You might have already read about SoftMaker, the full-featured office suite for Windows Mobile on TamsPPC several times. Tam Hanna, for example, wrote about SoftMaker Presentations in June 2010. Now I want to focus on TextMaker 2010 which promises the power of a desktop’s word processor.

softmaker2010 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile ReviewInterface

The interface is very similar to Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org. There are several views available, such as an outline or the standard page view, with different zoom levels and a ruler, of course. The toolbars are shown on the bottom of the screen, for example file and formatting options or a drawing toolbar and a toolbar for editing images. But it also allows creating and editing own toolbars. The average Microsoft Word user will recognize the organization of toolbars, menus, dialogues and tabs quickly.

Handling

Windows Mobile, an operating system which was designed for stylus use, displays smaller buttons or checkboxes in its dialogues than finger-based interfaces like HTC Sense or other smartphone operating systems like Android or iOS, which is is not a problem as long as you may use a stylus. As this also applies to TextMaker (which does not use an alternative interface), owners of a finger-based phone like the HTC HD2 might have problems to hit small buttons.

But there are also small issues beside the interface:  The “Open file” or “Inserttextmaker03 180x300 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review image” dialogues do not only show a list of files, but also dropdown lists for choosing a different folder and file type and several checkboxes / buttons. Hence there is not much space for the list of files, which – in case of inserting images – shows only the name of the images. A preview box for images does exist in this dialogue, but a thumbnail view would have been better.

Fonts and characters

On my blank Windows Mobile 6.5 phone, there are nine fonts available, including Courier New, Helvetica, Tahoma and Windings. Beside several font collections which are also being offered by SoftMaker, you can install fonts which you find in the web or on your desktop computer.  You just need to copy them to your font folder.

You can define the font size and style, but also different underlines, font and background colors or the space between characters.

textmaker04 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review textmaker05 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review textmaker06 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review

Images and drawings

As one of very few mobile word processors, TextMaker allows inserting images. Unfortunately, the insertion and even the preview of photos (3 MP) textmaker022 112x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Reviewmade my device took about a minute and it slow (HTC HD2) or even unstable (MDA Vario IV). As some expansion cards are slow, the speed could be increased by installing TextMaker directly on the device.

A small image (200 x 150 pixels) made no problems. The editing capabilities include changing the brightness, contrast, colors and the orientation. It even allows you to set a special text flow or put a frame around the image.

The drawing tool bar includes many shapes you already know from Word, including lines, free-hand, boxes and ellipses. A tap on the Auto Form tool shows a variety of another ~ 130 shapes. The shapes can have different line styles and can be rotated and filled with colors, color gradients, pattern and images. Furthermore, all fills may have a transparency from 0 – 100%. Even shade, 3D and mirror effects are available.

Supported file types

Beside the support of  printing, TextMaker also exports documents to PDF files, which can include a table of contents and even form elements from the document (PDF forms).

The list of supported file types includes several TextMaker formats, but also Microsoft Word (even the 2007 .docx format), OpenDocument, Rich Text, Pocket Word, HTML and plain text.

textmaker07 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review textmaker08 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review

Conclusion

Indeed, it is the best word processor for Windows Mobile and indeed, it is a desktop software on a mobile phone. Nevertheless, this fact can sometimes lead to lags when you are working with many shapes, big documents or images. But this is not necessarily the fault of the programmers, it is the consequence of these high-end features on slow devices. Expensive smartphones with a fast CPU have an advantage, of course.

The handling of the software could sometimes be better, especially on finger-controlled devices. This is why I am looking forward to testing the announced SoftMaker Office for Android.

Creating PowerPoint presentations on the go never was easy: most mobile office suites just display PowerPoint – in the best case, they allow you to make minor changes to the text. Presentations wants to be different…but can it stack up?

You see the difference the moment you start the program – rulers and other tools which can (and should) be hidden to save screen real estate:
softmaker presentations 0 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

The toggle at the bottom left opens the huge menu:
softmaker presentations 1 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

Trying to add a new slide reveals the first glimpse of the product’s insane functionality. No other mobile office suite supports so many formats:
softmaker presentations 2 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

Various slide backgrounds can be deployed – the image below shows the built-in blue color scheme on a slide containing a table:
softmaker presentations 3 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

PowerPoint transitions are unpopular – but they can still be managed using SoftMaker’s presentation editor:
softmaker presentations 4 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

Reviewers will be happy that comments can be added and edited on the go:
softmaker presentations 5 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

The product’s ability to leave multiple presentations open at any given time also deserves a honourable mention:
softmaker presentations 6 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

And don’t get me started on print and PDF export options:
softmaker presentations 7 SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review softmaker presentations 7a SoftMaker Presentations 2008 for Windows Mobile   the review

This review looked at version of Presentations on an XPERIA X1 running its stock distribution of Windows Mobile 6.1. The program needs about 7000KB of memory and can be installed onto an external memory card. Stability-wise, it was ok except for a few graphical distortions and crashes when opening large files.

In the end, it is impossible not to like Softmaker Presentations. I will soon hold two presentations I mostly prepared on my XPERIA during a boring event – the product offers much more than its competitors in this aspect. Two hours saved is all to say..

Weaknesses like the inability to handle very large slide decks (30MB), and the sometimes confusing user interface are easy to forgive – if you want to do some heavy-duty PowerPoint slide editing, definitely invest the price.

P.S. Get the full Office Suite supporting Word, Excel and PowerPoint from our TamsShop. A discount code will be made available in a few days from now…

Use the discount code VISKEEPER to get 20% off the product’s list price in the TamsShop!
Password managers are dime-a-dozen – good password managers are rare now that Resco has discontinued its IDGuard product. Can VisKeeper stack up?

Starting VisKeeper for the first time presents you with a pretty thorough “introduction”. It is shown as a series of notes stored in the program – not at all a bad idea.
0 VisKeeper   the review

VisKeeper generally adheres to the “template-and-object” design. According to SFR, they had it first – but it was made really popular by SPB Wallet. It defines that you first create a template specifying the fields needed:
1 VisKeeper   the review

And then fill in the fields in order to create an entry.
2a VisKeeper   the review 2b VisKeeper   the review

Entries can be arranged into folders, and text notes can be stored everywhere:
3 VisKeeper   the review

A very basic search tool is also included:
4 VisKeeper   the review

One of the most impressive features of VisKeeper it its ‘image password’ – a tap sequence on an image of choice can be used in Vislieu of a password:
5 VisKeeper   the review

Unfortunately, you must activate the password manager manually. If it is not “armed”, everybody can access your stored password by following the tutorial sequence.

Another thing which made me angry is that the program forces you to use the UI in the language set up in the Prefs. As I use an Austrian locale, this means that I am stuck with German – other programs allow you to choose the language in a more flexible fashion.

This review looked at VisKeeper version 3.2.2 on an XPERIA X1 running its stock distribution of Windows Mobile 6.1. The program needs 1228KB of memory and can be installed onto an external memory card.

In the end, VisKeeper is an extremely useful password manager once you wrap your head around some of its peculiarities. Being forced to activate the password manually is stupid – other than that, there’s little not to like. The price of 10$ for the stand-alone and 20$ for the PC-enabled versions is humane.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile has traditionally been an enterprise user’s darling – features like its domain integration made the product extremely easy to manage. However, not all is good: the IMAP client is not exactly useful. Can FlexMail stack up?

WebIS’s flagship product is centered across two views – one of the two is the folder list. It shows all ‘accounts’ on the handset:
flexmail 0a FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun

Clicking on a folder lets you look at the emails. A Outlook-style preview panel is available for easy viewing:
flexmail 1a FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun

When opening an email, the sender data is not shown immediately – you have to scroll up for the full scoop:
flexmail 2a FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun

FlexMail might not be too flexible when it comes to formatting outgoing email. However, it allows for a variety of quoting styles and can even manage and request (!!!) read receipts:
flexmail 3a FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun

Background downloading of emails is a non-issue. The program presents itself pretty chatty and makes extensive use of notifications:
flexmail 4a FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun flexmail 4b FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun

Power users will be delighted to hear about the multi-window capabilities of the program. They allow you to edit one email and look at another one ‘at the same time’.

Version 4.1 added threaded SMS support:
flexmail 5a FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun

While this is not bad on its own, it blocks access to the default SMS/MMS tool via the start menu:
flexmail 6a FlexMail 4.1 review   where Windows Mobile IMAP is fun

For future versions, webIS must definitely overhaul the contact management – if I enter an email address once, I want it cached…even if it isn’t in the address book. Furthermore, the program still crashes from time to time (approx 1 in 1000 emails, device restart required) – this is unavoidable for a HTML renderer, but should be minimized.

This review looked at version 4.10 of FlexMail on an XPERIA X1 running its stock version of Windows Mobile. Memory usage starts out at 5MB, and then depends on the number and size of emails downloaded. Running FlexMail from a memory card is possible, even though RAM installs tend to deliver more speed.

In the end, my delay at writing this review can and should be the best possible endorsement for the program. It has managed my email without one outage for the last year – if you own an IMAP server, throw the 10$ on the table NOW. You would be stupid not to…

Use the discount code DONTGETWET to get 20% off HandyWeather in the TamsShop!
Displaying weather information was one of the oldest usage scenarios for smartphones. Since the humble beginnings, these programs have evolved significantly…some even go as far as to offer animated 3D globes.

All of this is nice and dandy when you are in a club – but when it comes to a panel for the today screen, lean is king. Can HandyWeather stack up?

Starting HandyWeather for the first time pushes you through an introduction wizard, which helps you set up the basics:
handyweather 0a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 0b HandyWeather   the review handyweather 0c HandyWeather   the review

Picking a city works well, but is slow due to the annoying animations:
handyweather 1a HandyWeather   the review

Once the wizard is gone, you find yourself confronted with the following screen:
handyweather 2a HandyWeather   the review

Tapping around on icons and the menu then lets you access a variety of other options including a detailed 24h “weather radar view”:
handyweather 3a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 3b HandyWeather   the review handyweather 3c HandyWeather   the review

The real reason most users install a program like HandyWeather is its today plug-in. HandyWeather’s plugin is lean, and can be customized comfortably to take up comparatively little space:
handyweather 4a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 4b HandyWeather   the review

As for customization, the product generally goes a long way – you can modify everything except for the highly annoying animated transitions:
handyweather 5a HandyWeather   the review handyweather 5b HandyWeather   the review

Unfortunately, Paragon had to add an extra craplet to the launcher:
nuissance HandyWeather   the review

This review looked at version 4.00 of HandyWeather on an XPERIA X1 running its stock version of Windows Mobile 6.1. The program needs about 3800KB of memory and can be installed into RAM or onto an external memory card.

Turn it around and around, but HandyWeather always remains about 2MB less fat than its competitors. Of course, it also is less flashy – but is very close to an ideal no-frills weather software. If Paragon would allow users to disable the flashy animations, eliminate the annoying icon and would clear up the GUI a bit, we had a clear winner here. As it stands now, the price of 17$ is insane…

Windows Mobile phones have evolved out of the PocketPC/Windows CE platform – a platform notable for its contact management power and multimedia handhelds. Phone support was an afterthought added in 2002…and even though the UI has improved a lot since then, it still lacks at least some of the polish inherent in other platforms. Resco’s Contact Manager wants to fix this – but can it stack up?

RCM consists of multiple modules which are integrated into a folder of the programs folder:
0a Resco Contact Manager   the review 0b Resco Contact Manager   the review

The program furthermore attaches itself to the ‘start call’ key of your handset. While the screen may look a bit overwhelming at first glance, it is extremely useful – you can enter both numbers and contacts easily (in a T9esque fashion):
1a Resco Contact Manager   the review 1b Resco Contact Manager   the review

BTW: the little SMS icon allows you to SMS a contact directly…

RCM displays detailed statistics for each contact – you can easily find out whom you called when and how long you talked:
2a Resco Contact Manager   the review

Resco Contact Manager furthermore acts as a threaded SMS viewer:
3a Resco Contact Manager   the review

The real strength of RCM is its ability to handle contacts with associated photos. Once a photo is associated with a contact, the product displays it whenever the contact is referenced:
4a Resco Contact Manager   the review

Unfortunately, the folks at Resco’s could not resist the urge to create a today plugin. It uses an obscene amount of space and IMHO offers little value, as it can not be configured:
5a Resco Contact Manager   the review

This review looked at version 1.10 of Resco Contact Manager on a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1. RCM needs 1917KB of memory and can be installed onto an external memory card.

In the end, Resco Contact Manager can likely save you quite a few clicks. If the boys at Resco’s would add a graphical contact chooser like the one found in UltimatePhone for Palm OS and add a few small tweaks(like displaying the currently active network), RCM would be a total must have. As it stands now, the price of 25$ is too steep…but keeping an eye on it is a great idea…

Use the discount code RSS4CHEAP to get 20% off the product’s list price (20$) in the TamsShop!
While RSS is almost universally loathed by blog operators (RSS readers dont display sponsor ads,…), users can save a lot of time with them when it comes to reading multiple blogs at once. This has always been an application for handhelds (anyone remember Plucker?) – but lets see which of the RSS readers for Windows Mobile is best?

Our first contender is SPB’s Insight. The product displays a settings wizard while being installed, and contains a today plug-in:
0a RSS readers for Windows Mobile, part 1: SPB Insight

Channels can be added to Insight easily. SPB has chosen to store the list of feeds online: while this requires you to download a catalog every time you wish to use the built-in list, it also makes sure that all channels advertised actually exist:
1a RSS readers for Windows Mobile, part 1: SPB Insight 1b RSS readers for Windows Mobile, part 1: SPB Insight 1c RSS readers for Windows Mobile, part 1: SPB Insight

Once your channels are in the list, updating them is easy:
2a RSS readers for Windows Mobile, part 1: SPB Insight

Feeds can even be displayed while being updated – SPB apparently dislikes waiting as much as I do:
3a RSS readers for Windows Mobile, part 1: SPB Insight

The rendering quality of the product is good (read: Pocket IE). To cut a long story short: all my test feeds rendered well, embedded images were displayed.
4a RSS readers for Windows Mobile, part 1: SPB Insight

This review looked at version of SPB Insight on an XPERIA X1. The product needs 2276KB of memory and can be installed onto an external memory card.

In the end, SPB Insight is a good reader with a lethal flaw: it does not allow you to bookmark articles for later processing. If you can live with this omission, take the trial of this program for a spin. If not, stay tuned for the next program!

By all means, use the discount code RIGHTWEATHERPRICE to get 20% off the regular price of SPB Weather in the TamsShop!
The display of weather information is one of the oldest applications for smartphone devices – as always-on internet connection is one of the defining properties of PocketPC smartphones, SPB was in an ideal position to offer a compelling solution – but can it stack up?

SPB Weather supports literally thousands of cities – picking the right one is straightforward:
0a SPB Weather 2   the review 0b SPB Weather 2   the review

Unfortunately, rather little information is displayed about the individual places – other products display more:
1a SPB Weather 2   the review 1b SPB Weather 2   the review

One of the most impressive features of SPB Weather is its 3D globe view, which can be used to display various parameters. Unfortunately, it is of little use as the program jumps from city to city like a rabbit on steroids…
2a SPB Weather 2   the review 2b SPB Weather 2   the review 2c SPB Weather 2   the review

SPB Weather can integrate itself into the today screen. This plugin is excellent – the screens below show a few of the millions of possible configurations:
3a SPB Weather 2   the review

SPB Weather has various options – it unfortunately seems to miss a command which disables self-updating while roaming:
4a SPB Weather 2   the review 4b SPB Weather 2   the review

Various data sources can be used to supply the data used – as the default source has served me well so far, I saw little reason to change it:
5a SPB Weather 2   the review

This review looked at version 2.0 of the program on an XPERIA X1 running its stock WM 6.1 ROM without added GL drivers of any sort. It needs about 10MB of memory and can be installed onto an external memory card.

Like many other PocketPC programs, SPB Weather unfortunately got “iPhoneitis”. It is loaded with weird transitions and non-standard UI widgets to the point of obscenity…I have opened the main program two times on my rather fast X1 and closed it immediately due to lag and disgust. The today plug-in, on the other hand, is excellent – my main eeker is that 16 USD (after my rebate) is a bit steep.

If SPB would offer the plug-in as a standalone, it would get rave reviews here. As the package currently stands, I feel that better offers are available…

I just stumbled across this review part in the drafts folder. As I recently wondered myself about StyleTap performance, I decided to run it even though it is now one year old…

In the last installations of our StyleTap review, we looked at what StyleTap could do. This part focuses on something entirely different…how fast is StyleTap compared to a real handheld?

Palm OS handheld speeds usually get measured via Speedy, which is a very popular(and fast…30secs max per test) benchmark that gives pretty accurate data. At the first glance, my 400MhZ ipaq is about as fast as a classic 144MhZ Tungsten T:
0a The big StyleTap review   Part 2: StyleTap performance

However, comparing the benchmark details shows that the ipaq is much slower Graphics-wise, while it beats the TT hands down in memory and CPU-related tests:
1a The big StyleTap review   Part 2: StyleTap performance 1b The big StyleTap review   Part 2: StyleTap performance

PalmPi reports a calculation time of just seconds, which is a record value never ever seen before on a Palm OS handheld. Our sister site TamsPalm has loads of PalmPi results – visit them there for further comparison!
2a The big StyleTap review   Part 2: StyleTap performance

Accessing SD cards is really fast. The values below are much higher than the ones the memory card scored in real Palm handhelds – apparently, the ipaq’s highspeed SD card subsystem speeds up VfsMark to new heights.
3a The big StyleTap review   Part 2: StyleTap performance

Overall, StyleTap’s emulator window could be the fastest Palm OS handheld ever – if it didn’t have the huge bottleneck in the graphics routines. As already shown in previous parts of the review, games suffer badly from this. Nevertheless, StyleTap is more than fast enough for productivity applications…

The TamsShop contains a plethora of products related to this review. use the discount PHATISCOOL to get discounts on the following PhatWare products:

PhatNotes for PPC
PhatNotes PPC for Outlook (cheaper)
PhatPad for PPC

PhatNotes for WMS
PhatNotes WMS for Outlook

From day one, handheld computers were intended to store textual data : the very first handhelds actually were clamshell devices like Atari’s now-famous Portfolio. Thus, a plethora of text processing apps was created – while some of them just concentrated on editing, other applications also deployed their own storage formats. PhatWare’s PhatNotes is of the second variety…but can it stack up?

After starting the program for the first time, a plethora of Windows pops up. The window on the left shows the available container files, the window at the top contains the notes and the window at the bottom contains a preview. While this layout may work well on VGA screens, my rx4240′s QVGA screen can’t really handle it:
0a PhatNotes   the review

Notes can be formatted:
1a PhatNotes   the review

Voice samples can be attached too notes with relative ease. Users of PhatPad can even embed hand-written doodles…unfortunately, there’s no way to do that without PhatPad (which costs an additional 40$ – a pricing policy I personally consider outrageous):
2a PhatNotes   the review 2b PhatNotes   the review

Alarms can be assigned to notes, too:
3a PhatNotes   the review

Notes can be “colorized” in a fashion similar to Microsoft’s Outlook – this makes finding individual notes easier:
4a PhatNotes   the review

A context analyzer tool detects numbers and email addresses automatically:
5a PhatNotes   the review

A plug-in for the Today screen allows you to access recently-edited notes quickly:
6a PhatNotes   the review

Unfortunately, the program does not allow you to export all notes to industry-standard formats like txt or doc. However, individual notes can be exported to txt and rtf when opened:
7a PhatNotes   the review

Screen rotation works very well:
8a PhatNotes   the review 8b PhatNotes   the review

This review looked at version 5.3 of PhatNotes on a hp ipaq rx4240 running Windows Mobile 5.0. The program needs 1434KB of memory and works well from an external memory card!

In the end, PhatNotes is a well-programmed application that unfortunately adheres to a concept will be swept away by the sands of time. As storage cards become bigger and bigger, the overhead of storing individual text files becomes negligible (and offers higher security in case of data corruption). Leaving the issues outlined above aside, the program offers everything needed to manage rich-text notes – if you can live with the idea of database files, give this (very expensive – 40$) app a spin!

Apple’s iPod touch debuted a new kind of thumb keyboard – whenever a key was tapped, a bigger picture of it appeared on the screen above. Vito Technologies now went one step further – their program not only displays the key, but also the surrounding area.

In case you wonder about how this looks – the image below shows the program working in default mode. Whenever you press one of the keys, the bubble containing the magnification is popped up:
0a Vito ZoomBoard   the review

The product includes a variety of layouts that can be chosen with th key on the left – the images below show English, numeric and German modes:
1a Vito ZoomBoard   the review 1b Vito ZoomBoard   the review 1c Vito ZoomBoard   the review

A menu can be opened to configure various aspects of the program:
2a Vito ZoomBoard   the review

Last but not least, ZoomBoard has a variety of different zoom modes:
3a Vito ZoomBoard   the review 3b Vito ZoomBoard   the review 3c Vito ZoomBoard   the review

This review looked at version 2.0 of the program on a hp ipaq rx4240 running Windows Mobile 5. The program automatically installs itself into the RAM when the cab is launched – no information about the file size is given(and the program cannot be installed onto an external memory card).

In the end, ZoomBoard succeeds in taking Apple’s thumb keyboard system one step further – here, the zoom view really helps when it comes to hitting characters. In case the concept outlined above sounds attractive to you, try out the free trial and purchase this 15$ app in the TamsShop if you like it…

P.S. The text in the screenshots is a short story written by Dr. Kohrs of abc texte. A big thank you goes out to her for permitting us to use it as sample!

Microsoft did an excellent job with the implementation of the PocketPC’s input system – openly-accessible API’s have led to a plethora of input options coming from literally hundreds of software houses. Resco’s Keyboard Pro has recently seen an update – let’s see what it can do:

After installing Resco Keyboard Pro, the application immediately launches a small “setup wizard”. This wizard asks you a few questions in order to determine how you will use the application:
0a Resco Keyboard Pro 0b Resco Keyboard Pro

Version 5.0′s most-advertised new feature is called iSkin – a “fullscreen” keyboard that emulates the one found on an iPhone/iPod touch. Resco’s implementation is very faithful and works well, although typing can get a bit hard on the rx4240′s tiny screen:
1a Resco Keyboard Pro

The keyboard does an excellent job at adjusting to landscape mode:
2a Resco Keyboard Pro

By the way – Resco’s nifty baby calculator also made it iSkin – this is a feature that Apple didn’t implement into their devices as of now(I can hear someone in Cupertino firing up the copying machines):
3a Resco Keyboard Pro

As for the other layouts, they are rather plain and do not really adjust to landscape mode:
4a Resco Keyboard Pro 4b Resco Keyboard Pro

However, their gesture mode(can also be enabled for iSkin) is a real timesaver. Instead of forcing you to enter commas and spaces by tapping an extra key; gestures allow you to determine the next character by keeping the pen down after pressing a key and pulling it along the screen in a specified direction:
5a Resco Keyboard Pro

This review looked at a prerelease version of Resco Keyboard Pro 5.0 on a hp ipaq rx4240. The program needs 920KB of memory and can be installed onto a memory card without any issues.

Cutting a long story short: people who like to use the standard PocketPC keyboard will definitely love Resco Keyboard Pro as its gestures save loads of time. People looking for a real full-screen keyboard face a little dilemma: real fullscreen keyboard applications have bigger keys; but cover up the screen. Luckily, a free trial of Resco Keyboard Pro is available from Resco’s web page – head over and see if it saves you 20$ worth of time!

The first part of Sebastian Sell’s review looked at the Opera Mobile browser in general. Part 2 focuses on tabbed browsing and resource consumption – read on to find out how much memory you will need for comfortable tabbed browsing!

tabbed browsing
Tabbed browsing is one of the main reasons, why you will prefer Opera Mobile. It’s possible to have several pages opened at the same time, to toggle between them just tap onto the title of the tab you want to open.
Screen010 Opera Mobile review   Part 2: tabbed browsing and resource consumption
Also, I thought the resource consumption with more tabs opened would be interesting. Read the details in “Opera resource consumption”.

Opera settings
The settings of Opera Mobile can be found under Menu –> Tools –> Settings. In the first tap “General” it is possible to change the home page which should load up every time the browser is started. The “Identify as” option can be set to “Desktop computer” or “Handheld device”. To see the difference, try to visit “www.pdassi.de” in “Handheld device” mode first, then in “Desktop computer” mode. In the first case, the version which is optimized for mobile devices will be displayed, in the second you get the default, for desktop computer optimized page.

Opera comes with a build-in pop-up blocker, which can be either enabled or disabled in the settings. To clear the browsing history, cookies or cache, just navigate to the “History”-tab in the settings and hit the desired button. The cache size can be set here too, by default, it’s 8000 KB. The security protocols (SSL2, SSL3, TLS1) can be disabled in the “Security”-tab, they are by default enabled (recommended).

In the misc. settings tab, JavaScript, Plug-Ins, animations and cookies can be disabled. If Opera should be your default browser for opening web pages, just check the “Set Opera as default browser” checkbox if it isn’t already. Grab and scroll can either be enabled here or on any page, through the context menu (long tap onto the web site).

Opera resource consumption
I measured the RAM consumption with DinarSofts MemMaid:

program memory consumption in kb notes
Pocket Internet Explorer 321.76 kb one page opened (default PIE start page)
Opera Mobile 8.65 135.90 kb one page opened (default Opera start page)
Opera Mobile 8.65 2×287.85 kb = 575.70 kb two tabs opened (default Opera start page and Google)
program time to load www.pocketland.de internet connection type
Pocket Internet Explorer 15.33 sec. ActiveSync
Opera Mobile 8.65 12.42 sec. ActiveSync
Pocket Internet Explorer 09.57 sec. Wireless LAN, signal quality: best
Opera Mobile 8.65 10.50 sec. Wireless LAN, signal quality: best

note: this test was done with DSL 2000 KBit/s and the following settings: PIE: One Column, Text Size = Medium, High Resolution *not* enabled; Opera: Desktop Mode, High Resolution enabled, Zoom = 90%

Startup time Opera: 15.87 sec.
Startup time PIE: 04.75 sec.

Security
Opera supports the security protocols SSL 2, SSL 3 and TLS 1. I had no problems with any web site which requires SSL like Google Mail, or Avant Go. Unfortunately, the Opera Password Manager “WAND” is not included in the mobile version of Opera. Maybe they will add this feature in upcoming versions.

pros and cons
+ good CSS support
+ Flash Player compatible
+ “grab and scroll” feature
+ tabbed browsing
+ PIE Favorite Importer
+ full screen mode
- sometimes slow page rendering

Opera Browser for Pocket PC

Many of you might use the Opera Browser on the desktop PC. This review will show some features of the version 8.65 for Windows Mobile Devices.

Test system:
Dell Axim x51v

  • 624 MHz Intel XScale PXA 270 processor
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 256 MB ROM
  • Windows Mobile 6 Classic
  • VGA Screen

page layouts
The Opera browser for Pocket PC can display web pages in two different modes: desktop mode and fit to screen mode.
 Opera Mobile review   Part 1: Looking at the browser

In desktop mode, the web browser doesn’t change anything at the web site and the layout should be the same as on a desktop computer. Anyway, there are many pages which can’t be displayed, because the mobile browser’s CSS support isn’t by far as advanced as on a desktop.
The second display mode is called “Fit to screen”, and I would recommend this one for most of the sites. The browser resizes every site to fit to the screen of a Pocket PC, so that you only have to scroll up and down, but not left and right.

In every of these modes, it’s possible to zoom in and out in a range from 25% to 200 % zoom, as well as disable image loading for a lower traffic consumption. There is a full screen mode too, which hides the upper windows bar and the menu bar to have more room to display the webpage. The display can be rotated right out of the browser, just tap “Menu” –> “Display” –> “Landscape” to toggle between landscape and portrait mode. I have no idea if this works only for the WM5/WM6 version or for the WM 2003 version too. If you are owner of a WM2003 device, please try it out and post the result as a comment! ;-)

browser compatibility
For this, I visited http://aadmm.de and tried several things. According to this page, Opera handles CSS 1, 2.1 without problems (the basic things), but I wasn’t sure at CSS 3. Opera had trouble with JavaScript on a site, which could be handled without problems in PIE. Anyway, except the flash player, opera can not handle any other plug-ins like QuickTime, RealPlayer or Java (as far as I know). The flash player plug-in can be downloaded at the Adobe Homepage. After installing it, make sure “Enable Plug-Ins” under “Menu” –> “Tools” –> “Settings” –> “Misc.” is checked and restart the browser to enable the Flash Player. Opera Browser can even handle YouTube if you install it and set “Identify as” to “Desktop computer” – but don’t expect too much, it runs very slow and by far not every video is loading:
 Opera Mobile review   Part 1: Looking at the browser

MyVideo doesn’t work at all. Compared to the Pocket Internet Explorer, Opera can display many sites correctly where the PIE failed, especially if CSS is used. Some pages, like Google Mail (the desktop PC HTML version) look ugly and become unusable because of text overlapping and other things (in both Opera and PIE).
 Opera Mobile review   Part 1: Looking at the browser (Opera Mobile) Opera Mobile review   Part 1: Looking at the browser(Internet Explorer Mobile)

Downloads are handled different than in the PIE. When a download is started, the Opera download manager will open up where you can get an overview over the current downloads. You have the possibility to stop, resume or delete them. The download manager can be find under “Menu” –> “Tools” –> “Show Downloads”
 Opera Mobile review   Part 1: Looking at the browser  Opera Mobile review   Part 1: Looking at the browser

An other interesting feature is the Favorite importer, which can be accessed under “Menu” –> “Tools” –> “Manage Bookmarks” –> “Menu” –> “Import IE Favorites”

Please tune in soon for Part 2 of the review – it will look at resource consumption, tabbed browsing and a variety of other fun topics!

The 3rd program of the Spb Business Pack – Spb Diary – is a replacement for the default Pocket Outlook today-plugins.

The installer lets you choose if the program should disable the Pocket Outlook today plugins automatically. It is recommended that you let it disable them – SPB Diary replaces them completely Now lets take a closer look at the program. You will notice that it is divided into 3 parts: the left column has several tabs to toggle between calender view, tasks, contacts, notes (displays word documents, excel sheets, voice notes and hand drawn notes), messaging and special events.
Notes Spb Diary Review

Now what’s so special? At first, you may notice, that if you have an appointment in the next seven days and Spb Traveler installed, there is a small icon at the right side of the date which shows the weather for this day. Tap on it and a window with a detailed weather view will appear.
Integration%20in%20Spb%20Mobile%20Shell Spb Diary Review

The appointments are listed in a neatly arranged way:
Appointments Spb Diary Review

The contacts tab lists all contacts of Pocket Outlook in different ways: the default list and photo thumbnails (if you have assigned a photo to the contacts. Those which don’t have a photo will be shown as text) :
Contacts Spb Diary Review

The mail-tab is very different from the one Pocket Outlook uses, there isn’t only listed how many unread messages you have. Spb Diary shows all messages stored in the ‘Inbox’-folder with sender, subject and the time when it was received. New messages are shown with a bold font.
Mail Spb Diary Review

Interesting for those who can’t remember birthdays: the ‘special events’ tab shows upcoming anniversary’s and birthdays:
Overall, SPB Diary is a potentially-useful add-on for your PocketPC’s today screen. Get the free trial to see if it suits your taste – if you like it, get it for 20$ in the TamsShop.

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