Eric Bangeman conducts a “Macintosh Browser Smackdown” for Ars Technica that looks at nine Mac browser contenders: Camino, Firebird, iCab, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Netscape, OmniWeb, Opera, and Safari which tops the others by a nose.

Bangeman writes, “Safari has the feel of a mature product rather than a v1.0 release. Apple has done a great job getting a product out the door that is reasonably standards-compliant and stable. A couple of areas for improvement for Safari are better contextual menus, especially support for “back,” “forward,” and “reload page/frame.” I am big fan of Safari’s tab implementation, and also like the drop-down bookmark folders in the bookmarks bar. Safari also offers integration with Apple’s .Mac service, allowing the user to synchronize their Safari bookmarks across multiple computers. Despite Apple’s claims about Safari being the fastest browser, it rendered pages a hair slower than Mozilla. However, it handled my fantasy football live draft page much better than any of the Mozilla browsers did (all of them crashed after some time). Like OmniWeb, it has trouble with the advanced interface of the Ars OpenForum, rendering it properly but not being able to fully navigate using the JavaScript “breadcrumbs.” Given the effort Apple has put into most of the other iApps and the speedy manner in which they incorporated feedback during the beta testing of Safari, expect it to get better.”

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