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Chrome 11: The Best Web Browser?
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May 2, 2011

Was it only a few weeks ago, that we were looking at the latest crop of Web browsers?
By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Why, yes, yes it was, but now Google has released yet another newer, faster, better, and more feature-full version of its Chrome Web browser: Chrome 11.

Voice to Data

Besides the usual improvements in security and speed, which I'll get to in a moment, Chrome 11 comes with a new, interesting feature: voice-to-text, or more properly, voice-to-data. So, with a Web site set up to handle it, such as Google Translate, you can "talk" to the Web.

Currently, Google Translate is the big Web application that uses it, but Google promises there will be more. It's clear, for example, that a voice to text feature, once it's perfected, for Google Docs would find fans.

This voice-to-data feature uses HTML 5's Speech Input Web application programming interface (API). This proposed API was developed and proposed by, guess who, Google.

I found it to work "amusingly" well. It made far too many mistakes for me to consider using it, but when you consider that it's a first try at a mass-market Web cloud-based real time translation tool, it is impressive–just not very useful yet.

Eventually it will mature, but for now it's a fun toy. For instance, with its Google Translate function you can use your PC as a universal translator ala Star Trek. It's not going to put Uhura out of work anytime soon. If privacy is a concern, and it should be, you should also keep in mind, as the feature currently tells you, "This page is recording speech from your computer. Click here to stop recording."

Chrome 11 on the Test Bench

I've been using Chrome 11 on my Linux and Windows PCs. For test purposes though I used my Windows 7 test box: a Gateway DX4710. This PC is powered by a 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor and has 6GBs of RAM and an Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 3100 for graphics. It's not that fast, but it gets the job done. It's hooked to the Web via a Netgear Gigabit Ethernet switch, which, in turn, is hooked up to a 25Mbps (Megabit per second) cable Web connection.

On this system, I ran both Chrome 11 and the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE) 9 Web browser, using a variety of benchmarks. Here's how they did.

First up, I ran the Acid 3 compatibility test. This checks out how Web browser, or not, is with various Web standards such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript, and Extensible Markup Language (XML). Here, Chrome, with a perfect score of 100, out did IE 9 with its 95.

Next up was the HTML5 Test. This benchmark is exactly what its sounds like" It checks to see how compliant the Web browser is with the HTML5 Web page standard. Once more Chrome came out on top with a score of 293 out of a maximum of 400. IE really trailed on this benchmark. It scored only 130 points.

Thus, if being compliant with Web standards matters to you, Chrome is the Web browser for you.

Moving on to Web performance benchmarks, I started with Kraken 1.0. This is Mozilla's update of its SunSpider JavaScript benchmark but, according to Mozilla, "Kraken focuses on realistic workloads and forward-looking applications." In Kraken, the lower scores are best. Here, Chrome blew away IE, 6,311.7 to 17,051.9.

Next up, was Peacekeeper bechmarking tool by FutureMark. In Peacekeeper, higher scores are better. Here, the two browsers were neck and neck. Chrome edged ahead with a score of 8,427 to IE's 8,343.

According to SunSpider JavaScript 0.9.1, the most popular Web browser benchmark, IE finally won one. In this benchmark, lower is better and IE came on top with a score of 252.6 to Chrome's 316.8.

Finally, I looked at the V8 Benchmark Suite: This, yet another JavaScript benchmark, comes from Google and was designed as a way to tune up Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that Chrome beats IE hollow on this benchmark. In this test, higher is better and Chrome came in at 9122 with IE coming in with 2193.

So, which Web browser is really faster? For me, it's Chrome. Not only does it win at most of the benchmarks, it just feels faster.

In part, that's because, thanks to its support of SPDY, Chrome is actually about 15% faster at Web sites that support this replacement protocol to HTTP. For now, though, only Google-based Web sites commonly support SPDY. Still, if you spend a lot time with Gmail, doing Google Web searches, and other Google Web sites, there's no question that Chrome is the best choice of Web browser.

Beyond the Benchmarks

While Chrome still doesn't equal IE when it comes to defending against some kinds of social engineering attacks on the Web, it does include 25 other security fixes. It also has a security update to its built-in version of Adobe Flash. Chrome also includes some bug fixes to its Web cloud print feature.

Of course, Chrome has other useful built-in features as well. For example, I'm still pleased that Chrome lets me sync Web browser bookmarks and passwords between all my PCs using Chrome. And, of course, Chrome runs remarkably well on Linux, Mac OS X, and all versions of Windows.

Taken all-in-all, I think Chrome 11 is simply the best Web browser around. And, with its remarkable development speed, I don't see any of the other Web browsers catching up with it anytime soon.

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