Sunday, January 3, 2010

Google Chrome Comes to Mac - Greg's Review of the Chrome Beta


The buzz about Google Chrome has been deafening, so when I saw a news item about how Chrome is now a more popular browser than Safari, I decided to check it out. The author speculated that this was because of the new Chrome for Mac Beta.

I downloaded it and started it up, and the installer worked fine including installing my Safari favorites. The interface is similar to Firefox or Safari with tabbed browsing and a favorites bar. The favorites bar is clunker than Safari with default icons that can't be customized.

Chrome offers everything that I expected it to. It runs the Blogger site software better than Firefox, and the same as Safari. I did not notice that it downloaded sites any faster than Safari did, despite claims otherwise on the PC version. Safari is 64 bit whereas Chrome is supposed to be 32 bit.

Advantages

The big advantage is that one can type a search or a site name into the address bar and get results. This little thing is actually pretty convenient.

Chrome handled complex pages by opening two  "Google Chrome Helper" programs that together took up 35-30% of CPU cycles, when I was not using it, and actually typing this review in Safari. [This was on the fantasticcontraption.com site which has a lot of java.] When I hide the problem tab, the cycles go down. This is not much different than Safari.

An advantage is the "developer view" that lets you look at a web page source code in blocks by type and color coded -- much easier than in Firefox or IE.

Chrome loads the Quicken site properly, which Firefox (Mac) can't do.

Disadvantages

The killer for me is that Adblock for Chrome is not out yet for the Mac, although they are working on it. One reason why Chrome took up more resources on the fantasticcontraption site is that it was loading the ads. [While I was proofreading this paragraph this some ad grabbed control of the audio processer and said "Congratulations You Won!" I closed Chrome.]

There are some details that will probably be fixed by the 1.0 release, for example the context sensitive menu and preferences panel do not have many options in it.

Summary

Chrome seems to offer a competent browsing experience, and I may try it again when the 1.0 release comes out. I don't expect to run it again until then.


More: All of this is prelude to the prospect of the Chrome Netbook, that is a PC that runs a "Chrome OS" rather than Linux or Windows. It might sell a lot on the low end of the market and disrupt Microsoft dominance. Interesting.
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