Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Software Impressions: Access NetFront 3.4 Technical Preview

I have been trying out the new Technical Preview version of the upcoming Access NetFront 3.4 for roughly a week now. Really this has got to be one of the best damn browser on any portable platform. The good thing about 3.4 TP is it can co-exist with NetFront 3.3 (see here for my write up on 3.3 TP) on my device (WM5.0), so don't worry about switching between 3.3 and 3.4 TP, which is effectively a restrictive demo product.

Anyway 3.4 TP has some nifty features that will be implemented on the forthcoming NetFront 3.4 commercial release next month. New to 3.4 TP is the PagePilot feature which has a similar function to Symbian S60 3rd Edition's Mini Map, albeit in a very stripped down mode. Basically every time you press any of the vertical D-pad buttons, the browser will zoom out giving you a full view of the website you are visiting. Move the cursor up or down and after a moment or two the browser will zoom back in to the cursor's current position.

PagePilot in action

The rendering quality of Access NetFront 3.3 was never a problem and judging by my informal testing, nothing has change in the way NetFront renders common websites. Even my blog, which template I messed up pretty badly in order to get that damn header up, rendered properly with all its Google and Amazon ads glory. There is a notable significant improvement in terms of performance. With the cache set to the storage card (Sandisk SD), 3.4 TP loaded and rendered my blog site quite a bit faster than 3.3 did.

Navigating GAF's legendary threads on the go made easy

NetFront is an essential purchase for owners of web enabled Windows Mobile device, especially those with VGA devices. The default crap that Microsoft calls Pocket IE doesn't cut it if you even remotely want to go on the web. There are of course other products such as Opera Mobile, I found that it wouldn't allow a full web browsing experience (newer builds maybe better but I haven't tried it yet). Don't even talk about Minimo. Like Firefox, Minimo is a bloated software. However, unlike its desktop cousin, the performance is pathetic and the rendering is near hopeless.

I don't believe him either

Whatever you try, I don't recommend purchasing Netfront 3.3 as Access rarely (if ever, that I know of) allows end users to upgrade on their dot commercial releases. NetFront 3.3 users who don't need the new features would probably want to wait for the next version 3.5. But based on the improvements I have seen on NetFront 3.4 Technical Preview, and the fact that the 3.4 release will support AJAX and embedded document viewer, I think it would be worth the entry fee.

Two more days to go...two more days to go...

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How would you compare surfing on aPocket PC with a Nokia N800? The N800 is cheap.