The BlackBerry is most commuters connection to the outside world for the few hours during the daily trip to and from work. Besides checking email and listening to music, surfing the web can help pass the time. The newer BlackBerries (Bold, Storm, Curve 8900) have the most advanced browser in the BlackBerry family but they leave something to be desired. The browsers are slow to render web pages and wont load many sites at all. The folks over at BoltBrowser.com are working to fix this. They are developing the Bolt Browser which is aimed to work on most cell phones. The version we’re reviewing today is the Beta 2 version for the BlackBerry installed a BlackBerry Bold.
You can download the software onto your BlackBerry directly from their site and it installs like any other BlackBerry app. Once the app is installed you get an icon onf a yellow circle with a black lightning bolt. Click on the icon and you’ll see the main start page.
From the start you get an address bar and a list of your favorites. From here you can start surfing. One of the main differences between the Bolt and standard BlackBerry browser is the way they render web pages. The Blackberry browser typically renders the mobile version of the site, but Bolt renders it as a full web site. Check out Digg.com as rendered by the Bolt:
You get the full version of the page and it is FAST. The Bolt browser even supports sites with AJAX and will render pop-ups. The text can sometimes be a little small for some people when the site is being viewed on such a small screen. This can easily be changed at the preferences screen.
One other great thing is that it supports viewing YouTube videos by transcoding them and streaming them to the BlackBerry Media Player. You simple choose the video you want to view. When the video page loads you’ll see a black box where the video normally would be and you simple click play. Bolt will pop up with a message saying that it is going to begin transcoding the video for viewing on the media player.
Now for the bad parts of the browser. Let me remind you that this is the beta version of the browser so some of these bugs could be fixed in future releases. The first thing I noticed about the browser is the fact that it doesn’t do font smoothing when rendering web pages. The built in BlackBerry browser does use font smoothing so it’s easier on the eyes when viewing sites.
The next issue is filling out text forms. When filling out text boxes in the browser, you cannot type directly in the box. You need to click on the text entry area and a text editing screen pops up and you fill in the request info. This can get quite tedious after filling out a few boxes. Also once the form has been filled out, you have to wait for the Bolt browser to send the info to the web server. I think that has to do with the browsers support for AJAX so I can render results from text input.
The Bolt browser is fast, but it’s not without its issues. One thing that bugs me across all devices is when the information bar gives you incorrect info about the time remaining or percent complete. Many times with the Bolt browser (usually due to lack of service) the device will almost instantly get to 20% and just hang.
The Bolt doesn’t like it when your phone loses service. Usually I open Bolt and surf for a bit and put it in the background without actually killing it. If you try to click a link on the current page, and you’ve lost service, it has to completely reload the page before you can click the link.
Overall the Bolt browser is a great alternative and much more functional that the built in BlackBerry browser. And for the price of FREE it’s a must download for any BlackBerry user.