Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Maxthon Anyone?

The epic battle between good and evil for web browsing has been going on for quite some time now and it's been entertaining. Microsoft's Internet Explorer versus Netscape, Opera, and now Firefox (and many others). 90 Million have already downloaded Firefox, which is made by the Mozilla foundation and is open source.

Firefox is great and I recommend it, but there is another browser out there that is completely under the radar: Maxthon. With almost 37 million downloads, I think Maxthon has been successful enough to warrant some exposure here. Maxthon is the browser that I use exclusively.

I. Features:

The hottest feature in web-browsing is tabbed browsing. Browsers have been tabbed for a very long time--well, everyone except for Internet Explorer, which still has no tabs. Tabbed browsing is very efficient because it lets you quickly open up a number of different windows without having to close previous windows. For example, with the hit of a button, you can open up a "group" of windows, like your favorite news or sports sites. If any of you are using dialup, this is a great feature because you can load pages in the background while you read.

So, of course Maxthon has tabs. It also has a number of other useful features. Here are some of the better ones:

  • Mouse Gestures: this is a feature many of my friends use, but I just can't get the hang of. You can program common commands like back, forward, reload just by gesturing your mouse in a certain direction.

  • Super Drag & Drop: you can open new links by simply dragging a link on the page, drag a selected word or phrase to the address bar and automatically run a search on it with a search engine of your choice

  • Ad Hunter: does a very good job of blocking popup, flash, floating, and image ads. What I like most about Ad Hunter is that it gives you a number of options to block ads. For example, you can "block this ad," "block all ads on this site" as well as manually create a white and blacklist for ads. This offers a great amount of control for different situations.

  • IE Extension Support: Maxthon is completely compatible with Google's toolbar and various other IE supported toolbars (more on this later).

  • Privacy Protection: you can erase all of your browsing info easily using one menu. Clear your cache, your saved passwords, your cookies and your history either altogether or individually.

  • Skins: you can change the look of Maxthon to suit your tastes.

  • Plugins: There are 400+ plugins available for a ton of different users.

  • Save Passwords: Maxthon lets you save your username and passwords on any site regardless of where it is. All you do is hit ALT+Q and the username and password are automatically entered. This is the BEST feature. You don't need to download a bulky "password saving" program.

II. What Sets Maxthon Apart?

Other than the great features listed above, what makes Maxthon a great option for me is that it is based on Internet Explorer. It is a shell program, so that everything that is compatible with IE (the giant in the industry), is also compatible with Maxthon.

What's interesting is that even though Maxthon is based on IE, it uses 65% less RAM usage than IE. This is extremely important when we have four or five windows open at once. Maxthon is extremely fast and efficient. Pages load up instantly. The toolbars are completely customizable

Many websites are finicky about using other browsers. For example, I always have trouble on ESPN and Launch.com when using Firefox, Netscape or Opera. Usually I would be forced to use IE, but Maxthon offers a great option because I am no longer limited by IE's lack of options.

III. Drawbacks:

The drawback, of course, is the same as the strength: Maxthon is based on IE. So if there are underlying faults and exploits in IE (of which there are many) then Maxthon is similarly susceptible to those same problems. But I've had no problems personally with it, especially if you have decent ad-ware protection and anti-virus software.

IV. Conclusion:

Maxthon's great features and IE compatibility make it my favourite browser.
To download Maxthon, visit: http://www.maxthon.com

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