3.1 for Pocket PC Updated April 2004 by Lisa
Gade , Editor in Chief
Sony Clié owners
have had the pleasure of using NetFront 3 which is bundled with
NX, NZ, UX and TH55 models, but Pocket PC owners have been stuck
with Pocket Internet Explorer. Looking for a better browser than
Pocket IE? Check out NetFront from Access Systems. Why do you need
a better browser? The version of Pocket IE included with Pocket
PC 2002 PDAs is sorely lacking. It emulates Internet Explorer version
3 on the desktop, and many popular web standards and web technologies
have been developed since IE 3 came out several years ago. While
Pocket IE supports HTML 3, JScript, Cookies and SSL along with
GIF and JPEG graphics, many users want more. Pocket IE for Pocket
PC 2003 PDAs supports more standards and is faster than its predecessor,
but it doesn't do as good a job of laying out pages as NetFront.
If you own a Toshiba e805, you
can get a special version of NetFront 3.1 that supports VGA browsing
(no hacks or additional software required).
NetFront supports HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0 Basic
HTML and some DOM, SSL2.0/3.0, TLS1.0, Cookies, and GIF, JPEG,
PNG, MNG image formats. ActiveX and Flash plugins are supported.
Besides supporting most current web standards,
NetFront lays out pages very well compared to Pocket IE.
The pages more closely resemble what you'd see using a desktop
or notebook computer, thanks to the excellent rendering engine
supports both horizontal and vertical scrollbars, but if
you hate side-to-side scrolling you can turn on the Smart
Fit option, which eliminates horizontal scrolling while still
doing a decent job of maintaining page layout.
One of the most interesting features in
NetFront is that you can have up to five windows open simultaneously
(most PDA browsers don't support multiple windows). You can
tab through open windows, which is handy for web applications
that require multiple windows.
NetFront allows you to zoom pages, scroll
using the stylus (you can drag the page around the screen),
has Favorites, history and common browser functions like
Back and Refresh icons. You can download files and applications
from web sites, and browse pages offline using the AutoCruise
NetFront has lots of prefs so you can set
Cookies, cache size, how long to keep URLs in history, whether
Proxy settings and more. You can even change the User Agent
string, so that you won't be turned away from sites that
require a specific browser.
If you need to use web-based Java applications,
you can purchase NetFront bundled with JV-Lite2 VM, which
runs as a Java plug-in.
Speed and Compatibility
Pocket Internet Explorer for Pocket PC 2002 PDAs
is a pig. IE for Pocket PC 2003 is considerably quicker. NetFront
is faster than IE for PPC 2002, and does a better job of rending
complex pages quickly. NetFront and the PPC 2003 version of IE run
equally fast, but NetFront does manage to render pages better using
more web standards and technologies in the process.
NetFront runs on Pocket PC (including older SH3
and MIPS models), Pocket PC 2002 and Windows Mobile 2003 PDAs. I've
tested it on a large variety of Pocket PC 2002 and Windows Mobile
2003 models and it ran great.
If you're looking for a better browser than Pocket
Internet Explorer that renders pages more accurately, supports all
major web standards and offers flexible layout options, then NetFront
is for you. While it isn't the cheapest piece of PDA software at
$25 to $30 US, it's worth it if you do serious web surfing. I only
wish it supported landscape browsing!