Ask gets pretty with Ask X

What happens when you mix the search engine Ask with Ajaxy goodness? Ask X.

One of the things I love most about Google is how it has made other search competitors focus on simplicity and elegance in their interfaces. A prime example of this trend is Ask X, which can be described as the better-looking sibling of Ask.com.

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Ask X uses Ajax to provide users with a refresh-free searching experience. Clicking among various search options such as images or video automatically refreshes your results without having to reload the page. The same goes for any new search you enter. Ask X has three window panes: one for typing searches, one for viewing results, and a third for displaying other types of results such as images or blog posts.

If you've never strayed from Google, both Ask and Ask X have a few features worth checking out. For one, a tiny pair of binoculars next to each search result lets you know you're checking out a relatively popular site. Hovering over these with your mouse results in a live preview of the page, similar to a feature offered by the Web service Snap. As you're typing a search, Ask X will provide you with a list of terms and phrases it thinks you might want to use, just like Google Suggest. Ask also has a handy list of related search terms to help you narrow or expand your original request.

Ask X is slick and fast. While not nearly as instantaneous as the regular Ask, it definitely holds its own when compared with Google and Windows Live Search. The big advantage of Ask X is its rich set of varied search results, which are more enjoyable to look at than white-washed pages of text.

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