Hello my dear friends!
Not so long ago, Maxthon 4.x was retired and the brand new MX5 was released. Developers have worked on this version for approximately one year to create a new vision of efficient work, reinforced by numerous tools focused on improving user interaction experience. Did Maxthon become better from these improvements? Let's find this out.
The news that Maxthon is working on a new closed Beta version I found in email newsletter, that I had been signed up from God knows when. By navigating to the site, I was surprised to see that the registration was on half a way. Apparently, newsletters were much more slower than real human traffic or I received my email according to queue requests, like in Sendy.
I registered with my Maxthon account and received VIP2 bonus. After that I was waiting for a reply message with download link to the new Maxthon beta. After 1.5 weeks of waiting I finally managed to install it and started my own investigation.
The most notable thing that caught my attention was the loading speed. It was almost instantaneous. As I found later, it was not a joke, because loading times were consistently high. These were (and actually these are) good news, since previous versions of Maxthon were not too strong here, degrading with time and transforming into Chrome.
HTML5 test showed 484 points and this was something like "Yeah, I knew it!", rather than something more unpredictable. Nevertheless, when comparing the results of other browsers (Opera and Vivaldi in my case) and those made in my previous articles, Maxthon looks even more boring: Opera - 496 points, Vivaldi - 499 points.
As for resources consumption, the results are fairly interesting: I tested Maxthon in standby mode without no opened tabs, with one opened tab (vk.com) and two opened tabs (vk.com+gmail.com). To show the difference I also added the results of Opera and Vivaldi. See the charts below:
As you can see from the above, Maxthon can only be compared to Opera by memory consumption of the main process (the first named column), in the rest - the complete outsider, including the number of generated subsidiary processes (5-7). Comparing MX5 to the previous versions, it is obvious that there is a little of progress - the things are hardly changed.
The whole user experience in the new version is concentrated within three main features: Infobox, Passkeeper and UUMail. They are available via a separate page that is opened by clicking the profile icon in the top left corner (something like a personal page).
Infobox: is a new bookmarks and notes manager. Now, when saving a page to bookmarks you can choose the desired action: whether save as bookmark; a feed with the main content (similar to rss feed); as a screenshot (including the whole page); the selected content; Is it handy? As for me - nope.
You can overcome additional actions when saving a page (as the default action is "save as bookmark" ), but you can do nothing with a shitty user experience of Infobox: it is more a separate service with a lot of excessive and cumbersome functionality rather than a simple and clear tool.
Furthermore, appearance is the same as some mail clients have. For example, Outlook 2007 or Thunderbird. Why do I need this huge text area as the bonus to the bookmark address? What is it for? Write a letter? Or maybe an abstract? Bullshit! All I need is to save a bookmark and add (sometimes) a label (like in Vivaldi) to some extremely interesting articles or websites in order to find them later. However, I suppose this huge text area may be useful for those who like Evernote - such an arrangement of bookmarks may encourage them to transfer their existing notes to MX5. But the attempt to lure them looks even more ugly.
The second aspect is the list of bookmarks. The best for me is "do less and get success". That's why I do like browsers where the list of bookmarks doesn't disappear after choosing one, like in Opera and Maxthon (Chrome and Firefox - I hate you!! :-D . Although Vivaldi is also in the list here, but it has a very cool sidebar that can be used for showing bookmarks). Infobox has a huge and annoying casus: you can't open a saved bookmark neither by a single nor a double click nor a right mouse button (it doesn't work in bookmarks list). You can open a link only by selecting it in the list and then clicking right mouse button on the URL in the right pane of editor :-D .
This is the worst user experience I ever had. Why do I have to do so many unnecessary movements?
All the notes are located within the whole mess of Infobox and mixed with bookmarks, which is even more annoying.
Despite the fact that the notes don't have favicons - there is no way to pull them out of the list of bookmarks - no tags, no labels, no sort... In such a case, the situation when one note gets lost in a pile of trash seems to be quite realistic sooner or later even without favicons. BTW, favicons... Maxthon 4.x has a very interesting feature - "Update site icons", that allows you to quickly refresh all favicons in your bookmarks list. It is a really useful feature especially after importing bookmarks, when some of them have nothing to show for the first time. Now, MX5 lacks this feature and I'm confused a bit about the workaround because favicon hasn't changed even after visiting the website.
The only potentially useful feature in Infobox is making screenshots of a whole page. Generally, to do this you need a plugin or an extension, so having such a functionality onboard can save you a couple of minutes spent on searching. Just once :-D .
Passkeeper: MX5 has a new fully functional page that holds all the passwords (and some other interesting features) instead of the section in settings like in Chrome, Firefox and a bunch of other web browsers.
Now it is possible to store passwords from other resources right inside the browser without fear of getting them lost occasionally after reinstalling OS or due to backups made in bad time. Entries (except for headers) are stored in encrypted form and synced to cloud immediately. It's handy.
The second feature is secret notes. They are secret because the information inside them is encrypted on saving. In such a way it is possible to store some sensitive information, like credit card numbers, billings or other payment details. It is also handy because you don't have to have a separate application for this purpose.
There are also some shortcomings - the lack of import/export and password generator functionality. It would be useful in some unpredictable situations (e.g. when the cloud is unavailable. Furthermore, these situations had been happening earlier, when home browser couldn't sync to retrieve bookmarks added previously on work. It took up to 2 days to fix the issue, which is absolutely unacceptable for passwords) or when switching to another browser. As for the password generator, it is available only on login/sign up pages to generate passwords for new accounts. When creating accounts manually inside the Passkeeper, this generator is useless. Anyway, Passkeeper was a very promising feature to include and if it will transform into something more serious, it would be great!
UUMail: strange feature that works as a shadow email. Actually, it works by creating a virtual address that can be used for registering on some untrusted sites (or as Maxthon help suggests - such as register for an adult websites :-D ) without worrying about revealing the real email address. UUMail is not expected to be used frequently, but this functionality is rather useful.
Privileges: there is a little difference between VIP/regular user privileges. The regular "non-privileged" bonuses are enough for an everyday use. Maxthon offers the following VIP packages:
The level is displayed in the personal area next to user avatar. My level is VIP2 but I can see V1 icon somehow. Anyway, these resources are hardly to be exhausted.
The interface is almost left unchanged except for some minor aspects in Appearance and menu layouts. Sidebar and status bar are now can be disabled, whereas internal tools are now located alongside extensions.
BTW, the most interesting thing is that the functionality that was removed from Maxthon 4.x. versions (that's why I berated developers previously) is now brought back. However, looking at the Night Mode, it would be better if they didn't do it. In 4.x. versions it was an absolutely amazing tool to change css styles on the fly to bring more of eye comfort in nighttime, and now this is just an ugly brightness control. Furthermore, in low brightness mode eyes are getting tired even faster, so there is no eye comfort at all.
I started writing this article some time after several updates passed since the latest beta, so I had an opportunity to test new versions on stability and not to be influenced by occasional bugs and errors. During the whole testing I didn't noticed any valuable changes - this is the same Maxthon as before.
On the one hand this is good: the browser is still very handy and functional. From the other hand, several minor diseases are still here: unexpected crashes followed by complete loss of the current session and opened tabs, stupid AdBlock (the same extension in Opera works flawlessly), high resources consumption. I was really disappointed with the Infobox - it's a fiddly and illogical tool that is hardly to perform all the necessary functions. And I still want the Global Mute button in the status bar.
The greatest things in Maxthon are Resource Sniffer and detachable video panel. There were some attemps to duplicate the detachable video panel functionality in Opera, but it works only in YouTube and some other sites, whereas Maxthon handles almost 99.5% of sites and videos regardless of their types.
In general, Maxthon has made a mixed impression - I can't say I became worse, everything looks fine, but some desired updates (for example, in tabs and extensions) were not implemented and the perfectly working features were "destroyed" (for example, Bookmarks Manager). According to the above, my total score is 3.5 out of 5. Will I use the new Maxthon? Probably only to watch some films or streams.
So, that's how the new Maxthon turned out to me. Probably I misses some aspects or some features left untouched - tell me about this in comments and share your own thoughts about your vision of the new Maxthon.
Update: One day after the Russian version of this article was published, I received a feedback based on my shares about Maxthon. The interesting thing is that my version was actually not the latest (I guess due to some bugs when receiving new updates) and after updating Maxthon to version 220.127.116.110 I received the Global Mute button!
As for me, this is the important step to enhance usability. On the other hand, I don't understand why it was so important to throw away some functionality and then bring it back. Anyway, at this moment Maxthon has only one huge problem - Infobox :-D
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