Chrome 9 Still Shines - PCMag Editors Choice

Google Chrome 9
Michael Muchmore
February 14, 2011

Super-fast JavaScript performance. Instant site prediction. Easy installation. Excellent tab implementation. Themes. Extensions for customization. Bookmark and preference syncing. Tab process isolation.
Strong support for HTML 5. Built-in Flash player and PDF reader.

Paranoids won't want to give Google another way to collect data about them.

Bottom Line
Chrome Instant means your Web page is ready to read before you finish typing the address. This, its speed, minimalist design, and advanced support for
HTML5 have deservedly been attracting more and more users to the browser.

With Chrome, Google single-handedly set off a revolution in the Web surfing software on several fronts: Its blazingly fast JavaScript performance kicked competitors like Firefox (Free, 4.5 stars), Internet Explorer (Free, 4 stars), Safari (Free, 4 stars), and Opera 11 into a speed race. Chrome also started the trend of minimizing the application's window to let the Web page shine unimpeded, which has influenced the user interface design of all those competitors. If you want a fast and fluid Web experience, Chrome can't be beat, and it's updated more frequently than any other browser, too, at version 9 after just two and a half years.

Some of these many releases have brought new major features, such as bookmark syncing, a bookmark manager, a built-in PDF reader, and extensions, though others have just added speed, stability, and new standards support.

This latest version takes a page from Google search, with the remarkable Chrome Instant, as well as a page from IE9 beta, by including graphics hardware acceleration. Its fine design, compatibility, and especially the speed have impressed the Web community enough to make Chrome the fastest growing browser in terms of market share, recently passing ten percent.
Let's take a look at what makes this browser so special.

Swift Setup
Even the setup process shows Chrome's commitment to speed: Just click the Install button on the Chrome Web page, and you'll have the new browser up and running in less than a minute, with no wizard to go through and no system restart. The browser's now available for Mac OS X and Linux, as well as Windows. In each platform the browser's up and running before you realize it, and it updates itself automatically in the background.

Built-in Flash and PDF Support
Chrome is the only browser to come with Adobe Flash built in, rather than requiring a separate (and annoying) installation. And not having to perform the frequent required updates of the Flash plugin separately is another boon—it updates automatically with the browser.

Chrome boasts a PDF reader as well, so you don't have to worry about installing any Adobe plugins for viewing specialized Web content. When you load a PDF, an intuitive toolbar shows when your mouse cursor is in the southeast vicinity of the browser window. From this, you can have the document fill the width of the window, show a full page, or zoom in and out.
By default, you can select text for cutting and pasting, but I couldn't copy and paste images. You can print the PDF as you would any Web page.

Minimalism has been a hallmark of Chrome since its first beta release. Tabs are above everything, and the only row below them holds the combined search/address bar, or "Omnibar." Optionally you can display bookmark links in a row below this. And the control buttons on the top-right of the browser have been reduced window to the absolute minimum—just one. Google has removed the Page icon and placed some of its functions under the Wrench choice. Some Page options have been combined into buttons on one line in the new menu, such as Cut, Copy, and Paste. I like what Google's done with the Zoom choice on the menu, adding plus and minus buttons that save you from having to fly out another submenu.

Chrome Instant
This is one of the niftiest things to be added to Chrome in a while. Start typing a Web address in the Omnibar, and before you're even done, a page from your history or a search result page is displayed below in the main browser window. I just type "PC," and is already loaded. The idea was first implemented in Google search's Instant feature, but I think it's even more useful in the browser than in search, where I usually ignore it and finish typing my query anyway: Most sites we visit, we've visited before, so having them ready to go before you even finish typing is a big speeder-upper.

Chrome also still sports excellent tab implementation. Tabs are prominent at the top of the browser window, and you can drag them out to the desktop to create independent windows (and drag them back in later) or split them side by side à la Windows 7 Aero Snap.

Google has put considerable thought into its browser's new tab page, which shows thumbnails of your most-visited pages. I like that you can move the large thumbnails around and pin them in place, or remove those you don't want. You also now have a choice of list or thumbnail view, and you can display only recently closed tabs, only most visited pages, or neither.

For version 9, Google has added an Apps section to the new tab page, showing any Web apps you've installed, along with a link to the Chrome Web Store, but as with any section of the page, you can click an X to its right to turn it off. If you've synced Chrome on different computers (see below), the Apps section with be the same on all. For more on the store, check out the Chrome App Store section of my Hands On with Chrome OS. Any apps you've added on a Chrome OS machine will also appear in the browser on any other computer you log into Chrome on, and vice versa. But you're not likely to have a Chrome OS machine at this point.,2817,2373853,00.asp


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