Update: Panabee no longer offers its dual search engine.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old phrase “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Panabee, a new search engine to hit the scene, seems to have a similar mantra except it goes: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em together.” Straight from their About page, Panabee praises other search engines like Google. Instead of trying to recreate the wheel and beat Google at the search engine game, Panabee utilizes dozens of different services and aims to improve the search experience for users by allowing easy side-by-side comparisons of results from two sites. Those two sites can vary from tons of different sites like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yahoo! Answers, Answers.com, shopping sites, reference sites, and many more.
The interface for the main page is simple and clean, yet colorful. Just type in a search like any other search engine you’re familiar with and hit the Search button to get to the more revolutionary part of Panabee.
Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get search suggestions upon typing into the box. Whether you’re looking for how to phrase something or just entertainment, they’re there.
The search results is where Panabee suddenly gets more complicated, but also more innovative. It forsakes the mobile and small screen folks and really indulges those of us with widescreen monitors and maximized windows. It’s not The initial results you get will take you to a page that shows the results from Google on the left side, Bing on the right, and a search box at top to perform another search across both sites. You can change which sites you search; there are nearly a hundred different options to choose from.
The initial results you get will show you only a shallow scraping of the features of Panabee. I hope to explain more in detail by showing some of the interface controls. You can and should play around with the site yourself to fully check it out. But here are 10 quick points on the interface to get you started.
#1 Search Enter your query here and hit search to search both the left and right pane at the same time.
#2 Menu The menu here is where you choose which sites you want to search. You’ll notice this menu above both panes, but changing one will change the category of the other pane. The page it is on will remain the same, but the group (Images, Videos, Shopping, etc.) will change above both panes to match which ever site you chose. There’s also a drop-down here to allow you to choose between different profiles like My Panabee, Blogger, Shopper, Marketer, Techie. Choosing different profiles re-orders the menu so more relevant groups are at the top.
#3 Dock In place of the drop-down menu, you can choose to dock it along the side. This will put a ribbon on the left side which is always displayed. It’s up to your preference whether the exchange in real estate is worth always seeing the menu. You can quickly switch sites this way, but if you’re looking at another site in the same group, it may not be the fastest way; See item #7
#4 Edit If you selected the My Panabee profile from the display menu, you can hit the Edit link for an interface to pop up that allows you to drag and drop the groups into the order you want. Just hit the done button and your My Panabee list will rearrange itself as you ordered it. For right now, the information for My Panabee is stored in a cookie as there is no account to sign up for. They’re currently thinking of how to expand this in a scalable and intuitive manner so that you can more permanently store your settings and take them with you.
#5 Categories of search You can select any site here to change where the pane is searching. It will update the category at the top to match the group that you last manually chose.
#6 Boundaries The panes independently scroll and the middle boundary can be adjusted to better accommodate some sites.
#7 Quick Links The sites in the same category are listed above each pane to make it easy to switch. Pages are pre-loaded in the background, so switching between these searches are very fast. For this reason, if you’re changing to a site in the same category it would be better to use the quick links than the link in the menu.
#8 Share and Feedback You can share any page by generating a URL to send to a friend. The Feedback link takes you to a User Voice site where you can list any bugs you find or features you’d like to see.
#9 Full Window – This button, which is on both panes, expands the pane to take up the area used by the other pane. The button will toggle into two rectangles which you can hit to split the display again. If you used the full window, one pane mode there would be no difference from searching your favorite site except you have the quick link buttons in the case that you do need to try another site.
#10 Following a link Following a link in Panabee builds directly on the side-by-side comparison feature of Panabee. If you click on a search result, that pane will go to the result and you can navigate it like normal. All the while, you can compare it with and independently navigate the other pane. Also interestingly, when you hit the back button each pane will update in the order that it was updated.
The Panabee Team originally approached me asking for my perspective on their product and whether it would be useful to IT Professionals. I think it would be very useful to IT Pros and any power users that could really grasp the advantage of having two displays to find top results across different sites. You could also set the two different panes to both point to your favorite search engine and use one to look at the results while the other investigates the different returns. Also, if you use the Full Window button, it’s almost the same thing as using your favorite search engine.
Since that original request, there has been a lot of back and forth where they answer my questions or I give them some feedback and they respond and implement it some way. From my view point, this has been an excellent interaction. The Panabee developers are innovative and fast to respond. Since I’ve been watching the site (and providing feedback) the product has really seen a lot of improvement and polishing.
Here’s what they have to say about it:
Panabee is a new search engine, merging elements of Delicious and Google.
Panabee is designed for bloggers, journalists, shoppers, marketers, and
other users who often search and compare multiple web sites.
With Panabee, users can search favorite sites without repeating queries or
opening new windows. The side-by-side view offers faster searches because
results from the underlying sites (e.g., eBay, Amazon, Google, Bing,
Twitter) can be compared within the same window.
Assume you’re shopping for a digital camera, and you want to compare Amazon
and eBay. With Panabee, you can see their search results side-by-side. If
the original results aren’t helpful, you can search Google and other sites
with a single click. The same idea applies to other areas where you tend to
search multiple sites (e.g., coupons, recipes, videos, images).
Panabee offers more reliable searches because you’re viewing the underlying
sites in real-time whereas traditional comparison sites often suffer from
outdated results or slow indexing.
Panabee excels at general searches since you can see results from Bing,
Yahoo!, Google, Ask, Wolfram, and other search engines side-by-side.