Less Popular Browsers Review

The day when year changes comes. So we need to update the copyright year in BrokenURL. Of course we can't release the new version with only this mighty improvement, so we also had to add some less valuable changes. One of them is a browser (private/new window) support. All the most popular browsers already have their own settings, so we need to find less popular ones. This review was born in this searches.

This article will not touch well-known browsers because you know all of them without me.

  • Google Chrome - the browser for a housewifes. Can do and allows to configure very little things, but this can be cured by plugins. Actively spying on users, reads their data (not only browser-related) and sends it all to g0ogle. Sends reports even if nothing is opened but the default empty tab. Checked.
  • Firefox - the browser for a smart housewifes. Looks ugly and less functional by default, but can be greatly improved by plugins.
  • ChrOpera - Chrome clone by Opera Software with another color, ads and reporting.
  • Waterfox - clone of Firefox on old engine, but much faster than Firefox was when it used this engine. Uses old engine to allow old plugins to work.
  • Vivaldi - wonderful and greatly configurable browser based on Chrome from makers of old Opera/Presto. The only and the greatest drawback is that it is REALLY slow.

So, let's begin.

SeaMonkey

When I look to its UI, it seems to me that I went back to 2005. Looks terrible and overloaded today.

  • Built-in e-mail (didn't try).
  • Built-in profile changing.
  • Can go private mode.
  • Firefox/Gecko based.
  • There is something really sad with settings. At startup it asks me to set it as default browser. With two buttons: OK and Cancel. If I check the "don't ask anymore" checkbox and then press Cancel (I don't want it to be default and it seems that OK will make it default) - the checkbox is also not saved. So it will ask me again next time. It seems that all settings are done the same way.
  • Doesn't like tabs by default and always tries to hide the tab bar (with New Tab button) at all. Without it I didn't find how to open a new tab with mouse. It seems that File\New Tab menu command and hotkey are the only options when tab bar is hidden.
  • And the Close Tab button is at right. No. At right of the screen!

Browser for old-school geeks. But the start-of-2000 style UI makes it unusable today.

Pale Moon

Looks very-very close to Firefox with rebuilt UI. But when the FF is minimalistic, this one is overloaded a bit. But it is OK.

  • Built-in speed-dial is almost OK.
  • Window header is overloaded - too much space is wasted to the useless stuff like window title.
  • Can go private mode.

Reasonable browser.

Basilisk

There is nothing to say here. If Pale Moon is the Firefox with rebuilt UI, the Basilisk is Firefox with changed icon.

Lunascape

Really scary japanese thing.

  • Three render engines: Gecko, WebKit, Trident.
  • The settings are organized in strange and sick way. Most of settings are separate for different render engines and it isn't clean how to configure it all.
  • Private mode not found.
  • It seems, that the browser itself is just a wrapper for the rendering engines, because in Gecko mode the firefox itself was opened inside of the tab. With its own menu (one more to the usual browser menu at top of window).
  • Registers in system in a bad way. The path with spaces (in Program Files) is registered without quotes. May be there are no spaces in Japan Windows...

Scary eeriness at all. I should be a Japan guy to understand why such monster is needed.

Avant

One more multiengine thing. Looks more or less OK.

  • Four rendering engines: WebKit, Gecko, IE11 and Old-IE-Compatible.
  • By default there are the most important things on toolbar: autocomplete settings, refresh of pages with different engines and themes.
  • By default installs me a russian version without selection. It is good, that the language can be changed from menu without restart. The only search engine is Yandex. No others and no way to get them, but to add manually (with all URL and query settings), like it seems.
  • The strange UI concept with menu at right, near the window control buttons. No, not tiles. The usual menu bar.
  • Killer-feature: minimize-to-tray button.
  • The New Tab button allows so many things: duplicate current tab, open home page, open empty one and open something default.
  • Built-in e-mail (didn't try).
  • Menu has options to disable everything: javascript, java, sounds, video, flash, ActiveX, etc.
  • Also there are many options to clear everything independently: history, cookies, passwords, temp files and more.
  • The default installation has only IE engines. The other ones require the Complete installation, which seems to be also free. So why didn't it install this by default?
  • Can go private mode.
  • There is no commandline at all. Everything that I've set was treated like URL, including -parameters.

Looks reasonable, but the UI is really strange.

Brave

The browser is based and filled with pay-to-surf methodology. You may read more about it in Wiki.

  • Looks like a good rework of Chromium.
  • Couldn't disable the bookmarks panel. At all. Even if I delete all of them - the panel still exists and shows hint "add bookmarks". There are two options in settings: "On" and "Off". In both cases the panel will be shown, but will look a bit different. I didn't get in what the difference is. It seems, that the browser is oriented to use bookmarks, bookmarks and more of bookmarks. They are everywhere.
  • Funny empty page with downloaded random background and some sort of counters of seen/blocked ads. Didn't get how to add a URL to this page. But after a few tries to add/remove URL in bookmarks it mystically appears on this page.
  • Built-in ad, tracking and fingerprint blocker. Works and the statistics is shown in counters in empty tab.
  • The lovely and perfect system "Close the whole browser with last tab". Opened empty tab, opened settings. When I want to close it, I press X in tab (the Close Tab button) - the application closes completely.

It would look OK, but the strange approach to bookmarks frustrates. Tiles in the speed dial was always better than any bookmarks. P2S doesn't interfere, despite it is completely integrated in UI.

Comodo Ice Dragon

Actually it is the usual Firefox with integrated Comodo antivirus.

  • All pluses and minuses of the original Firefox, including the ugly empty tab.
  • Built-in tracking protection. But this thing is built-in in usual Firefox too.
  • Stayed in memory after closing window and shown messagebox with some ad proposition (set home page in all browsers or something like this). The process remained even when I closed this "proposition". This was once.

The usual Firefox and it doesn't shy to be it. Just with the Comodo antivirus included.

P.S. Updates in background and asks me to set up Yandex as the start page in all of browsers each time.

Maxthon

  • Imported the IE browser history without request. Even if there are only two links and the previous used browser was something different.
  • Asked for a phone number and something more during the installation. It is lucky that this step can be skipped.
  • It is surprising, but with default settings the browser doesn't close with the last tab.
  • The default empty page loading is really slow. Also it amazes with photorealistic clouds floating across the sky with terrible FPS. Moreover, these clouds eat much of CPU for their animation. There are many images in set, but even with the static one the browser eats up to 10% of CPU when the only one tab with "empty" page is opened.
  • Has set itself as the default browser without request. When I changed it, the browser shows bright-red circle in menu: "oh no, the browser is not set as default:'(".
  • Built-in mail requires the Maxthon account.
  • There is a Switch Core option in menu (the browser is positioned as multiengine), disabled for me for unknown reason.
  • Built-in notebook with folders, clowns and a circus.
  • Has set itself as default program to open .url (internet shortcut) file type without request. Moreover, it breaks it, because now the '.url' extension is shown in Windows Explorer. Fixed by resetting the default app to mysterious "Internet Browser" with Wnidows Default Apps UI.
  • Has set itself (without any request, of course) as default for: .html, .webp, .flv and other file formats. And also has broken something in the windows file format system.
  • Can go private mode, can open it from commandline, but at any case doesn't want to open URL from commandline in private mode.

Browser looks OK, but it aggressively asks to register the Maxthon account. Without it a part of functionalty doesn't work. Even such ones like e-mail, which should not require it. Or does it work only with maxthon mail servers? Or is it used to link stolen passwords to one user? Unknown.

But when I realized that the browser has broken/resetted Windows file format settings - the Uninstall button definitively winned. I think it is not worth to say, that registration as the default program for any file format without request and without using the Windows UI is hard violation of the Windows Desktop Apps guidlines.

P.S. It seems that Uninstaller doesn't want to uninstall without stating the reason of uninstallation. The another memo of how I should never do.

P.P.S. The only browser which I uninstalled at once when saw everything I wanted.

360 Security Browser

Chinese browser based on Chrome with 360 antivirus embedded.

  • The installer was on Chinese. There where a few of checkboxes which, as it seems, will install also the Chinese spyware. But I was unable to translate them.
  • Do not care about the system language, but the browser was installed in Chinese. I didn't find the language settings.
  • Has set itself as handler of .url extension without request (or it was these Chinese checkboxes?).
  • Also has set itself as default browser without request (same).
  • Triggered the Windows Firewall block for unknown reason. The browser continued to open webpages after block.
  • Command line flags for private mode and new window from chrome - work.

Browser for Chinese people, because it is always on Chinese despite that the system language is English. Ignores the Chrome command line flags to change language. Also I couldn't change language in settings (it is popular google question - how to change language in 360). It shown me some (advertisement?) message on Chinese. Due to language problems, I couldn't do complete overview of the browser.

NAVER Whale

  • Installer didn't make it to determine the system and wanted to install x86 version on x64 system despite both are available. Even when I selected x64 - the x86 was installed.
  • It shown wizard with major style and view settings of browser on first run.
  • The default empty page is good enough. The main widget here is a vast clock. Even history and most used sites - are secondary.
  • Default widgets Top Sites and Exchange Rate - on Korean. And don't care about the system language.
  • There are a bunch of useful widgets in sidebar like calendar and timer. And a large clock. Clock in Windows taskbar was cancelled?
  • A half of non-webpage functionalty requires whale-login.
  • The backspace key doesn't work as the browser back. However, Chrome also suffers from this. But Whale ignores even the Chrome command line hack to reenable it.
  • Frequent lags when downloading something from the developer: background images, some of widgets and downloading of the browser itself by installer.
  • Command line flags for private mode and new window from chrome - work.

Mostly a good Chrome remake. But lags when using the native services make me sad. And the fact that a half of features are on Korean.

Cốc Cốc

  • Installer offered (and it was enabled by default) the browser to be default browser (wow, it asks), to be default torrent client (what?!) and to start on system startup.
  • The official site was opened on Vietnam by default. But when I switched to English (the only language another than Vietnam) - it even downloads English version.
  • The default "empty" page looks like an another humster portal with thousands of news, offers and ads. No it is really the "empty page", not the default home page.
  • The default settings are inoptimal: DNT is disabled, but the telemetry and seeding the browser updates with torrent were enabled.
  • Includes the torrent client.
  • On sidebar there are a large buttons to enter Facebook, YouTube and some Vietnam music service. And I didn't find how to remove them from here.
  • Couldn't disable the quicklaunch. Even if I remove everything from them and disable it - it will appear. With label "Add bookmarks here".
  • A part of features are Vietnam and on same language. But it didn't interfere.
  • Gets registered in system with ProgID "ChomiumHTML.some_strange_stuff", so it may conflict with installed clean Chromium.

Looks more or less OK but it is designed for Vietnam people. And the laggy and overloaded default "empty" page - gets me mad.


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Added: 27 December, 2018