As I already mentioned in Part 27 of my Second Life Bike Tour I am using the new Firestorm Viewer.
It seems the moment when its time to change form Viewer1 based systems (like good old Phoenix Viewer we all know and like) to Viewer2-technology won't be too far away.
I tried Viewer2 already when it was released some time ago but couldn't really get accustomed to the chat-window and the missing radar and some other features my good old Phoenix had.
So what made me change my mind and giving Viewer2-technology a second chance? Its meshes!
Meshes are - put in simple words - some kind of highly complex prims and are used in computer games already for a long time. Meshes offer the ability to create complex 3D objects (say for example a completely furnished house) with a modelling program (like 3D Studio Max) and import them into Second Life instead of fiddling them together online with prims and sculpts.
Linden Labs also expects a slight performance increase from using meshes since there will be fewer polygons needed to create a shape as it is with the current techology.
Linden Labs already hosts a "Test Grid" for implementing Meshes and plans to introduce them this summer. Viewers using the 'older' Viewer1-technology won't be able to display them.
On the long run meshes have the potential to start a little revolution. But no worries: I don't think this means that Phoenix and other Viewers will become outdated over night. In fact I think it will take quite some time till Meshes will dominate Second Life at all. There are countless amazing Sims which don't really need to be remade as Meshes too soon.
Besides the mesh-support Firestorm also implements the new Viewer2 search engine and of course every other feature Viewer2-technology has brought us.
So far Firestorm works pretty well for me despite the beta-status. I only noticed a slight performance decrease on my aging computer and some minor bugs like still hearing the audio-stream from the sim I just left but that's nothing which couldn't get ironed out..
The layout is a nice blend between old and new: Firestorm basically features the more sleek Viewer2-look with some handy features added and some unhandy removed. The sidebar can be unlinked and freely moved around and the chat-window looks now very much like in Viewer1.
The only downsides so far are the easy to overlook group-notices which hide now beneath a tiny envelope-icon in the lower right corner of the screen and the default position of minimized windows and folders: the upper right corner - just where my chatwindow is... grrrr
Besides that I was able to orientate myself quite quickly and after a few adjustments in the preference-menu I feel comfy now with Firestorm. All in all my impression after the first few days is pretty positive. I wasn't experiencing any crashes so far and the handling also works pretty well for me.