Google Chrome

Google Chrome

Editors' Rating:
5
Spectacular
Average User Rating:
3.7
out of 3080 votes
See all user reviews

Quick Specs

Version:
7.0.517.44
File Size:
Not available
Date Added:
November 04, 2010
Price:
Free
Operating Systems:
Windows XP/Vista/7
Total Downloads:
25,230,375
Downloads Last Week:
34,315
Product ranking:
#2 in Web Browsers
Additional Requirements:
Not available

Editors' review

The bottom line: Google Chrome 7 is not only stable to use, but comes with a full range of competitive features. It lacks some of the fine-tuning customizations in Firefox, but overall users browsing with Chrome will find it a pleasant, fast, and standards-compliant experience.

Review: Now into its second year, Google Chrome has begun to mature from a lightweight and fast browsing alternative into an innovative browser on the precipice of a potential browsing revolution with the pending ChromeOS. The browser that people can use today, Chrome 7, offers highly competitive features including synchronization, autofill, and and maintains Google's reputation for building one of the fastest browsers available.

Chrome 7 represents a major milestone point for the browser, but users who are familiar with seeing dramatic changes in major-point updates will be disappointed. New features are thin, with only a new interface for cookie management offering anything in the way of a visual change. Other improvements include an update to the HTML5 parser and the arrival of the HTML5 file API. This allows Web-based content to read the content of local files. Chrome 7 can also upload complete directories.

Please note that there are at least four versions of Chrome available at the moment, and this review only addresses the "stable" branch, intended for general use. Chrome beta, dev, and Canary are respectively progressively less stable versions of the browser, and aimed at developers.

Installation:

Chrome's installation process is simple and straightforward. If you download from Google's Web site, it will ask you if you'd like to anonymous submit usage statistics to the company. This can be toggled even after the browser's installed by going to the "Wrench" preferences menu, choosing Options, then Under the Hood, and unchecking Help Make Chrome Better. Depending on your processor, the installation process should take less than two minutes.

Interface:

Google's Chrome interface has changed remarkably little since its surprise debut in September 2008. Tabs are still on top, the location bar--which Google likes to call the "Omnibar"--dominates the minimalist design, and the browser has few visible control buttons besides Back, Forward, and a combined Stop/Reload button. Although some users may not like the tabs on top, we find it to be aesthetically preferable because it leaves more room below for the Web site we're looking at.

One change has been to remove the secondary Page options button, and combine it with the preferences Wrench to create space for extension icons to the right of the location bar. As it currently looks, it could be better organized. Some controls, such as page zoom, are readily available. Others, such as the extension manager, are hidden away under a Tools sub-menu.

Chrome's extensions are fairly limited in how they can alter the browser's interface. Unlike Firefox, which gives add-on makers a lot of leeway to change the browser's look, Chrome mandates that extensions appear only as icons to the right of the location bar. The benefit maintains a uniform look in the browser, but it definitely limits how much the browser can be customized. Versions 6 and 7 of Chrome don't support sidebars, either, although other Chromium-based browsers (such as the Flock 3 beta) do offer the feature.

Even with its limitations, the interface design has remained a contemporary exemplar of how to minimize the browser's screen footprint while remaining easy-to-use and versatile.

Features and Support:

Chrome 7's features are accessible from the preferences menu, and the browser offers a complete range of modern browsing conveniences. The basics are well-represented, including tabbed browsing, new window creation, and a private browsing mode that Google calls "Incognito" which disables cookies tracking, history recording, extension support and other browsing breadcrumbs.

Chrome is based on WebKit, the same open-source engine that powers Apple Safari, Google's Android mobile platform, and several other desktop and mobile Web-browsing tools. Chrome runs on a different JavaScript engine than its WebKit cousins, and there are other changes, as well.

Chrome's tabs remain one of the best things about the browser. The tabs are detachable: "tabs" and "windows" are interchangeable here. Detached tabs can be dragged and dropped into the browser, and tabs can be rearranged at any time by clicking, holding, dragging, and releasing. Not only can tabs be isolated, but each tab actually exists in its own task process. This means that when one site crashes, the other tabs do not. While memory leaks are a major concern in Chrome when you have dozens of tabs open, sluggish behavior and other impediments weren't noticeable until after there were more than 30 tabs open. That's not an immutable number, though, and a computer's hardware will alter browser performance.

Some of the basics in Chrome are handled extremely intuitively. In-page searching works smoothly. Using the CTRL + F hot key or the menu option, searching for a word or phrase will open a text entry box on the top right of the browser. It searches as you type, indicating the number of positives results and highlighting them on the page.

Account syncing is another area where Chrome excels. Using your Gmail account, Chrome will sync your themes, preferences, autofill entries, extensions, and bookmarks. You can toggle each of those categories, too. It does not yet offer password syncing, although the password manager offers a smart show password option that keeps it visually separate from the site that it's associated to.

Chrome also contains a lot of privacy-tweaking settings. In the Options menu, go to the Under the Hood tab. From here, users can toggle and customize most of the browser's privacy and security settings. Cookies, image management, JavaScript, plug-ins, pop-ups, location information, and notifications can be adjusted from the Content Settings button. This includes toggling specific plug-ins, such as the built-in Adobe Flash plug-in or the Chrome PDF reader (which is deactivated by default.)

Like Firefox, Chrome gives users broad control over search engines and setting search customizations. While this doesn't sound like much, not all browsers allow you to set keyword shortcuts for searching, and some even restrict which search engine you can set as your default. Chrome comes with three defaults to choose from: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

The Chrome extension manager, bookmark manager, and download manager all open in new tabs. They allow you to search their contents and throw in some basic management options like deletion, but in general none feel as robust as their counterparts in competing browsers. For example, URLs in the bookmark manager are only revealed when you mouse over a bookmark, and you must click on one to get the URL to permanently appear. That's an extra click that other browsers don't require of you.

Two other low-profile but well-executed features in Chrome include auto-updating and translation. Chrome automatically updates when a new version comes out. This makes it harder to revert back to an older version, but it's highly unlikely that you'll want to downgrade this build of Chrome since this is the stable build and not the beta or developer's version. The second feature, automatic translation of Web pages, is available to other browsers as a Google add-on, but because it comes from Google it's baked directly into Chrome.

Chrome is also a leader in HTML5 implementation, which is uneven because of the continuing development of HMTL5 standards. This will become more important in the coming months and years, but for right now it doesn't massively affect a user's interaction with Web sites.

In the realm of security, besides allowing users to disable JavaScript, Chrome will autoblock Web sites that are known as unsafe or for promulgating phishing attacks and malware threats. This depends on Google's ability to flag Web sites as risky, though, and so it's recommended to use a network like the Web of Trust extension or a separate security program to block threats.

Performance:

Based on the open-source WebKit engine and Google's V8 JavaScript engine, Google Chrome debuted to much fanfare because of its rocketing rendering speeds. Two years down the line, that hasn't changed, and the stable version of Chrome remains one of the fastest stable browsers available. The less-stable versions, with their more recent improvements and bug-fixes, are even faster.

CNET benchmarks will be added here shortly, but Google claims that Chrome 6's JavaScript rendering is 10 times faster than when Chrome was first released in 2008. Historically, Chrome has been one of the fastest browsers available across multiple benchmarks, and that's not expected to change in version 6 or 7.

Conclusion:

Where Chrome 5 was the first version of the browser that felt fully baked, Chrome 6 began to add serious features to that foundation while improving usability. Chrome 7 in terms of new features, Chrome 7 feels more like a minor-point update. Still, it's a ready-to-go browser that offers top-of-the-line speed, a clean, minimalist look, and competitive features that justify its still-increasing market share. It does have minor problems, but Chrome should be a serious option for anybody who wants a browser that gets out of the way of browsing the Web.

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All User Reviews
  • All Versions:

    3.7

    out of 3080 votes

    • 5 star: 1195
    • 4 star: 789
    • 3 star: 441
    • 2 star: 249
    • 1 star: 406
  • Current Version:

    4.1

    out of 40 votes

    • 5 star: 19
    • 4 star: 13
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 4
    • 1 star: 2
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

    Results 1-1 of 1

  • 3 stars

    "Average browser, popular because of the owner"

    September 06, 2014   |   By LLI-JBS

    Version: Google Chrome 37.0.2062.103

    Pros

    - Clean user interface.
    - Easy to use for normal users.
    - Automatic updating.
    - Google integration.
    - Great HTML5 support.
    - Good Dev Tools.
    - Sync.
    - Built-in Flash.

    Cons

    - Quite slow on all my computers.
    - Concerned about privacy (Google is a known tracker).
    - Not very friendly UI for power users.
    - Poor customization features.
    - Large (about 250 MB of hard disk).
    - Some webpages are broken in Chrome.
    - Doesn't work at all at poor Internet connection.
    - Extensions are not as useful as in Firefox.

    Summary

    It's not a bad browser, but there are much better browsers. Many users say it's great; it's probably just because of the owner (Google) and its power in Internet world. If you're not a power user and you love Google, you'll probably like Chrome. But if you want to have a really good browser, I recommend Firefox.

    Reply to this review

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  • Results 1-1 of 1

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