Hands On: Opera Mini 4.2 Beta For Android

It didn’t ta ke long fo r Android’s built-in WebKit browser (that performed well in our recent mobile browser Battlemodo) to see a little competion in the form of Opera Mini 4.2—the ubiquitous and lightweight software that’s installable in some form on just about every mobile platform that can run Java apps. A beta version was released for Android today, and we put it through a quick test.

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Opera Mini is notable for its practice of first loading your requested page on its own servers, which compress the pages and images before squirting it out to your phone over the network for quicker load times. And speed is definitely its forté on the G1—on T-Mobile’s 3G network in NYC, pages like the New York Times, ESPN and Gizmodo all loaded with only a second or two of “Processing” delay. Granted, what you see are horizontal lines instead of text and a few shaded boxes instead of images, but zooming in doesn’t cause any additional loading delay, except for some images. Zooming is pretty easy with a double tap or trackball click, and it works just like it does in other version of the browser. Hitting the G1’s “back” button zooms you back out, which is unintuitive at first but ends up making sense.

Javascript sites that have lots of dynamically loading bits, even those optimized for smartphone browsers like Google Reader or Gmail, will often revert back to their more dumbed down static HTML versions. It’s hard to find a page that loads completely bork-tastically though, as all of the pages we used in the Battlemodo loaded without any problems. No Flash, obviously, but YouTube’s non-mobile front page still loads as you would expect.As far as betas go, it’s not terrible, but text entry fields have a strange bug which results in them taking up the entire screen (as you can see in the gallery), and the only way to go back is often So while you probably wouldn’t want to switch to Opera for all of your browsing—it’s a great backup to have for a quick load of a newspaper site or anything else fairly simple, especially if your connection isn’t great.

zzzPhone now shipping with Android? T-Mobile doesn’t seem terribly concerned

Those crazy zzzPhone kids are at it again, and this time they’re jumping on the open handset bandwagon. Sure, the whole thing has always seemed excessively shady, and as far as we can tell no one has ever received a one of these devices, but apparently the made-to-order cellphone is now “shipping” with Android. If the optional TV tuner, 100,000 candlepower flashlight, or solid gold case (decked out with one karat diamonds) wasn’t enough to lure you in, maybe this new development will seal the deal for you. Of course we’re dying to put the modular mobile boom box attachment through its paces, but not so much that we’ll be sending our hard earned cash over to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone any time soon.

G1’s browser getting hijacked like a cab in Liberty City?

There’s already been a G1 firmware pushed out to patch up a browser security issue, but you know how it goes with those — two flaws seem to magically sprout up in place of every one that’s snuffed out. It’s unclear exactly what’s going on here, but some G1 users are reporting that attempting to visit Yahoo!’s home page is intermittently redirecting them to a totally legit-looking page imploring them to download some bogus Microsoft AntiSpyware crap — and while we’re thinking that this fake site was intended to target slightly larger computers of the Windows variety, it’s disturbing that this redirect somehow managed to filter down to Android. It could be a DNS hack or a problem with T-Mobile’s proxies, in which case the G1’s own defenses are absolved for the time being, but that’s not much comfort for Joe Yahoo-User, now is it?

T-Mobile G1s now shipping with 3.5mm headphone adapters included

It’s not going to somehow magically conjure a jack where there’s currently nothing more than a sad-looking ExtUSB port, but new G1 buyers can take some solace in the knowledge that they’ll be able to plug in, turn it up, and tune out right out of the box. We’ve received official word from HTC that 3.5mm headphone adapters for the ExtUSB port are now being bundled with the phone, meaning you won’t be stuck with that janky (no, seriously, it’s insanely terrible) headset with the special connector that you get free of charge; after all, when we’re blasting the Jonas Brothers at full tilt, we need the kind of fidelity that only high-end earbuds can provide. What, you got a problem with that?