Based on Internet Explorer's engine, Maxthon is probably something of a curiosity for most North American users. It never really caught on there, but elsewhere--especially China--it's one of the most popular browsers around. It renders pages fast and comes loaded with features, as if Firefox came with 90 percent of its most popular plug-ins. Maxthon 2 features loads more customization ability, but sacrifices a bit of stability for the privilege. Its design is stylish compared to the old version, and its new approach to accessing functions makes this free browser more competitive.
All the basics are represented here, from tabbed browsing to skins to add-ons, and many of the rolled-in features make Maxthon hard to ignore. Some of our favorite features include rolled-in auto-form filling, the ability to set up bookmark groups that open on start-up--excellent for news or blogs, the ability to autoscroll Web pages, and pop-up and content filters for blocking ads and specific content formats you don't want. There are also customizable hotkey commands for such nifty features as auto-completing URLs, so if you type "download" and hold down the Ctrl key, it will auto-fill the "http://" and the ".com". The online favorites service is similar to that offered by other browsers, and works well.
We also like the super drag-and-drop feature, which lets you directly select and drag keywords to a current Web page or directly to the address bar. Maxthon is fast, small, flexible, and easy to use, and the extra features make it a browser we highly recommend for those looking for a change of pace.