Browse3D Browser v1.5 & 1.6

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Browse3D Corporation, go to the web site
Requires: Windows 95 or higher, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x or higher, 8MB or higher video card, 16-bit color display
MSRP: $29.95

In a never ending quest for something unique and worthwhile (or at least vaguely useful), lots of programmers come up with lots of plug-ins, viewers, browsers and other software designed to enhance web surfing. Few succeed; most fail miserably. In fact, lots and lots of software has been designed to run on top of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Some programs such as MGI Software's PhotoSuite II, III & 4 demonstrated how it should be done. Many other programs didn't fare as well. Browse3D is the latest, interesting concept in the web browsing sweepstakes.

It's possible to use Browse 3D as your main web browser after installation. Essentially, it appears to be a viewing and navigation program which bolts itself onto the Internet Explorer engine. You can still use Internet Explorer normally and Browse 3D's installation doesn't seem to affect Internet Explorer in any way.

We were eager to use and test Browse 3D not simply because it's an interesting concept, but also because we wanted to see how much readable data could be packed onto a typical 17" monitor. We weren't overly impressed with the manner in which Browse 3D organizes itself however. Launch Browse 3D, go to a web site and wait patiently while the top level pages load automatically into the 3 wall panels which make up the main viewing area of the program. Browse 3D is useful in this regard, especially if you employ it as a sort of web page assembler. That is, if you surf to a few pages which you want to explore more deeply, you can click on various page views within Browse3D and poke around. Depending on the graphical clarity of each page though, the process can often be hit & miss.

A couple of us attempted to navigate our usual news sites (,, using Browse 3D and found the experience frustrating. The main problems are speed - the program seems to have to render a lot of cached pages at the same time, every time you pan or scroll - and text rendering (literally, properly displaying readable text within each web page). In addition, we had to wait patiently on every page we went to while the program insisted on loading every top level linked page it could reach on the site. It's a slow process which 56K modem users should probably avoid.

In full screen, 3D view mode it was often impossible to read any of the displayed web pages. In fact, the program is a bit of a disaster from that standpoint. Screen rendering of small fonts is almost completely useless. However, considering the fact that Browse3D has some interesting basic functionality, keep in mind that major graphical hints on many web pages can help point you to the page you're looking for, even if you can't actually read the link. Still, the 3D display implementation is terrible, which is disappointing in light of the fact that this functionality is the main product feature. There's also no vertical scrolling in the side panel displays apparently because Browse 3D doesn't fully implement wheel mouse scrolling. Although you can scroll the individual pages after zooming in, you have to click on the edge of a page displayed above or below the one you're on to bring it into view.

Cons: The user interface is rudimentary. Individual pages are displayed in unadorned gray frame borders. None of the graphical enhancements available in Windows XP (or Windows 95 for that matter) are used. It works in various color depths but prefers 16-bit. Running in 32-bit color is a very slow go. Terrible screen rendering - text can often be blocky and very difficult to read. Slow operation. The product is not ready for prime time and seems to have been brought to market too early. It's fatiguing to use; controls are imprecise. The Address Bar (into which you type URLs) isn't available on either of the side-view pages. You have to pan back to the center page to access the Address Bar. In our opinion, software which relies on the two pillars of visual impact and readability must absolutely emphasize and deliver those things before anything else. Browse 3D doesn't. We originally received v1.5 for review, then an update to v1.6.

Pros: Browse 3D is an intriguing concept, no doubt about it. Some pan speed improvements in v1.6. It's genuinely interesting for a short while. We definitely want to see the next version. Stable and relatively bug free.

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