Regular readers will know that while we loves us our Firefox browser, we’re always on the lookout for an ultra fast, and functional alternative for those times when we just want to get on there and look something up quickly. Over the years we’ve moved between Chrome, Maxthon and other, but now we’ve found ourselves a new champion. And it’s a doozy.
The Spark Security Browser is a web browser from the Chinese web giant Baidu, which focuses on two things – speed and safety. First things first. This thing is FAST. It’s based on the open source Chromium engine which Google’s Chrome uses, but unlike the latter Spark really flies. If you can avoid the temptation to give it a fancy color theme (as in the image above), you’ll get the fastest boot time we’ve ever seen on a full blown browser. Really.
As well as speed, the browser is packed with security features to ensure that you avoid the risks of drive-by browser attacks on websites, and since we know that these attacks can originate from just about any site, this is a pretty big deal. Of course no protection is foolproof, but any browser that can at least offer a decent level of protection gets our vote. For example if you enable the BAV feature by clicking on the shield next to the address bar, you can set up a sandbox function for file downloads, and a range of other security protections when shopping etc.
There’s also a nice search security feature which pops up icons on search results pages to indicate whether the sites are safe or not. Apart from the security, you also get a bunch of integrated features which are very cool. Such as mouse gestures (use your mouse movements to navigate pages), a screen grabber/capture utility, video download (and conversion to MP3 if needed), a BitTorrent client baked in, and a couple of cool tools to help fix problems.
But really what impresses most is the sheer raw speed of the browser, allied with the compatibility. We’ve not found anything it won’t run, from the BBC to YouTube, it’s all perfectly at home, and it’s pretty customizable out of the box (for instance we set it to open new tabs on click with no plugin needed). On the subject of plugins, the browser apparently has an App Store, but we couldn’t exactly locate it. Maybe it’s closed for refurbishment?
Anyway, overall we’ve got ourselves a new favorite secondary browser, and a very nice tool it is too. Speed is key for many pro users, and this doesn’t disappoint, although the lack of any plugins or extensions at the moment may suggest that the issue of security will take precedence over convenience in this version. Which actually may not be a bad thing? Definitely a keeper, and recommended.