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(Credit: Brave)

The Brave web browser has an interesting genesis. In 2014 Mozilla's CEO Brendan Eich left the company and started Brave Software, quickly beginning work on a new and perhaps game-changing web browser. Fast forward to 2016 and Brave Software released Brave, its open-source web browser. While similar to most browsers in many respects, Brave stands out in one key aspect: ad blocking. Specifically, it differs in how it deals with ad blocking and how that will ultimately affect businesses and the individuals browsing content.

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(Credit: Brave)

Brave is available on desktop machines for Windows and MacOS for the desktop and for being fairly new is a very functional browser. And with its unusual approach, it's safe to say that Brave is stirring the browser pot a fair bit with it strategy.

Brave's speed

Brave is a lean machine. In our informal tests, we found it put less of a strain on system resource than that of even lean browsers like Firefox Quantum -- like less than half of the memory in some cases and about 70 percent of CPU cycles when performing the same tasks than other browsers. Naturally, a light touch on system resource tends to speed up a browser, especially on computers where memory may be tight or the CPU a little older and slower.

How fast is Brave? In our informal tests it comes up just a smidgen slower than Firefox Quantum -- one of the fastest browsers out there. And it outperforms most others. And it is light on system resource use, what probably helps give Brave its speedy demeanor. It is also helped by its ability to block advertisements and tracking cookies. The amount of data it doesn't have to load (or send) with tracker-heavy web pages means that pages load quicker, creating a speedy browsing experience.

Brave's ad-blocking and business model

Brave's big pitch to users is that it blocks ads and trackers cold. But the company acknowledges that blocking ads starves websites and content creators. So Brave has come with an interesting approach to making money. You can sign up for their Brave Rewards program, where you earn BAT tokens for viewing ads that Brave has inserted instead of the ads the websites are naturally displaying. When you sign up for Brave Rewards you have the option of giving a portion of the ad revenue from the ads Brave is showing you to the websites you enjoy the most. You also earn tokens for yourself which you can then use to "tip" websites of your choice.

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(Credit: Brave)

No doubt it's a bit of a convoluted system, and it's caused a fair deal of debate in the world of advertising and browsers. After all, stripping all of the ads only to use Brave network ads seems to defeat the purpose of ad blocking in the first place. The key aspect of this is that if you don't sign up for Brave Rewards, then you don't have worry about this system, and you can still surf the web without any tracking or ads showing up on the pages you surf to.

Brave's embrace of Chromium and Chrome extensions

Brave is built on Chromium, which is the open source engine that also drives Google Chrome and soon Microsoft Edge. And because Chromium forms the underpinning of Brave, you add nearly all Chrome extensions to Brave. The company said it's as easy as browsing the Chrome Web Store and adding the extension you want.

The Brave interface

Brave offers a clean and crisp interface that is fairly intuitive to use, with all of elements you've come to expect in a browser. Brave's individual tabs sport icons for quick identification, and hovering the cursor over a tab gives details on the page in that tab without having click on the tab and activate it.

Pros

  • Interface. The Brave open-source browser offers a simple, clean, and intuitive interface.
  • Speed. In part because it keeps trackers reigned in, Brave is a fast browser.
  • Exemplary ad and tracker blocking. Brave's ad-blocking is top of the heap.
  • Privacy and security. Along with it blocking capabilities, Brave's anti-tracking tools are among the best.
  • Extensions. By being built on Chromium lets you use Chrome extension in Brave.

Cons

  • Brave Rewards. Brave's opt-in ad display and compensation program is a bit confusing and certainly controversial.

Bottom line

Brave is a very secure, fast, and stable browser that blocks ads and trackers and effectively helps make its users more anonymous online. However, its approach to ad-blocking and the opt-in for the Brave Rewards system is opening eyes in the world of online browsing. Only time will tell if this tactic is going to get traction over the long term.

Apps

Windows and MacOS. Mozilla has Firefox available for Windows and Macs.

Competitive products

  • Google Chrome. Google's browser (download on Windows and Mac) is the most used in the world.
  • Firefox Quantum. Mozilla's flagship product (download on Windows and Macs) is arguably the fastest and most secure of the major browsers.
  • Safari. Apple's signature browser (download on Mac) is used mostly by Mac users but is also available for Windows.
  • Opera. A browser with fewer features (download on Windows and Mac), but good for slower internet connections.
  • Microsoft Edge. A fast browser (download on Windows) that's only available for Windows 10.

Read more

Bart G. Farkas is an author and writer and has more than 100 print gaming strategy guides to his name. He has been writing about gaming and technology for over 20 years in numerous magazines. He has also written more than a dozen non-gaming technology books and writes the odd romance novel when so moved. Bart lives in Alberta, Canada.