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Given that 30% of Make Use Of readers are non-Firefox users What's your Browser of Choice ? [Poll] What's your Browser of Choice ? [Poll] Read More we decided a short time back to branch out a little and give some more exposure to alternative browsers. In fact you may have noticed recently Jason’s couple of articles on Safari The two week Safari challenge The two week Safari challenge Read More , Mark’s on Opera Taking a closer look at the Opera Browser Taking a closer look at the Opera Browser Read More and Tina’s on Flock What the Flock - the Social Browser Revolution What the Flock - the Social Browser Revolution Read More .

Now its time for a look at the browser you may never have heard of : Maxthon .

What is Maxthon?

Maxthon is an award winning browser.

I’d never actually used Maxthon before giving it a test drive a few days before this review. In fact of the reported downloads – 55 million – the majority has been in China meaning Maxthon is still relatively unknown amongst the English speaking internet users.

Maxthon is Internet Explorer. It began as an extension of Internet Explorer, and although a browser in its own right it still uses the same rendering engine. I say this now because I know many of you, being Firefox users, will become fairly unreceptive to adopting this as an alternative Web browser.

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That out of the way, I think you will still find that Maxthon has some pretty handy features.

First Impressions:

Maxthon is ugly.

Yeah I know, aesthetics probably shouldn’t be that important, but frankly Maxthon has possibly the ugliest interface of the other four browsers. (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Safari)

The theme looks like it has tried to be ‘smooth’ or ‘streamlined’, but fails miserably. Whatever the case it doesn’t work and there’s currently not much selection in the way of downloadable themes which provide much of an improvement to the interface.

Performance

Maxthon has solid performance and is noticeably faster then IE7 and Firefox for basic tasks such as loading, opening new tabs and navigating between them. I would imagine actual page loading speed to be just the same as Internet Explorer.

Features

Maxthon has a lot of features. However this doesn’t seem to be much of a selling point these days due to the ability Firefox users have of downloading just about anything and adding it to their browser.

That said, most internet users will never download an extension even once and simply use a browser as it comes. Maxthon is aimed at that audience and does a good job of incorporating a wide range of features which make the user experience an easier one.

Here are a couple which I particularly liked.

Screen Capture :

Maxthon comes with a decent screen capturing tool available through the tools menu. Thinking ahead, the Maxthon team has created a keypad shortcut for the ‘Capture Region’ option which is the one people are likely to use the most.

Magic Fill

I really liked this one.

With Magic Fill you can save any number of online identities and all the associated details. You could have one identity with fake details for signing up to forums or other websites where spam may be a risk. You can save another identity containing real details for when you wish to use those. And of course, like all the browsers, Maxthon also saves username and password details for websites automatically.

Multisearch :

I think this is one of the best features of Maxthon. You can customize and import the search engines you wish to use, then after a search you can rapidly flick between them to compare results – this is especially useful for image searches.

Digg Integration

A simplified Digg service is incorporated into the sidebar. If you are a heavy Digg user then you may like keeping an eye on this and watching the latest popular stories as they appear.

Del.icio.us

Maxthon also provides built in support for your Del.icio.us bookmarks in the sidebar. Through a toolbar button in the top right hand corner you can tag pages, access your bookmarks, change settings and access all the other Del.icio.us features.

Maxthon provides a lot more features and options for customization. In fact any toolbar or button can be moved, dragged or modified. Unfortunately however it’s also one of the negative points as many useful tools are fairly inaccessible or hidden away. It’s a pity because there are a lot of really good ideas here, but not enough to make me change browsers.

If as a Maxthon user you think this review to be overly negative then feel free to fire off in the comments below. Tell us why you chose this browser over the alternatives.

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