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After a little tinkering with ArmorSurf, I've got to tell you, I'm digging it--maybe a little too much. It's a secure Web browser. It's a Flash video downloader. It's a straight-up devious little program. The best way to sum up its features is to talk about a day in the life. Consider this one man's experiment in looking busy without doing any actual work.
At the crack of dawn, I secretly install ArmorSurf. It doesn't show up in the Add/Remove Program option in Windows, so nobody's the wiser as to its presence on my machine. I pick a generic icon and name the install. (It appears as MindYourOwnBiz to IT busybodies.) Once the program fires up, it prompts me for my password. That opens ArmorSurf's main browser window.
Inside the program, I surf without fear. No Web browser is bulletproof, but ArmorSurf stashes my history, cookies, and autocomplete info from prying eyes. Speaking of which, you can go for a deluxe package that masks your IP address, too. It costs $10 a month or $25 for three months--but I'm not that paranoid.
(Yes, some of these features are available elsewhere. Maybe you have a stealth-surfing plug-in. Maybe you run Incognito across the Web. I just happen to like some of the other perks offered here.)
Now that I'm stealthed, it's time to head over to my fave Web chat client site, Meebo.com (all of my MSN Messenger, AIM, and ICQ info is stashed and accessible through a browser). Then I head off to check out the viral videos du jour at YouTube and Break.com.
When I get to video streaming sites, ArmorSurf lets me save those video files locally--great for preserving a personal copy of the lyrical stylings of Herve Villechaize to my hard drive. I'm loading up my notebooks with these gems so that I can enjoy an entertainment upgrade on long, boring biz trips.
Want more-portable options? ArmorSurf also lets you burn a DVD composed of the videos you save. Or you can convert video to work on your iPod/MP4 devices. I'm sorry to say that it won't work with video content from places like Hulu--hey, you can't blame a guy for trying. ArmorSurf also functions as a secure video player, in case you have your own videos that you'd like to watch when you probably shouldn't be watching them.
Okay, time for lunch. I minimize the program--and in the options menu, it's masked to look like an Excel file (Excel icon and all...) that I've labeled 'Laptop Review - Incoming Data'. Nobody here will nose around my computer while I'm grabbing grub, but still...neat, in an paranoid way. About 30 minutes later, I'm back in business--playing Flash games over at a great portal games site. That's when senior associate editor Danny Allen swings over to see what I'm up to. Hit minimize! (Or hit the panic button shortcut key, which closes the program in a heartbeat.)
With a sly look, he asks me what I'm doing. Busted. All right, reopening the program, I type in my safety password at the prompt: "rutebega." (C'mon, you really think I'm gonna tell you? But yeah, I strongly endorse multiple-typo passwords.) At which point, a browser opens to PC World's Laptop Information Center. Because that's how I roll. I'm all about work! Speaking of which...it's 5 p.m. already? Time for happy hour!
The file here is the free version, ArmorSurf Basic. The full program, ArmorSurf Gold, costs 30 bucks. Unfortunately, the full version is good for only two installs as of press time. I'm not a huge fan of that restriction. What happens if you have more than two computers that you'll be using the program on or if, God forbid, you need to reinstall Windows more than once?
My advice is to try out this free, gimped version of ArmorSurf so that you get a taste of what it offers. I like it, despite the limited install lockdown, so it still gets my Semi-Slacker Seal of ApprovalTM.