Maxthon Cloud Browser is an unusual tool which tries to combine the best features of the competition, with plenty of new additions of its own.
The program aims to make you feel at home right away by importing your favourites from IE, Firefox or Chrome, for instance. Its use of the Webkit rendering engine (as used by Chrome and Safari) ensures excellent performance, but the program can also display pages using IE's Trident for compatibility.
Maxthon is available in Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android versions, too (with tablet support coming soon), and the new "Cloud Browser" features aim to make the most of that. So once you've signed up for a free Maxthon Passport account, you can use "Cloud Push" to share web content like images, videos, text or links with other devices; "Cloud Download" copies your downloads to the cloud so they're accessible from anywhere; and "Cloud Tabs" keeps your tabs synchronised, so you can close a browsing session on one device, then carry on just where you left off on another.
Built-in mouse gesture support allows you to navigate with a flick of the mouse. To move back a page, say, you hold down the right mouse button while moving the mouse from right to left. And you can extend this by creating your own mouse gestures for various common tasks.
Maxthon has plenty of other built-in tools. Magic Fill saves and remembers your user names and passwords, for example; AD Hunter blocks popups and ads; Source Sniffer makes it easy to extract and save web content (music, videos, pictures); and Snap saves an image of the current web page with a click.
But if you need more, then there are plenty of extensions to help you expand the program's capabilities.
Navigating all of this can be a little complicated, at least initially. There are two sets of buttons on a narrow left-hand sidebar, for instance, as well as various "Quick Tools" options to the right of the address bar, and more page-related options on the status bar. And that's before you get on to the Menu button, or the ten pages of settings. You're going to spend quite some time just trying to figure out where everything is.
Persevere, though, and you'll find a lot to like about Maxthon Cloud Browser, particularly if you'll use its new cloud-based features. It's certainly worth a look, although keep in mind that the program will set itself as the default browser on installation; if you don't want that, choose Advanced installation and clear the "Set as default" option.
The sheer number of features here makes for a busy interface, but once you've mastered the basics Maxthon proves a fast and capable browser, with some welcome enhancements in the new cloud tools