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OmniWeb 5.5.3

Review - OmniWeb 5.5.3

by , 9:00 AM EST, January 29th, 2007

Apple's Safari Web browser is perfectly fine, but it isn't the only option available. In fact, one of the best browsers I've ever used doesn't come from Apple - it hails from the Omni Group, and it's called OmniWeb.

OmniWeb is a full-featured browser, complete with RSS support, a robust history and bookmark system, and tabbed browsing. The tabbed browsing you'll see in OmniWeb, however, isn't like what you'll see in other browsers. Instead of a row of tabs across the top of your browser window, OmniWeb displays thumbnail images of each page you are viewing in a slide-out drawer.

OmniWeb offers thumbnail tabs.

Thumbnails instead of page names totally makes sense to me. Instead of relying on names that get truncated as you open more sites, you get a small visual representation of each page. You can also drag OmniWeb's tabs around to rearrange them. Since I typically have 15 or more pages open at any one time, OmniWeb's tabs are much easier to navigate compared to other browsers.

OmniWeb lets you build Workspaces, or preset groups of Web pages. Each workspace can have its own settings, including window size, type size, and more. You can create multiple Workspaces, and open them whenever you like. Workspaces are really nice because you can create customized setups for the different tasks you do online. Let's say you visit a group of sites that display text in a type size that's way too small to read. No problem. Just create a Workspace that forces a larger type size for those pages.

Workgroups are also useful if OmniWeb should crash (Thankfully, I can't recall the last time that happened to me). Relaunch OmniWeb, and it will restore your Workspace.

You can also create site-specific settings. This is handy if you visit Web pages that may not be part of a Workgroup, but still need to be configured in a special way.

OmniWeb also includes built-in ad and pop-up blockers. Both amazingly handy features when you are using a slow Internet connection and need to control your bandwidth. Dealing with cookies is an easy job, too. OmniWeb includes a robust cookie manager that lets you sort, search delete, save, and block cookies.

Web pages render quickly in OmniWeb, and I think they look good, too. I found that some Web pages that render oddly in Safari look much better in OmniWeb. For example, on a few sites Safari leaves large empty spaces where content should appear - the content loads, but it ends up at the bottom of the page below the empty space. I don't have that problem with OmniWeb.

OmniWeb's cookie manager.

The one thing Safari has that I wish was available in OmniWeb is snap back. I love being able to click the little orange back arrow in Safari and jump back to the first page in a site or the last page I checked in a Google search.

While most other Web browsers are free, or in the case of Safari, included with Mac OS X, OmniWeb costs US$14.95. Sure, you can get other browsers without shelling out any cash, but I have yet to find one that offers the full-on out of the box experience that OmniWeb does.

The Bottom Line
OmniWeb is customizable, powerful, and doesn't require you to hunt down add-ons and hacks to get the feature set you want. Web pages render beautifully, and the application is rock-solid stable.

I know some people will freak out over spending 15 bucks on a Web browser, so let me ask you this: Is your time and productivity more valuable than the $15 price tag? If so, then download the 30 day trail and give OmniWeb a shot.


Product: OmniWeb 5.5.3

Company: The Omni Group

List Price: $14.95

Amazon Price: $24.99

4 out of 5 stars

Pros: Reliable, customizable, multiple Workspaces, thumbnail image tabbed browsing.
Cons: Missing Safari's snap back feature.

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