Review: RockMelt Social Web Browser
Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 11:25PM
Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla in Chrome, First Looks, Flock, Mozilla, Opinion, Public service, Reviews, RockMelt, Social Web, Webkit

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Loaded with some serious browser pedigree (it is backed by Netscape impresario Marc Andreessen) and lofty social media aspirations (it integrates Twitter and Facebook to the browser frame so you're always connected even when you're just surfing). RockMelt is a next generation browser with slant towards the social web.

Social browsers aren’t new. This concept was introduced some time back by the Flock Browser, which integrated Facebook, MySpace and Twitter feeds into the browser space for easy access while you were surfing.


Having your entire favorite social “distraction” within an eyeball may be convenient for some (fewer apps opened, less multitasking, no lost tabs or stray windows) but we initially found it to be a bit overwhelming. RockMelt is a new spin on the social browser and has a better layout and more intuitive setup process than Flock. It is also more convenient than having a browser plus Twitter and Facebook open simultaneously.

We like that RockMelt has the speed and standards compliance of Chrome and Safari although it may not (yet) have the vast modification and extension potential as Firefox. RockMelt is still in beta but shows a lot of promise and may be 

We found RockMelt to be fast and just as zippy as our favorite Google Chrome browser and this is no surprise since they are running on the same WebKit platform which we think is really the way all browsers should be built. The experience will really vary on how huge your social media life is. If you have hundreds of friends and many of them are active, then it can be a dizzying ordeal to have dozens of them pinging you or starting conversations. 

What we didn’t like was that the social aspect of the browser was too much in our faces. Once the browser is launched, RockMelt launches Facebook as well as that social network’s chat app. Which means, depending on how many friends you have at that moment, you might get a half dozen chat windows popping up and beckoning you to join a chat. Sure you can turn this off, but you also turn off all the Facebook linkages and status updates and the like.

We prefer the way that RockMelt handles feeds from favorite websites, which come up in small windows with tiny blurbs under each headline. It also handles Twitter  and RSS feeds quite elegantly, which is great and one of the better features that we enjoyed using.

Folks who are “always on” and who live in Facebook but who also need to use a fast, full-featured browser will like RockMelt people who are less inclined to the social smorgasbord which can get overwhelming, might opt to stick to a less connected browser or turn off the Facebook integration of RockMelt altogether.  

Power frienders and social media mavens will like RockMelt's connected-ness, regular users might feel a little freaked out to see their whole social network smiling back at them from the corners of their browser window.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Article originally appeared on Reviews, News and Opinion with a Canadian Perspective (http://www.canadianreviewer.com/).
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