Symbian platform: UIQ
Review first published in:
Palmtop User magazine, issue
It seems that the folks at
Opera have finally worked out a way to make some money from the UIQ version of
Opera. Given away for free since the P800's launch, in association with Sony
Ericsson, version 6.31 includes support for a totally new 'product', the
nattily-named Opera Mobile Accelerator. Opera itself is a well known quantity
on many platforms and scarcely needs a new review. Suffice it to say that it's
a modern, standards-aware web browser that's capable of rendering most modern
web pages. The only real problems are that Opera is very memory hungry (tending
to refuse to load large pages) and that the typical bloat of many web sites
layouts being the main culprits) means that Opera has to download a lot of
bytes that it doesn't really have to.
The traditional solution to the latter problem, of
handling page bloat, is to use a 'proxy server', a fast machine that downloads
pages for you and just sends you the bits your browser can actually use. So
redundant animated effects, large images and silly table layouts are all left
behind and you, the user, benefit through faster page loading and lower GPRS
data bills. Opera Mobile Accelerator is essentially a subscription-based proxy
solution, purpose built to configure neatly into Opera for Symbian smartphones.
The idea of charging for the proxy is novel, but then as Opera is free in the
first place (at least for UIQ), it's hard to begrudge the developers a few
Euros a year.
Whether Mobile Accelerator is as effective as its web site
claims depends a lot on the types of site you visit. You'll see an improvement
in speed with any site that's at all bloated, but be aware that it won't help
with secure (https://) connections, e.g. eBay and online banking. And,
obviously, it can't help either with pages that are already fairly efficiently
coded and presented. But in Opera's defence, anyone can try out the system for
14 days for free, so it's easy to experiment using the web sites that you're
particularly interested in. Mobile Accelerator is a useful (but not essential)
extension to Opera's capabilities. E30 a year, www.opera.com/proxy.