Before we start the reviewing process, I want to express my greatest respect to the developer. I would never have managed to create a Palm OS that can actually browse the web. Nevertheless, in my role as a reviewer, I need to review applications based on facts. So, please understand that this app – like other open source projects – will not get baby treatment at TamsPalm’s!

One of the biggest problems of the Palm OS economy is the lack of a decent web browser for OS5 devices. This probably sounds confusing(as Access, the company that now owns PalmSource, essentially lives off browsers) but is true – you can either use WebPro, Blazer or a hacked version of NetFront; and none of them is really good. When Donald Kirker announced his Universe3 browser, people expected Firefox for Palm – can the first release candidate live up to the high expectations on my Palm Tungsten E2?

Universe3 takes about 2 seconds to start up. The startup phase is accompanied by a very nice splash screen. Once Universe3 is loaded up, you get an interface similar to the one below. Opening extra tabs can be done in the menu, although the total number of open tabs is limited to three independent of how much RAM you have:
0a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 0b Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

The Universe3 UI is nice looking, but still contains a few debugging artifacts:
1a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 1b Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 1c Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

The most outstanding feature of Universe3 is the “5way mouse”. The mouse pointer visible in some of the screenshots above can be moved around the screen with the 5way navigator like one does with IBM’s Trackpoint. If the mouse gets over a link, it transforms into a hand. A tap on the center button then “activates the link”:
2a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 2b Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

So, Universe 3 has a nice UI – but can the current rendering engine live up to its expectations?

The first test page was the start page of Tamoggemon.com. This web site has a hand-created CSS stylesheet – and it didn’t render correctly in Universe3. The HTML part made it through, but the CSS part simply got omitted(the developer states this on his blog btw):
2a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

After that, I moved on to www.palmbinaryclock.com, which is an even more complex page with some dynamically generated content, a forwarding script from GoDaddy and GIF images. The CSS got omitted, and the GIF’s were rendered as black boxen:
3a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 3b Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 3c Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

Accessing TamsPalm(rather GIF-free) worked well, although all the sidebar content was rendered above the main content. The JPG images made it through, but the shoutbox didn’t:
4a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 4b Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

Flickr automatically forwarded me to its mobile web page which worked decently well:
5a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 5b Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review 5c Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

I also tried to access the Google AdSense control panel, but failed miserably with the error shown below:
6a Universe3 release candidate 1   the TamsPalm review

My Palm Tungsten E2 locked up once while creating this Universe3 review. The internet access was provided by a Belkin F8T030 router connected to a Chello broadband link. The page loading speed was rather slow…

Overall, Universe3 looks like a very promising web browser for Palm OS, reviewing it was fun. The user interface ix extremely well done, the tabs also come in handy. However, the sub-par rendering engine really needs to be replaced by a better one before this web browser is ready for prime-time. The current engine is too slow for everyday usage, and also can’t do CSS and other advanced page elements.

Related posts:

  1. Universe 3 Release Candidate 1 available
  2. FireFox 3.6 – release candidate out
  3. Opera 4 Mini for Palm OS- the review
  4. TamsPalm on an iPhone
  5. Opera Mini 4 Beta 2 – the review

8 Responses to “Universe3 release candidate 1 – the TamsPalm review”

  1. Oh trust me. The engines are getting redone.

    I am working on a faster HTTP engine this weekend. Also, a new rendering engine is in progress.

    What will probably end up happening is that I will get the rendering engine to work on a fairly simple level, and then I will work on a port of Apple’s WebKit. This way I don’t reinvent the wheel.

  2. I think TamsPalm uses a theme which switches to a Lo-Fi mode without tables and colors. And the shoutbox uses IFRAME, so click on “mobile version”.

  3. Hi,
    Donald: that’s great to know. When can we expect a version with the new rendering engine?

    Alex: hey, I know about the iframe =). But I didn’t want to post sth onto the shoutbox – I wanted to see if Universe3 supports iFrames =).

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

  4. Tam,

    I’m not sure. I don’t like posting dates. I am also going to refrain from going into detail about future plans. It generally pisses people off (i.e. I announce Universe last October, people got impatient).

    With any luck, the new engine will be designed to support iframes.

    -Donald

  5. I would have liked to try it, but I can’t unzip the file using Resco Explorer on my T5. Is there any hope of getting it Resco Explorer compatible?

  6. I am going to re-upload a new zip file later tonight.

    There are a few bugs in the current version (that make it pretty dangerous, but not too bad) anyway.

  7. Thanks a lot!

  8. Any chance Universe will expand to 320×480? Thanks and good job!

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