The 1src member npbeers wrote a very interesting article about the main Palm OS web browsers. You will probably notice a lot of new things you didn’t know before. For example, many people think that Palm Web Browser and Palm Web Pro would be the same, and then almost every browser uses a differnt engine/core… Interesting for “new” and “old” Palm users.

So click here to read the article.

What do you think?

You had to wait very long for this. First my device didn’t work for weeks and when I noticed that NetFront had to be the best Palm OS browser I wanted to test it a little bit longer than other browsers.

NetFront – developed by Access – is pre-installed on some Sony Clié devices, but you never could buy or download it. When you installed it onto your Palm it confused to start because it didn’t detect a Sony Clie. Last year people noticed that they can run NetFront if they hack into the hex code. Then Tam Hanna developed MakeMeClie, a tool that changes the device id of your Palm. So (almost) every Palm OS 5 device can run NetFront.

netfront Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review

Getting started
See http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com/2006/01/02/netfront-on-the-txt5/ how to install NetFront. If you don’t own a TX/T5 you don’t need MaxX.

Browsing the web
I could visit the most sites very well. There are four page rendering modes, for example full desktop layout or handheld optimized layout (small screen rendering). Very good is the handheld optimized rendering mode which keeps tables. Other browsers display one column after the other while NetFront tries to keep the layout.

thumb10 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review thumb11 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review thumb12 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review thumb13 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review

Four rendering modes

On my device there was a problem with the connection: on the German site “T-Online” for examlpe, NetFront asked about 25 times “Connect now?” while loading although there was a (good) connection. This is similar on other pages. You should enable “Auto connecting” in the settings.

You can use the stylus for both marking text and scrolling the page, but you can only use one mode at the same time. I think you don’t need marking text so often, but when NetFront is in scrolling mode you can’t tap on hyperlinks. And as I prefer scrolling with the stylus on the whole screen instead of using scrollbars, I call this a problem. Unfortunetly – because it “belongs” to Sony Clies – there is no support for the 5-way-navigator.

The dialogue you open an URL with has many features: a history, bookmarks, and it can open saved files. Pages you save are stored in the MTH format (HTML with images) on the card. The bookmark manager has also a “auto-crusing” capability.

thumb02 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review
Opening an URL

Downloads and settings
A good web browser should be able to download files. NetFront is. Using a Tungsten C near to an Wireless AP with a 2 Mbps connection I downloaded a ~ 712 KB ZIP file in ~ 12 seconds. Of course the wireless module of the T|C doesn’t support 2 Mbits/sec. I repeated the download and confirmed a download speed of 60 KB/s. Not bad. Unfortuanely all files are downloaded into /Palm/Programs/MSFiles and you can’t change this path in NetFront. And you can also upload files (and choose every file, everywhere on your card)

NetFront seems to support secure pages. When I logged into my GoogleMail I got a message “This page is not secured. Data will be sent without encrypting.”. Nevertheless my GoogleMail account worked, but I don’t know anything about the security of this connection…

In the settings you can disable images, animations, tables, JavaScript, … you can set cookie and cache preferences, a proxy, the user agent and the homepage.

thumb03 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review thumb04 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review thumb05 Web Browsing on a Palm   NetFront Review

My results
NetFront IS the best browser that is out nowadays. No other browser combines so much features: many rendering modes, downloads, uploads, bookmarks, saving a page, small fonts… Like other browsers it has its problems on several sites, but on the most sites it has no problems. My only tip for you is: GET IT ;)


How much pain can an app cause? Let me tell you a story about the TX. Even after a hard reset, the TX has its dynamic heap fragmented with the biggest free chunk just 2MB. An application causes this. An application by itself loathed by many and that will likely be loathed for this by even more. The application is Blazer. After installing MemUnfragment by Dmitry Grinberg, the ram is no longer fragmented :-)

–Dmitry Grinberg–

Because of Blazer, there have been alot of problems with various programs, because alot of them require large blocks of contiguous (unfragmented) Heap to run well. This program should fix the program. You can get it here.

Unfragment von Dmitry Grinberg

Das neueste Programm von Dmitry Grinberg ist für T|X-Besizer gedacht. Da der Webbrowser “Blazer” viel Dynamic-Heap-Speicher braucht, führte dies zu Problemen und Instabilität. Dieses Programm verspricht dieses Problem zu lösen, indem der RAM defragmentiert wird.

Download

For a long time there was a browser on Palm devices called Blazer. Contrary to the name, it was not very fast. Sometime in the last couple years, Palm did something smart. They licensed the Netfront core from Access to use for their browser. Then came something we did not expect. People loaded up the browsers on the new devices, and they were not that much faster. In fact, they looked just like the old browsers. Something must have been wrong! Anyone who had had one of the newer Clies has seen Netfront, and knows what it can do; how fast it is. This was not Netfront. In alot of ways they were right. Palm took the Netfront core, and added and tweaked it to give people the “Blazer experience”. Palm, we have to tell you, the Blazer experience is not that great. For these reasons, I am making a move, and trying to get something started. I will call it the “Straight Netfront Petition”. All I ask of Palm is that they give us Netfront. Access now owns PalmSource, and so they certainly have the resources to make a great Palm version of Netfront. They have no excuses, only angry customers.

Palm, you have to compete against Windows Mobile. Im sorry to say that I think Blazer is just about at the level of IE on Windows Mobile. They arent your competition. People dont compare your browser to the worst browser on another platform. You are competing against Opera and Mozilla, who both have very impressive offerings, not to mention Netfront on WM which is lightyears ahead of Blazer. All we ask is that you give us something a little better. Something that we know you can deliver, but just aren’t. Give your customers something back. We are sticking around because we expect this much from you. Dont show us we are wrong.

To “sign” the petition, click this link and sign up!

This is a short guide on how to get Netfront onto the T5 or TX. The procedure should be the same for both, but I only have a TX for testing, and it is only certified to work on a TX, though I have been told it may work on both. If you follow these directions and it doesn’t work, I can’t help you. If you dont follow the directions, do not ask me whats wrong. Look again. That said, here is the guide.

Files you will need:

  • The newest version of MaxX
  • A copy of Netfront (links to the 1src thread)
  • The Clie small fonts files (link to the 1src thread)
  • Get a copy of either ZLauncher or UDMH (I recommend both) to move the files. The Netfront program cannot be moved over with a normal file manager without UDMH, though ZLauncher can handle it. ZLauncher is very good at moving files.

    First, you have to install MaxX. Don’t hotsync to the handheld. If you have no other method to transfer files, hotsync it to the card. Get your filemanager and move it over to the handheld. RESET your handheld (soft reset of course)

    After that, we move to the small fonts. These are a little trickier, but hopefully they will work on first try. Get them on your card (again, dont hotsync to the handheld), and then move them to the handheld. Just for kicks, do another reset here. The names of these files are: HalfFontExtn, HDDHalfFonts, HRFontSel, and HRLib.

    Lastly is the Netfront file. This is very particular. You MUST use either ZLauncher or a file manager with UDMH. Dont ask me why, just do it. Get it on your card. To do that, a direct transfer is preferable over a hotsync. Once on your card, move it over. Again, I recommend ZLauncher for this. Once that is done, one last reset, and run Netfront.

    There you go. Thats what I did, I hope it works for you.
    Comments, questions? Please fell free to put them in the comments section.

    Eudora Internet Suite is a free package with a mail client and a web browser. The developer is Qualcomm, well-known because of Eudora for Windows, a famous mail client. It is already more than 4 years old and not developed anymore.

    Mail Client
    The mail client has many features: filters, multiple accounts, HTML mail view, secure connections to server (GoogleMail). But it lacks one important thing: attachments. So there is IMHO no reason to replace e. g. VersaMail on newer Palms, but better than the mail client on OS3 devices e. g.

    Web Browser
    The main part of this review is the browser “EudoraWeb”. It is a proxy-less browser, so it doesn’t need a proxy server like Blazer 1/2 or OperaMini. The browser starts with the bookmarks list. You can add bookmarks of your favourites sites’ and manage them in categories. It doesn’t support any images. A lack or a feature? On the one hand, almost every site has images today. On some pages you don’t need them absolutely (on news sites with photos of stories e. g.), but on other pages images contain links, and you probably don’t know where to navigate. On the other hand, no images mean less data to transmit.

    On POSE (Wireless LAN 2 MBps DSL connection) it renders pages very fast. I could view every page I surfed to and it seems as it supports bigger pages, too.

    Forms are supported, I could post a comment on TamsPalm successful. On a T|C I couldn’t type something into a label, a OS5 problem? So no chance to use Google, web mail,… It doesn’t render tables or frames. Thre is no support for cards, so you can’t view offline pages or download files. If you want to download files, tap on “Details” and copy the link into a download manager like Downloader or LGet.

    There is no function to save a page. Of course you can copy text to the MemoPad, but there is the 1K limit. Also there’s no history function. EudoraWeb supports SSL Security, there’s a file “sslplus” included.

    My results
    If Qualcomm had continued developing, it would be a probably great program, but today a mail client without attachment support or a browser without image support is almost useless. But I noticed that most pages use text links or image links with alternative text. I think it’s useful on old devices, on newer devices you should consider which browser is better: EudoraWeb or the built-in one, or perhaps NetFront or Opera?

    What do you think about Eudora?

    Introduction

    First, Picsel Viewer is one of the best programs for Palm OS. It is not only a browser but a viewer for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, PDF files, HTML files, images and TXT-files. It is not buyable or downloadable but integrated in some CLIEs from Sony. This year a Chinese company released a smartphone with Picsel Browser, it seems to be the same. As it’s Chinese the whole program is in Chinese language, but there are English language packs availible. Someone put Picsel Browser onto a download site and it worked on almost all PalmOne’s devices !! You have to find both the program and the language packs by yourself – we cannot give any links. It is used as a native PDF viewer – at the moment the only one for Palm OS – but not so often as a web browser. Is that a mistake?

    I don’t review Picsel Viewer but Picsel Browser (I don’t know the difference between them). Picsel Viewer was pre-installed on some Sony CLIEs, and Picsel Browser was in a Chinese smartphone.

    Getting started

    It’s not easy to install Picsel Browser – you can neither install it using HotSync nor from a card with the launcher nor from a card with Filez. The only file manager (and launcher) that can copy it into RAM is “ZLauncher” (and perhaps “McFile”). So I used ZLauncher. The files you need are:

    • BrowserHelpPages
    • EnglishLanguage Pack
    • PCRP
    • PicselBrowser
    • PicselBrowserCore
    • SMPT

    into my RAM. Then I tapped on the “Picsel Browser” icon in the launcher. It showed the startup screen:
    startscreen1 Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review
    and then the menu:

    menu Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review
    Browsing the web

    For browsing the web, you have to tap on the world icon, then you can enter the URL:

    url Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review

    With my wireless broadband connection, it isn’t as fast as a desktop browser, but much faster than WebPro or many other ones. After a few seconds it displays the page in real desktop layout, like it would look on your computer. But if the whole page shall fit the screen, the font has to be *very* small. To zoom, you must tap twice somewhere on the screen, then hold the stylus and pull it up for zooming in – and down for zooming out. To follow a link, you have to tap it twice. You can fill in forms, too, but in multiline-text forms, it only supports 80 letters, so there is no use for web mail, blogs or forums. Unfortuanely you cannot download any files to your card, but you can open and view files which are supported by Picsel Browser – it can display MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF. Perhaps it is more a viewer than browser (although the name) – it displays the page (viewing) correctly, but browsing capabilities like downloads, forms etc. aren’t very good.

    Now two pictures of 1src.com. One contains almost the whole site (zoom out), another one is zoomed in much:

    1src%20 %20webcontent Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review

    1srcwebcontentzoom Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review

    Like other browsers, Picsel Browser can reload pages (see menu picture), but there is no “Back”-button. Use the “navigation panel” (see menu picture) for getting back.

    Most pages are displayed correctly, but on some pages it has problems with tables:
    winfuture Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review

    The German site “Winfuture” (like it should be displayed):

    winfuture2 Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review
    Small screen rendering

    It’s nice to see pages like on desktop, but desktop browsers show them in 800 and more pixels width, but a Palm has only 320 or 480 (landscape). That means scrolling left and right, up and down (zoomed in), or zooming out so that the fonts are so small that you can’t read anything. But if you switch to small screen rendering, it renders the page that it fits the screen width and you only have to scroll up and down:

    full Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser reviewText without small-screen-rendering


    small Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser reviewText with small screen rendering

    Offline files

    All file types it supports can be read both online and offline (from card), the most important might be PDF and MS Word. At the moment Picsel Browser is the only app for Palm OS that offers you native PDF support (but there might be some other solutions in the future – update 21.12.2006: now there is also PalmPDF and PDFToGo) and that is very important today. Files can be both in the RAM and on a flash card. To open an offline file, it shows an open dialog which is very similar to the Windows Explorer:

    filemanager Web Browsing on a Palm   Picsel Browser review
    Most MS Word, Excel (and of course HTML) and other files are displayed very clear like on a computer.

    Bookmarks, settings, …

    To create a bookmark, just tap on the icon in the menu (see menu picture above). To open saved bookmarks, there is another icon. Bookmarks can be both online and offline documents. When you open a bookmark it doesn’t jump to the last position but to the beginning.

    Possible settings are: turn pictures on / off, font size, homepage, user agent, proxy server, cache clearing, history clearing, cookies on/off.

    My results

    On the one hand, it isn’t allowed to upload, download or use it if you don’t have a device with Picsel Browser in ROM, on the other hand it is a very good browser with singularly features, especially rendering pages and speed. And no other program can display native PDF files, no other browser show non-HTML documents without changing the app (except WebToGo IMHO) – you can return browsing when you have read the document. Other browsers would open DocumentsToGo and if you start them again they return to the start page and you have to find your last page again.

    For me it isn’t the only browser on my Tungsten|C because I need downloads and it can’t download ZIP files e. g. Often I need to save the page offline (NetFront can) or write mails in the browser, and Picsel Browser can only write up to 80 letters. So read the next part of “Web Browsing on a Palm” maybe I’ll review NetFront then, and you know which second browser you need, too.

    What do you think about Picsel’s work?

    Today I review Opera Mini – the J2ME version for mobile phones. J2ME means it has some restrictions – no downloads, no support for local HTML pages on cards, … But more about that later. There are two versions – one for LoRes and one for HiRes. I test the HiRes version.

    The interface
    opera Web Browsing on a Palm   Opera Review
    This is the start page which can NOT be changed. There are some hyperlinks from TV2, a TV channel in Norway which provides Opera Mini, a web search and a history of visited pages. In the menu are commands for entering an URL, viewing and editing bookmarks, settings, submitting a bug to Opera Software and a help. The help is, like the whole program, availible in English and Norwegian. There are not much settings to configure: For example, you can choose whether to load images and the quality of images, font smoothing and the language. Font smoothing makes the font smaller – but it will get VERY, VERY slow.

    Using Opera

    I tested it intensive a week ago, it worked well and fast – today is very slow, but this should be my fault because the wireless access point that connects me to the internet isn’t very near and I had to do a hardreset. In my test it could display all web pages I opened. I didn’t try flash pages (and they won’t work I think) or pages that are *very* difficult to display but all pages I normally go to.

    Long pages are no problems, Opera (or the proxy server) splits them into small parts. Images are no problems, but tables or frames aren’t shown. Opera has “SSR” (small screen rendering). With this technology you haven’t to scroll horizontally because all pages are as broad as the screen. Even forms are availible and so I could post answers on boards.

    One thing I liked especially: The Java VM had full support for the 5-way-navigator (also known as D-pad) like Treo 600, 650 or Tungsten T5 f. e. You don’t need a stylus because you can handle almost ALL functions with the 5-way-navigator – dialogues, links, buttons, checkboxes, … For me (Tungsten C) it’s something special.

    Although there are some good functions – it is J2ME – a language for mobile phones, and this language has restrictions on mobile phones: it doesn’t support cards, flash memory, bluetooth, internal databases like contacts or SMS. So this version of Opera doesn’t support downloads, uploads or HTML files on cards. There aren’t much J2ME applications that support cards or file sysytems, but I think they are NOT impossible. IBM WebSphere Environment supports card operations.

    My results

    This ís a good idea – for owners of mobile phones and Palms, but there could still be a “true” version for Palm OS. The Opera CEO says that they don’t know if there will be a version for Palm OS. So we have to wait and use Opera Mini. It isn’t bad and displays many pages better and faster than Web Browser or Web Pro. Nevertheless it isn’t the only browser I use – think about NetFront or Picsel Browser – they have SSR, are fast(er than Web Pro), too, support downloads, uploads, …

    Download: http://www.nexave.de/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=2623
    J2ME Runtime: http://www.palm.com/us/support/jvm/download.html

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