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Dr Mike J Smith
Kingston University

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Palm Opera

Sat, 28 Oct 2006

Whilst I'm on the theme of playing with my Palm, I saw the recent release of Opera Mini for the Palm (and this interested me because WebPro that shipped with my Palm is not great). Opera for a long time was "the" alternative to Internet Explorer. Whilst it was a paid-for app, it was for small and fast, particularly suited for optimising browsing over dial-up connections. It also was the first browser (I think) to introduce an MDI (multiple document interface) based around tabs. Anyway, the release of Firefox eclipsed many of the in roads Opera had been making. To start with Opera went advertising supported and then ultimately free. However where Opera has been making big in-roads is in the mobile market. Its ability to design small and powerful browsers is ideally suited to this area and it has versions of Opera Mini running on a variety of operating systems. PalmOS has, until recently, not been one of those supported, but the moderate success (particularly stateside) of the Treo smartphones has led to a release which was recently upgraded to version 2.

Opera Mini is actually a highly optimised (read: fast) Java applet that runs on top of IBM Websphere. You need to install this before Opera Mini. Fire it up and everything just works. Opera has done a good job of using screen space well and it succesfully (via a proxy) loaded pretty much any website I threw at it (ebay, GMail, Google etc etc). But the screen is small so don't expect to got lots of productivity out of it. Like anything, its great to have Office, VNC, email and web all on the Palm, but only when you are in a tight spot.

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