After spending nearly a week using the RockMelt beta as my default browser, I've come to experience enough cognitive dissonance to make my head explode.
In short, I love RockMelt's concept and implementation, but the browser needs to get faster and work out some of the kinks to be as fast or reliable as Google Chrome.
Why Chrome? RockMelt is a social browser based on the Chromium open-source project, so it feels as if it's Chrome wrapped in Facebook.
For all intents and purposes, that's what it is. Available for Mac and Windows machines, RockMelt integrates deeply with Facebook Platform to appropriate Facebook sharing features in the browser.
After the initial download, I received a message asking me to connect to Facebook, which readers can see here along with other RockMelt activities.
I entered my Facebook credentials and I was up and running, free to browse and share Web content. RockMelt is framed by Facebook contacts on the left, and tabs for Facebook News Feeds, Profiles and Twitter feeds on the right. Users may also add their own feeds to customize the browser.
Let's go from left to right. The Facebook contacts-called the Friend edge-present as profile pictures, which may be sorted by favorite friends, or those who are online. Presence is signaled by green buttons for those who are online, orange for idle and blank for offline.
Clicking on the pics pops up a chat window, where users can use Facebook Chat to instant message or write on a friend's wall. This provides easy, effortless communication right within the browser window. No navigating to Facebook at all.
The browser toolbar hovers in the middle over the browser window. Back and forward arrows and a bookmark star sit just left of a short URL address bar, with a refresh button to the left.
Users may type in any URL, and when they do they will get an offer to click the Tab button to search Google, the default search for RockMelt.
Next to this toolbar is my favorite button: the Share button. Clicking on this lets users share whatever Web page link is currently being displayed in the browser window below the toolbar.
Users may choose to post links to their Facebook wall or on Twitter. When they share, the link will be shortened with RockMelt's built-in me.lt URL shortener.
This is fantastic; the user doesn't have to copy and paste URLs and type in headlines or use TinyURL, Bit.ly, Goo.gl or any other shortener with analytics and all that superfluous stuff.
Users may also send direct messages via Facebook, which works exactly as DMs do on Facebook.com. Sharing location is not on by default, but is an option on a per share basis: Just click a button. RockMelt may want to allow users to share location by default as a clickable option in future builds.