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FlashPeak SlimBrowser review

Verdict

An ugly, awkward browser that offers very little its slicker rivals can’t match and improve upon

Review Date: 12 Mar 2010

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
3 stars out of 6

FlashPeak bills its SlimBrowser as a “super-compact” browser and, with a file size of just over 5MB, it’s hard to disagree. The initial download will complete in seconds over a decent broadband connection, and the installation process was just as painless.

Our initial impressions of SlimBrowser, though, were mixed: even though its design harks back to decade-old browsers, it still offers a reasonable range of features.

Perhaps the first thing you'll notice about the SlimBrowser it its not-so-subtle title bar.

One of the most innovative is the inclusion of “groups”, a riff on the now-familiar themes of bookmarks and tabbed browsing. It’s possible to collect together your favourite sites – or those which cover similar topics – and, when selected, FlashPeak SlimBrowser will open each link in its own tab. We found it especially useful for comparing prices at online stores: instead of laboriously clicking through the pages we tend to check religiously, one clicked loaded them all simultaneously.

Other features make the browsing experience easier. It’s possible to assign your favourite websites a single-word alias that can be typed instead of a cumbersome URL, and an AutoLogin module remembers usernames and passwords for favourite sites. We also liked the easy-to-use built-in translation tool, which consulted Babel Fish and Google’s dictionaries.

The rest of FlashPeak’s features are more conventional. There’s the usual username and password storage, a popup killer, and the chance to import bookmarks from other browsers – but only if they can be exported as HTML files. Popular search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, come pre-loaded too.

SlimBrowser is easier to use for browser veterans – it feels archaic, but everything is, at least, in the right place, with most pages rendered properly - but beginners are likely to have problems. While the toolbar offers every option you’d expect, it still contains dozens of options and nested menus, and the configuration tools reveal a range of options that’s just as confusing.

SlimBrowser also fell behind in more technical areas. It scored a meagre 13 in the Acid3 test, for instance; all of the “big five” browsers returned better scores, with Chrome scoring a perfect 100. This poor result puts paid to FlashPeak SlimBrowser as a choice for developers, even though the JavaScript console, HTML editor and script editor tools could, potentially, prove useful.

SlimBrowser’s facade of simplicity is spoilt by the interface, which is both ugly and confusing. It’s built on Microsoft’s Trident engine, as used by competing browsers Avant, Maxthon and Sleipnir, and looks like a decade-old version of Internet Explorer or Netscape rather than a browser battling with Chrome, Opera and Firefox in 2010.

Personalisation options are lacking too. FlashPeak makes skins and plugins available for download on its website, and while 160 skins give plenty of options there are a meagre three plugins. When compared to the thousands of themes and extensions available for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, it’s a poor show.

It’s the comparatively huge number of plugins offered by the major browsers that proves FlashPeak SlimBrowser’s undoing. While its headline features are undoubtedly useful – the groups, for instance, and the translation – and the core browser is reasonable enough, it doesn’t provide anything that can’t be done better elsewhere.

Author: Mike Jennings

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