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Avant Browser review

Verdict

The dated interface is the least of this ageing browser’s problems, which struggles with modern apps such as Google Docs and should be forced into retirement

Review Date: 12 Mar 2010

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
2 stars out of 6

If you asked most Internet Explorer deserters their reasons for switching, security would likely be high on the list. With this in mind, we couldn't help but chuckle at several quotes from Avant Browser's FAQ page. "Since it's based on Internet Explorer, Avant Browser is as secure as Internet Explorer," went one particular gem, presumably intended as a straight-faced positive.

It's described as a custom web browser application, designed to "expand the services provided by" Internet Explorer. What this actually means is that you need Microsoft's browser installed to run Avant, which merely piggybacks on top of the Trident engine with its own interface. Yes, it's essentially an IE add-on. Delve into the long menus and you'll even find IE's Internet Options pane for directly altering the underlying settings.

That's great news if your main reason for leaving Internet Explorer was that it was just too darned pretty, for Avant takes that polished IE interface and slaps a thick coat of circa-2006 Firefox 2 over the top of it. Or is it Netscape Navigator 9 from 2007? It's hard to tell beneath the opaque grey finish and the mess of icons other browsers have long done away with.

Avant Browser PC Pro homepage

The interface isn't a retro design choice, though: the reason it looks so old is that the last major release was Avant Browser 11, way back in September 2006. In some ways it was ahead of its time, introducing an online account for your bookmarks – something Google has only recently added to Chrome – as well as an RSS reader and an auto-fill function. Unfortunately, in the three-and-a-half years and close to 50 minor updates since, it's received zero new features.

It's evident that Opera was the main early influence, with Avant offering the ability to undock tabs and tile or arrange them within the overall browser window. Rather than simply dragging the tab to its destination, it's all done with right-clicks and menus so it's not exactly smooth, but it's a nice way to compare websites.

Other than that, the most interesting touches we could find – and it was tough – were a button to close all but the current tab and another to automatically scroll a window while you read, presumably to rest your poor mouse hand. That mouse hand can control tabs with 16 gestures enabled by holding the right mouse button; we disabled them after accidentally closing eight tabs with a distracted twitch. There's an ad-blocker built-in, and a full-screen mode that removes the toolbars for use on smaller displays.

Performance was shaky during our tests under Windows 7. Resizing or dragging windows caused stuttering redraws, and while it was fine with Flash-heavy sites and HD video on iPlayer and YouTube, Google Docs brought its Avant tab to a complete freeze every time we tried to use it. Given that Internet Explorer 8 only scores 20/100 in the Acid3 test, we weren't surprised to see Avant do the same, but its mid-table score of 6,489ms in SunSpider – and respectable 16MB memory usage – was actually better than we expected.

We don't doubt Avant's appeal early in its life, when it first melded Opera's innovative tabbed browsing to the industry-accepted IE engine. It might even have swayed us when version 11 brought online bookmarks to the party. But today, in 2010, it's been left so far behind that we're troubled by its presence on the browser ballot at all. The big five browsers are established, reliable and constantly evolving packages; Avant’s latest version is nearly four years old and requires the engine of another browser to run at all.

The worst part of all is that, by legitimising Avant with a place in the ballot, an unfortunate internet novice might click its shiny icon and come to the conclusion that web browsing is always this deeply uninspiring.

Author: David Bayon

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User comments

great

Wow,release memory is completely and use less CPU.didn't find any no responsible /freezing problem these days in avant browser 11.8 alpha ,good work.

By elfsun on 20 May 2010

SWIGGY

Forget Firefox and all the other browsers! Somebody knew how to make a browser when they did this one. It is VERY fast. I have dial up, but this makes it SO fast it is incredible, just like DSL. I highly suggest it!

By elfsun on 2 Nov 2010

ok

Fast and stable are the two most stable reason that I use this browser.

By 1qaz2wsx on 29 Nov 2010

2011 ismore stable

It has been some time since 2010 build 130 be out.In my opinion,130 version is much more stable than the earlier versons.but there still have some small bugs.you guys need to work hard.

By elfsun on 28 Feb 2011

I used to...

love this browser. When it came out it was quick, the tabs made life easy, mouse gestures, aliases etc etc made me use this pretty much exclusively.

But as David Bayon says - time caught up with it. It began to freeze, feature bloat took over and in the end I went back to IE & Chrome.

If it could recapture it's glory days I would propbably give it another try, but I fear that with teh new Chrome & IE 9 just around the corner it will (and possibly should) follow Netscape into Browser oblivion.

By Gz_asjeffdf61ec8 on 3 Mar 2011

Old browser, new feeling

I saw the commnet of mine in 2010 here. I had used Avant browser for about three year before I switched to firefox, and now I use Avant agine for their new version 2012 beta 8 which integrated firefox 8 engine. Can't believe it after these years avant still keep its old interface. But the really add many new features in this year. Such as split view, detach tab, two rendering engine . What surprise me is that using firefox engine in Avant even faster than firefox itself. I don't know how they can do this, but from my experience, the new version is good

By elfsun on 19 Oct 2011

Changes a lot

Have been using the latest 2013 build 107 for some time.So far so good.
The UI changes lot. If you update from 11.7 version directly to 107, you may not used to it.
Load speed still as fast as usual. Use less CPU now.
Personally,I prefeer firefox engine in Avant.

By elfsun on 5 Jun 2013

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