New BOLT BlackBerry Browser private beta, we have invites!! (updated)

91 Comments

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!

Download BOLT BlackBerry Browser

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.

  • http://blackberryrocks.com/ Mauricio

    Nice!

  • http://blackberryrocks.com Mauricio

    Nice!

  • Michael K

    Tried signing up, but it says the beta is full.

  • Michael K

    Tried signing up, but it says the beta is full.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool

    Worry not guys, apparently the download links for the browser are being generated by hand. So it might take a bit of time for you to get emailed one. You’ll still get it though (make sure you put in your email address right!).

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool

    Worry not guys, apparently the download links for the browser are being generated by hand. So it might take a bit of time for you to get emailed one. You’ll still get it though (make sure you put in your email address right!).

  • Michael K

    I sure hope so. I’ve already been left disappointed with socialscope’s process, would hate to see it repeated with Bolt.

  • Michael K

    I sure hope so. I’ve already been left disappointed with socialscope’s process, would hate to see it repeated with Bolt.

  • Michael K

    I sure hope so. I’ve already been left disappointed with socialscope’s process, would hate to see it repeated with Bolt.

  • Kristie

    Thank you! Very excited about this!

  • Kristie

    Thank you! Very excited about this!

  • ruskastud

    I signed up, but have not gotten anything yet……

  • ruskastud

    I signed up, but have not gotten anything yet……

  • http://www.blackberryunderground.com/ Andrew

    Instead of all this fuss and wanting….why doesn’t RIM just build a better browser for pete sake if other can do it why can they..

    Andrew
    http://www.blackberryunderground.com
    A Truly Social Network for Blackberry Users and Abusers

  • http://www.blackberryunderground.com/ Andrew

    Instead of all this fuss and wanting….why doesn’t RIM just build a better browser for pete sake if other can do it why can they..

    Andrew
    http://www.blackberryunderground.com
    A Truly Social Network for Blackberry Users and Abusers

  • http://www.blackberryunderground.com Andrew

    Instead of all this fuss and wanting….why doesn’t RIM just build a better browser for pete sake if other can do it why can they..

    Andrew
    http://www.blackberryunderground.com
    A Truly Social Network for Blackberry Users and Abusers

  • Cram

    RIM should just license Opera Mobile and get on with it.

  • Michael K

    Amen, Andrew. Unfortunately, RIM has screwed up most every product launch since the Curve. Software is put together half-assed, features are left out… makes you wonder why they even bother.

    I’m wondering if this browser will support Facebook Chat.

  • Cram

    RIM should just license Opera Mobile and get on with it.

  • Michael K

    Amen, Andrew. Unfortunately, RIM has screwed up most every product launch since the Curve. Software is put together half-assed, features are left out… makes you wonder why they even bother.

    I’m wondering if this browser will support Facebook Chat.

  • Cram

    @Michael K

    BOLT apparently does not support Ajax completely, which is not surprising. If Facebook Chat requires some intense real-time stuff it probably won’t work.

  • Cram

    @Michael K

    BOLT apparently does not support Ajax completely, which is not surprising. If Facebook Chat requires some intense real-time stuff it probably won’t work.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool

    Just got my download link right now. Going to play with it tonight and get some impressions up.

    Damn, it certainly is fast! One thing, doesn’t seem to support text formatting. Links show up fine, but bold/italic text doesn’t at all.

    BBCool loads properly too! Take that, BlackBerry Browser!

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool

    Just got my download link right now. Going to play with it tonight and get some impressions up.

    Damn, it certainly is fast! One thing, doesn’t seem to support text formatting. Links show up fine, but bold/italic text doesn’t at all.

    BBCool loads properly too! Take that, BlackBerry Browser!

  • http://www.gavincampbellonline.com/ Gavin

    Just signed up but the beta looks like its full. I agree that the browser is one of the weakest points of the OS. But the others above had said it all. I hope this one is good.

    The good thing though is that RIM could fix this with a simple software upgrade. I don’t know why they don’t put more focus on the browser.

  • http://www.gavincampbellonline.com/ Gavin

    Just signed up but the beta looks like its full. I agree that the browser is one of the weakest points of the OS. But the others above had said it all. I hope this one is good.

    The good thing though is that RIM could fix this with a simple software upgrade. I don’t know why they don’t put more focus on the browser.

  • http://www.gavincampbellonline.com Gavin

    Just signed up but the beta looks like its full. I agree that the browser is one of the weakest points of the OS. But the others above had said it all. I hope this one is good.

    The good thing though is that RIM could fix this with a simple software upgrade. I don’t know why they don’t put more focus on the browser.

  • minime

    Writing this from Opera Mini. How does this new browser compare? Any screenshots comparing the two for stuff like page rendering yet? I noticed that the screenshots of the new browser seemed to indicate that it has problems rendering sites properly.

  • minime

    Writing this from Opera Mini. How does this new browser compare? Any screenshots comparing the two for stuff like page rendering yet? I noticed that the screenshots of the new browser seemed to indicate that it has problems rendering sites properly.

  • Douglas

    Comment test from browser.

  • Douglas

    Comment test from browser.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool

    Can’t post comments from BOLT on BBCool, while you can with BlackBerry Browser… This thing is definitely not taking advantage of the Storm… Selecting links is difficult…

    All in all for a beta, it’s fast and pages render great (minus semantic formating). Pretty impressive so far.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool

    Can’t post comments from BOLT on BBCool, while you can with BlackBerry Browser… This thing is definitely not taking advantage of the Storm… Selecting links is difficult…

    All in all for a beta, it’s fast and pages render great (minus semantic formating). Pretty impressive so far.

  • Nick

    Seems like we’ve got to wait for the link to be emailed. Well… I’ll wait and see. So far, Ive become rather annoyed by BB browser’s functionality… And Opera is kind of being non-cooperative with me… I rather browse on my laptop.

  • Nick

    Seems like we’ve got to wait for the link to be emailed. Well… I’ll wait and see. So far, Ive become rather annoyed by BB browser’s functionality… And Opera is kind of being non-cooperative with me… I rather browse on my laptop.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool

    Hmm… interesting, you have to tell the BOLT browser to launch a video in the BB Media Player. I’m pretty sure the BlackBerry Browser does this automatically. Also, some videos won’t load because they are ‘too large’. Never had this problem with the BB Browser before. Anyone else?

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool

    Hmm… interesting, you have to tell the BOLT browser to launch a video in the BB Media Player. I’m pretty sure the BlackBerry Browser does this automatically. Also, some videos won’t load because they are ‘too large’. Never had this problem with the BB Browser before. Anyone else?

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool

    Ok, I’ve added some impressions to the post above, and will upload more photos after I nab some food. If anyone has any questions, post them and I’ll answer!

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool

    Ok, I’ve added some impressions to the post above, and will upload more photos after I nab some food. If anyone has any questions, post them and I’ll answer!

  • Michael K

    Still no download link, hours later… very weak.

  • Michael K

    Still no download link, hours later… very weak.

  • http://www.trinitynw.com/ justin

    Michael K

    In response to your comment about SocialScope … The wait might be frustrating but its worth it. I’ve been using SocialScope for about 4 days now and its AWESOME … Twitterberry is a joke comparatively. Hopefully we’ll all see an invite email from Bolt quickly.

    JG

  • http://www.trinitynw.com justin

    Michael K

    In response to your comment about SocialScope … The wait might be frustrating but its worth it. I’ve been using SocialScope for about 4 days now and its AWESOME … Twitterberry is a joke comparatively. Hopefully we’ll all see an invite email from Bolt quickly.

    JG

  • pial

    cool !!

  • pial

    cool !!

  • David

    I just loaded Bolt onto my BlackBerry Curve 8310. This is just a quick initial impression, but so far I am highly disappointed. The browser interface is slow, quirky, unprofessional, and unattractive. Plus, I haven’t seen the same blazing speeds in page-loading that others are reporting. In fact, I am seeing very slow speeds even on really simply sites like google.com. Unless I’m really missing something, Opera Mini AND the BlackBerry Browser for that matter, need not worry about being usurped by Bolt.

  • David

    I just loaded Bolt onto my BlackBerry Curve 8310. This is just a quick initial impression, but so far I am highly disappointed. The browser interface is slow, quirky, unprofessional, and unattractive. Plus, I haven’t seen the same blazing speeds in page-loading that others are reporting. In fact, I am seeing very slow speeds even on really simply sites like google.com. Unless I’m really missing something, Opera Mini AND the BlackBerry Browser for that matter, need not worry about being usurped by Bolt.

  • Robr

    I have yet to receive my download link as well… sigh

  • Robr

    I have yet to receive my download link as well… sigh

  • Demon Lives

    I’m not sure I like this better than Opera Mini (Blackberry Storm 9530) Opera mini is prettier, and opera’s fonts seem to render smoother (the fonts on bolt remind me of bitmap fonts, ugly and outdated). It drives me nuts that I can’t zoom in by tapping twice, but that may be just something I’m used to on the the BB Browser and Opera (I imagine every touch screen phone has this ability with their browsers?). Regardless the zoom should be something you can do without going through menus. Pages render as fast as Opera, and from what I’ve checked they render correctly, but I don’t recall ever having that problem with Opera either. The lack of click support for the storm is a headache, but I understand that the Storm is unique in that regard. Going forward, back, and other navigation is a PAIN TO ACCESS in the menus. The “clear” or “back” button available on every phone should be implemented as a back button for the browser. I don’t mind going through the menu to go to a completely new website. Also, the menu items are TINY. I know that this browser is supposed to be for all phones, including non-smart phones, but trying to touch a microscopic menu item on my storm touch screen (and having to get it right the first time because no click support) with my big fingers is near impossible. Maybe the text could scale to fit the resolution of the screen?
    Kinetic scrolling is nice, although a little choppy, but otherwise very well done. It’s nice to be able to do RSS feeds, and favorites and history work as expected. I’ll stick to Opera mini for now, but I think I’ll keep an eye on this one.