Browser v1.5 & 1.6
to the web site
Windows 95 or higher, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x or higher,
8MB or higher video card, 16-bit color display
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
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.
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.
couple of us attempted to navigate our usual news sites (www.msn.com,
www.canoe.ca, www.zdnet.com) 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.
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.
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.
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.
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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