FeaturesMicrosoftUMPC

Browser performance on HTC Advantage X7501

Compared to other Windows Mobile devices, the HTC Advantage X7501 seems capable of providing a much more enjoyable mobile web browsing experience because of its 5-inch VGA display and 624MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor.

Htc_x7501_browsers

But with both Internet Explorer Mobile and Opera 8.65 preinstalled on the Advantage and several third-party browsers available for Windows Mobile, which one can do it best? To find out, I tested the load times, page rendering, and stability of some of the most common mobile browsers around.* Read on for the results.

Update 10.04.07: NetFront Browser results added.

Load times

As in my previous test on website load times, I cleared each browser’s cache and visited ten websites that varied in complexity. Other testing parameters:

  • Load times were measured in one sitting (NetFront tested separately) from the click of the "Go" button in the browser’s address bar to the complete page load according to the progress bar and/or loading icon.
  • All devices were connected to the Internet through the same 802.11g wireless router from the same location (about 12 feet away, unobstructed).
  • Browser rendering was set to desktop mode in all cases; that is, content was not optimized for the small screen.

Times are in minute:second format. Automatic redirects to mobile versions of websites (not timed) are indicated by "redirect."


Opera 8.65 IE Mobile Minimo 0.2 Picsel 1.0.0 NetFront 3.4
Amazon 0:18 0:35 0:44 0:31 0:19
CNET 0:51 redirect 0:54 0:52 2:20
Digg 0:25 0:39 1:24 0:37 0:28
Engadget 0:58 redirect 1:06 1:11 0:48
Google News 0:13 0:21 0:20 0:11 0:14
Micro PC Talk 0:21 0:24 0:26 0:33 0:18
MySpace 0:17 0:36 0:33 0:33 0:14
NY Times redirect redirect 0:49 0:52 0:44
Pocketables 0:28 0:54 0:52 1:09 0:34
YouTube 0:18 0:48 0:19 0:34 0:14

To put these numbers into some context, please refer to my "Website load times on portable gadgets" article, which includes results from devices such as the iPhone, Nokia N800, and Archos 604 WiFi. Keep in mind that load times can vary according to time of day, number of images, types of advertisements, available bandwidth, and other factors.

Page rendering

Here are some images of how the browsers render Pocketables, YouTube, and Engadget.

Clockwise from top left: Opera, Internet Explorer Mobile, Picsel, Minimo.

Pocketables

Pocketables_browsers

YouTube

Youtube_browsers

Engadget

Engadget_browsers

NetFront

Since I tested NetFront separately, here are some examples of its page-rendering capabilities in full (i.e., desktop) mode.

X7501_netfront_render

Stability

The instant-on aspect of Windows Mobile devices (which should provide quicker access to the Internet than devices with long boot times) and the way web pages are rendered can quickly become meaningless if the browser isn’t stable.

During my few hours of testing this afternoon, each browser crashed at least once. Update 10.04.07: NetFront experienced no crashes, but it nearly choked while loading CNET.

Here’s the crash breakdown:

Opera: 1
IE Mobile: 3
Minimo: 11
Picsel: 1
NetFront: 0

Four of the IE Mobile and Minimo crashes were so bad that the HTC Advantage needed a soft reset to become responsive again.

Conclusion

Based on my testing, the best mobile browser for the HTC Advantage X7501 is, without a doubt, Opera 8.65.

Opera_mobile

Not only does it load web pages more quickly than Internet Explorer Mobile, Minimo, Picsel, and (to a lesser extent) NetFront, but it also loads them more completely and truer to their desktop forms. Opera is also very stable, and although not covered above, I find it to be the easiest to navigate and use.

*Deepfish may be a viable alternative to Opera, but Microsoft hasn’t accepted new testers into their pool for several months and hasn’t updated their team blog since March. I also looked briefly into ThunderHawk, but I don’t think anyone should have to pay $50/year for a subscription to a browser.

Pocketables does not accept targeted advertising, phony guest posts, paid reviews, etc. Help us keep this way with support on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

More posts by Jenn | Subscribe to Jenn's posts

Avatar of Jenn K. Lee

22 thoughts on “Browser performance on HTC Advantage X7501

  • Well done Jenn. Thats a very useful set of results.

    Steve
    UMPCportal.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bruno

    Very good article as always, Jenn! You did not seem very happy with the browsing experience on HTC Advantage before, have you changed your opinion on it now?

    Reply
  • Thanks, guys.

    @ Bruno: I’m definitely much happier than I was at the beginning, but I’m far from being completely won over. I mentioned before that I haven’t used a Windows Mobile device since WM2003, so it could just be my unrealistic expectations (particularly because most people seem pleased with the Advantage’s performance), but I don’t think web browsing on WM is very good. Not compared to other non-WM mobile devices, anyway.

    Again, maybe it’s just my inexperience with the OS, but I expected it to be faster. In fact, the Advantage in general is slower than I thought it would be. There’s a slight pause when launching just about any app (the WM loading icon has become a familiar sight), which I didn’t expect.

    Do you get similar load times on your Ameo? Which browser do you use most?

    Reply
  • This is good stuff. Man, I wish I could rent one of these for a couple weeks before buying. I think WM browsing is suitable in the context of “hey, it’s a phone,” but I can see how it would drive you nuts compared to a UMPC or some other device with a faster processor and XP as the OS.

    Reply
  • Avatar of bzzz

    I was wondering which UMPCs (7 in screen or less) are able to run World of Warcraft? of course I would want it with USB/bluetooth so i could be using a blutooth/usb keboard and mouse to play. and vga/dvi/hdmi video out so i can connect a bigger monitor. and wifi/ethernet is a must as well. plus I would only like to spend around 1000 dollars.

    i really would like a umpc, but if there is none that fits my needs as stated above, my second choice is a laptop. is there a laptop which fits what i am looking for ( preferably between 7 and 11 inches screensize)?

    Reply
  • Avatar of orbitalcomp

    Honestly, when I know I am going to be browsing for a while, I grab my Nokia N800…it’s web performance is *much* more complete than my x7500, especially when you figure in the higher rez and Flash 9 support. I agree with your findings, Jenn – Opera is definitely the best browser for the Advantage, without a doubt.

    But if I am going to be out where there is no WiFi, then all of those benefits of the N800 go out the window and the Advantage goes with me. Integrated HSDPA trumps all of the shortcomings of the x7500, especially considering you can carry a phone and data device in one package.

    Of course, I still use my iPhone sometimes instead of either of the others. I’ll tell you, it’s tough sometimes, because they all have their pros and cons.

    Hey Jenn, I don’t know if this has bugged you are not, but I saw this tip over on xda-dev and thought I’d pass it on. You know how we have to remove the battery in order to open the little, plastic SIM door? It’s a pain in the neck, and that door is not even necessary. I just removed that door, so now I can get the SIM in and out very easily without touching the battery.

    Reply
  • Nice article Jenn. Might I ask how you would say the Advantage compares to the iPhone when it comes to overall browsing? I’ve been toying around with the idea of getting an iPod Touch mostly as a small internet companion device. Not only that, but I’m in need of a new PMP as well. The UX doesn’t have the boot time or battery life that I need for pulling it out real quick to check e-mail, google reader, or my e-mail. How do you think the iPod Touch would work as an internet companion based on what you know of the iPhone?

    Reply
  • Would have been interesting to see how NetFront measured up (if it would run), but this is nicely done.

    Reply
  • Great points, orbitalcomp. It really is tough to negotiate figurative pocket space sometimes because of the varied strengths and weaknesses you mentioned.

    When I’m at home and just want to check something really quickly, I usually reach for the iPhone. Even though it isn’t as capable for web browsing as the N800, I find it more enjoyable. Sometimes all the zooming and pinching can get tedious, though, as it can get in the way of immediate access to content.

    Ah, great tip about the SIM door. I had been thinking about removing it, as it’s quite cumbersome. I don’t know about yours, but my battery is incredibly difficult to remove. That little metal lock thing on mine is sort of lopsided, so it takes some prodding to lift it up. Thanks :-)

    Reply
  • @ Benz: Have you considered the N800 instead? The multimedia interface isn’t as sleek as the iPod Touch, but based on your level of tinkering expertise, you might be happier with its level of customization and expandability. Having said that, though, the Touch should be able to satisfy your RSS, light browsing, and email needs without a hitch.

    Google Reader on the N800 is much better than it is on the iPhone because the former’s Mozilla-based browser (not preinstalled) supports full AJAX. I’m not a fan of mobile versions of anything, so this is a huge plus in my book.

    In terms of browsing (and to answer your question), I think the iPhone provides a more enjoyable experience than the Advantage, not only because it’s faster, but also because the gestures are just a very natural way to interact with the screen. As I mentioned to orbitalcomp above, those same gestures can get a little tiresome, which is where the Advantage’s bigger screen and higher resolution trump the iPhone.

    @ MiniMage: I just downloaded NetFront v3.4 (free technical preview until Nov. 1) and will see how it fares on the Advantage. I actually didn’t know it was available for Pocket PCs, as the last time I used it was years ago on my husband’s Clie. Thanks for the tip.

    Reply
  • @Benz

    As may be in Jenn’s fabulous reviews somewhere, the UX isn’t bad. The UX280 with XP Pro comes out of hibernation in ten seconds and runs for six hours on the extended range battery. How short/long do you want? It’s other capabilities are too many to begin to list…

    Reply
  • @Jen : Good info, Jen. Thank you for the work you put in. A few posts back you accidentally wrote that it is the iPhone Safari that supports AJAX, as opposed to the N800. you obviously meant it the other way round.

    /Morten

    Reply
  • @ JohnC: Benz145 actually already has a UX180P that he uses more than anyone else I know. I think I remember that he used to carry it around in his cargo pants’ pocket!

    @ Morten: Ah, good catch. Fixed! Thanks :-)

    Reply
  • @JohnC – As Jenn said, I already own a UX180p, I’ve had it for more than a year, and its a wonderful device. It is the best when you need a full desktop OS right in your pocket, however my current needs don’t require a full desktop, simply the full internet. I know 10 seconds may not be that much, but I need something that I can pull out of my pocket, turn on, check what I need to (mostly all web based), then shut off and put it away. The problem with the UX is that going in/out of hibernation is very battery inefficient, and I only get two hours of battery life (if that) with the standard battery, its just not practical to be able to pull out for a few minutes, its much more effective to get it out and use the entire battery in one sitting.

    All I’m really looking for is an “internet companion”, which must have nearly instant access to the ‘real’ internet. Currently I’m using my old VEG-UX50 (PDA) as my internet device, however I’m pretty much limited to mobile versions of webpages. It does support full webpages for the most part, but they take long to load, and drain battery life fairly quickly.

    I’m reallying looking into getting an iPod Touch, I’ve been trying out a friends and I love how incredibly small it is, it also has great battery life, and more than anything I like the well working interface.

    I’ve also considered the N800, which looks like a great device, but I think it is larger (maybe not that much) than the iPod Touch, also I usually stay away from touch screen based input especially that which requires a stylus, yes I know, the iPod Touch is 100% touch based, but the mutlitouch screen input is much better than screens that only recognize one point of input, and often require that you use a stylus or click with your finger nail. I was pleasantly surprised at the speed in which you can type using the soft keyboard on the iPod Touch, from what I have seen of the N800, you pretty much require a stylus which means one touch typing if you are planning on inputting text.

    The thing is that I have really only considered the iPod Touch and the N800, does anyone have any other recommendations for a device that would fit in the category of “internet companion”? Just to be clear, I’m not looking for anything that would require a data plan, I am mostly just looking at Wi-Fi enabled devices. (I kind of wish the iPod Touch had Bluetooth so if I decided to in the future, I could tether to get the internet.) It seems like Apple is further ahead in the MID category than Intel is…

    Reply
  • @ Jenn: To be honest, I have never bothered comparing different browsers, I have always used IE simply because the other browsers do not reliably work with some intranet sites I need to access. I am however looking into Opera now as I may need the Flash support.
    Before the Advantage I have been using iMate Jasjar/HTC Universal (it sold under about a million different names) and compared to it, Advantage is fast. I grant you that there are times when one has to wait and I do not know what the wait is for. I guess I have been conditioned to ignore that by now :-)
    Today my fiancee got her iPod Touch so we tried the web browsing on it and it LOOKS faster but I do not think it actually is. It is just smarter in the way the ergonomics is done. Some of the visual effects distract you from the fact you have to wait (nevertheless, iPod Touch is an excellent browsing device!). Having said that, some sites I tested were beyond what Safari on iPod could handle at all.
    Advantage is not lightning fast, but it is fast enough. The websites may or may not render beautifully, but I have yet to come across a website that won’t render in a usable fashion. It is the middle of the road thing, not too flashy but it does the job without me worrying about it. I would like it to look as good as an iPod/iPhone, but I am ok with it the way it is :-)

    Reply
  • Hi Benz. The N800 does have a finger-friendly keyboard (as well as handwriting recognition and a stylus-friendly keyboard). I personally don’t find it to be particularly responsive, but others seem quite happy with it. Finger scrolling is also possible on the device, though obviously it’s not as smooth (or fun) as Apple’s kinetic scrolling.

    I can’t think of any other device that can do what you want as well as the N800 or the iPod Touch. Maybe the new Archos 605 WiFi, but I’m not sure. I think it’s a pretty solid improvement over the previous generation. I have both the 604 WiFi and 704 WiFi, which are excellent PMPs (best device around for portable video, if you ask me).

    Browser performance is slower and less capable than on the N800 or Touch, but the 605 is supposed to be a lot more robust (Flash support, etc.) than the 04 gen. It’s also got more storage (30GB, 80GB, and 160GB), if that makes a difference to you. In any case, it may be worth a look.

    As for quick access to the web, I timed how long it took to awaken the N800 and iPhone, launch the browser, go to MPCT from a bookmark, and wait for the page to load completely. The results?

    N800: 26 seconds
    iPhone: 22 seconds

    Although it took longer for the N800 to launch its browser, individual websites generally load faster than they do on the iPhone, so it may be a bit of a wash in the end.

    And just for kicks, I timed the process on the OQO Model 02 running Vista Ultimate on 1GB of RAM. It took 21 seconds.

    Instant-on devices may awaken more quickly than most UMPCs (XP ones, anyway, as sleep/resume in Vista is incredibly fast), but for quick access to the web, I don’t think that matters.

    Reply
  • Avatar of orbitalcomp

    @Benz145

    The N800 does have a full-screen thumboard that can be accessed instead of the small Windows Mobile-style keyboard. If you press the center button on the directional pad or press with your thumb in a text entry area, the full keyboard pops up.

    I can thumb type with this method almost as fast as I can type on a full size keyboard, and it is much easier than using the stylus. Once done typing, you can minimize the keyboard and go back to what you were doing.

    For what you are wanting, the N800 or the Advantage would fit the bill, especially with the long standby battery life.

    Reply
  • Interesting article – I had my own opinions on which was the fastest, but it was good to see some objective figures.

    It would have been nice to see the app start-up times as well. As you say:

    There’s a slight pause when launching just about any app (the WM loading icon has become a familiar sight), which I didn’t expect.

    When I know I’m gonna be browsing for a bit, Opera is my browser of choice.

    But if I just need to check one thing, post one twitter, or something like that – I’ll use Pocket Internet Explorer. Because it’ll start quicker.

    Reply
  • Hi, Daniel Goldman from Opera Software here.

    It’s great to see that so many of you are browsing with Opera and are truly enjoying it. :)

    Daniel
    Opera Software

    Reply
  • Hello,

    Well I bought one, it crashed after 2 months, and now I’m waiting for almost a month now to get it back fixed.

    The way it crashed: – play a movie, pause, leave it, go to sleep, and in the morning it would not start for nothing.

    So far the only news I got back that they have to change it’s motherboard.

    I mean come on, I payed a lot of money for it, I don’t get a sorry that this happened to you, wait a month, then maybe I’ll get it back hacked.

    I’m very disappointed.

    Any idea’s what to do in this case?

    Thank you,
    kuki

    Reply
  • SKYFIRE #1…. WORKS LIKE YOUR COMPUTER…. YOU CAN HAVE AND DO IT ALL…. YOUTUBE,HULU, CNET, LIME WIRE, MYSPACE, FACEBOOK, ESPN, CNN…. ECT… DOES IT ALL !!!!
    GET SKIFIRE .. BEST MOBILE BROWSER…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *