TECH DIGEST VERSUS: Google Chrome

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tdvsgc.jpgYour intrepid team of Tech Digest writers have been using Chrome all day today, avoiding the home comforts of Firefox, to test out exactly how usable it is on a day-to-day basis. We’ve each written a comment under a number of headings. Some of us like it more than others, that’s for sure, but read on for full details…

Interface

Duncan: “Fantastic. There are too many things to list individually, but one of my favourites – which made me go “ooooh!” really loudly in the office – is the way that when you use the “find on this page” functionality, it marks each location on the scroll bar in orange.”

Dan: “I was a little disturbed having the tabs on the outside to begin with but they haven’t fallen off all day, so that’s ok by me. What I do like, though, is the way they bunch up rather than making you scroll your way from end to end missing all the ones in the middle as you go.”

Gary: “The screen seems to have more “real estate” thanks to better tab layout and the floating/disappearing status bar at the bottom. This will come in handy for viewing high-resolution photographs of, for example, Eva Longoria in a bikini or, say, scans of the 2009 Hollyoaks Babes calendar.”

Andy: “I quite liked the home page layout, displaying the most frequently visitied pages. Getting a mix of URLs and search results in the address bar had the potential to be confusing but actually works quite well.”

For thoughts on Stability, Security, Speed and our overall impressions, click over the jump.

Stability

Duncan: “Some people have reported crashes, but i’ve had no issues at all. Memory usage is rock bottom for the browser itself, taking up just 6.3MB of memory when it’s first launched, compared to 24MB with Firefox, but it ramps up quickly with multiple tabs.”

Dan: “It hasn’t crashed on me all day. Ten points. And it only got stuck on me once when it took over a two minutes to download a Google search page before I put that particular tab out of its misery. Maybe one of the best features is mini-task manager that’ll tell you which particular tab is screwing up your window rather than having to close the whole lot when it freezes up. It’s also rather good for seeing who’s using up your memory. My advice: uninstall flash.”

Gary: “It is already my second-string backup browser for when Firefox doesn’t work with something. Google has knocked poor Internet Explorer down to third place on my PC Application Chart.”

Andy: “It didn’t crash!”

Speed

Duncan: “It’s been fast, but I don’t know if it’s been noticeably faster. The limiting factor here, I’ve always thought, is the speed of your internet connection – not the speed of the browser. Sure, it’s fast on launch day, but I wonder what it’ll be like after 12 months of user data and history is stored.”

Dan: “It seemed a hell of lot quicker this morning before I open 20+ tabs, Photoshop and Outlook but it does look to be running a lot faster than Firefox.”

Gary: “It was good, although it’s hard to be objective when you’re watching every pixel and line of text draw in to try and analyse it. It seemed every bit as fast as Firefox, put it that way, so I have no complaints to make under this sub-heading.”

Andy: “It seemed to load a number of pages marginally quicker than Firefox, but that could be because it’s a fresh install.”

Security

Duncan: “The “incognito” mode is hilarious, especially because it shows a dodgy bloke in a trenchcoat in the corner when it’s activated – reminding you exactly how wrong you are Gary. Sure, he’s supposed to be a secret agent, but he just looks like a pervy flasher to me.”

Dan: “Not usually my chief concern in a browser, in fact I’d rather not be bothered every some message every time I go to a non-blue chip website and mercifully Chrome hasn’t bugged me all day. I haven’t receieved any virus alerts either but then it’s early days and I’m sure there’s a growing clutch of malware-makers who’ve decided that Google has become the Man. Still, as I say, so far so good.”

Gary: “Doesn’t copy the only decent innovation that came with Firefox 3 – the way typing in the URL field brings up your bookmarks. Instead, typing in the URL box brings up pages from your browsing history. I am going to have to work out how to turn that off pretty sharpish, for the occasions I forget to engage “Incognito Mode” to cover my filthy tracks.”

Andy: “It does come up with a decent warning if you try to enter a secure site with a dodgy certificate”

Overall

Duncan: “I like it. A lot. I’ve made it my default browser, after having used it for a day. It’s quick, stable and looks lovely. The keyboard shortcuts are all the same, so the learning curve is more of a gentle incline than a ski slope. Maybe it’s the emperor’s new clothes, but I’m going to stick with it for the time being – until I miss my Ad-Block and Pagesaver extensions too much, anyway.”

Dan: “I’ll stick with it. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but there’s enough in it to keep me interested. I’m slightly concerned with the amount of processing power it uses in general but it hasn’t been a problem all say and though I do have deep-seated gut love of Firefox, Google’s new toy does make the day a little more novel. Just one question: why on Earth did they call it Chrome?”

Gary: “I’m not sure there’s any benefit in switching from Firefox. It seems to be very much like Firefox, only different in enough areas to make switching over a bit of chore – and without any particularly huge benefits to make it worth remembering a few new buttons.”

Andy: “A few more customisation options would be useful, but in all, it’s a good start from Google. Roll on the Mac version – it will be interesting to see how it performs against Safari (which works much better on the Mac than the PC).”

So there you go. Now you know. How are you finding Chrome so far? If you fancy making your own comments under the above headings then drop me an email. If we get enough response then we can do a “Google Chrome versus Tech Digest readers” feature too.

Related posts: Google Chrome uses old security-lax version of WebKit, may come to Android | Google launching Chrome web browser beta for Windows

Duncan Geere

3 comments

  • I’m a little annoyed that all the good things Firefox users are finding in Chrome aren’t being recognised as features ripped straight out of Opera circa several versions ago.

    Ones that you’ve mentioned are:

    – The Smarter ‘Smart Bar’. Indexes visited page content aswell as pages and bookmarks.

    – Floating/Disapearing Status Bar. Opera also allows you to position it IN the URL bar.

    – Dynamic Tab Width. So old. So so old.

    Even the drop down lists to the right of the URL bar are akin to the ‘closed tabs/popups bin’ and the ‘personal bar’ in Opera.

    For me, Chrome shows great potential, but as yet I’m finding it slower than both Firefox AND Opera.

    This page as a prime example took a good ten seconds to fully load all content.

    • I can’t deny anything you’ve said there. It’s true that Opera had quite a few of Chrome’s features a while back. In fact, pretty much every innovation in the browser is in another browser – what Google appear to have done is just chuck all that stuff into one browser. If I want “porn mode”, but I also want dynamic width tabs and an “awesomebar”, then I shouldn’t have to use three different browsers – I want them all in one. Chrome deserves a round of applause for that, at the very least.

      • I remember having a chat with you about Opera before, Mr Rawlins, when we were talking about Flock and Firefox 3 and on your recommendation I’ve set it as my default browser at home. I’ve yet to give it a good run but results are positive so far.

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