Which Browser Should I Use?

I get this question all the time.

This is my very subjective non-technical review. The information here was destilled over years of experience and has served me well using various equipment in various countries.

Here’s a very brief overview of the 9(!) browsers I currently use.

Google Chrome;
Fast and agile. The creation of Google, it was the first to include a unified internet address and search box. Recommended for speed.
PROs: Great if your PC is older or lacks much memory.
CON: Can’t get it to remember passwords properly. Google is the machine learning company, and they’ll probably know everything about you, including what time you go to bed and whether you dream of unicorns.
Recommended if… you like speed and easy of use. Great for older PCs, slow netbooks.

Mozilla Firefox:
Once the main speed challenger of the then-ubiquitous Internet Explorer, now an over-eating monster with an outdated interface. That’s not to say it’s not capable, but it really shines only on a fast PC with lots of RAM. Unique “tab groups” allow you to manage multiple sets of open pages, which is neat if you have 42 browser windows open and can’t bring yourself to close any of them. Big support community creates lots of plugins.
PROs: There’s a plugin for everything. Tab groups.
CON: Slow and outdated interface.
Recommended if… you have a relatively recent PC with lots of memory, and open tons of sites at a time. You can arrange them into pretty groups and put a bow on them too.

Internet Explorer 9:
The browser that Microsoft provides Vista and Windows 7. Updated, fast, sleek. XP users are stuck with version 8, and must look for an alternative. Internet Explorer 9 comes with a unified web address and search box. A marked improvement over previous IEs.
PROs: Speed and compatibility. As the default browser of all Windowses, no site dares to be non-IE compatible.
CONs: The mark of the beast, and being an obvious hacker magnet (again, as the default browser of all Windowses).
Recommended if… you want to download an other browser, or you want to check a site that doesn’t display properly in your other browser.

Maxthon:
Nice and fast. Kind of like how Opera was years ago. Vertical menus take advantage of common wide-screen layout. Viable alternative to Chrome in the “speed with no frills” department.
PROs: Split screen mode for developers, not bloated
CONs: Small user base
Recommended if… you want to view your sites in a fresh browser? Have an extreme-wide screen?

Opera:
I’ve been an Opera user for ages. Opera innovated now common features such as tabbed browsing and the speed-dial start-up screen that shows a preview of your most visited sites. It shines on slow internet connections. Available for many platforms.
PROs: Great for slow connections
CONs: Not as fast as it used to be
Recommended if… you have a really slow internet connection (remember modems, anyone?), or a slower but not too slow PC.

Safari:
Bling from Apple, not just for the Mac. PC version is quite usable too. Nice graphics.
PROs: Eye candy.
CONs: No icon for opening first new tab within the same window. Have to use Ctrl+T. Why oh why?
Recommended if… you want the illusion of a Mac on a PC.

Rockmelt:
This is Chrome with a Facebook data pump on top, so you’re never out of date on the brainfarts of your friends.
PROs: Facebook access from anywhere.
CONs: Facebook access from anywhere.
Recommended if you take your morning facebook before your morning coffee, and you’re hoping to find your life’s purpose on facebook.

SeaMonkey:
The name suggests it could be a circus attraction or a distant relative of Firefox, but it’s actually a descendant of Netscape Navigator. If you remember and liked Netscape you’ll like SeaMonkey too. The layout, the tools, including a web editor called Composer are all there.
PROs: An updated Netscape navigator.
CONs: Weird placement of “open new tab” icon.
Recommended if you have fond memories of Netscape. In which case you are using it already anyway.

Lunascape:
I think it should be called chameleon. Has 3 different browsing engines, so it can act like IE, Firefox or Safari if you so desire. Why would you want that? It’s handy for developers. Other than that it’s a curiosity. Popular in Japan, and with geeks.
PROs: Cool techie tool.
CONs: Who needs that anyway?
Recommended if your circle of influence appreciates talking about the only triple-engine browser.

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Hi, Sandor here. Thanks for visiting. Computer trouble in Japan? You've come to the right place!


I am 34 years old, and have been fixing computers since 1994, since before I finished high school. Then I got a degree in Computer Science, had my own PC shop, worked at a top laptop maker in England. Then I came to Japan; it's what I always wanted to do.


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