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Old 07-04-2012, 03:38 PM
da1writer da1writer is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 112
Default Best Internet Browsers for the z2 : Top 5

Alright, you just got the package with your Cowon z2 and ready the device for apps and such. With the device set up how you like, you comfortable sit down to enjoy a small bit of web browsing. Come to find out, the default browser ... sucks. HD Video and Heavy HTML5 sites [and HTML5 video] absolutely blow on the z2. There are a few like me who have a tablet and this isn't the case with our default browsers (ICS, HC)- we just rather have more options. Well, you aren't part of this tablet social group I'm talking about, your z2 just sucks surfing the web on the thing - your mini tablet thinking days are over! Or so you think...

I'm here to hopefully help people out in deciding how to get a more enjoyable experience with the z2 when it comes to surfing the web on the thing. This will of course deal with installing third party apps from the Google Play Store [and not] but once you are there you will notice - there are tons of web browsers, which one do you choose! Well then, I've done some thorough tests and narrowed it down to 5 Top browsers and it's entirely up to you if you want all 5 or be like me and have 3 (this of course excludes the default browser). First things first, let me explain the tests a bit (you are going to see a trend going on here) and what browsers to steer away from.

Test 1: Heavy HTML5 Site and HTML5 Video's: Eurogamer
Test 2: Interactive panes with Flash support and Flash videos: Gamespot and IGN
Test 3: Switching between 3 versions of a website - HD, Classic, Mobile : Engadget and Eurogamer

I first tried what I would call the Mini Browser set - Dolphin Mini, Opera Mini and Next, Boat Browser Mini. All Have clean, simple interfaces with built-in flash but doesn't mean a thing when it came to my tests. Also, HTML5 video often get's forced to the z2's own video app which doesn't support HTML5 video that well [at all]...

Dolphin Mini had some very good available options on the main screen, an integrated add-on's page is inside the toolbox to show even more, a welcome change over the cumbersome slide panes of the HD rendition of Dolphin. Not as clean as Opera's Mobile and Mini browsers but Dolphin was made for those who want alot of options available at their finger tips easily. Some of the add-ons that you would normally have to get in the HD Dolphin Model are actually built into the browser itself, which is nice and convenient. Yet Tiling on the HTML5 site looked somewhat bad and also Failed on HTML5 Video though, Flash sites do not have smooth transitions. Switching between the version of the websites were locked to the Agent you were using which is good, manual switch can still be done through the website itself.

Opera Mini and Next seems to follow the same footsteps as it's bigger Mobile app, if you were to have all three side by side each other, you may not be able to tell the difference between them, especially with their very clean interface. Not good in my book but it actually boils down to the already sparse available options Opera gives to the Mobile (more) and Mini (less) versions of their app. Flash sites and videos run great on the Opera Mini, transitions buttery smooth. It did have the same problem as Dolphin Mini, as it failed HTLM5 in generally everything, slow and crashed the HTML5 video. Switching between versions of websites was no problems again like Dolphin, tied to the User Agent but with only two options available to the user (Dolphin has 5, Opera has 2), you had to manually switch between two at least. [Opera Next is pretty fast btw but no Flash support atm so can't recommend]

Oh Boat Browser Mini, I really tried to like this thing, interface makes me want to gag. It is customisable but the pop up bubble's options are just ugly to look at (it has themes though). At least I can say it was less confusing than the full fledged one. Addon's from it can't be installed on to the mini version, so you will be missing some features unlike Dolphin Mini which had the features built-in. It will allow for a more streamlined model though and while things were quick on it, Force Closes were a big let down for me already and it does it alot. The full version does the same thing but even more, that's at a later time frame. Overall Flash is a bit jerky on this trip. Like the other mini's, HTML5 bombed on this one too. HTML5 video just shuts off within a few seconds of playtime and HTML5 site population is slow. Switching between the versions of websites was very reminiscent of the Dolphin Mini browser, Boat provides lots of user agents which are tied to the site as well.

So right now, I would give the mini's of the famous browsers of Boat, Opera, and Dolphin a thumbs down [thumbdwn]. Don't bother with them, there are better and I'll tell you soon !

Would like to get out the way of Google Chrome - 4.0 devices only right now, so don't bother trying to sideload an apk you found. It doesn't have flash anyway, so it's already useless.

Also while Firefox is worth mentioning due to it getting better ever day, it's still too buggy for me to recommend to anyone. There are four versions/ Release models of it to confuse matters even more - Stable, Beta, Nightly, and Aurora. Pick your flavor and test them out if you want but none are in a state of being top browser to use on the z2 or any Android device for that matter.

Ninesky and Boat Browser both share the same problem - crashes a whole lot. Restarted my z2 many times and had to restart a few due to them sucking the crap out the CPU and ram resources. It doesn't matter if there are quite a few good options they provide to the user or that Flash runs fine, the Crashes alone is the number one reason why I wouldn't recommend these whatsoever. HTML5 video doesn't even run through the browsers - they are forced to the z2's main video app, how sad.

With that out the way, It leaves it now to the list of the five best Browsers you can have for the z2 and I'll start from the worse to the best - Anyone can chime in to this thread and give their opinion and thoughts on the list but I'm hoping this help you guys out in finding the best web browser experience for the z2.
  • 5 - Opera Mobile
    Now the Opera Mobile Browser is very similar to it's mini version but has a bit more options for the user to play with. Though I have to say that the options available for you to play with are very little compared to other browsers but some may just like that. Browsing without history (aka incognito option) not available at all but only some will be using that feature anyway. Flash on this web browser is fantastic but HTML 5 is a different story. HTML5 websites may run ok but video crashes and/or forced to another player. The only upside is that Opera Allows you to download the video if you like, the only other browser that allows you to do this is Firefox (Dolphin HD does too if you get an additional plugin). Opera Mobile has a clean interface and seems to be targeted to users who don't want to customize their browser to their wants/needs - so with that, it is a capable browser you can use for flash but don't expect too much support on HTML5 video or icognito options.

  • 4 - Dolphin HD
    This is the go to browser most Android users go to, heck I'm using it right now to type this up on my Tablet. That's the thing though, I think Dolphin HD has gotten optimized into a category that only tablets and dual core devices can fully utilize that browser. My tablet can handle dolphin fine due to having 800mb of available of Ram and high CPU, The z2 on the other hand has only ~240mb of ram to work with and a lacking single core CPU, Dolphin HD is super heavy on ram and is a very bloated browser. With that said, it's still very functional and HTML5 pages load up fast and great on the z2. HTML5 sites run well but video is a different story as it's broken as well on the z2, forcing the video app doesn't fix things either. Flash on Dolphin HD is somewhat middling, it's passable through web pages but kinda slow through videos on the z2. Now Customizablity was one of the many things Dolphin HD touted, with many addons you can choose from. Firefox has stole the addon thunder but Dolphin pretty much has all the ones the majority of users would use all the time. Sliding the browser to the right or left brings up either the bookmark/history or addons. Other features like gestures and their sonar voice app being one of the few available options not seen on other browsers. Seeing as this does get updates often, maybe Dolphin HD may be worth keeping on the side if things do get better.

  • 3 - Miren
    This browser is no longer on the market for some odd reason but I can proudly state it is actually a Flash guru! Opera has nothing on this browser when it comes to heavy flash sites and flash video. It's very fast actually to the point of me uninstalling Opera on my z2. HTML5 sites are kinda strange as I might need to give the browser more time to cache articles as images take a bit to load, HTML5 video is out of the question of running, video app doesn't help either. It has alot of options you can access in their settings page, more than Opera even - so that alone should make you take the plunge. Check often to see if there are any updates to the browser - it has a VERY SMALL footprint btw, heavily caches data and information to your SD card rather than your ram - not a feature used in any browser atm actually. Some browsers on android give you an option to cache websites to your SD but only by a little, they still heavily use your ram. That is one of miren's features worth taking note, hopefully future updates will come to implement even more features to this promising web browser. Oh, and Miren is one of the only browser that has a functional widget reminding me the easiness of what ICS had.

  • 2 - Maxthon
    Man, Dolphin has nothing on this browser when it comes to available features at the users fingertips. No sliding the screen to get to your features, it a simple menu button press and everything is there in a popup menu. More is there when you slide the popup left and even more addon's can be added to it if you like. Ram footprint is also half the amount of Dolphin and it also has a night mode feature that is Heavily worth getting the browser alone. I don't know about you guys but my AMOLED display is never above setting 1 and it's still too bright for me actually. The Maxthon browser's night mode grays everything on the page and turns all words to a low shade of blue, my wife no longer complains of the bright light my screen gives at night. It has to be seen to be believed! It's something ereader apps have and I'm so surprised no other browsers have it*. More is in this browser - If you ever exit the app, going back in pops up a last open and history tab automatically, very helpful in case of a crash (which it rarely does). A small amount of useful gestures are utilized, as well as a speed dial page is there like some browsers have (Dolphin, Opera had them). There are also a ton of themes available too, more than Dolphin. So.... why would you use dolphin? I don't on my z2 anymore, Dolphin has been uninstalled and Maxthon has replaced it. Don't feel sorry for making the jump one bit. The only thing I can knock on this is that it can't do video [SD or HD] that well whether Flash or HTML5, sometimes it can do flash video but often no. Flash and HTML5 sites run good though, downloads are quick and the app still gets updates if you have any concerns.
    * UC Browser has a night mode as well and is very similar to Maxthon but the UC browser needs alot of work and speed is just not there yet - at least for the z2.

  • 1 - Skyfire
    This was my first browser when I first jumped into Android (2011), Tablets though started to evolve at a rapid rate and android browsers started to get faster (forgetting single core, most browser are now only optimized for dual or quad core CPU's and large ram) and more feature rich than Skyfire could keep up. Eventually updates dropped from the browser and hasn't been touched since late 2011. At least it seems that this is the only browser that was fully optimized for single core devices in mind, websites run well no matter if Flash or HTML5. The kicker, this runs ANY video off of any sites, even HTML5 only due to a $4.99 addon. The addon was free if you had the Skyfire app before a certain date (don't remember). $5 isn't bad as the addon takes any video you might be having problems with (HTML5) and if it can find the source link it will give you a pop-up (video button on bottom bar) and take the video to their server and pushes it out optimized for mobile. NO BROWSER on the Android market does HTML5 video well on the z2, server video processing isn't done on ANY Android Browser period - Skyfire is the only browser that does this and more! Flash Video still is accessible without addon and runs fantastically, your flash video actually runs loads better than other browsers I've used. So in other words, it's my main browser I use right now. Pro tips I can give are that the ugly bar at the bottom of skyfire can be customized and it does drop if you press the z2's touch menu button. The top menu of Skyfire can rise with the web page if you disable the notification bar in the settings menu of skyfire. Other than those two quirks, which are easily fixable somewhat, I give my stamp of approval as Skyfire is the best browser I've used on the z2. If you take anything from this, at least Skyfire is the browser to go to for your streaming video needs.

So there you have it, you can try these browsers for yourself but in my humble opinion, the top three ones I mentioned are the best you are going to get for the z2. I very well might revert to ONLY using Maxthon and Skyfire from now on for my z2. Hopefully you guys like this thread and please post your thoughts!
Prior MP3 Player | Cowon J3 32gb w/ 32gb Memory Stick
Current MP3 Player | Cowon z2 32gb w/ 64gb Memory Stick
Accessaries | Yuin PK1 150ohm Earbuds w/ Fiio E5 Portable Amp

Last edited by da1writer; 07-04-2012 at 04:21 PM.
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