Too good to ignore: 6 alternative browsers

Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari lead the market, but there are other browsers out there for PC and Mac users. Which are better?

Beyond that, the features and preferences options are pretty standard browser fare, though I do have to commend Camino's developers for including a Web features tab in the browser's preferences that includes the options to block Flash animations and advertising as well as to prevent Web animations from repeating.

Given that many Web browsers now try to implement too many features, some of which are better left to separate applications (RSS being a common example, which Camino eschews), I found Camino's straightforward focus refreshing. The approach leads to a simple design that implements the core features in an uncluttered fashion. Combined with the Web features options that put a user in control of just how much distracting Web content he wants to see, I couldn't help thinking that this would be the perfect browser for people like my father -- you know, the type of person who wants a cell phone that's nothing more than a phone.

Since Camino keeps its feature set small and targeted, I was not surprised to find it to be very stable; it renders content both well and quickly. As with Shiira, Camino handled Flash, scripting and other complex Web technologies very well. When I compared it to Safari, Firefox and Shiira on the Mac, it outperformed those other browsers in rendering some pages. Sites heavy with Flash content and animations, in particular, seemed to load, render and function faster when I used Camino.

I should note that some Camino add-ons are available. Like the add-ons available for Firefox, these tools offers various capabilities, from backing up bookmarks to changing the look using themes or skins, though the choices for Camino are more limited.

All in all, Camino is probably not the perfect browser for everyone. If you're looking for a more full-featured browser, you may want to opt for Firefox, Safari or Shiira. But if you want a stable, simple and no-nonsense Web browser (or one that can easily limit distracting content) Camino is a good choice.

-- Ryan Faas

Maxthon 2.1.4

If you're looking for a browser that bristles with power features, and don't mind a somewhat unattractive interface and some confusing configuration, then Maxthon is the browser for you. It's got just about every feature built into competing browsers, and many that you won't find anywhere else -- such as a "file sniffer" that makes it easy to download YouTube videos and a pop-up notepad for pasting or dragging text you want to save. Power users will love it. Those who like sleek design will turn away.

The interface is quite cluttered, with a file menu, Address Bar, Favorites Bar and other toolbars, and stray icons near the top and bottom of the screen. Think of it as the un- Chrome. But there's a reason for the clutter: The browser has so many features, they need to fit somewhere. And you can customize the interface, if you like, to cut down on the clutter.

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