UPDATE 2: I’ve added some quick initial impressions of the BOLT Browser after the jump. If there’s something you’d like to know about, post a comment!
UPDATE: Because of the huge traffic influx, we’ve heard that some of you are still waiting for your download link from Bitstream. To tide you over, we have a gallery of BOLT screenshots for you after the jump. Hold on tight!
One aspect of the BlackBerry experience that underwhelms, despite serious improvements recently with the Storm and the Bold, is the BlackBerry Browser. Browsing the web on your BlackBerry is packed with glitches and speed issues, making your BB a second-class citizen compared to the iPhone’s Safari browser.
Bitstream has just launched a private beta of a new J2ME browser called BOLT, which they claim is much faster than Opera Mini and utilizes less resources (thus saving on battery life). We’ve just installed it ourselves, so stay tuned for impressions, but if you’d like to be one of the first people in the world to try the new BOLT browser, head on over to the download page and use the following referral code: berrycool. Post a comment and let us know what you think!
Quick BOLT BlackBerry Browser Impressions:
–Boy is it fast! Loads pages much quicker (and more completely) than the BlackBerry Browser. Here’s what Bitstream had to say about BOLT’s speed:
Bitstream measured download speeds of 13 popular websites including Amazon.com, CNN.com, ESPN.com and nytimes.com. The second fastest browser averaged download speeds in excess of 18 seconds across all pages. On the same phones, using the same networks, BOLT’s average download speed was under 13 seconds, a full 5.5 seconds faster.
–While BOLT renders web pages very well, it is missing a few things. Semantic tags (bold, italic) aren’t there and I haven’t gotten a form submission (like posting a comment) to work yet. Still, the images look good, even on medium quality and everything is where it should be.
–BOLT doesn’t really seem to be made for the BlackBerry Storm. Navigation and magnification is menu based, and it’s very difficult to select links or change menu options. Also, you don’t actually have to click down on the screen to confirm a command, which has led to a few goof ups.
–BOLT comes with a built in RSS reader, which automatically detects feeds on whatever site you’re browsing. Very cool!
–Like Opera Mini, data is passed through a proxy for rendering and compression before being passed to the handset, speeding things up and saving battery life. Pages are compressed at a rate of 23:1.
–When viewing videos on YouTube, you actually have to tell BOLT to launch the video in the BlackBerry Media Player, which is weird. Also, videos around 4 minutes or higher won’t load, as they are considered too large.
–Bolt makes it really easy to input URLs and write in text fields. It basically takes you to away to a screen similar to email composition, making it easier to not screw up. Simple, but appreciated.
–Viewing images on ‘medium’ quality seemed like the right balance between speed and eye candy. If you’re not running EV-DO like me, you might have to choose ‘low’ quality images, but you won’t like it.
–BOLT has a ‘split screen browsing‘ option, where – 2/3 of the screen shows the full page, serving as a mini-map with a highlighting box, while the other 1/3 shows the magnified area. I could see it really helping non-Storm/Bold BlackBerrys, but I didn’t need it.