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Incredible as it may seem to some users, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer are not the only viable web browsing solutions on the market.

Maxthon Cloud Browser is not new on the market and the Internet Explorer clone label has been long lost thanks to the multiple features and improvements implemented over the years.

Version 4.2 of the application is touted by the developing company as the best release in the history of Maxthon, as it integrates a tweaked Blink rendering engine and faster startup and file download times.

The browser is available both as a regular desktop version as well as a portable download, which does not require installation and can be deployed from a removable storage drive.

The latest release integrates a branched version of the Blink rendering engine in order to infuse increased browsing speeds. Looks are modern, with essential buttons readily available in the toolbar, a multifunctional address bar, and the less used features hidden under the menu button.

By default, a side bar pops from the left offering access to additional useful features for managing bookmarks, download tasks, reading feeds, or taking notes; all these are implemented through built-in extensions and can be disabled from the extension manager.

Maxthon Cloud Browser prides itself in its cloud features, such as synchronization of data across various devices (supports Windows, Max, Android, and iOS platforms). For the data to be shared (bookmarks, options, address bar history, extensions, and tabs), you need to create a Maxthon Passport account.

Of particular importance is the Cloud Push feature, which can be used to send links, text, and images to instances of theweb browser running on a different device, connected to the same account.

The option is available in the context menu of any page and can also function as a sharing service for sending content to up to five email addresses. On Android it is present next to the address bar (tap the paper airplane).

Pushing the information to a different device worked like a charm during our tests; tabs opened almost on the spot and images or text were sent immediately. Content can be stored in Maxthon cloud and used at any time; accessing it is done from the download manager, which shows locally downloaded files as well as the content in the cloud.

The list of features in Maxthon destined for the average user is impressive even without cloud support. Some of the options not present in the high-end browsers include tab locking (protecting it against unintentionally closing), mouse gestures, and muting the sound in the entire application and per tab customized refresh frequency.

On the same note, the developer bundled in Split Screen mode, which basically allows you to divide the browser in two. The feature comes in very handy when you need to compare two online sources.

Another impressive feature is reader mode. Maxthon automatically detects long texts in the page and offers the possibility to switch to a view that hides distractions and focuses on content. There are tweaking options as far as the page width, color and font go.

Night mode is another way to tend to your eyes, as it changes the page colors to fit the contrast between the display and a darker environment. It can be scheduled to kick in between specific times. The configuration options also include changing the colors for the text, background, and links.

One option we did not see in Maxthon Cloud Browser is tab pinning, very useful when you want to keep content readily available without crowding the tab bar; also, there is no tab tearing support at the moment.

However, the cool list of features has always been part of this web browser, and the difference in this release consists of performance compared to the top dogs on the market; and, according to our tests, the development team deserves some praising.

In Octane 2.0 Maxthon managed to come on top of the recently released Mozilla Firefox 26 and just behind Google Chrome 31.

Running the Kraken benchmark also showed small differences between the three products. This time, Chrome and Firefox did better, while Maxthon lagged not too far behind.

SunSpider tests did not change the order of the top but revealed the same small deviations in the performance of the products recorded in the previous benchmark tests.

On the other hand, checking for HTML5 support on revealed a better score than Chrome (501) and Firefox (446), with 513 points out of a total of 555.

From a performance perspective, the three browsers are not too far apart and shows that there are competitive alternatives on the market for the already established browsing applications.

The Android counterpart of the desktop version of Maxthon Cloud Browser is free of clutter and easy to use. The Cloud Push feature is within easy reach, and configuration is not difficult to handle.

The new tab page is divided into two sections that allow accessing favorite pages as well as content, through the NewsBites feature. This is a content delivery service similar to Opera’s Discover page, where you can select between categories such as Economy, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Sports, and Technology, and there are numerous sources to pick from.

The Good

It has both desktop and portable versions, cloud support makes it easy to transfer content across supported devices (Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS), and during our JavaScript benchmark results were very close behind Chrome and Firefox.

It comes with high usability, at the same time keeping configuration simple, which adds to overall user experience.

The Bad

The interface could be simplified further by eliminating some of the buttons or condensing them. Occasionally, we had trouble viewing content on some web pages as it would not be displayed, but refreshing solved the issue.

The Truth

This version of Maxthon Cloud Browser is touted as the best product of the developing company to date and there are good reasons behind this. It has a ton of awesome features and services and performance is on par with that of the leading applications in the field.