FORUMS
Remove All Ads from XDA

REVIEW: Best, Brand New Java-based Browser Opera Mini 4 beta 2!

5,511 posts
Thanks Meter: 138
 
By Menneisyys, Retired Moderator on 30th August 2007, 08:30 PM
Post Reply Email Thread
I’ve always loved Opera’s Web browsers. On the desktop with a screen having a higher-than-average resolution (say, at least SXGA+), their free desktop Opera browser is by far the best and most useful browser because it’s the only browser with (nearly) flawless dynamic zoom capabilities. On non-dumbphone (that is, in our case, native Windows Mobile) platforms, their Opera Mobile browser is, despite in some lacking functionality and bugs, currently (as of version 8.65 and end of August, 2007) is the best browser. Finally, as far as Java-capable “dumb” phones are concerned, their Java-based and, what is more, FREE Opera Mini is simply the BEST browser out there.

The Opera folks released the first beta of their brand new, 4 series of Opera Mini this June. I’ve reviewed it in the MS Smartphone Web Browsing Bible. Then, it had some annoying bugs and midlet manager (environments to run Java midlets, including Opera Mini) vendor-specific problems (particularly the crashing / quitting problem on (fortunately, only) one Midlet manager and the “too large fonts” problems on all QVGA handhelds).

Fortunately, these problems / bugs seem to have all been fixed. Read on to find out what has changed in the last 2.5 months!


(a VGA screenshot)

(Note that the screenshots were done with the Esmertec Jbed Midlet manager on my HTC Vox / s710 (QVGA Smartphone) and the Tao Intent Midlet manager on the HTC Universal. I’ve also published some other screenshots with some other configurations showing for example Esmertec Jbed running on the latter VGA HTC Universal Pocket PC. Also see the “The Midlet Managers used in the article – how come some of the screenshots are full screen, you may ask” section below for more info on all these questions.)

First, let’s compare the new version to the old. Please read the MS Smartphone Web Browsing Bible (and the “original” Pocket PC Web Browsing Bible linked from it) to get a FULL picture of what Opera Mini is, how it compares to other Windows Mobile browsers etc.

The good
  • In addition to fixing the font size bug (see below), a new font size, “Extra large”, has been added. With that, the screenshots below (which have been made with the default “Medium” size) are as follows:


    (VGA screenshot on the HTC Universal running the latest TAO Intent JVM)

    For comparison, with “Small”, the same is as follows:


    (VGA screenshot; plain Esmertec JVM QVGA Smartphone screenshot)
  • There is a brand new submenu, assigned to phonepad button “1”, which offers, in addition to quickly changing between fit to width and full layout modes, reloading and page information, also offers a Link context menu, which allows for opening a given link (you can force it to do this without images) and getting information (that is, the link address; unfortunately, you can’t, say, copy it to the clipboard (screenshot)):



    Unfortunately, there’s still no way of parallel loading of more than one link – or, to, say, return to the current page so that you can go on reading it if you initiate the loading of a page from your favorites / bookmarks. These would be more than welcome because, especially with large(r) pages and/or slower and/or not frequently accessed servers, loading times can be pretty high – even in the range of 30-60 seconds.
30th August 2007, 08:30 PM |#2  
OP Retired Moderator
Thanks Meter: 138
 
More
  • There are some new hotkeys on handhelds with a dialpad. In addition to the well-known 2/4/6/8 buttons for page scrolling; in full page view, you can use button 5 for quickly zooming in and out (which does the same as the combination of Action and the right softkey, but more conveniently). Furthermore, while the #-prefixed buttons are the same, there is another welcome new hotkey: screen rotation with *# :



    This, currently, only rotates between left-handed and portrait view. (In this respect, version 2.04 of the Russian Opera Mini hack (which I don’t link in by purpose – sorry, the app has been declared illegal by the Opera folks) is (still) better: it offers rotating to all the four directions. Not that it’d be that important: on a device with a built-in, slide-out keyboard, it’ll always switch to the right direction when you open/close the keyboard, regardless whether the keyboard opens to the right or the left.)
  • The biggest bugs have been fixed:
  1. the inability to keep more than 1-2 pages in memory in non-one column mode. An example screenshot of the History list showing this follows:



    As can clearly be seen, ALL huge pages were still accessible, requiring no reloading. This is indeed HUGE advantage over beta1!
  2. The font problem has been fixed. The previous beta had too big fonts (even in the “Small” setting) with too much space between the individual rows. The new version is much better in this respect. An example screenshot showing this:



    (a screenshot of the same in “Fit to screen” mode. The same on a VGA Pocket PC with Esmertec Jbed using the default Medium font HERE, extra large fonts HERE and Small fonts HERE.)
The bad
  1. There doesn’t seem to be other, new functionality: the menus are the same (screenshot); so is the Settings dialog. In this regard, the above-mentioned Russian hack is still better in some respects (but Opera Mini is indeed catching up and, in many respects, is already far better than the hacked version).
  2. Unfortunately, text using italic is still NOT rendered as italic. This has always been one of the BIGGEST problems with this browser. As has also been pointed out in my related posts (see for example THIS), ALL Windows Mobile-based Midlet managers support italic text – why don’t the Opera folks implement it, then?
Getting, installing

Just point any of your WAP-capable or WAP-enabled (Opera Mobile and IEM are already like this; NetFront must be manually configured to accept WAP pages) Windows Mobile Web browser to http://mini.opera.com/beta/ and click the "Download high memory version" link at the bottom (an IEM screenshot). The installation will automatically start; just make sure you answer Yes / Continue to all questions. After that, just launch the newly-deployed midlet and follow the instructions on the screen.

Compliance

With the current (20070622.2.1) version of Esmertec Jbed (and, therefore, the standard Esmertec JVM coming with most current WM6 devices) I’ve only once encountered a crash: upon having some 10-15 (large) pages open in full page view mode, pressing Save after setting the font size to “Extra large” resulted in Jbed’s getting frozen. This happened to me under TAO Intent too (with one or two pages open); then, just canceling the save operation worked. Then, after re-entering Settings and saving the new configuration again, it already worked flawlessly.

That is, if you encounter hangups after you change the character size, make sure you try to cancel (right softkey) the operation to see whether it helps.

With Tao Intent 11.1.7.1034 (available for download HERE), 11.1.7.1029 (coming with several XDA-Dev cooked ROM’s; I’ve tested it on a Wizard cooked ROM) and 11.1.7.1023 (available for download HERE), I haven’t encountered any crashes so far. That is, (knocking on wood) it seems the Tao Intent crashes have also been eliminated.

The Midlet Managers used in the article – how come some of the screenshots are full screen, you may ask

The QVGA Smartphone screenshots have all been made with the Esmertec Jbed midlet manager; hence the full screen mode on all them.

Don’t mistake the Esmertec Jbed midlet manager for the “plain” Esmertec midlet manager (as of version 20070115.1.1 – the one that comes with the original ROM of the HTC Vox / s710). The latter doesn’t offer full screen capabilities as can be seen in the following screenshot:



(the same screenshot – already shown above – taken with JBed – note that I haven’t used the built-in “full screen” mode of Opera Mini accessible via ** to hide the red bars at the top and bottom). Another reason to install Jbed on top of the Esmertec Midlet manager – in addition to some of its other advantages; for example, much better sound emulation (which can be very important in games). I’ll elaborate on all these questions in my forthcoming Midlet Manager Bible.

The VGA Pocket PC screenshots, on the other hand, have been made using the, in this regard, FAR less recommended TAO Intent midlet manager – hence the unused task- and command bars at the top and the bottom of the screen.

Verdict

This browser is VERY good, particularly when you use it with a decent Midlet manager allowing for real full screen mode. Hope the authors introduce at least support for italic and the ability to, at least, going back to the original page from Favorites while downloading a new page in the background so that you can go on reading the page.

Much as there is still some room for improvement, the bugs of the old, beta1 version seem to be ALL eliminated and even if you didn’t suffer from them (because you used the IBM J9 or the Esmertec JVM and not the Tao Intent one), you’ll certainly welcome the character size and the history list / cache size improvements. If, on the other hand, you’re a Tao Intent user, you will LOVE the stability of the new Opera Mini. (Still, as has already been stated, you’re STRONGLY supposed to upgrade to Jbed – you can just install Jbed on top of your Intent Midlet manager, it’ll work just great.)

All in all, no matter whether you have a Pocket PC or a touch screen-less Smartphone, go get the new Opera Mini – you will LOVE it, I’m absolutely sure!
31st August 2007, 02:48 PM |#3  
Underwaterdub's Avatar
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 0
 
More
Has somebody the patched version for the O2 Wap-flat???

I need it .. Pleeeeese
1st September 2007, 12:59 PM |#4  
Junior Member
Flag Hangzhou
Thanks Meter: 0
 
More
Works great indeed. I have a new cooked rom installed on my Artemis and it's asking me to allow a connection every time. Tried many midlet managers from TAO and none of them give me the security setting where I can change it to 'session'. The Esmertec manager refuses to start. Any tip on this?
1st September 2007, 02:33 PM |#5  
jdac21's Avatar
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 1
 
More
this work great with all roms for hermes had a flashing day yesterday and it worked with all thankz for review good for new users

thankz,
jdac21§
1st September 2007, 04:35 PM |#6  
maevro's Avatar
Senior Member
Flag Brooklyn, NY
Thanks Meter: 3
 
More
I wish it was easier to use this. Having to load the java emulator and run through the questions is kind of annoying.
1st September 2007, 08:31 PM |#7  
OP Retired Moderator
Thanks Meter: 138
 
More
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiddyl

Works great indeed. I have a new cooked rom installed on my Artemis and it's asking me to allow a connection every time. Tried many midlet managers from TAO and none of them give me the security setting where I can change it to 'session'. The Esmertec manager refuses to start. Any tip on this?

Give a try to Jbed.

BTW, what Tao versions did you try? 11.x? Did you give a try to the somewhat older (10.x) series? The latter has an explicit Security menu.

I've also elaborated on this in my forthcoming Midlet Manager Bible; did you check out the charts? They are already public - see the dedicated thread at http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=326768
1st September 2007, 08:33 PM |#8  
OP Retired Moderator
Thanks Meter: 138
 
More
Quote:
Originally Posted by maevro

I wish it was easier to use this. Having to load the java emulator and run through the questions is kind of annoying.

1. You mean the questions the first time you start it? After that, you'll be only asked once each time you restart the midlet manager.

2. in addition, if you use the Tao Intent manager (or IBM J9), you can create a direct link to the midlet as has also been explained in my forthcoming article - see http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=326768
2nd September 2007, 06:37 AM |#9  
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 2
 
More
One problem on the HTC TOUCH is that if you enter a long text in a text box, for example replying to this thread, then once you press the OK button the browser closes.

I tried preparing this reply with Mini Beta2 but could not due to problem already mentioned. Finally done with Opera Mobile.

Regards
2nd September 2007, 07:05 AM |#10  
maevro's Avatar
Senior Member
Flag Brooklyn, NY
Thanks Meter: 3
 
More
Quote:
Originally Posted by Menneisyys

1. You mean the questions the first time you start it? After that, you'll be only asked once each time you restart the midlet manager.

2. in addition, if you use the Tao Intent manager (or IBM J9), you can create a direct link to the midlet as has also been explained in my forthcoming article - see http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=326768

I have a direct link on my Ubiquio 503g but it is still annoying and I hope that Opera 9 will be out sooner then later...
2nd September 2007, 08:23 AM |#11  
Underwaterdub's Avatar
Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 0
 
More
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiddyl

Works great indeed. I have a new cooked rom installed on my Artemis and it's asking me to allow a connection every time. Tried many midlet managers from TAO and none of them give me the security setting where I can change it to 'session'. The Esmertec manager refuses to start. Any tip on this?

Simply search for risidoro's midlet manager in the forum. There you have to confirm only once per session.

Works perfectly on my artemis.
Post Reply Subscribe to Thread

Guest Quick Reply (no urls or BBcode)
Message:
Previous Thread Next Thread
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes