Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet started shipping last month, users eagerly unboxed it, took it for a spin and started posting their reviews online. Some were enamored with the device through and through, while others expressed disappointment over its shortcomings, one of which was a slower browsing experience than expected. As compelling as they may be, what many of these first impressions lack is hard data to back them up. Until now.As soon as
Google employee and Web performance expert Steve Souders decided to put Silk through its paces and test its performance alongside other leading tablet devices. He loaded a series of 11 URL's on the Fire, iPad 1, iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab versions 7.0 and 10.1. Souders, who created the Y Slow Firefox plugin while working at Yahoo, used a tool he built called Loadtimer to test the load speeds of each site. The results confirm what many have already noticed: Silk is slow.
Silk is Slower Than Expected, But It's Also Brand New
In most cases, Safari on the the iPad 2 loaded pages more quickly than Silk did. The Galaxy Tab also loaded 3 out of 11 pages more quickly than the Kindle Fire. In a few cases, results were mixed because one device would pull up a mobile-optimized version of a site, while the other would load the desktop version. Souders made note of those discrepancies and they didn't appear to have a huge impact on the study. Safari on the iPad 1 was slower than Silk in every example, so Souders focused his results on the iPad 2.
similar study conducted by Fox News found that cloud acceleration slowed down Silk's performance by about 25%.Curiously, Silk performed better when it's so called "cloud acceleration" feature was turned off. A
This split architecture utilizes Amazon's vast cloud infrastructure to offset some of the burden of loading Web pages at the browser level. It was a key selling point of Amazon's new browser and was touted proudly in the initial launch and subsequent marketing of the Kindle Fire. For his study, Souders, compared the iPad and Galaxy Tab to Silk with acceleration turned off, since keeping it on added a substantial amount of time to page loads.
Silk's cloud acceleration feature became the subject of controversy when it was first unveiled. Because of the way the browser loads pages, routing requests through Amazon's servers, concerns have been raised that the privacy of users' browsing habits may be at risk. The Electronic Frontier Foundation asked Amazon to clarify a few things in light of the controversy, and the organization later said it was satisfied with Amazon's response, which assuaged many of their concerns. The United States Congress, however, wasn't convinced and have pressed Amazon for more answers.