somewhat different. Whereas Firefox consumed 87 megabytes on start up, Internet Explorer and Safari required 32 megabytes and 37 megabytes respectively. Chrome only required 7 megabytes, but was narrowly beaten by Opera’s 6.5 megabytes.  

To the point

On the information highway, Chrome could be likened to a motorbike (easy to use with few frills), Firefox, Opera and Safari to luxury sedans (fast and powerful) and Internet Explorer 8 to a four-wheel drive (larger, fully featured but less agile). Which you choose is a matter of preference, but if it is searching and page refresh speed you’re after, Chrome is the answer.

The best Internet browser – give your view

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