All the buzz about Opera Mini must be frustrating for the 84 million users on US BREW carriers like Verizon, Alltel, US Cellular, Metro PCS or Cricket. Phones on these networks can’t run Java applications like Opera Mini, the amazing free browser that lets you use any website on mainstream phones.
Using a mobile transcoder offers a viable alternative to Opera Mini and works on any data enabled phone that has a browser. Transcoders take big web pages designed for PC browsers and split them up into multiple smaller pages. Images are resized and a lot of extraneous stuff, like most ads, gets striped out. The end result isn’t as pretty as browsing with Opera Mini but it does let you get at the content of most websites. About the only thing you can’t do with a transcoder is access secure encrypted services like online banking and the checkout at e-merchants.
One of the best mobile transcoders, Skweezer (skweezer.net) released a new version Monday. The update makes a big improvement in Skweezer’s ability to adapt pages for specific mobile browsers. For example, when using my Motorola i855, Skweezer used to deliver text-only pages, the new Skweezer includes all the images resized to just fit the browser’s 176px width. The second image shows how th PC version of this blog looks in Skweezer. The new release also seems better at reducing bandwidth. Images can still be turned off if you want to further reduce it for speed or cost reasons. You can also adjust paging (page splitting) on a preferences page. Choices are to split at 5, 20 or 50KB or not at all. All the Skweezer pages have been redesigned with a cleaner, simpler look and usability is improved with the addition of accesskeys – numeric short cuts to common functions. Skweezer also offers web search using Ask.com’s index.
If you haven’t tried Skweezer recently, check it out. It’s one of the top three transcoders in my book, the others being Google and Mowser. I still think Google is the best because it has something equivalent to Opera Mini’s content folding – emphasizing main content by replacing navigation menus and less important parts of the page with a plus sign which can be clicked to show the hidden elements.
Finally when searching for mobile content the most usable sites will be ones designed for mobile devices in the first place like the mobile version of this blog, wapreview.mobi. I always try to find a mobile sites using Yahoo oneSearch or the classic version Google Mobile Search before resorting to a transcoder. Transcoders are sort of like online language translators – you can usually make some sense out of the translated text but it’s an inferior experience compared with reading a document in your native language.
Link: skweezer.net (cHtml)
Ratings – Content: Usability: