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OmniWeb 5 review

Can a commercial browser still compete in a free market?

Our Verdict

Good looking, but difficult to justify in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Shiira and Firefox


  • Lovely to look at

    Visual tabs

    Brilliant ad blocking

    Good OS X integration


  • Expensive

    Unsupported by many banks

Omni is one of the rare companies that has built a business model on the concept of selling a web browser. And with competition from the free sector, it needs to come up with something special to justify the cost of OmniWeb.

At the top of OmniWeb's cool feature list are visual tabs, which take the guesswork out of browsing lots of sites at once, obsessive bookmark management and an ad blocker than goes beyond stopping websites opening pop-ups.

The ad blocker can prevent the display of images from particular servers and stop animations from cycling round and round forever. These abilities can be added to some of the other browsers on test, but OmniWeb has by far the most elegant method of configuring these settings; you can configure such options on a site-by-site basis.

The rest of the design is deceptively minimalist and enables the maximum space for the display of pages. Special mention should also go to the bookmark manager, which makes light work of editing the actual addresses and site names.

The integrated search follows the same method as Firefox and Safari, though it would benefit from adding more options to the drop-down list and an easier way of adding new engines.

The real problem with OmniWeb is that the company decided, not long after the release of Safari, to adopt Apple's WebKit. This means sites that block Safari users will be inaccessible in OmniWeb, necessitating the need for either Firefox or Internet Explorer.

OmniWeb is classy, but it's debatable whether the slight improvements it offers are worth the money. Some will be seduced by the clean lines and visual tabs, but as it's as undersupported as Safari, it's not the ideal replacement.