Home Office: More Alternatives to Internet Explorer

In the last few newsletters, I've been trying to convince you to try different ways to browse the Internet. I'm not through. I have at least 150 more browser alternatives that I want you to know about. (Don't worry, I'm kidding; there are just a few others.)

If you're new to this column, you might want to browse through the last two issues. In the first, "Internet Explorer Is a Dinosaur--Dump It," I talked about my browser wish list; in the second, "What's Better Than IE?" I explored my favorite browser alternative, MyIE2.

Pick Me, Pick Me!

While I think MyIE2 is the best Internet Explorer shell, many of you have written to graciously offer me advice on other products to try. ("You call yourself a journalist? You missed SlimBrowser.")

I don't have the space here for a full review of each suggestion. Instead, here are brief descriptions of the two freebies that I think are worth trying. BTW, you can load one or more of these browser shells at the same time to compare features:

  • Avant Browser: This is very much like MyIE2; so much so, it feels as if they were separated at birth. It might load pages a little faster than MyIE2, but it offers fewer ways to configure tabbed windows.
  • SlimBrowser: Also similar to MyIE2 but with a smaller toolbar; the mouse gestures are not as strong as MYIE2.

Quick Internet Tip: Every browser can get faster Internet access with FastCache from AnalogX. This free utility caches Web site domain addresses for pages you visit, letting you download pages more quickly.

Dig This: It's been a while since I've pointed you to a game to play while you're on the phone listening to your supervisor yammering on. Try Railroad Tycoon 3 and see if you can lay tracks and get the train across the screen without crashing. [Thanks, Dick!]

Sing Me an Opera

There's one browser I have to mention just to ensure I don't continue to get hassled by a few loyal fans. It's Opera, an upstart that many people think is the very best. Opera is good, very good, actually, and it doesn't rely on Internet Explorer. The product has dozens of time-saving features, many of them similar to the IE shells I've been talking about.

But Opera has some unique characteristics. For example, Opera's Wand feature lets me fill in forms and passwords, and it's much smarter than a comparable feature in MyIE2. Want another? If I'm reading a PC World story that continues onto another page, with a flick of the mouse, the FastForward feature sends me to the next page. FastRewind brings me back to the start of the story.

The downside, of course, is that unless you don't mind seeing a banner ad in the corner of the browser window, you'll need to pony up $40. But I'll tell you what: After using Opera for a week, I think it may be worth the money.

If you want to learn more about Opera, first take a look at a wide-ranging examination of its features. Then check out the whimsical "30 Days to Becoming an Opera7 Lover." Finally, browse specific ways to configure the browser.

For a comprehensive, smart comparison of MyIE2 and Opera, read Shashank Tripathi's "MyIE2 Versus Opera: A Review of the IE Wrapper." It an easy read; you'll also pick up some useful tricks and learn more about features in both products.

If you're itching to try Opera, head over to our Downloads site, where a copy awaits you.

One Browser I Don't Use

Many people started using Mozilla as an alternative to Netscape. I tried it and didn't like it. That's a personal observation, one that you might not agree with.

Mozilla has pluses and minuses. On the positive side, it's free, uses tabs, allows you to create groups, and has a pop-up manager--and it has nothing to do with Internet Explorer. But there's a negative side, too: In my opinion, it still has the corporate Netscape look, missing the fresh features and the flexible interface of the new browser shell upstarts.

But don't take my word for it. Go ahead, try Mozilla on for size and see if you like it. Give it a week. Then you can better compare it to the browsers I'll talk about next time.

BTW, if you want a smaller version of Mozilla--and goodness knows the thing isn't, well, petite--there's Mozilla's FireFox.

And lest you feel like everyone at PC World is ignoring Mozilla, read Tom Spring's "First Look at Mozilla.org's Firefox," a thorough review. Then mosey over to "Consumer Watch: You May Be Using the Wrong Browser," in which Anne Kandra extols the virtues of Mozilla and Opera.

Sorry, I'm Not Done

There seem to be more browser shells than Web sites. You can find a slug of them at a collection in our Downloads section. I love the title--"Sick of IE? Scrap It Completely or Beef It Up"--and I'm guessing you'll find something new to try.

But wait, as they say in the infomercials, there's more. Roughly ten more in the Browser and Clients department, brought to you by our Downloads guy, Max Green. Take a look at "Smart Alternatives to Internet Explorer."

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