PCWorld: Maxthon 4.2 review: Browser integrates cloud functionality and multiple session logins

Maxthon Cloud Browser puts tight integration with multiple devices at the heart of its feature list. It also offers a number of utility and convenience features to enhance normal day-to-day Web use.

 

The free Maxthon Passport account is how syncing and integration is handled. Setting it up is trivial—put in a name and a password, and reply to a configuration email. Once I did this, I was able to install the Maxthon browser on my iPad and import my bookmarks and open tabs.

However, this review is primarily about the PC version of the browser. Maxthon Cloud browser uses two rendering engines, Trident and Webkit, to handle both newer and older pages optimally. Speed is good, even on image-heavy pages.

Maxthon Cloud Browser has several built-in features that provide helpful utilities or enhancements. One such is “Reader Mode”, which can (on some pages—the option does not appear on every page) figure out what the main article you’re trying to read is, and then display it without ads, pop-ups, and other distractions. Another is the screen capture feature, which will take a shot of either the whole page (including that scrolled offscreen), or a selected region.

 

A new feature in Maxthon Cloud Browser is multiple sessions. This allows a user to log in to the same site with different IDs, which is helpful if you maintain multiple accounts for various purposes. As with most modern browsers, Maxthon also has a private mode.

On the negative side, I spent some time trying to get Flash to load and run properly. Even after searching the forums and trying multiple suggested solutions, it was not working. Eventually, I did get it to work, but only by uninstalling the browser and reinstalling it in the suggested default directory. Even though the installer program offers a choice of target directory, the altered path was not propagated through the configuration. The company stated that a fix is in the works and will be addressed in a stable release by mid-February.

In general, documentation is sparse; the forums provide the main venue through which information about features and functionality can be gained.

Maxthon has a built-in ad blocker, but it works very sporadically as compared to the AdBlock plugin and similar tools. There is a fairly large selection of plugins and extensions available for Maxthon Cloud Browser, but many are not available in English language versions (so I couldn’t evaluate them), or are of limited functionality.

As is often the case with browsers beyond the top three or four, while Maxthon Cloud Browser has no glaring flaws and does a perfectly functional job of doing “browser things,” it’s hard to find something significantly unique/superior to the existing major browsers to make me switch to it for my day-to-day use on a PC. As with Opera 18, those who regularly move across platforms and need their environment preserved as they move from machine to machine may find it much more appealing.

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