capsule review

Flock 0.9.0.1 for Windows

At a Glance
  • Flock for Windows

    PCWorld Rating

    This one-stop Web browser offers easy blogging and easy integration with Web services, but not all of them are configurable.

Addicted to the Brave New Web's feeds, streams, tags, pics, and flicks? If so, you've probably bolstered your browser with a bevy of extensions, and maybe a customized personal portal page at Netvibes, Pageflakes, or Yahoo. But for a simpler, consolidated window to the interactive Web, try the free Flock browser, which comes preconfigured for creating and consuming RSS feeds, shared photos, and other Web 2.0 fare--just add the user names and passwords from your existing accounts. Flock's supported services are only a subset of what you can configure using a portal and a tricked-out browser installation, but it may offer all that most people need to stay on top of the daily influx.

The 10MB download picks up bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings from your existing installation of Firefox or Internet Explorer. Flock is based on the open-source Mozilla Firefox browser, and Firefox users will like that Flock's menus, settings, sidebars, and tabbed layout look familiar. Flock also builds in links to Flickr, Photobucket, and YouTube, half a dozen of the leading blogging platforms, and the Del.icio.us and Magnolia social-bookmarking services. Once you log in to one of the media sharing accounts and a blogging service, you can create with one click a blog post that includes photos and videos; or, you can upload batches of pics using an included photo uploader. Flock saves bookmarks locally by default, but gives you the option of using Del.icio.us as well so you can maintain just one set. Of course, you can do all of these tasks in your existing browser using add-ons and utilities--assuming that you know they exist. Flock simply corrals them into a unified interface.

Rounding out its excellent suite of tools for both creating and consuming Web content, Flock also incorporates an RSS feed reader sidebar, a strip of photo and video thumbnails called the Media Bar, and a portal-like default home page called My World that has favorites and media feeds. Web junkies, however, will quickly note Flock's major drawbacks: its limited choice of supported services and the inability to change the contents of the My World page. You could use Firefox add-ons (most of which are compatible with Flock) to access unsupported services, which may make this limitation more tolerable. People who are constantly seeking out the latest and greatest extensions, toolbars, aggregators, and portals will probably continue to roll their own interactive Web interfaces.

Scott Spanbauer

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This one-stop Web browser offers easy blogging and easy integration with Web services, but not all of them are configurable.

    Pros

    • Integrates easily with leading Web 2.0 services
    • Blog photos and video clips with one click

    Cons

    • Packed interface needs a lot of screen real estate
    • Supported services are not user-configurable
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