Life Of Navin

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The Not-So-Epic Browser!!

On the night (rather, late late night) of 16th July, I started a twit-review of the latest darling of the Indian online media, Epic Browser, which is being touted as India's first web browser. What started off as random comments, ended up as a 31 tweet review (LinkBunch). So just editing those tweets a little and ordering them, here's my review of Epic Browser.

Epic Browser, is built upon the Firefox 3.6.6 base, and claims to be available for all 3 major platforms (Win-Linux-Mac), but on the site only the Windows version of the browser is listed. Later, I found out that the makers, Hidden Reflex, have released only the Win version, and plan to release the other versions later on.

A ~10.5 MB Download and a quick install later, I was greeted by the Epic Browser UI:


Note the checkbox over the Username box? Simply by checking it, you can type in Hindi (or one of the other inbuilt languages like Russian and Nepali! :P ).

The UI is almost the same as that of Firefox, with a few additions here and there. One of the most noticable additions to Epic Browser over Firefox 3.6.6 is the sidebar, which comes pre-built with stuff ranging from a timer to a word processor to shortcuts to FB, Orkut, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail. On the first-run, every feature you click opens up a pop up window explaining the feature. While this is a great feature for newbies, it is a little clunky. Unfortunately, the sidebar is static (i.e you can't remove or add stuff to it) and hence irrespective of whether you use FB (read) or Games or Jobs, those buttons will always exist in the sidebar.

One interesting feature is 'Collections' which
enables users to create a collection of websites to launch with a single click. Another interesting feature in the sidebar was 'Backup', and I was pretty surprised to see that it basically consisted of logging into Gmail, and uploading it to your inbox. (Kind of like GMail Drive). The highly touted 'Inbuilt Antivirus' is simply a free system scan + an advert for ESET! The 'Video' feature opens up a sidebar Youtube search app. The Youtube videos play within the sidebar app itself, and generates a download link for the video as well. While this is a convenient feature, the fact that the videos play within the sidebar itself is off-putting. And of course, it begs the question of the legality of such an option to be asked.


One thing I absolutely hated about the sidebar was that clicking on a feature didn't open a new tab, but rather a sidebar app. So basically you end up having |sidebar|app|main browser|, which is a huge Pain-in-the-assassin.

The default theme, "Peacock With Feathers", while nationalist is pretty ugh. Thankfully, just like FF, you can change the themes as well (Firefox calls it Personas). Personas was brilliantly implemented, but here the theme changer leaves the user wanting. You can also use Firefox Personas themselves as themes for Epic Browser. One design error is that the text on the bookmarks tab remains black irrespective of the theme, so if you use a dark theme you end up with a bookmarks menu that looks like this:


Epic Browser, as mentioned before, is based on Mozilla Firefox (which as you may know, I am a huge fan of!), and thankfully it doesn't hide the fact. The Help menu features a "About Mozilla" link, and some browser options actually link to official Mozilla pages.

Epic Browser is made for people who use the mouse a lot, since there is a serious lack of keyboard shortcuts to access the features.

On the technical side, Epic Browser is a resource hog, taking up nearly 1.4-1.5 times the memory of Firefox 4.0 beta. Also, the Epic website lacks any information whatsoever! Licensing information, Source codes (or atleast saying it's free but not open source), release information, proper documentation, etc. are lacking! Infact the Epic site looks like a scam site for one of those "registry errors" downloads.


At best, Epic Browser is a India-specific Customised FF release. At worst, it's a clunky browser with unnecessary overhyped features! As for being India's first browser, it depends on perspective! If you think BOSS Linux was India's first Linux distro, then Yes, Epic Browser is India's first browser! I personally don't think Epic deserves that title, considering it isn't a indigenous browser, but rather a child born out of a group orgy between multiple members, most notably Firefox!

I don't understand why the makers launched the browser only for a single platform, instead of waiting for say 15th August or 26th January and launching the browser for all platforms together. This would also give them time to work on their documentation, site, and to polish the browser, things which are desperately needed. Also the fact that Firefox has already moved to v. 4.0 (the first beta is already out!), plays against Epic Browser which is based on v. 3.6.6. Unless there are some radical changes made to the browser, this shall be my first and last experience with Epic Browser!

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Just a bit of promotion here: I've absolutely fallen in love with LinkBunch over the last few days. So here's a hat tip to the maker of LinkBunch, Aalaap Ghag (@aalaap).

5 comments :

Anonymous said...

nice review

K. Pranav said...

agree with the review!
But I feel you've been harsh! It's their first attempt at a browser. Why are you bashing them so much?

Navin Pai said...

@Pranav
Sorry if you felt this was EPIC bashing .... I was just giving an honest review!

My best wishes are with the Epic team! but unless they givee me a better browser, I'm not biting! :)

Anonymous said...

Well I like the new features associated with the browser. I would prefer if it is based on chrome, which could make it a bit more faster. All the themes and wallpapers are web based, which is a bot annoying. But for a start, very impressive in deed. I am waiting for a Linux version right now. Because I hate running applications in wine.

Working from home said...

Well I like the new features associated with the browser. I would prefer if it is based on chrome, which could make it a bit more faster. All the themes and wallpapers are web based, which is a bot annoying. But for a start, very impressive in deed. I am waiting for a Linux version right now. Because I hate running applications in wine.

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