By Steve Lawson on http://reddevil62-techhead.blogspot.com/2008/11/review-opera-mini-42-beta.html
USING a mobile phone to access the worldwide web has rarely been a pleasant experience.
Things improved with the recent introduction of 3G networks and large-screen devices such as the Apple iPhone and Nokia N Series.
But on standard phones the mobile internet is underwhelming: Pages load slowly, text is so small it is unreadable, modern websites are too heavily laden with graphics and Flash content - it is not what the mobile internet should be like.
I own a Sony Ericsson K810i mobile phone which I bought, primarily, for its 3.2megapixel Cybershot-branded camera. The phone, while capable of using a 3G network, is only connected to a GSM/GPRS network (Vodafone) in the UK.
That means that my normal web-browsing experience has been limited to a handful of modest, WAP-style sites (BBC News and Sport, The Register and a few others) which have neglible graphical content and display in simple columns of text. Anything more than that and the K810i's browser just grinds to a halt.
But then along came Oslo-based Opera with their Mini 4.2 browser - and all that changed. Opera Mini is still at the beta stage, but you would not know it from the way it performs.
When Mini 4.2 was released on November 11th, Opera claimed it "works on almost every mobile phone", which is a bold claim and should, perhaps, have been tempered slightly by the addition of the word "recent" between the "every" and "mobile" (for example, you must have a Java-enabled phone to run their browser).
Still, Opera Mini 4.2 has breathed new like into my K810i. Getting it on your phone is a straightforward matter: You simply point your phone's existing browser to mini.opera.com/beta and select the relevant download for your phone model.
The download (around 120kb) takes just a few seconds and then you are given the option of installing either to your phone's built-in memory or, like in my case, a mini-SD storage card (I later transferred the application to my phone's memory for better performance and stability).
Opera Mini works much faster on STANDARD web pages than the K810i's proprietary web browser - pages load much more quickly and I am able to scroll around the page using either the phone's keypad or the small control button, then zoom in on any part of a page to read the content - it is quite a revelation, let me tell you.
Part of the reason for this speed is the fact that all your web traffic is first passed through Opera's servers in Norway, where it is compressed and reformatted to better suit a mobile phone screen. It still delivers the full web page to your phone, and all this activity goes on in the blink of an eye in the background so as not to interrupt your viewing pleasure too much.
Opera maintain over 100 proxy servers to handle Opera Mini traffic and, surprise surprise, they run Linux!
Opera users in the United States and the Asia-Pacific region have their browsing passed through a new Opera Mini server park in America, so they too should be witnessing this speed benefit.
Mini 4.2 provides a more personalised experience with a colourful selection of new skins plus improved support for YouTube and other mobile video services.On my phone I am able to get YouTube pages but watching the actual videos requires some patience. To be fair, this probably is more a limitation imposed by the somewhat flaky GPRS connection in my area and my phone's low processing power than a fault with the browser.
I am very impressed by Opera Mini 4.2, even in its beta form - it is free, fast and stable so I happily recommend you try it out.