I spent a few minutes playing around with the new LG Voyager (VX 1000) at the Verizon store on Market St in San Francisco. The Voyager is Verizon’s answer to the iPhone. I wasn’t too impressed with the phone as a whole, it’s just a tarted up BREW based feature phone, but the browser is something else entirely. It’s labeled as the Teleca Browser V 3.8 and is a full web browser in the style of Opera Mini and Mobile, Nokia Webkit and the iPhone’s Safari.
The new Teleca browser is a worthy competitor to those other browsers as well. It loaded the front page of this blog in 10 seconds on EVDO beating the Webkit’s 17 seconds and only slightly slower than Opera Mini’s 8 seconds; both recorded on a Nokia N95 using 1.5 mHz Wifi. This is a 369 KB page, (151 KB after Opera Mini’s server compresses it). Teleca’s rendering was perfect. This page uses pure CSS, including floats, for positioning and colors and there are png’s with transparent backgrounds so it’s not exactly a trivial page to get right. The page looked gorgeous on the phone with rich colors and attractive and readable fonts. Webkit’s rendering was just as good. Opera Mini was good too, but the fonts were a little ragged looking and the horizontal menu was clobbered rather badly. The Teleca browser has both a mini-map and fit to width and you can zoom pages from 50-200%. Webkit’s zoom only goes up to 125%, too small for easy readability of some pages, and lacks fit to width, which I really miss. The mini-map helps but it’s still keyhole browsing where you scroll around a big page both horizontally and vertically, a very inefficient way to actually read text. I find myself using fit to width 90% of the time with Opera Mini. It’s so much easier to read text without horizontal scrolling.
This browser is the represents a huge turnaround by Teleca, a company that’s been in the mobile browser business since 1999. Teleca, which started life as AU Systems, created some truly awful browsers in the early years. Their first xhtml-mp browser, on the Ericcson T68, was so buggy that wise mobile developers sent wml to T68 rather than trying to work around the “features” in the xhtml support. But Teleca/AU, which is also known as Obigo, has redeemed themselves by creating one of the best current mobile browsers.