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Once you’ve tried Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari, is there anything left? The browser is generally considered to be the most important part of your home PC experience. It’s the vehicle that lets you stroll out into this wonderful Internet that we all know so well. Once you fall in love with a particular browser, it’s very tough to be pulled away from it. I only recently made the transition from Firefox to Chrome, and many would say I’m a good year late on that.
A little over a month ago, Joel put out a nice piece discussing some of the best browsers for Windows. Saved for last was a browser that is by no means revolutionary, but introduces some very interesting parts that we don’t often see.
The very first thing you’ll notice about any new browser is the startup time. I was extremely impressed by how quickly SlimBoat launched, and if my old Firefox responded in the same way then I may have never ditched it!
You’ll immediately be met by a feature that every browser should include by now:
Being able to conveniently convert all of your favorites websites from three of the most popular browsers is a great first step towards giving SlimBoat a permanent stay. If dragging over your bookmarks isn’t enough, or if you’ve simply chosen not to, the SlimBoat start page puts some of the web’s hottest URLs just a click away. SlimBoat has copied the “speed dial” launching page that Opera once made so popular, offering the following websites by default:
Now that we’ve launched SlimBoat, there is a lot to look at. One of the biggest perks of SlimBoat is that, out of the box, it comes equipped with many features that other browsers can only include through extensions.
Toolbars are usually something that we immediately want to get rid of. While SlimBoat doesn’t come with any extra bars, there are a few buttons that you wouldn’t see in other browsers.
The back, forward, refresh, home, and favorites buttons are ones we should all be quite used to seeing by now. Aside from those, there are buttons to immediately access eBay and Amazon and one to share content from the current webpage to Facebook. The eBay and Amazon buttons stand out as a little awkward, but clicking on them shows that they are affiliate links tied to SlimBoat.
Basically, this is how a free browser makes money. If you like SlimBoat and want to support it, shop from eBay or Amazon by using these links. It won’t hurt you and will only help the developers.
The favorites bar is also nothing new, but I do really like the look of tabs in SlimBoat. They aren’t bulky, the active tab is very easy to distinguish, and opening a new tab is made very easy.
There are a lot of extra settings and goodies hidden within SlimBoat’s many menus, so you’d better be ready to explore.
The File menu reveals features such as closed sites memory, session saving, saving pages as a PDF, shortcut, or screenshot, private browsing, and a way to hide your browser. All are very self-explanatory. Private browsing is a lot like Chrome’s Incognito mode and hiding your browser is great for work environments, allowing the window to completely disappear and then reappear when a hotkey is pressed.
The Tools menu includes most of what’s left to offer out of SlimBoat’s built-in features. Web Inspector is SlimBoat’s version of Firebug, which is huge in both Firefox and Chrome. SlimBoat also allows you to change your user agent in the browser. Another huge feature is the ability to mass download files from any webpage. It’s the sort of functionality that DownThemAll! offers to Firefox users.
Not only does SlimBoat include a popup blocker, but an all-around ad blocker as well. The lists for both can be managed.
Other features in the browser include QuickFill, giving you a little taste of LastPass, and Groups, which allow you to save several tabs together into a website group that you can reopen at a later time. It’s a clever take on session saving.
SlimBoat isn’t far outside of what we’d expect out of the average browser. The plus side of this software is that it requires no pampering. You don’t have to install a third-party extension to block ads. You don’t need to do anything special to download all images off the page or switch your user agent to test what a website may look like in another browser.
SlimBoat is fast, versatile, and efficient. It’s a really cool new browser with a refreshing feel and I really recommend that anyone give it a try. Let me know what you think of it in the comments.