I think we should solve this first before going further with other issues.
What is the size of the database you are using? I'm still getting a 20s response time. It's working, but still very slowly. Do you have more then 10000 products? If the database is very large, some optimalisations are required to get results in time.
The widget is probably a conflict, hard to tell. Can you provide temporary ftp/administrator access to do a brief debugging and to check the settings?
I need to go to sleep now, it's 1:15 am here, will get back to you in the morning!
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