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Google Chrome: Still a Strong All-Around Browser

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Chrome's minimalist design isn't eye-catching, but its lean toolbar leaves more room for viewing Web pages. And what Chrome lacks in flashiness, it more than makes up for in performance. Google's browser really shone in our JavaScript test, leaving its competitors in the dust. JavaScript is used in many popular websites--Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, etc.--because it makes those sites more immediately responsive and those JavaScript heavy pages will perform better in Chrome. The browser also performed admirably in our speed test, fully loading an image-heavy page in just over five seconds.

Along with impressive performance, Google's browser has some other useful tricks up its sleeve. For starters, tabs are run as separate processes so that if one crashes, it doesn't take the entire browser down with it. If your wanderings take you to a foreign language Web site, Chrome will recognize the language and offer to translate it for you in a matter of seconds. The translations, which are powered by Google Translate, are not always completely accurate--but they can be helpful in giving you a basic idea on what the page is about. Chrome is one of the most secure browsers on this list because it is sandboxed: The plug-ins Chrome uses are limited to accessing information only within the browser itself and cannot read information from other areas on your computer. Sandboxing allows Chrome to prevent malware that uses plug-in exploits from spreading through your PC.

Mobile users will be glad to know that if you own an Android phone or tablet running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), you can sync your Chrome bookmarks and web history to your mobile devices.

You can customize Chrome with web apps, themes, and extensions to fit your preferences. Chrome has a built-in web store that makes it easy to search for and install add-ons to the browser. Add-ons range from simple things, like an Evernote plug-in, all the way up to full games like Angry Birds or Bastion. And, unlike in Firefox, you don’t need to restart your browser every time you install a new extension or app.

Still, Chrome lacks an integrated RSS reader, so you'll need to come up with your own solution if you subscribe to multiple RSS feeds.

Note: The Downloads button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.

--Megan Geuss

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