, particularly when used under a decent MIDlet manager
, has always been one of the best choices for the Web browsing on any current handset. The new beta version of the forthcoming, 4-series Opera Mini, exactly two months after the last beta (see THIS
) has just been released, and boasts a lot of goodies.
Getting it is done the same as before: navigate to HERE
with either a mobile browser (or a WAP-capable desktop one, if you're ready to transfer the JAR file to your handset in a way explained in the MIDlet Bible
), click the link in the middle of the page and it'll be automatically downloaded and deployed. After that, you can start it in the same way as other MIDlets (or, with Symbian, other programs).
1. Most important bugfixes: cookies, fonts
First and foremost, the cookie problems have all been fixed. These, in the previous, version 2 beta, caused a lot of problems under the, otherwise, excellent and most recommended Windows Mobile Esmertec Jbed MIDlet manager, along with a lot of non-Windows Mobile platforms. These problems are all gone – I’ve never encountered any cookie problem with any sites I use under the most common Windows Mobile MIDlet managers (IBM J9, TAO, Esmertec Jbed). The same (no cookie problems at all) stands for the Symbian-based Nokia N95, Nokia’s current “consumer” flagship model.
Second, some of the font problems have also been fixed. For example, beta2 was unable to render bold
typeface with “extra large” characters and, in general, there was abolutely no support for different character sizes in, for example, headers. These problems have all been fixed. For example, as far as the bold + largest font size combination is concerned, see THIS
screenshot (showing bold works with the largest chars). When it comes to different font sizes (headers etc), with my standard charsize test page
, the tests resulted in excellent results (the following three screenshots have all been taken on a QVGA WM2003 HP iPAQ h2210 running the current (6.1.1) version of IBM J9; as can be seen, there’s no font smoothing with the smallest fonts under J9, just like Jblend, and unlike all the other KVM’s): 1 2 3
Unfortunately, there’s still no italic
support. I don’t know why the Opera Mini folks don’t implement the support for these.
2. High-quality picture support added
So far, it wasn’t possible to see the images inside a Web page in their original glory (unless you downloaded them, that is). Now, with the introduction of the “High
” quality image mode, images will be fetched and presented at their original size and quality. This is certainly very good news. Some real-world examples of this and its consequences:
QVGA screenshot (IBM J9 6.1.1 running under WM2003) of a 640*480 pic in non-one column mode
VGA screenshot of a graphics-based chart I’ve posted to HERE
: HQ (High Quality) mode
; MQ mode
and LQ mode
. Pretty much different, eh? You’ll want to stick to the HQ mode when you really want to read for example image-based charts in my articles.
3. Opera Link support added
This is one of the best and most innovative new features in OM4b3. So far, even the desktop Opera (let alone the mobile versions!) has been pretty much neglected in this regard; now, this has changed. Please read THIS
article for a generic overview of all these questions, along with most of the favorite synchronizer solutions released so far.
I’ve found this pretty intuitive and easy-to-use. You only click the “Synchronize Opera…” link on the startpage
, fill in your Opera username / password
(or, alternatively, quickly sign up for the service
– it can be done right from the Opera Mini GUI!) and click / press Login
(left softkey). After this, OM4 announces it has successfully synchronized your bookmarks as can be seen in the following screenshot:
Also, there’s a decent tutorial HERE
explaining all these steps on both the desktop and Opera Mini.
Note that, as opposed to the desktop Opera browsers, it’s only links created in any (!) Opera Mini clients (they’ll show up under the “Opera Mini” folder in desktop browsers) that are loaded / synchronized in a way so that they become available locally, without Opera Mini’s having to connect to the central link service and do. Favorites under “More bookmarks
” (favorites added in the desktop Opera will be behind this) will always be accessed online. If you find this too slow (I do), make sure you re-create the given links in the main folder of your Opera Mini. One of the easiest way is mass drag-and-dropping (with keeping Ctrl down if you don’t want to move, just copy them) the favorites in the desktop Opera (Bookmarks / Manage Bookmarks…) into the Opera Mini folder there. After a (forced) synchronization (Manage / Synchronize
) , the changes will be seen in Opera Mini too and they will be available locally, not on the Web (and not in the “More bookmarks” folder, which, in addition to the lengthy download, also means a screen tap or navigating there).
I had no problems with my synchronization tests between my two desktop Opera browsers (you’ll need the latest, just-released 9.5 version of Opera for this!) and several Opera Mini clients running under both Windows Mobile (tested under several different MIDlet managers: Esmertec, TAO, IBM) and Symbian.
I’m absolutely sure you’ll LOVE this feature. And, of course, consider switching to Opera on the desktop too, in order to make the synchronization flawless and the easiest. Of course, you can access the online favorite repository with a non-Opera desktop browser too, but only in HTML mode, which also means mass-operations like quickly migrating a lot of favorites into Opera Mini (by just moving / copying them between folders) will be impossible. You’ll need a native, local client (that is, the desktop Opera and its Manage Bookmarks… dialog) to do this.
4. RSS Feeds
Feeds, which have also been added in this version, are pretty easy to control / use, albeit are a bit simple; for example, there’re no auto-download or notification capabilities. Its being integrated to the browser has a VERY nice consequence: whenever you’re on a Web page with an RSS feed, you will promptly be notified of RSS feeds being available
. In addition, the RSS feed of these pages is pretty easy – again, thanks to the RSS feed integration to Opera Mini.
Subscribing to feeds is pretty simple in the new Opera Mini 4. When a page contains compatible feed(s), on the page, the type of the feed will be displayed. This is a link, which you can follow
. Then, you’re shown the contents of the feed
. Here, if you click “Subscribe” (again, a link the top of the page), it will be added to the pool of subscribed feeds
. This screen can be easily accessed via the “Feeds” link on the start page
(or, by presing *
and, then, 0
- a new shortcut). As feeds need to be manually refreshed, you will need to click Refresh
to see the changes . After it has downloaded the results, their number will be displayed
Note that with pages having more than one (compatible) feed (for example, XDA-Developers
), after clicking the “Feeds” link at the top, you’re shown the list of the feeds as can be seen in HERE
. You can, then, select the one you’d like to see and maybe subscribe to.
5. Additional tips - Tables with inner tables
With tables containing inner tables like the one HERE
- as opposed to charts without inner tables like the one HERE
), OM4b3 will, at first, provide a map view without any horizontal scrolling. An example screenshot is HERE
, as opposed to the way it renders tables without inner ones (see THIS
for an example of the latter). With the latter type of tables, it’s not possible to zoom out to minimap view.
6. Some problems you need to be aware of
6.1 No “Fullscreen mode” shown in Options on Windows Mobile
Under all the major (Esmertec’s products, IBM J9, TAO; note that I do NOT recommend Aplix’ Jblend for Web browsing because of the very strict security model continuously prompting the users for authorization) Windows Mobile MIDlet managers, the “Fullscreen mode” is completely missing in the Settings menu (IBM J9 screenshot
). This is visible on the Nokia N95 (screenshot HERE
) – even using exactly the same high-quality version of OM. The latter means it’s in runtime that OM decides whether to display this checkbox or not. It seems upon realizing it’s running under Windows Mobile (as opposed to the Symbian case), it just hides the checkbox.
Note that this isn’t that big an issue. If you don’t have hardware numeric keys, Ctl + * and Ctl + * works in all the three on the SIP. With hardware keys, it’s even easier: for example, with the built-in keyboard of the Universal, a simple Fn + 8 will make it work. Also see the MIDlet Bible
for more info on these questions.
6.2 Gmail problems on Windows Mobile
As is also reported HERE
, under Windows Mobile, if you add the main Gmail homepage (NOT Inbox – that is, after logging in!) as a favorite, upon subsequent browsing attempts, the page won’t be shown as can be seen in this TAO Intent .1036
and this Jbed 2.2
Strangely, it does work under Symbian (tested on Nokia N95).
A quick and always-working hack is NOT putting the Gmail homepage directly in Favorites, but your Inbox (after you've logged in). Then, if you need to switch to another account, you can just sign out (link in the top right corner); then, the log-in (main) page will be displayed OK.
6.3 Still no non-Western fonts in smallest charsize
In order to keep the size of the JAR file down, the developers of Opera Mini have chosen NOT to include any non-Western character in their custom, (in most MIDlet manager) edge-smoothed Small font set. Only a rectangle will be displayed upon encountering characters like this. This is pretty much similar to how Thunderhawk, the famous (IMHO, Opera Mini is far more recommended), albeit, for long not updated Windows Mobile Web browser did: it also uses a custom fontset and it also refuses to render anything non-Western.
This means you MUST use at least the Medium font size on your handset (because it uses the native charset of the device and not that of Opera Mini), should you want to read pages using the non-Western alphabet. This is a problem on Symbian devices (tested on the Nokia N95) because of the HUGE charsize of even the “Medium” fonts. Just compare THIS
(small) and THIS
(medium) screenshots. The latter indeed uses HUGE fonts, and the additional smoothing (not available under Windows Mobile) doesn’t really help this.
Windows Mobile devices fare far better in this respect (example screenshot HERE
of a QVGA MS Smartphone running OM4b3 under Jbed. BTW, as can also be seen, no “Full screen
” checkbox is visible here, either.)
6.4 Other user-reported problems (I haven’t encountered them)
Some people reported (see THIS
) Mobile view
(fit-to-screen; renamed from “Fit to width
”) doesn’t work as good as under the OM 3.x series. In my practice, I prefer reading pages in non-Mobile view
(because, as with Nokia’s browser on S60 3rd devices, Opera Mini does a GREAT job of showing the actual text without the need for horizontal scrolling); therefore, I can’t really comment on this bug.
Opera Mini 4 beta sometimes uses wrong form in webpage
7. Recommended links
The MIDlet Bible
, XDA-Developers - 1
, XDA-Developers - 2
, XDA-Developers - 3
Beta 2 review
MS Smartphone Web Browsing Bible
Pocket PC Web Browsing Bible