It’s New, it’s Chrome, it’s Fast.

I know I have written too much about browsers on this blog, but I could not resist writing about the newest member of the Google family, aka the new browser Chrome. OK, so the browser is pretty fast, no kidding, I know how deceptive this can all be but you can benchmark the Javascript speed here and see that Chrome leaves the competition biting the dust. The above test will freeze IE, and for me it froze IE 7.0 for well over a minute with a dismal score of 26. Safari clocked 93 on the test, FireFox 116, Opera 161, but Chrome clocked an amazing 1183. Just shows you how much speed the Javascript engine of Chrome delivers. You can feel it when you browse other sites as well. The rendering engine is at par with FireFox and I couldn’t notice much difference between the two browsers when Javascript was not around.

The other thing I love about this browser, is the amount of real-estate it gives you. Gone is the menu-bar and the status-bar has shrunk down to a small strip which appears when needed. These are the kinds of GUI innovations that I really appreciate. Logical; since most of us rarely use browser menus when we surf, at least I don’t. An rare trip to the “Preferences” section to clear browsing history is all I need to do with the menus anyways, so I am not too bothered with the fact that the menus in Chrome have been shrunk down to two little corner drop-down buttons. As a matter of fact I have customized FF (FireFox) to do the same using an extension. As expected the navigation bar has a tight integration with the search engine and you will find suggestions being popped up as and when you write directly from Google search. There is still some work to be done on this front though, it would be wonderful to see something along the lines of what Yahoo has on it’s search.

The things that I really miss in Chrome is AdBlock and Noscript. I hope Google will allow some way of having extensions to Chrome so people can come-up with all those amazing things that FF currently has. In fact I miss the extensions thing that is so popular under FF. I also could not find an RSS reader or any method of importing RSS/ATOM links into the browser. I also felt that the status bar was a bit short and could not display longer web-links. Chorme crashed on me once and ironically it was Google’s very own site, google books and yes I was browsing Chrome’s very own book Google Chrome when that happened. It somewhat flies in the face of the claim about application not crashing if one instance crashed. While Google has touted memory management of Chrome as great, the browser does take up a significant chunk of memory with even a modest number of tabs open. It’s certainly a lot more than FF, about 20 – 40% or so more for the same number of tabs.

For some reason the browser continuously uses about 60 to 70% of both CPU cores on my machine and that happens even when the machine is sitting idle and there is no interactions with the browser. Interestingly I also found a lot of memory swapping taking place after the browser ran for 2 hours or more and the memory usage keeps increasing steadily. That would somewhat contradict what was written in the Chrome book about low memory usage. The thing worth mentioning here is the fact that each tab of the browser is a separate process, meaning every tab is actually a separate instance of a browser running.

In the end, Chrome is still a beta product and I would expect significant improvements in the coming versions. I would also hope that Google will at the very least release a Linux version of the browser. The speed of the browser is truly impressive, however it still rough around the edges. The interface is good, but that’s just my taste. I always prefer a minimalistic approach when it comes to GUI. I am however not sure how others may view this. I would conclude by saying, Chrome is a browser worth trying and certainly a browser to keep your eye on.

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