Five lesser-known web browsers worth trying

Not all web browsers are created equal, but obscurity does not mean they are not worth your attention.

When I say "web browser" you probably think Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome (and maybe even Safari, or Opera). With good reason, those are the standards by which all web browsing is measured. But what if I told you there were other browsers out there worth installing and using? In fact there are quite a lot of browsers that fit this description. I have dug around and found five that floated to the top of the sea of obscurity. Some of these are straight-up browsers that offer little more than just a clean, efficient browsing experience. Others offer features not found in any other browser.

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Five Apps

1. SeaMonkey

SeaMonkey might not be quite as obscure as some of the other browsers on the list, but it's certainly not a household name. SeaMonkey is actually more than just a browser; it's a browser, email client, feed reader, HTML editor, IRC chat, and more. SeaMonkey shares much of the same code as does Firefox and Thunderbird and features: Sync, session restore, themes, feed detection, smart location bar, popup blocker, safe mode, find as you type, and much more. Though you might find the UI a bit out of date, SeaMonkey is a good choice if you're looking for an all-in-one solution. SeaMonkey is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

2. K-Meleon

K-Meleon is an fast, customizable browser based on the Geko rendering engine and is open source. K-Meleon features: Session save, mouse gestures, context menu, keyboard shortcut customization, popup blocker, fast load times, popup search bar, themes, macros, and more. The interface for K-Meleon is drawn from native Windows toolkit, so it's easy on system resources. You can also install a portable version to keep K-Meleon with you at all times. K-Meleon is available for Windows only.

3. Pale Moon

Pale Moon is a custom build of Firefox specifically for the Windows platform. Pale Moon isn't just about a specific build of the application, but specifically chosen features that create the best setup for Windows. You won't find accessibility features or parental controls here, as Pale Moon is built for efficiency and speed. Pale Moon is optimized for modern processors, supports SVG graphics, HTML5/CSS/Advanced DOM support, uses less memory than official Firefox builds, and much more. If you are looking for a highly optimized, Firefox-based Windows browser, look no further than Pale Moon.

4. Lunascape

Lunascape is a Windows-only browser like no other. It offers all three rendering engines (Geko, WebKit, and Trident) so you can easily switch between them. What does this mean? Well, for one, developers can see their work as rendered from all three engines without having to fire up different windows. It also means that users don't have to miss out on proper website layouts. If a site doesn't render properly, simply switch engines. Geko also offers other unique features, such as: Highlight search, engine auto-switch, cascade view, tab lock, and more.

5. NetSurf

NetSurf is a multi-platform browser that is tiny in footprint and huge in speed. But the tiny footprint doesn't mean it lacks in features. With this obscure browser, you find features like: Web page thumbnailing, local history trees, global history, hotlist manager, URL completion, scale view, search-as-you-type, cookie manager, and much more. NetSurf is standards compliant and offers a portable version as well as Haiku, BeOS, AmigaOS, Atari, Linux, UNIX, RISC OS, and more (an odd list, no doubt).

Bottom line

Not every web browser is created equal. Certainly some of the above won't offer the vast array of features found in the likes of Firefox, but each of them has something unique enough to offer that they are worth a look. Out of the above list, you are certain to find one browser that will, for one reason or another, pique your interest. Give them a try and see if your current default web browser can't be replaced.

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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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