Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

The best Windows Mobile browser Microsoft hasn't released

I've fallen a bit out of love with Windows Mobile this week, ever since my shiny Samsung Blackjack II refused to - in order - 1 connect to my PC, 2 connect to email and then (to address 1 and 2) 3 boot. It's sitting there, with lots of unsynched photos and OneNote notes (thanks to 1) that will not survive a hard reset, which seems to be the only option. What a good week for a box of handsets to turn up: shall I defect to the BlackBerry Bold or the Storm or the G1 or the iPhone (2G only, so probably not)? The thing is, I want the best browser I can get, and I like to be able to file messages into Outlook folders, and flag them, and create appointments and invite people to them and search my email on the server - and a bunch of other things I know I can do on Windows Mobile.

Decent browsing hasn't been on that list before with Windows Mobile; not without paying for Opera Mobile and even then, it's the usual what about Flash/Silverlight/a decent data speed question. What is the answer for the mobile Web? Cram the best part of a desktop OS onto the phone? Force us to use text pages or transcoded slice-and-dice versions of pages? Do it all on a big server somewhere? I haven't been a fan of the latter approach in the past - and how much of that it because Opera Mini is written in Java and combines an irritating user interface with an irritating security model, I don't know, but I'm a now bit of a convert.

Not to Opera Mini; to Skyfire. It's not perfect, it's not out of beta and every now and then it jumps back to the page I was trying to leave. But the rest of the time it shows real Web pages, Flash and all, Ajax and all, JavaScript and all. No more desparately looking for a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi to get online to check in; if I can change my seat on a Virgin flight in Skyfire, I'll be able to check in. I even found myself watching Merlin on the BBC iPlayer through Skyfire and I hate the idea of gormless boy Merlin, but the video quality was just so nice... And a small phone screen is just the right match for the quality of most videos on YouTube. For a more considered approach, check out my review of Skyfire on TechRadar
Tags: articles, microsoft, mobile data, smartphone, technology, techradar, windows mobile, writing
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