Lunascape5 releases beta version of multi-engine browser

By Sterling “Chip” Camden
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Justin James alerted me to the beta release of Lunascape5 Genesis, the three-headed browser from Japan whose alpha version I reviewed back in November.

One of the concerns I had at that time was if you intend to use Lunascape for cross-browser testing, you should be aware that it doesn’t always render pages identically to Chrome or Safari when using WebKit, and there are small differences between IE7 and Lunascape when using Trident (check my previous article for details).  Those differences do not seem to have been addressed in the beta.  The release notes mention an update to the Gecko engine, but not to WebKit or Trident.  Search as I might, I couldn’t find anywhere what versions of WebKit or Trident Lunascape uses.

Lunascape is still claiming the fastest JavaScript engine, based on the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark.  As I said back in November, though, it depends on what you test.  The results from Mozilla’s Dromaeo benchmark again show that Chrome beats Lunascape in most categories hands down, with a few exceptions.  Here are the new results for Lunascape (Gecko, WebKit) and Chrome.  The Dromaeo benchmark has been changed to report runs per second now instead of elapsed time, so larger numbers are better.

Still no English language plugins at the Plugin Center, either.  Only Japanese.

So what exactly have they been up to since November?  Perusing the release notes, we find a lot of fixes for situations that caused the browser to crash, along with a lot of minor fixes and a few new features.  They also claim to have improved performance and lowered CPU usage.  It does seem a bit snappier than the Alpha version, and appears to release resources consistently.  The first time you load a new engine, memory usage increases significantly — but that’s to be expected.  Loading subsequent pages with the same engine doesn’t incur the same overhead.

Lunascape’s home page states that Lunascape passes the Acid3 test with a 100% score.  That’s true, but only when using the WebKit engine.  Gecko scores 93, and Trident gets a miserable 5 (same as Internet Explorer 7 stand-alone).  For comparison, Google Chrome version scores 79, Safari 3.2.1 gets a 74, Firefox 3.0.6 ranks 71, and Opera 9.2.5 crashes and burns (at least on Windows Vista)!  So for compatibility with standards for DOM and JavaScript, Lunascape turns out to be your best bet among these options — especially when using WebKit.

UPDATE 2009-02-21: Just installed Opera 9.51, which fixed the crash on the Acid3 test. Opera scores 84, which is second-best to Lunascape in WebKit mode.

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