Best Free Specialised Web Browser

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Introduction

Other Browsers are often the up and coming innovators. The developers have to produce something useful to encourage us to overcome our inertia and take a chance on adopting their product.

Apart from the child-friendly web browsers, which are really unique, most of the 'other web browsers' look and act a lot like the 'mega browsers'. They do so because they generally use the same web (layout/rendering) engines and add their new features into a lighter package which can provide better performance for us users:

  • Multi-engine web browsers allow you to see web pages as if they were rendered in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome. You can then associate a website with the engine that makes it look best.
  • Secure web browsers add additional security features such as their own DNS servers, additional privacy and confidentiality, or integration with other security software.
  • Child-friendly web browsers make it easier and safer for children to browse the Web.

 Mega Browsers 

 

 Lightweight Browsers 

 

 Other Browsers 

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Other Web Browsers
Multi-Engine Web Browsers

Multi-engine web browsers are useful for viewing some websites so they look and work the best. Developers and testers will appreciate the ability to use one browser to test in three different engines. Multi-engine browsers may also useful for deciding which of the three main engines (Gecko, Trident, WebKit/Blink) or browser families (IE, Firefox, Chrome) that you prefer to work with. It is very easy to tile three windows to the same web page and compare what you see.

The main disadvantage is that they also introduce an unwanted level of complexity into your browsing. If something does not look right or work properly, you first need to check which engine you are using. Each engine has its own browsing options and settings so if you use all three engines you have almost as many settings as three different browsers. There is additional complexity in how the engines are handled and it is not documented for us. Here is a simple example of setting a home page. In Lunascape you can set the homepage for each engine in Tools | Lunascape Settings... | General Settings | Default Engine. However, it only works for each engine if there is a window open using that engine. So if you only have Gecko windows open then you can't get to the options for Trident or WebKit and vice versa. It is not obvious what is happening and you could waste some time trying to work out what is happening. Similar issues arise when you open a new tab.

Avant Browser Ultimate. The previous editor of this category really liked this browser and so do I. For a start it uses the web engines from Internet Explorer (IE), Google Chrome and Firefox.  You can set one as the default and you can associate any of the three with particular websites through the Avant Browser Options. The IE engines also has an IE Compatibility mode for older sites. If you don't want the three engines then you can install Avant Lite which only has the IE Trident engine.

Avant is easy to use and the menus easy to navigate. Unfortunately some common menu items, e.g. windows tiling, are omitted and you have to find the right icons to access them. Many issues from past versions have been fixed but the "Split View" still does not work properly so it is better to open a second window and tile the two.

Avant has some very useful features built-in to make your life easier without having to install add-ons: a video sniffer and downloader; a download accelerator; and a pop-up blocker.

Avant makes strong claims to  "crash-free" and "anti-freezing" browsing, "lowest memory usage" and "fast, low CPU usage", and high-performance on top of all this. When I have completed my tests I'll let you know if that is true.

Lunascape is a multi-engine browser that only installs IE's Trident engine by default. You can elect to add Gecko and WebKit when you run the install program or you can do it at some later date. I suggest that you give the WebKit engine a miss as it failed several benchmark tests.

You can assign an engine to a web page so it provides the best view.  The UI is similar to IE 6 with large toolbars and icons.  There is a news ticker at the far right of the tab row displaying headlines from whatever news agency you choose.  There is a large selection of menu and information bars available you can choose to see or hide.  If you like the IE feel with a range of options similar to Chrome and Firefox then Lunascape may be worth trying.

 

Interesting Web Browsers

Sleipnir is an interesting browser for many reasons. Let's start with a name out of Norse mythology: Sleipnir is pronounced slay-p-near. It is developed and heavily used in Japan. Its developers seek to reinvent the normal browser user interface by introducing quality fonts, touch and mouse gestures, and introducing an interesting bookmark carousel of thumbnails which is expected to replace the tabs we generally rely upon.

Menus are minimal with a menu button in the top-left corner. The combined address bar and search field is now called a portal field and is on the far right as Sleipnir believes the long address bar is a thing of the past because most people browse the Internet using search terms or hyperlinks instead of typing URLs.

Other browsers such as Maxthon and Opera use mouse gestures to navigate the history of an open tab and not much else. Sleipnir does much more. You can use the mouse gestures to navigate between the open tabs like changing views in a smart phone. It is one of a new wave of programs that seek to crossover the divide between desktop PC and mobile touch-screen device.

The two biggest problems with Sleipnir are the sluggish performance and the lack of proper support. Their website lacks a lot of information - maybe because translating it into English is too much of a challenge. Still, if you are looking for something truly different in web browsing then I think Sleipnir is worth a look.

 

Secure Web Browsers

When I say "secure browser" I mean that the web browser has a specific focus on security and confidentiality/privacy which is not shared by the mega browsers. The term "secure web browser" is very much a misnomer for four reasons:

  • No web browser can be considered fully secure, i.e. security is always relative rather than absolute.
  • The claim is usually made by the developers or publishers, often without sufficient substantiation.
  • The other web browsers are not necessarily less secure even though they focus on different security measures.
I am currently checking out a few "secure" web browsers to include in this group.

 

Child-Friendly Web Browsers

KidZui is a browser made for kids to safely browse the Internet. It provides access to a limited number of approved web sites for games, streaming music and video (plus 63 videos from YouTube), movie info, sports, and the usual cute animals.

It is easy to use with large buttons, standard categories, favorites for each account, auto complete for search terms, and the ability to display images only or videos only. There are limited parental controls which require you to sign up for an account with your email address.

The most useful parental controls require a paid membership. If you can do without the following then you don't need to pay anything: parents get the ability to block individual sites, access to all the KidZui sites, and access to all child activity logs; children (and big kids like me) get to create and accessorize a Zui avatar, share ratings, create their own channels, and use other social networking features.

Zac Browser Gold is a lot like KidZui but it is designed for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). There are similar categories including television, games, music, stories, activities, Zac Apps, and "surprise", which was a movie when I tried it. You can add or remove websites from these categories provided you have added a password to allow configuration of the browser. The user interface is animated and friendly without the commercial features of KidZui so there's no ads and not so many product placement websites. Each category has a colourful and musical animated background and the main screen is an underwater scene like a lot like a fish tank screen saver. It has no search feature and no user-selectable favorites.

Zac Browser is built using Adobe Air so you will need to install that first. The websites says to first install Adobe Air but you may already have it installed as I did.

Zac Browser used to have problems running on 64-bit Windows but those problems are said to have been resolved. However, I suspect that some of these issues may still exist because Zac Browser had a couple of crashes on my test system which is Windows 7 64-bit.

 

Quick Selection Guides
Multi-Engine Web Browsers

Avant Browser Ultimate

3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Multi-engine for flexibility; Video downloader built-in;
2014 build 7
62.8 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Version 6.25.2014 IE engine 11.0 Firefox 30.0 Chrome 35.0 The Avant Browser has only the Trident engine and the download is 4.24 MB. The portable version, Avant Browser USB Disk Version, stores settings in the program folder.

Lunascape

3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Multi-engine for more flexibiity; Installer can setup a portable version; Imports bookmarks from several browsers.
Multi-engine so settings are duplicated for each; The WebKit implementation is seriously compromised and so buggy it failed some benchmarks. Hard to find some things like the equivalent of a bookmark toolbar;
6.9.1
16.5 MB plus optional engines for Chrome 29.0 MB & Firefox 32.5 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
 
Interesting Web Browsers

Sleipnir

3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Innovative with a unique appearance; Cross-platform; Tab thumbnails.
Relatively slow; Lack of supporting documentation such as help and manuals.
6.0
50 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
 
Secure Web Browsers

 
Web Browsers for Children

Kidzui

3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
All websites are positively vetted i.e. whitelisted; Easy to use, simple, and colorful; Safe search with autocomplete Multiple accounts: Parent account for parental control; Child accounts for age and gender-specific content so the displayed links change to match; Weekly activity report for each account;
Key parental controls require a paid membership; Unable to add or remove websites; YouTube: can't close ads, limited number (63) of videos; There appears to be geographical restrictions on some sites.
1.32 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.

Zac Browser

3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple, colourful, and animated; Easy to use; Able to add and remove websites; Limited features are designed for Autistic children.
Limited features; Kept crashing on Windows 7 64-bit.
Gold
3.53 MB + 16.8 MB Adobe Air
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
 
Editor

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 Mega Browsers 

 

 Lightweight Browsers 

 

 Other Browsers 

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Comments

Kidzui looks like a plugin for Firefox; at least that's what it tells me (I'm running FF on LinuxMint).

What do you think about 360 Browser Their security products are extremely good (360 Internet Security and Total Security)
I had a quick look at 360 Browser (and K-Meleon and SeaMonkey) last night and it is impressive. It looks very good both literally, it makes good use of color, and as a good option for users.
I haven't installed it yet but I've been readng the comments and forum posts on the other 360 products you mention. FYI, I'm updating these articles in five stages: 1. I completed formatting the articles to make them look more consistent by adding images, adding quick selection guides, adding new sub-categories for Other Browsers, etc. 2. Currently I am checking out browser performance mainly for the Mega Browsers. I'm comparing them with all others so I will soon be looking at 360 Browser for the first time. 3. Update Lightweight Browsers. 4. Update Other Browsers including secure/private browsers. 5. Redo all scores and choose top browsers in each category/sub-category.
The article has been overhauled with a three sub-categories (multi-engine, secure, child), Quick Selection Guide, product images, and a rewrite. Remah - Editor of this category

Thank you for mentioning that Avant and Lunascape are based on IE
I have a friend in a small business that must use IE to display a web page based interface of a product they use (That product/program uses it's web page, instead of a normal program interface)
That page only works properly in IE
Now that IE is not safe, could Avant or Lunascape be used instead ?
Would both of those browsers be vulnerable to the current IE exploits ?

Rob

Rob, I apologize for this slow response to your questions. I took over this category after you left this question and only just noticed it. Yes, Avant and Lunascape would be useful alternatives because you can specify which web engine to use for a particular website. Yes, Avant and Lunascape provides options for greater security by using the other web engines. I don't focus on Internet Explorer as "unsafe" because it is the mainly the practices of the user that determine most of the risk. If you engage in risky browsing activities or are concerned about security then you should be considering other security solutions in addition to the browser. See our Security Guides for further guidance. FYI, I am in the process of updating the web browser articles to make the distinctions between different browsers clearer: - Technically Avant and Lunascape do not "use IE" but share the Trident web engine. Avant Ultimate and Lunascape provide the option to use any of three layout engines: WebKit, Gecko, and Trident - you have to select which one. Avant Lite only uses the Trident Engine. Lunascape by default only uses Trident. - The layout engine is not the primary concern when it comes to exploits. Rather it is specifically the Javascript engine which processes Javascript instructions.

I am really sorry to say that i found this article really poor, there's not any observation about the use of resources for each of these browsers, nor about the actual performance of each in comparison with others, all was in an anecdotal level and then there's not much anecdote either. I was happy when I found this article but got quite disappointed with the actual content.

Resource usage of browsers differs for different systems. It won't be the same for a PC having 512MB RAM and one having 4GB. Unless you're having a low-end system, you'll be fine.

I'll have to agree.. I'm totally about resource usage not that I need to be..
What I have found: Based on 15 tabs loading on startup

Chrome type browsers start off very high usage loading all the tabs..30% +
then if you don't use any tabs the usages goes back to about 20% of 7.75gb ram the minute you start view/moving around the tabs the usage gets heavy again.. Also if you let it stay in the back ground after closing it's still got those 15 tabs up in the task manager..

FireFox type Browsers...same 15 tabs

High CPU usage on loading...had to run an extra fan on my CPU or it gets hot
avg. 25% usage moving around but will drop with browser at idle..

I've tried all the browsers I can find and very few can even come close to low resource usage..workability, etc.., and not over tax the CPU

Recommendations are always welcome.. But I have tried most..maybe there is something new out there ?

Link for Epic Browser is dead.

After downloading and installing Avant, I selected certain options unique amongst the other browsers I run on my laptop.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered AVANT had imported all my IE bookmarks without asking. I was further disconcerted when I opened IE and found it had been changed to match the start page, search engine and other defaults I had made in AVANT.

I am mystified this behavior was not included in the review, nor does it seem to be addressed in the forums.

Consider this when you download.

I think you mean Enigma Browser?
Epic. It looks like the site was down temporarily when I tried to open it ...

Avast Browser Ultimate is listed in best-free-web-browser but not here or the mega or lightweight sections.