Mozilla Firefox 3.5 review

Firefox has had its status as the number one IE alternative under threat for a while. Can it reclaim its position with the latest update?

The same goes for another cool new addition - Geo-location'. This works when you visit a Geo-aware web site - to try it go to this site, and be sure to enable the Share Location' button at the top of your browser. If you're computer has built-in GPS it would be very accurate but as it stands it uses Wi-Fi and IP address info. This is probably why in our tests it placed this office next to the Houses of Parliament, a mile and a half away.

Raw Speed

When it comes to performance, Firefox 3.5's new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine makes significant inroads, completing the SunSpider Benchmark test on our test system (Windows 7 RC, 64-bit, 4GB RAM) 2.3 times faster than Firefox 3.0 did.

However it came in third place overall, with Chrome leading, and Safari in second position. It was 1.53 times slower than Chrome, and 1.5 times slower than Safari. However, it was a significant 3.96 times faster than big blue the old Internet Explorer 8, and for good measure 2.62 times faster than the Opera 10 beta.

The Acid 3 benchmarks tests, test animation compatibility and here it improved on Firefox 2.0 going from 72/100 to 97/100 though Safari and Opera both achieve a smug 100 per cent.

In use, these results are borne out and while it certainly feels faster than Firefox 3.0, it's not as snappy as Chrome. However, with its extensive plug-in architecture it's got the best support around, much like App Store gives the iPhone an appeal boost over potentially more accomplished competition.

For example, in Chrome it's possible to expand on any text input fields just by dragging open a corner. This isn't built into Firefox 3.5, but is available through a plug-in (Text Area Resizer).

What you have then is a worthy upgrade from Mozilla that while it doesn't address every issue, is enough to make you want to use Firefox again, should you have defected.

Verdict

Firefox 3.5 isn’t a clear leader in any one area, but with this major update Mozilla has provided an impressive mix of new features, improvements and speed enhancements to make it the best all rounder.

If you’ve been flitting around trying to find the best browser out there, then Mozilla has most likely done enough here to settle you down from your browser wonderings.

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