Search engines with more sparkle

Google is the antiglitz. The search giant has plenty of features, but the main site is still rather drab. No clutter. No fuss. Just results.

Since competitors can’t outbland Google, a bunch of startups are attempting to swing the other way. Here’s a run down of several visual search engines that add some razzle-dazzle to your Web results.

By far the least snazzy of the group, Exalead displays links much like Google, but tacks on a thumbnail image of the site. This helps people avoid webpages that sound authoritative from the description, but on first glance were obviously just thrown together by amateurs.

This site is all about cross-referencing. ManagedQ throws down several results and then lets you refine the search by picking secondary terms. It blacks out the sites that don’t fit your new, narrow search – by “rock,” did you mean the wrester, the music, or the mineral?

Brace yourself for cuteness. This search engine offers an animated lazy Susan of website options – each with a snapshot of the page. You can spin through the visual buffet, but the site doesn’t explain why that pretty picture in front of you is a good match for your search terms. Redzee’s adorable mascot reflects the site well: fun, fresh, and ultimately frivolous.

The strongest competitor to Google, Viewzi collates 12 different kinds of searches: from websites to MP3s to two varieties of photos (professional and amateur). Each mode takes on its own style and interface. The most useful is their “4 sources” view, which layouts out a polished grid of links from Google, Ask, Yahoo, and MSN. While the site is still invite-only, go now and sign up to get on the list. It’s worth it.

Also check out:
Is a ‘Google killer’ on the horizon?
Sound lands on Google Earth
Google Earth maps become venue for helping world

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