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What’s the best browser to use on a netbook

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on March 27, 2012

With netbooks not really impressing in terms of performance levels these days and browsing being one of the most common activities we do on these mini laptops, there’s a common debate on which is the best browser to use on a netbook.

I for one can’t actually say there’s a best one for everyone, but definitely there are some better than other. You can see below some of the main characteristics for each of the most important browsers available these days:

  • Internet Explorer – it’s the default browser on every Windows based netbook and that’s why most people use it. It’s a target for most hackers and hence not very safe, plus it’s pretty slow. The latest stable version (IE8) is decent, but i wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Firefox – probably the most popular between geeks, because it comes with lots of customization option, add-ons and extensions. However, it is memory hungry and takes a lot of time to load at start, thus it’s not really the best for the low-powered netbooks
  • Chrome – very quick to run and creates a different process for each tab/window, so if one website crashes your browser, the whole program won’t close, and you won’t lose the other tabs/windows. The latest version (still a beta) supports extensions so you can install add blocker, etc, but there aren’t as many options as on Firefox. It loads way faster but can also consume quite some memory if you have many tabs opened in the same time.
  • Opera – good and stable, with many useful and experimental features. Pretty fast and indicated for the ability to compress websites before sending them to your computer, thus loading content faster on slow connections
  • Safari – pretty slow and buggy, plus it comes with the standard Mac interface (which is completely different than the one used on the other browsers). Probably a choice only for Mac users getting a nettop .

As you can see, each has strong-points and bad-points. The good part is that they are all free and can be easily downloaded and installed.

However, most users still have the IE browser they get with the system. It works OK, but I do recommend them trying Chrome of Firefox. For a standard user, Chrome would be just perfect, being the fastest and most reliable. For a power-user migrating from a laptop/desktop, Firefox is still probably the best solution as it has all those customization options.

I for one have been using Firefox in the first months on my netbook, but as soon as Chrome introduced extensions, i switched towards it and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s just the best for the low-powered netbook and while not really loading sites faster than Firefox (i fail to see any actual difference between them at this), it certainly starts faster and consumes less resources than Firefox. So for me, the best browser for a netbook right now is Chrome.

But the best way to decide which one is better for you is to try them all for a couple of days.

I am pretty curios to see what are you guys using on your netbook, so please leave a comment!

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Andrei Girbea, aka "Mike", Editor-in-Chief at TLBHD.com. I absolutely hate carrying around heavy stuff, that's why I'm fond of mini-laptops and portable computers. I'm primarily using such devices and have been testing them for many years now. Get in touch in the comments section below.

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