Google Chrome 5 full review - Page 2

A polished experience

Chrome felt pleasantly brisk and responsive in general use, rendering pages and starting up with speeds roughly equivalent to Safari. I also liked Chrome’s appealing interface, with smoothly animated tabs that popped up or down when opened or closed, and slid easily back and forth when reordered.

In several days of consistent use on a variety of sites, Chrome rendered pages spotlessly and didn’t crash once. Google has heavily touted Chrome’s “sandboxing” feature, in which each tab in the browser is its own separate process. If some glitch makes one tab crash, the others can keep running without bringing down the entire browser.

Featurewise, Chrome offers the usual slate of privacy and security features found on most modern browsers, all competently executed. But it lacks additional touches like Firefox’s clever “Forget This Site” option in the browser history. Chrome does ape Firefox with a collection of artistic themes to gussy up your browser window, and an impressive library of user-created extensions.

Google Chrome

Chrome’s best and most useful feature is its Omnibox. The browser’s location bar also brings up search results from your bookmarks and browser history as you type—and seamlessly doubles as Google search box. It’s an elegantly simple idea, and it works exactly like you’d expect it to.

I also loved the page auditor hidden in Chrome’s developer tools. With one click, Chrome will analyze a given Web page, producing a helpful list of ways to optimize its code—a dream come true for Web designers.

That said, in several ways Chrome’s usability lags Safari’s. In Chrome’s Bookmarks bar, there’s no “Open All in Tabs” option for a folder of sites; you’ll have to counter-intuitively right-click and select that option from a menu. When editing bookmarks, you can’t select multiple bookmarks to drag and drop into a new folder, and you have to right-click and select “edit” to change a bookmark’s URL. And because each tab is its own process, the title of the Web page you’re looking at is often truncated and unreadable within the confines of the tiny tab.

Google Chrome

In addition, Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature doesn’t currently support Chrome; attempts to disguise the browser’s user-agent string as Safari or Firefox stubbornly failed. If you love to watch Netflix movies in your Web browser, Chrome is not for you.

Web surfers who rely on Mac OS X’s Universal Access features should also avoid Chrome for now. As one user noted, Chrome disables the accessibility features built into WebKit. A Chrome engineer later posted that Google’s working to restore accessibility in future versions.

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