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[2018 UPDATE] Brave browser review 2017: Good user experience? Almost there

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There’s a new browser in town that promises to its users essential online privacy and protection. Others also say that it’s going to give Google a run for their money. And I got pretty curious why they said so. With that, I gave it a try and so far, here’s my experience with it.

Disclaimer: This is not an inclusive review. It consists mainly of the author’s preference and point of view. Also, here at TechnoChops, we decided to do reviews differently. We committed to giving a product a 40-day trial, which means that this review will be updated in the next 40 days given that there’s something we noticed that we have not covered before. It’s like a diary review. On the 40th day, we make our verdict. Our verdict is subjective and it is still your final say whether or not to use the product. Of course, this type of review depends on the product that we have (we cannot make a 40-day review for a movie).

We’ve also made an update of our review for Brave. If you want to skip, just click this.

The Brave browser is developed by 11 specialists led by Brain R. Bondy and co-founder of Mozilla Project, Brendan Eich. It was announced just last year on Jan. 20, 2016, with a promise to block ads and trackers. The browser’s code is based on the Chromium and Chromium’s Blink engine, which means that you’ll see those familiar Google Chrome settings.

At the top most right of the browser, you’ll see Brave’s icon, the orange lion head. Clicking that will give you a drop-down menu where you could see the option to toggle on and off its built-in ad blocker and other features.

In the past several months, Adobe and anti-ad blocking firm PageFair saw an increase of users installing ad blockers by 11 percent than last year and I could not blame them (I use an ad blocker, too).

Before, ads were not a problem. But somehow, greedy marketers began to abuse online advertising that they would go to lengths of tracking a person’s online activity by subtly inserting files and super-cookies in their browsers.

Several types and forms of ads also began to surface (pop-ups, interstitials, etc.) to the point that they became annoying. In fact, some even promoted illegal activities and pornography.

On top of that, users living in countries with average and slow internet speed could not immediately load a content due to the fact that ads also contribute to the slowness of the site’s loading speed.

Eventually, online advertising became like a zoo.

And that’s what the lion Brave browser wants to solve: giving internet browsing a breath of fresh air by offering users safer and faster experience.

This is what intrigued me about Brave – a browser that has a built-in ad blocker and with privacy protection features. Brave has integrated, by default, essential privacy features that could only be used as either add-ons (for Firefox) or as extensions (for Chrome). One of these features is the ever useful HTTPS Everywhere.

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In Brave’s Settings, you can toggle on and off HTTPS Everywhere at the Shields section. You can also choose to block phishing and malware attempts (which is important), block scripts, and enable or disable browser fingerprint protection.

There is also an Ad Control where you can show ads from Brave, block ads, or allow ads and tracking. In the Cookie Control, third-party cookies are blocked by default with options to allow and block cookies altogether.

Head to Privacy section and you get options to delete browsing history, download history, cached images and files among others. What is more, they also have their own built-in password manager where you can save your passwords for each site you log in.

Brave’s commitment is appealing to users who want to get rid of those annoying and intrusive advertisements and those who value privacy. Clearly, the developers had its users in mind when they created Brave.

However, a lot of website owners and publishers were not happy with the idea. You see, website owners depend on the revenue they get from ads (that includes TechnoChops). No ads mean no revenues.

And by default, Brave will always block ads, though you have a choice to turn on or off its ad blocking feature. Brave almost completely eliminates online ads in order to fulfill their promise of protecting their user’s privacy.

This spells a problem for publishers because, again, no ads mean no revenues. It’s from these revenues that publishers are able to pay for their monthly expenses.

Now, how would then publishers generate revenue from people who use Brave since their ads are blocked by default? This is what sets Brave apart from other browsers.

Brave has a program called Brave Payments. It is an online wallet for users.

Every month, you allocate money which will be divided among the publisher site you visited, provided that they are a part of the program. It’s also optional, which means that it’s up to you if you want to contribute to your favorite website or not.

If you do not contribute, there’s no problem. You can still use Brave for free and see no ads.

Brave’s concept is appealing, at least for me. So, I decided to give their concept a test drive. Here are my experiences so far:

  • It has been more than 24 hours since I installed Brave (May 4) and using it felt like I had a Safari browser. The first time I did was import my bookmarks to Brave and just like Chrome and Firefox, it has the option to import browser data over-the-air.
  • At first, I found the Bookmarks bar a bit confusing because there were no icons for the folders. Fortunately, you can go to Settings by clicking on the three vertical dots at the upper right. You head over to General and find the Bookmarks Bar. Under that, you have the option to choose Text only, Text and Favicons, and Favicons only.
  • By default, Brave shows a preview of the site as you hover over a tab. I found this distracting. With that, I went to Settings >>> Tabs >>> disabled Show tab previews on hover.
  • I must tell you that Brave really loads fast. In fact, I feel it’s faster than Chrome and Firefox.
  • What I love about Brave is that it shows you the statistics of the number of trackers that were blocked, ads blocked, https upgrades, and the total estimated time you have saved every time you use the browser on a day.
  • In Brave, I can’t search for add-ons or extensions similar to Chrome and Firefox. Maybe, the developers did this because of their promise to protect user data. Nonetheless, it might be better if I could choose available extensions somewhere in the browser. I don’t know if they’re going to include this feature in their next release. But just in case there’s a feature or an extension I would like to have, the developers placed a request form in their Community.
  • I like the fact that they have a few built-in password managers. Somehow, it makes me feel that they value my personal data.
  • Brave’s ad blocker is good. I was able to use the functionality of a site without it sending me a warning that I am using an ad blocker. Plus, I am not seeing any ad.
  • I encountered some glitches, but these are just occasional (please take note, they’re just occasional):
    • videos suddenly go mute in a tab, but in another tab, the sound is there;
    • a missing site in my bookmark, though it appeared again;
    • tabs could not be moved either to the left or to the right, but the loading speed of the site is fast;
    • clicking “Never For This Site” when asked if I should let Brave remember password does not work;
    • back button could not be clicked;
    • when Brave’s ad blocker is turned on, I need to specify first a file’s extension (.jpg, .mp4, etc.) for downloads;
    • I eventually closed all tabs because they’re starting to not work;
    • disabling Fingerprint Protection is not working
  • Brave’s subfolders in the bookmarks always stay at the right side, which disturbs my user experience because I could not see the remaining words. Brave should be able to automatically transfer a subfolder to the left if there is not enough space to the right.
  • Brave tends to lag once in a while when it’s serving too many tabs. There was a time that I have 16 tabs opened.

Being a newcomer, though one of its founders is the creator of the JavaScript programming language, I could understand why glitches occur time-to-time. Besides, it’s still in beta testing; so a few bugs here and there are pretty normal.

But I just wonder how Brave would stack up against Chrome and Firefox after its official release. Who knows. For the meantime, I’ll ditch Chrome and Firefox and explore the net with the king of the jungle.

Update May 6

I used the mobile app of Brave. YouTube said some video formats (HTML5 video) are not supported by my browser.

Around this time, Brave has also become a bit laggy and has started to slow down my laptop. I stopped using it for a while because I had to do something important.

Before logging in to an affiliate account, I should disable Brave’s ad blocking feature because it will break the site.

Update May 7

If a site breaks, check if the Fingerprint Protection is enabled because it could break some sites.

Update May 8

Brave’s Bookmarks settings has no option to delete folders. I need to delete it one by one, which wastes my time.

Update May 26

The mobile version of the Brave browser is not blocking ads as of this day, particularly those from Google AdSense. I have already toggled on and off the ad-blocking feature and I am still getting the same results.

On the other hand, the ad-blocking feature in the desktop version is working fine, which leads me to think that perhaps the mobile version currently has a glitch.

Update May 29

The developers of Brave released an update. So far, the browser feels more stable. A red notification shows up if you want to allow certain sites to determine your location, remember your password, etc.

However, the lags are still there. Unlike Google Chrome, I could only open up to five tabs in Brave in order for it not to slow down my browsing experience.

Update June 9

The developers of the Brave browser released an update. I noticed an improvement on the Facebook UI. It looks smoother. I open several tabs at the same time and despite getting an update, there is not much of a difference. I still get a sticky feel when using the browser to explore the internet.

Details of the changelog are available at GitHub and it looks like they are going to implement a new funding method.

Update June 13: My verdict

Today ends my review of the Brave browser and I can say that it delivers two of its promises: more private and faster internet browsing. In fact, the loading speed of a page with Brave is much faster than Chrome and FireFox, as far as using Brave in the past 40 days. However, there are occasional bugs, glitches, and UI problems such as this:

The subfolder(s) of a Bookmark folder should transfer to the left if there’s not enough space to the right.

Although Brave loads a page fast, it, however, tends to slow down my laptop when I’m opening too many tabs at the same time (it lags when I open five or more tabs). There’s a significant difference between a faster loading page and a faster internet browsing. And this lagging issue defeats the purpose of making browsing faster. I don’t have this problem when I use Chrome and FireFox, except if I am using way too many tabs at the same time.

I also used Brave’s mobile version and so far, I like it. In fact, I replaced the mobile version of Chrome and FireFox with Brave. There’s no issue with the mobile version for me, but only the desktop version. I would not recommend the desktop version because of the lag or sticky issues.

So, I hope the developers of Brave would work on this part, which I believe they are 24/7. I think these issues will also be resolved soon since Brave’s development is still active.

Being a newcomer, Brave has so much potential; yet so much to catch up.

Update May 4, 2018

It’s been a year already since the day I started my honest-to-goodness 40-day review on the Brave browser. I have only two browsers for my every day use: First is Google Chrome and now, Mozilla Firefox Quantum.

I started using Firefox as my second choice when Mozilla released the Quantum update last year November. As far as using Firefox is concerned, I have no major complaints. In fact, Firefox feels better than Chrome.

This is also liberating because after years of using Chrome, I finally get to have another browser that rivals Chrome’s performance. What is more, Firefox is privacy-minded. It also feels good that I am not boxed inside Google’s ecosystem, meaning if I don’t like Google’s menu, I can choose Mozilla’s offer.

This is what 21st online freedom should be.

Every 2.5 months, I change browsers. The first two and half months of the year was using Chrome, and then switching to Firefox. This is going to be the case of my online life in the next 40 to 50 years: It’s either Firefox or Chrome.

Although there are other browsers, but none of them offers seamless and top-notch performance than Chrome and Firefox. But then there’s Brave.

Prior to my last year’s review on Brave, I admit I had high expectations for it. It did not only promised a faster browsing experience, but also integrated much-need privacy related features.

When I reviewed Brave, it did deliver. It loads a page fast, offers a built-in password manager, blocks ads by default, among others. The statistics on the number of seconds I saved in using Brave or the ads and trackers blocked were helpful. All these were brand new for me.

But when I opened more than five tabs, Brave started to lag and stick. It disrupted my flow of work that I have to close it and use Chrome. The deal was off between me and Brave.

Had my first impressions were good I would have used Brave as my other go-to browser.

If privacy or blocking ads is a concern, which is for me, Chrome and Firefox has extensions/add-ons that easily trump Brave’s built-in privacy features. It was only the lags and the sticks that really turned me down.

Brave had so much potential, yet so much to catch up.

But that was last year. Technology changes as fast as the blink of an eye, and I wonder how much Brave has changed since then.

So in the next 40 days, I’m gonna stop using Firefox as my main browser and explore the web again with the king of the jungle.

By the way, if you are using Brave for the first time and are looking for some basic tweaks on its Settings, here’s mine:

General

I enabled Brave as my default browser. Only do this if you want Brave to be your default browser; otherwise, skip it.

Search

Under Search Bar Options, disable Show top site suggestions.

Tabs

Disable Show tab previews on hover.

Security

  • Enable everything under the Private Data.

  • Enable Do Not Track.
  • Enable Strict Site Isolation.

It should be noted that enabling Do Not Track and Strict Site Isolation will require you to restart the browser. You may choose to skip restarting and do it after the tweaks.

Extensions

Finally! I could not remember if Brave has this, but the last time I know, Brave does not offer this by default. Under the Extensions, we are given some add-ons to improve Brave’s functionalities. The downside is we’re only given few options. Nonetheless, this is a good start.

We can also request Brave for our favorite extensions, by the way.

Shields

  • Ad Control >>> choose Block Ads.
  • Cookie Control >>> Block 3rd Party Cookies
  • Fingerprinting Protection >>> Block 3rd Party Fingerprinting

Advanced

Under Content Settings, disable Send anonymous crash reports to Brave and Notify me about token promotions.

To be able to modify these Settings, click the three small bars at the upper right or type about:preferences on the URL bar.

It should be noted that these are my preferences. You may or may not choose to follow these.

Update May 5, 2018

I imported my bookmarks from Firefox to Brave. When I want to sort my bookmarks or get it outside the Imported from Firefox folder, I need to drag it up one by one. I can’t choose to select all, and then copy-paste them. This is time consuming, especially for those who have a plethora of bookmarks.

Brave’s limited number of extensions is like Apple’s App Store. There are extensions in Firefox that I can’t use in Brave because it’s not available. One extension I wish Brave included is Mailvelope, which encrypts your messages in a number of email services. In order for me to use Mailvelope, I have to close Brave and use Firefox or Chrome.

Update May 8, 2018

Developers of Brave still have not fixed this problem, where you could see a bookmarks subfolder not adjusting to the left if there’s not enough space on the right:

And that’s after one year. This makes me doubt if Brave is really in this in the long run.

If they can’t fix this little problem, how much more for bigger ones?

Update May 14, 2018

There’s something that annoys me. Whenever I close a separate private (or incognito) tab in Brave, all other tabs close as well. This has ruined my work that I once started all over again. Goodbye to productivity.

Meanwhile, on the sticks and the lags, I applaud the developers. Brave has improved and has been stable so far. The lags are not that worse anymore. I’m loving the experience Brave is giving in the past few days. Kudos to that.

Update May 22, 2018

Our site’s admin page logs me out after a couple of hours. When I try to log in, it is suppose to redirect me to the login page. I couldn’t access the login page with Brave. Instead, Brave shows me that there are too many redirects.

This is counterproductive again. I don’t have this problem with Chrome and Firefox.

Update May 29, 2018

This little guy at the top of my tabs is a great feature. An addition that may be deemed little by many, but it helps big.

Conclusion: June 13, 2018

One of my main complaints in my last year’s review about Brave is its sticky and laggy feel after opening more than five or eight tabs. This experience disrupted my work that the deal was off between me and Brave. For occasional web surfing, Brave was a good option.

But just to be fair with the developers of Brave, I decided to revisit my experience and see if there was any difference since last year. And I’m glad I did.

Brave’s performance has significantly improved overtime. I no longer experience the sticky and laggy feel, except if I’m opening too much tabs at the same time. I appreciate the devs of Brave putting their efforts to improve this aspect; so kudos to all of you there.

It doesn’t mean, though, that my experience was perfect. I still have issues, and the most irritating would be when closing a separate window. Every time I close a single separate window, it literally closes everything. It’s really annoying that I wanted to do a LeBron James and punch a whiteboard. Peace Cavs fans.

If there’s also another thing that I want the developers of Brave to improve, it would be the UI. I just find the UI’s feel thin or weak. The tabs are too small by default. But that’s just me.

And also the extensions/add-ons. There are few options to choose from that it boxes me somehow – not the experience that I wanted. I understand that Brave does this for privacy reasons and their main target users are those who value privacy, but there are users who are both privacy- and productivity-minded. They even forgot the Mailvelope add-on, which is also a must for those who value privacy in their emails.

Nonetheless, I understand that Brave has just started their journey, and this browser will improve by the day. If they keep on doing this, no doubt more users will eventually take notice and use Brave.

As far as my experience is concerned? Well, it’s almost there.

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About the author

Martin Suan

Martin is a licensed Math Teacher, earning his degree in 2009. His writing career began when he worked for a New York-based online publication as a tech journalist. He then became an Editor for an International Business Times subsidiary and was promoted to Managing Editor in six months. He loves to do long drives on weekends due to its soothing effect on his entire being :D. Address: Kalibo, Aklan || Email: martins@technochops.com

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