Too many choices

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday May 29, 2006.

I know that the Browser Wars are over, but I’m sort of a holdout these days. No, I’m not trying to figure out if I should use Netscape of IE, but I am having a very hard time figuring out what I should make my browser. As a Mac user, I have a few choices that are unavailable to other people. Outside of Firefox, the others are exclusively Mac. The choices: Safari, Camino, and Firefox. Let me try to break down what I’m looking for.

First off, I don’t really care what’s underneath. I’m all about practical, not geekery in this case. So if you use the Mozilla engine or the Gecko engine or they’re the same thing maybe, I don’t care. I care about speed, interface, and features.

Speed is the toughest for a normal schmo to figure out. It just has to sort of feel faster, right? Well, in this case, the fastest is Safari. But that all depends on which machine I’m using. At home, we have four computers – my Power Mac Dual 867 MDD, a G4 iBook, a G3 iBook, and a new Intel iMac. The iMac is definitely the fastest machine, but I use it less than the G4 iBook and my Power Mac. Regardless, on the machines I use the most, Safari smokes. It could be just the benefit of Safari being made by Apple and having some sort of under the hood stuff that helps it start quicker. I don’t know. Camino is close in second, and Firefox is the slowest of the three.

Interface is probably the toughest to explain. I just want it to look sleek, clean, and simple. I like the button bars, tab bars, and status bars to be there, but take up as little space as possible. The best browser for this has to be Camino. It is smooth. I love the way it looks. In fact, the combination of its looks and speed had me using it exclusively until the past week or so. Safari is probably second, and Firefox is third here, although it’s tough to rate them in an order. I just can say that Camino is the best.

Now we get to the features. Camino is pretty much featureless. It’s fast, looks good, but there is nothing else that it offers the user. Safari has an RSS feature, like Firefox. You can bookmark sites with RSS feeds and use the browser as your aggregator, like Bloglines and other things of that nature. Well, I don’t care about my browser aggregating feeds for me. I like using web-based options for that sort of thing, simply because it drives me nuts to get on one computer, go through all my feeds, then go to another computer and have to go through all the feeds again. Web-based is the only way for me. Same with email. I can’t stand opening up email, then getting home and downloading all the same email I saw earlier to my machine-based email application. So I use Gmail exclusively.

Firefox, unlike the other two browsers, offers a ton of features. Extensions are lovely. And for this reason, I have decided to go with Firefox as my browser. I use the Google Notebook extension, the del.icio.us extension, and other more simple extensions, like the Gmail extension. All of those are incredibly helpful to me, so much so that I am willing to use a browser that is slower and less attractive than it’s competitors.

What worries me is that the extensions slow down Firefox even more. I guess it doesn’t matter all that much, but I think about it. And I think that for some reason I am not getting the best browser for my money. But it isn’t that much money. I also hope that Firefox makes the other browsers step it up and offer extensions themselves. I know it’s sort of against what Camino is for, but Safari can certainly do it.

So what do you use as a browser? And if you say IE, I might ban you. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE needs to get off of IE. It’s ugly, made by MS, unsafe, and stupid. Yeah, the browser is stupid. If you’re still using it, I have set up a nice handy way for you to upgrade to a better life with that button for Firefox over on the left. I won’t tell anyone.

That’s my browser story, and if someone has a better one that can give me what I’m looking for, I’d love to hear it.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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