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Thursday, 12 August 2010

Firefox 4 beta 3 Initial Impressions *UPDATED*

With Firefox 3.6 causing my leg to burn from the heat of my overtaxed laptop with all the seemingly random CPU usage, and Chrome leaving beta on the mac, I was quite happy to avoid Firefox 4 entirely. However with Chrome starting to misbehave and even starting to hog my CPU I once again got restless and started looking for another browser.

Safari 5 looked promising, but with the extensions gallery still in its infancy it didn't tick enough boxes for me to switch. Opera 10.61 is also quite snappy and syncs with my phone, however with none of my essential extensions supported, I looked elsewhere.
I had lost the faith with Firefox as it increasingly seemed like a bloated version of Chrome, however with the recent beta 3 launch i thought I'd give it a whirl.

Appearance: C-

You could ask why appearance even matters on a browser and you would probably be right, however Firefox 4 has made a couple of changes. Mozilla has become the latest to adopt the Chrome tabs on top look which makes sense as it gives you a little more web page space (approx only 1 line of text). Firefox 4 however looks a little ugly in comparison to Chrome implementation and reminds me a lot of Opera 10.6. The buttons have also become a lot more square and again remind me of Opera.

CPU/Memory Usage: A

This for me was the biggest improvement and the biggest reason I ditched Firefox 3.6 in the first place. With 18 tabs open and loaded, Firefox 4 used approx half of the CPU of 3.6 and more importantly the fan didn't go in to hand dryer territories as it tries to stop my leg burning. If this is a sign of things to come, I will be eagerly watching Firefox 4 grow.

General Speed/Performance: B+

I found on an 18 tab load it loaded faster than FF3.6, however still lagged a little behind Chrome and Safari 5. However the real bonus for me was general rendering speed. On FF 3.6 i find scrolling up and down pages a little juddery on my 2008 macbook. On Chrome i had no such problems and I'm pleased to say that FF4 was as smooth as butter.

Overall: B+ C-

The important criteria for me on a browser has always been Extensions, Speed and efficient performance and despite looking a little ugly, Mozilla looks like it is on the verge of nailing all 3 with Firefox 4. Even more impressive is achieving all this and convincing me to use it as my default browser with a beta release that has presumably going to get better with every release.


*UPDATED*: So maybe I spoke too soon, while on general use I am very impressed with the browser, I have had many issues with flash and Java script. The flash apps seem to load just fine, however the keyboard isn't registering any input. Youtube also has some issues when the video just vanished, again HTML5 seems to work just fine, however that brings its own issues.
Roll on beta 4!

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