capsule review

Camino 1.0.1

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Camino 1.0.1, a fleet-footed, lightweight, open source Web browser, is loaded with useful features such as built-in ad and pop-up blocking, tabs, spotlight-searchable bookmarks, and pause/resume downloading capabilities.

The first thing that struck me about Camino was the browser’s simple user interface and how easy it is to use. Mozilla (the technology foundation of both Firefox (   ; November 2005 ) and Camino) lets you easily import or export Safari bookmarks. And Camino’s Gecko layout engine is fast and error-free the first time it accesses graphic-intensive Web pages, as well as when reviewing pages through cached history.

To test the browser’s pause/resume downloads feature, I downloaded a Mac OS Security patch over several hours, pausing and restarting randomly while browsing various sites. After the download was complete, the software installed without a problem.

The built-in ad and pop-up blocking feature functioned well during testing, and Camino even blocked pop-ups from plug-ins like Flash. I prefer that blocking be enabled by default (instead of disabled, as is the case with Camino), but that’s a minor issue. For the few sites that must have pop-up ads running to properly function, Camino provides an exceptions list to allow use of those sites.

Camino uses Apple’s Address Book to fill out Web forms, and it supports bookmark searches by Spotlight—extremely useful for searching local data and Web pages. Speaking of searching, Camino’s History Manager displays your page history sorted by date, so I had no problem locating previously viewed sites for follow-up research. Moreover, Camino plug-ins are available from a number of vendors, such as RealNetworks and Adobe.

You can configure Camino to change its so-called hidden preferences, and while that process is not difficult, it is unlikely to appeal to most non-technical users. For example, in order to do things like prevent links from opening in a new page, disable site icons in the address window, disable blinking elements, and a host of other tweaks, you have to create and alter a prefs.js file, and store it in your Home folder in Library -> Application Support -> Camino. Camino’s documentation had specific, easy-to-follow instructions on how to change that file. But it would be more convenient to give users the option of setting preferences by menu.

There were only a few things I didn’t like about Camino: It does not support RSS feeds (a feature which should in the 1.1 release expected later this year), and while Tabs are provided, Camino does not support rearranging tabs with drag-and-drop, a handy feature supported in the Firefox browser.

Mozilla details a list of known issues such as problems using the Windows Media Player, Flip4Mac, and Shockwave plug-ins, and some Java applets may crash OS X 10.4 systems. However, the product release notes do provide suggested workarounds.

Macworld’s buying advice

It’s never a waste of time to try a new browser, and Camino 1.0.1’s interface, functionality, and performance are reasons why it is definitely worth a look. It’s not as configurable as browsers like Firefox and Safari (   ; November 2005 ), but it is fast, easy to use, and free.

[ Mike Hubbartt has worked in the IT industry as a writer, application developer, and system administrator. ]

Camino’s tabs simplify navigation between sites, but there is no drag-and-drop functionality.
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