5 Best Chromium Based Browsers With Extra Features

One of the most important pieces of software you will use on your computer is going to be the web browser. There are really three main browser brand names, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer/Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome/Chromium. There’s also dozens of smaller third party browsers around to try out. Although Firefox and Chromium are both open source, the majority of third party browsers are based around Chromium and the Blink engine.

Chromium is the browser project from Google that Chrome is based around. The two are very similar but Chrome is more like the public version as Chromium is never officially released as a standalone browser. Chrome has extras like a PDF reader, Flash player, auto updater and multimedia codecs. Each third party browser developer has its own ideas and either takes things out of Chromium or adds new functions and features in. There are several functions built into Chromium and Chrome already but today’s internet user often needs more, which has to be taken care of with extensions.

Chromium Based Browsers
A number of third party Chromium based browsers are really pretty similar to standard and offer a few security or privacy tweaks such as removing communication with Google servers. We’re more interested in looking at a browser that enhances the features and functions over and above the standard Chromium, such as built in ad blocking, mouse gestures, better tab/download/bookmark management or even something unique like a built in VPN or DNS encryption.

Here we list seven browsers based on Chromium and the Blink engine that have a bigger feature set and more options than the browser they are developed around. Importantly, the browsers can still directly or indirectly install extensions from the Chrome store, any that can’t were not included.

1. Vivaldi

Vivaldi is the newest big player in the browser market with the stable version released in April 2016. It was created by a former founder and CEO of the original Opera. Unhappy with the direction Opera took after moving from its own Presto engine to Chromium’s Blink, they decided to create a new browser that reintroduces many of the features and functions removed from Opera. As a result, Vivaldi is currently popular among advanced users and geeks.
Perhaps the most striking difference Vivaldi has over other browsers is the color changing theme which alters the UI color to match the general color of the current web page. A very useful space saving feature is the tab stacking which allows you to drop one tab on top of another to group them together. What Vivaldi has in abundance is tons of options to tweak things like appearance, tabs and the address bar to your preference. As it’s still pretty new, Vivaldi should improve further and pick up more options and features as time goes on.

Selected Features:
  • Customizable Speed Dial/Start page with folder groups
  • Auto Color changing UI to match the website you’re viewing
  • Custom themes with scheduling for day and night time themes
  • Mouse and rocker gestures
  • Tab stacking, tiling, cycling, hibernating and preview options
  • Page actions including CSS debugger, content blocker, color filters
  • Side Panel to view bookmarks, notes, downloads and web pages
  • Vivaldi button or horizontal options menu
  • Customize tab bar position, display, handling, cycling, stacking and pinned tabs
  • Custom keyboard shortcuts and quick commands
  • Save and load all tabs in a custom session
  • Reading view mode
  • Bookmark system with thumbnails and nickname shortcuts
  • Quick commands (F2) to quickly find the function or keyboard shortcut
Download Vivaldi

2. Yandex Browser

Yandex is the Russian internet services giant with one of the biggest search engines in the world. Their Chromium based browser has been around since 2012 and within that time it’s gained many users and some interesting features. The user interface is somewhat different to standard but it still looks and behaves like you’re using a Chromium browser. Yandex Browser is also available for Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Yandex Browser

One of the most talked about and currently unique features in Yandex Browser is DNSCrypt which sends to and receives encrypted requests from a DNS server. The Tableau is a fancy name for a start or new tab page but is nicely done with a default full window animated background, optional personal news feed and a speed dial of your favorite websites. Although the website doesn’t specifically say, the Protect security system supposedly scans downloaded files with Kaspersky. On install, you will be offered the choice of Google, Bing or Yandex.ru as the default search engine

Selected Features:
  • Mouse and rocker gestures (not customizable)
  • Tab position top or bottom with colored tabs to match website theme
  • Disable all notifications for 3 hours
  • Opera based Turbo mode to compress pages and video on slow connections
  • Tableau URL shortcuts for Start page/new tab with Yandex Zen personalized news stories
  • Smart box with advanced search and share to email/Facebook/Twitter
  • Antishock blocks fraudulent or unpleasant ads and popups
  • One click extension install for Evernote, LastPass, Adguard, Lightshot, Pocket, Turn off the lights
  • DNSCrypt sends encrypted requests to a DNSCrypt enabled DNS server
  • Protected mode for banking and payment systems applies stricter security policy
  • Protect security system scans downloads with antivirus and secures webpages/WiFi/settings
  • Ebook and document viewer can read epub, fb2, doc, docx, ppt, pptx, rtf as well as pdf
Download Yandex Browser

3. Cent Browser

Cent is a Chromium based browser from a small group of developers in China which first appeared in early 2015. If you are someone who wants a more feature rich browser but likes the minimalist user interface of Chromium and Chrome, Cent maybe just what you are looking for. Unlike some other browsers here, Cent sticks more closely to the original look and feel of Chromium with most of its power coming from the array of extra options found in the Settings window.

Cent Browser

Cent is not the type of browser that is loaded with tons of big features but instead includes loads of tweaks, improvements and functions that accumulate to make a big improvement over the standard Chromium. For example, a few changes to the default new tab page, bookmark layout, toolbar buttons and how tabs look and behave make a difference. The single extension process memory saving feature could potentially reduce memory usage if you use multiple extensions. The drawback is one extension crashing will likely crash the other extensions as well.

Selected Features:
  • Changeable tab shape and new tab button. Remove avatar button
  • Toolbar buttons for restore closed tabs, downloads, mute, bookmarks
  • Custom new tab page or edit the default Google new tab page
  • Scrollable tab bar with tab menu to select, close or unload tabs
  • Multiple open/close tab options with custom width and hover activate
  • Hideable bookmarks bar, multiple bookmark columns, left edge bookmarks
  • Custom stylesheet, cache directory and startup command line box
  • Built-in download manager accessible from the toolbar
  • Memory optimizations with auto purge and use a single extension process
  • Mouse gestures, rocker gestures and Super Drag
  • QR code generator in address bar
  • Custom keyboard accelerators and shortcuts including Boss key
  • Fast image saver, auto scroll, custom background color for all web pages
  • Video popup with play in window, enlarge to page, download video/audio
  • Official portable version
Download Cent Browser

4. Opera

The Opera browser is now over 20 years old and in 2016 was sold to Chinese internet security company Qihoo 360. Opera is still owned and run in Norway though, which has to adhere to local and European laws regarding privacy and data. Back in 2013 Opera made a decision to discontinue its Presto engine based browser and instead go with a Blink based Chromium version. Opera has been introducing some interesting features in recent times which is helping to put it back up there as one of the most used Windows web browsers.

The Opera browser
The currently most talked about feature in Opera is the new VPN which goes through Opera owned SurfEasy servers. Over 2 million users were added to Opera’s user base within a week of its release. The other recent addition of an ad blocker is very useful. The Speed Dial has been present for a long time and is one of the most polished around. Opera cannot install extensions direct from the Chrome Store, only the Opera extensions site. To get around this install “Download Chrome Extension “, it can’t install Chrome store themes or apps but should support just about all extensions.

Selected Features:
  • Built in unlimited SurfEasy VPN with 5 global locations
  • Built in ad blocker with exceptions list and custom block lists
  • Battery saver mode to reduce battery drain while unplugged
  • Opera Turbo pre-compresses pages on Opera servers
  • Video popout enables floating video window
  • Customizable Speed Dial/Start page with folder grouping and news
  • Full window tab previews
  • Mouse and rocker gestures (not configurable)
  • Custom keyboard shortcuts
  • Personal news reader with RSS support
  • Highlight text quick menu with search and copy buttons
  • Enhanced Bookmarks with page previews and customizable thumbnails
  • Fast startup sequence loads multiple tabs quicker when starting the browser
Download Opera

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