MobileInfocenter
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The Pros:
  • 16-Bit Color
  • Very Fast Loading
  • Great Bookmarking
  • Universal Product
The Cons:
  • Caching needs work
  • Lack of Content
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Handspring Blazer 2.0 Review
By Davy Fields
2/18/2002


Overview
Blazer 2.0 is a Web browser for the Palm OS. It offers support for color graphics, personalization, bookmarks, and strong security. It supports all major existing standards, optimizing HTML, WAP, and cHTML content for viewing on a handheld display.

Installation
You can purchase Blazer at Handango for $20 or it comes bundled with the new Treo. It ships in two versions, Windows.zip and a Macintosh.sit, and there's no difference between the two other than the compression method. Install the 352k file and you're ready.

Connection
There's a few different ways to connect using Blazer so I'll run though them. There are several modems available for your handheld including the VisorPhone, PalmModem, Handspring Modem, Xircom SpringPort Modem, and Novatel Minstrel modems. You can also establish an Internet connection through the infrared (IR) port of certain cell phones, or just using a cell phone connection cable. If you've got a dial-up modem, you can use an ISP. Using the configuration settings that most Internet connection set-ups come with, it's very easy to connect. In fact, Blazer requires no specific Web configuration by itself at all.

Usability
To begin, Blazer is very fast. It uses a proxy server, and that equals speed far greater than most other browsers. Some of the people who've used it on my handheld report that it loads faster than their home dial-up connections. Whether that's my Minstrel m500 wireless modem,or it's just the browser, I'm not sure. However, I believe that it's a combination because text usually appears on screen in about a second, with a 10k web site such as the Palm version of Palm Infocenter totally loading in about 5 seconds.

Blazer also has a great bookmarks scheme, and you can save a hundred different ones. This leads to one of my problems with the whole wireless Web, because, frankly, I only have 20. Fortunately, Blazer's default home page (which can be switched), is set to an incredibly useful search/mobile directory page made by Handspring with lots of different sites.

The colors in Blazer are also fantastic. 16-bit images looks just as nice as the ones you can load in SplashPhoto, and that's one of the best parts. Most other browsers can only support up to 256-colors, which isn't pretty on an m505, but 16-bit photos are great looking.

Also, if you don't go to a native Palm site, the content is still very viewable. Blazer automatically shrinks down the images to viewable sizes, and preserves most of the order. What's especially cool is if you go to a page with frames, Blazer will allow you to pick which one to view. Needless to say, you won't be getting any pop-up camera ads.

My only real problem with Blazer is the caching system, because it's not done very intelligently. It uses a strange method of caching images, as well as whole pages. For example, Blazer is not an off-line browser but it saves lots of pages to a cache. That wouldn't be a problem with a static page, but with a news site that constantly changes, Blazer often just goes right to the cached page instead of checking whether there's a new version online.

Another problem is clicking Refresh to actually check for new content makes all the images reload too, which is a real pain. A great example is ESPN, which has a never-changing banner of links at the top, and a picture and a story in the middle. Every time I go, I'd have to refresh every image, doubling the amount of time it should take. Eventually, I just set the cache size to zero so it wouldn't hold any pages in memory.

Conclusion
In the end, this is by far the best Palm browser out there. The price is great for what it is, and while it is more expensive than others, there's no other browser with similar features, because Blazer is leagues ahead of all the rest.

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Xiino is better...

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 12:32:30 PM #
But English version is not ready.

RE: Xiino is better...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 1:23:26 AM #
Care to expound on that a little? What makes it better? Some of us might actually be on the look out for this "Xiino" when the English version becomes available.

RE: Xiino is better...
Ed @ 2/19/2002 8:52:23 AM #
You can read more about Xiino here:
http://isv07.ilinx.co.jp/en/products/xiino/

You might also be interested in their current application, Palmscape:
http://www.ilinx.co.jp/en/products/ps.html

---
News Editor

RE: Xiino is better...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 10:13:29 AM #
If you like, you can do what I do and use JOS IV to give your US Palm Japanese support. Then you can use the Xiino 1.0.5 J Trial for 30 days. Of course, it might be a bit hard to use if you haven't studied Japanese, but if you haven't, you really should, it is a very nice language to know!
Xiino: http://www.ilinx.co.jp/
JOS IV: http://homepage2.nifty.com/hackerdudesan/ (Click PalmWares. Needs japanese language support in webbrowser)

RE: Xiino is better...
OldManLink @ 12/19/2006 8:16:00 AM #
Both Blazer and Xiino seem to have things they can do better than the other, but neither is a good enough browser for anything other than browsing passive pages. As soon as a page requires some input from the user (a POST form, for example), then one of them fails to work.

This is a real shame, but hopefully development of both browsers will proceed, and one day there will be a useful browser for Palm devices. It remains to be seen whether this will be Blazer, Xiino, or some other player that has yet to be released...

Good Job

msmasitti @ 2/18/2002 1:02:29 PM #
Good review Davy!

------------------------
Mario
CLIE Moderator
RE: Good Job
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 1:09:24 PM #
Does it work for eTrade, anyone using it?

Encryption
msmasitti @ 2/18/2002 1:10:23 PM #
Davy, does Blazer support 128 bit encryption? Also, what about SSL?

------------------------
Mario
CLIE Moderator
RE: Good Job
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 1:15:49 PM #
No to all 3 questions above

RE: Good Job
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 1:27:01 PM #
According to the Handspring website, Blazer 2.0 supports 128-bit SSL encryption.

RE: Good Job
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 2:25:20 PM #
Wen I tried to access a web site less then 2 weeeks ago it did not.

RE: Good Job
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 3:24:19 PM #
It supports 128bit SSL.

To the above poster, there must be something wrong with either the configurations or your connection.

RE: Good Job
msmasitti @ 2/18/2002 4:54:52 PM #
Ok, thanks.

------------------------
Mario
CLIE Moderator

I miss DPWeb!

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 1:50:28 PM #
Anyone know how to make a DPWeb browser?

Comparison...

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 5:21:33 PM #
Good review. It would also be interesting to see a comparison with AvantGo 4.0's online browsing. AvantGo is free and has a lot of the features that you mentioned in Blazer.

RE: Comparison...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 8:15:31 AM #
...but it has no bookmarks. This itself is already making it unsuitable for anything rather than very light browsing.

Blazer and the i705
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 1:12:00 PM #
Is a modem required for use with the i705? Granted it's not a color device.

Which brings up another question -

I have about 10 days before my '30 day unconditional' return window for my m505 is up. Should I return it for an i705? Return it and wait for the m515 to be released in a week or so or just keep it?

Thanks!

copy and paste

lithe67 @ 2/18/2002 7:34:01 PM #
The only thing I don't like about Blazer is that I can't copy and paste to another application. If I download directions to someplace I can't save it as a memo to beam to a friend. Avantgo will, but in every other way I find Blazer to be superior.

RE: copy and paste
Davy @ 2/18/2002 10:30:23 PM #
Indeed, I forgot about that lack of a feature. I believe it's in there so you can drag on the screen to scroll, but I like the ability to copy and paste as well. It's more or a trade-off.

Blazer doesn't let me view hotmail accounts!

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/18/2002 11:00:28 PM #
mm... Blazer is a good application, but it doesn't let me view mail.. e.g. hotmail....

any of you guys tried it before and had the same problem?

RE: Blazer doesn't let me view hotmail accounts!
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 12:25:52 AM #
It doesn't allow you to view mail becuase Microsoft does not want you to use it to view mail. I have seen numerous workarounds at visorcentral.com. What I did to access my hotmail was signup from the mobile MSN service and log in through there.


RE: Blazer doesn't let me view hotmail accounts!
TDS @ 2/19/2002 12:41:32 AM #
Blow Bill Gates a big kiss for that one. Our pal does not want you to view Hotmail on a Palm OS device. Just like he does not want you to view Hotmail in any other mail application. Switch over to yahoo mail. It works just dandy on a palm.

Anyone who wants to flame me for this anti-microsoft sentiment can email me at tds_computer@hotmail.com (Ironic, isn't it?) :)


RE: Blazer doesn't let me view hotmail accounts!
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 5:45:29 AM #
lol TDS =)
anyways, have you also tried out blazer using yahoo mail?
i know there is a specific software PQA that lets you do it, but..... just want to ask if this is possible.. becuase i have some problems with it too

WHO THE **** USES HOTMAIL ON A PALM!
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 7:52:31 AM #
:P

RE: Blazer doesn't let me view hotmail accounts!
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 8:46:43 AM #
Who wants to use HotMail on their Palm? Me for one. And probably just about everyone else who has a Palm and uses HotMail. Whenever I hear someone say "You don't need to do that," what they really mean is "I don't want to do that and everyone who isn't exactly like me is stupid and crazy."

RE: Blazer doesn't let me view hotmail accounts!
f18man @ 7/20/2003 10:12:50 PM #
Actually, hotmail at the following URL
http://mobile.msn.com/hm/folder.aspx
works fine with Blazer.

f18man

No JavaScript support

teq @ 2/19/2002 2:36:38 AM #
Davy,

something you don't mention in your review is Blazer's lacking support for JavaScript.

While you may argue that there is no browser for the Palm that supports JavaScript (or is there?), this missing feature makes it quite impossible to use a number of more sophisticated websites (e.g. online banking).

Cheers

teq

****** Pilot 5000 => Palm Pilot III => Palm Vx => M505 - Ive had them all and loved each one of them.

RE: No JavaScript support
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 10:26:23 AM #
Xiino has support for Javascript, tables and frames, and numerous other nice fatures.

Browsers & AOL

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 2:09:03 PM #
I know this is going to draw a bunch of flamers, but I really need to ask what is probably a basic question. I have an m505 and a PalmModem. I access the Internet thru AOL. AOL's PDA software only allows email access. Can any of the available browsers be configured for getting to the Internet via AOL? This is incredibly frustrating.

RE: Browsers & AOL
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 8:16:15 PM #
No, at least not at this time. AOL stated at one time they were working on newer version that provide a standard TCP/IP connection rather than the proprietary connection the software currently provides. I don't think this "newer version" has been released yet.

I am using v2.0 build 30 and while it suppots all AOL features (IM, email, , buddy list, address book) it doesn't allow third party TCP/IP access. It does allow one to move to other applications and go BACK to AOL, but not to use a browser.
Dave R.

Does Blazer 2.0 allow Copy & Paste??

SimonR @ 8/24/2002 10:07:58 AM #
I use Blazer 1.1 at the moment and I think its great, except for one MAJOR drawback: I can't simply select text to copy & paste it to another application (email, wordprocessor, memopad).

Can I do this with Blazer 2.0?

Ciao
Simon

Certificate Authority

jsundin @ 9/25/2003 12:25:41 PM #
Cannot get Blazer to ignore a CA from an untrusted source. Does anyone know how to do that?

I will find a way or make one.
-- Hannibal, 217 B.C.
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