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First Look: First Look: Chrome still shines, 10 versions later

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First Look: First Look: Chrome still shines, 10 versions later

4:44 /

Google Chrome exploded on to the browser scene in 2008 and hasn't let up its rocketing upward trajectory. Now at 10 percent of the worldwide browser market share, we take a new look at the browser and what makes people crazy for Chrome.

-Google exploded on to the browser scene with the open source Chrome in September 2008 and interest in the browser has continued to skyrocket. Chrome's hook has always been its speed but there's far more to the browser than just fast rendering. Hi, I'm Seth Rosenblatt for CNET and in this First Look video, I'll be taking you on a quick tour of what's what in Chrome 10. There's a lot going on under that minimalist interface so I'm going to talk about just the key features. Check out CNET's how-to videos for more in-depth look at how Chrome's features work. Google has been touting Chrome 10 as 66% faster than Chrome 9 even with its limited hardware acceleration implementation. There's no doubt that Chrome benchmarks at incredibly fast speeds. Full benchmarks are available at my download.com review of Google Chrome. What's almost as important, though, is that it feels fast. Page load times, especially when only a few tabs are open, feel like there's less than a split second delay from hitting enter to win the site is usable. I have noticed, though, that Chrome does tend to slow down noticeably with more than two dozen tabs open. Your browsing habits may vary but if you're a tab junkie like me, that can be a really big problem. It can often lead to crashes, too, although that's actually one of Chrome's better features. Plugins like Adobe Flash are sandboxed, so when they crash, they only take down the tab and not the entire browser. Chrome also comes with its own task manager so you can see the impact of each tab on your system. When you fire up Chrome for the first time, it will take you to your preferred search engine. You can change this in the options menu to your new tab page which is where a lot of Chrome's action happens. The new tab page has links to Chrome webstore for Chrome-based apps, thumbnails of your most visited sites, and a list of recently closed tabs. You can tear off tabs to make them their own windows and drag them back into the browser. Right click on a tab to duplicate the tab, pin it permanently to the left of the tab bar, get multiple closed tab options, reopen a closed tab, or bookmark all your tabs at once. The interface is simple and extremely effective. Navigation controls live on the left. Google's unified location bar and search box, which the company calls the Omnibar, quietly displays search results from your preferred search engine, your history, and instant URL lookups. Extensions get added to the right as icons. You can toggle always displaying the bookmarks bar or having it show only when you open a blank tab in options. Chrome's extension gallery has grown dramatically since its introduction and now has more than 10,000 extensions and themes. Both are restart lists which means that when you install them, you won't have to restart the browser. Sync is a big part of Chrome and if your life is heavily tied to your GMail account, you're going to find Chrome extremely convenient. You can sync apps, autofill, bookmarks, extensions, themes, passwords, and preferences, and you can set it for a lower level of security using your Google password, or set up your own higher security sync pass-phrase. On the safety front, Chrome allows you to disable Javascript, cookies, images, and will autoblock websites that are known for promulgating phishing attacks and malware threats or are otherwise unsafe. The usefulness of this depends on Google's ability to flag websites as risky, so it's recommended to use an add-on like the Web Of Trust. There's also the incognito mode for private trackless browsing, although there's no options menu choice for always opening into incognito. Chrome now comes with a nascent Google Cloud Print which will allow you to print from the browser to any printer over the air, a useful tool, when it works, for those few times when you have to print and you're not near a printer. You'd think Google would be greener than enabling you tree killers but what do I know. The downloads menu isn't particularly robust, but it does expose the download source link and opens in its own tab, keeping the browser tidy. Overall, Chrome's speed remains the kingpin feature along with growing support for future web tech like HTML 5, hardware acceleration, and advanced standard support. People like the browser because it's fast, well supported, and automatically updates frequently with new features. Potential concerns about Google, privacy, and data mining, can't withstand the juggernaut of convenience, and for a deeper look at some of Chrome's new features, be sure to check out the how-to videos at cnettv.com. With your first look at Chrome 10, I'm Seth Rosenblatt for CNET.

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