Two weeks ago, I had never heard of Rockmelt. Then, at #bnchat, a friend asked me about it and through the course of our conversation sent me an invitation. I spent the next fours days playing around with it and these are my thoughts:
At first glance, you can tell that Rockmelt is a different kind of browser. My first thought was “This is extremely cluttered, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get used to this.” That feeling faded, however.
Let’s take a look at the actual browser:
It might be hard to tell from this image, but while your favorites and browser bar are still located at the top, the two side columns are populated with social networks. From what I can tell, the left-hand column is always integrated with your Facebook friends while the right-hand column allows you to choose what populates it. (For the purpose of my exploration, I populated the right column with Twitter, LinkedIn, The Oatmeal, and Foursquare.
Both the Twitter and Facebook friends columns allow you to chat and Tweet directly from the browser without having to be logged in in either page. I really liked this feature for Facebook, but I kept ignoring the Twitter pop-ups and using Hootsuite instead.
Discovery #1: While I really enjoyed the ability to Tweet directly from the browser sidebar, Twitter clients like Tweetdeck, Seesmic and Hootsuite won’t be replaced by Rockmelt, at least not for me. The Facebook chatting, however, made it easy to continue conversations even when I navigate away from the FB homepage.
I’ve used many different browsers in my day; from Internet Explorer, to Safari, to Firefox, and beyond. I finally landed on Chrome from Google. I know that Chrome has it’s problems, but I’ve found for my purposes, it’s darn near perfect. I still use Safari and Firefox to a degree because I like some of the things they offer, but when asked, I usually refer people to Chrome.
Why mention Chrome in a post about Rockmelt, you ask? One of the biggest downsides I saw with Rockmelt, and probably the main reason I won’t make it my default browser, was the lack of easily-accessible extensions. While it’s possible to install Chrome-like extensions into Rockmelt, they are damn near impossible to find and use.
Major Downside. (Salute)
Extensions for things outside social networks are really what make Chrome worthwhile for me. I use them every time I get online. Whether it’s my Evernote extension of my Google Reader one, that little extension bar is a great asset to me.
Discovery #2: While Rockmelt would be great for someone only interested in social sharing and networking, I missed my extensions while working on Rockmelt. The difficulty in accessing them from the browser window took away it’s claim to be the Chrome Killer for me.
For anyone thinking thusfar that I’ve been bashing Rockmelt, this section should put those fears to bed. Rockmelt’s ability to share any page and their RSS grabber feature are A-(wait for it)-MAZING.
This feature alone almost makes up for the lack of extensions, especially considering my favorite extensions in Chrome are ones that allow me to easily share pages and grab RSS feeds. As mentioned above, the right sidebar of Rockmelt can work almost like a constant Google Reader, continually updating you on favorite websites that have updates to their RSS feeds.
Since I have quite a few blogs in my Google Reader, I was only able to include my favorites, but this feature was awesome.
There’s also a “Share” button in the top navigation bar that allows you to clip and share any page you’re on to your favorite social networking sites. Again, a VERY cool addition from the guys at Rockmelt.
Discovery #3: Even without easily-accessible extensions, the RSS grabber and Share features on Rockmelt make it a heavy contender in the Browser Battles raging in the digital space today.
All in all, Rockmelt is a powerful browser and has a lot more interesting features that I didn’t cover in this review (ex. Search Bar Dropdown and others). I don’t see myself making it my default browser while working because of how distracting the constant influx of social media info can get, but I find myself using it more and more on the weekends when I’m not “working”.
Is Rockmelt for you? I can’t make that choice for you, but I do have a few more invitations, so if you want to test it out Friend me on Facebook, comment your interest and I’ll try to get one over to you.
If you’re looking for some other in-depth reviews on Rockmelt, check out Dragon Blogger’s Rockmelt Review or Extreme John’s 10 Reasons Rockmelt Rocks and 2 Reasons It Doesn’t. They both do a great job of talking about the features of the browser.
Have you tried Rockmelt yet? What did you think? Did I leave out anything you thought was important?
Leave those thoughts in the comments below.
[Image Credit (second image): Dragon Blogger, Hands On With Rockmelt]