Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Web Browsing on a Palm - Picsel Browser review

Introduction

First, Picsel Viewer is one of the best programs for Palm OS. It is not only a browser but a viewer for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, PDF files, HTML files, images and TXT-files. It is not buyable or downloadable but integrated in some CLIÉs from Sony. This year a Chinese company released a smartphone – with Picsel Browser, it seems to be the same. As it’s Chinese the whole program is Chinese, but there are English language packs availible. Someone put Picsel Browser into the internet – and it worked on PalmOne’s devices !! You have to find both the program and the language packs by yourself – we cannot give any links. It is used as a native PDF viewer – for the moment the only one for Palm OS – but not so often as a web browser. Is that a mistake?

I don’t review Picsel Viewer but Picsel Browser. I don’t know the difference between them. Picsel Viewer was integrated in some Sony CLIÉs, and Picsel Browser was integrated in a Chinese smartphone.

Getting started

It’s not easy to install – you cannot install it via HotSync, not from a card with the launcher, not from a card with Filez, … The only file manager (and launcher) that can copy it into RAM is “ZLauncher”, and perhaps “McFile”. So I copied it with Zlauncher

  • BrowserHelpPages
  • EnglishLanguage Pack
  • PCRP
  • PicselBrowser
  • PicselBrowserCore
  • SMPT
into my RAM. Then I tapped on the “Picsel Browser” icon in the launcher. It showed the startup screen:


and then the menu:


Browsing the web

For browsing the web, you have to tap on the world icon, then you can enter the URL:


With my wireless broadband connection, it isn’t as fast as a desktop browser, but faster than WebPro e.g. After a few seconds it displays the page in “real” layout, like it would look on a “real” browser. But if the whole page shall fit the screen, the font has to be *very* small. To zoom, you must tap twice somewhere on the screen, then hold the stylus und “scratch” up – for zooming in - and down – for zooming out. To follow a link, you have to tap it twice. You can fill in forms, too, but in multiline-text forms, it only supports 80 letters, so there is no use for webmail or boards. Unfortuanely you cannot download any file type – but you can open these files it can display (MS Word, Excel. PowerPoint). Perhaps it is more a viewer than browser (although the name) – it displays the page (viewing) correctly, but browsing capabilities like downloads, forms etc. aren’t very good. Now you see two pictures of 1src.com. One contains almost the whole site (zoom out), another one is zoomed in much:



Like every other browser, Picsel Browser can reload pages (see menu picture), but there is no “Back”-button. Use the “navigation panel” (see menu picture) for getting back.

Most pages are displayed correctly, but on some pages it has problems with tables:


It is the German site “Winfuture”. It should be look like this:

Small screen rendering

It’s nice to see pages like on desktop, but desktop browsers show them in 800 and more pixels width, but a Palm only in 320 or 480 (landscape). That means scrolling left and right, up and down, or the font gets so small that you can’t read anything. So if you switch to small screen rendering, it renders the page that it fits the screen widh – you have only to scroll up and down:

Text without small-screen-rendering

Text with small screen rendering

Offline files

Every file type it “understands” you can read both online and offline – the most important might be PDF and MS Word. For the moment Picsel Browser is the only app for Palm OS that offers you native PDF support (but there might be some other solutions in the future) – and that is very important today in the internet.
Files can be both in the RAM and on a flash card. To open an offline file, it shows an open dialog which is very similar to the Windows Explorer:


Most MS Word, Excel and other files are displayed as naturally as HTML files are.

Bookmarks, settings, ...

To create a bookmark, just tap on the icon in the menu (see menu picture above). To open saved bookmarks, there is another icon. Bookmarks can be both online and offline documents. When you open a bookmark it doesn’t jump to the last position but to the beginning.

Possible settings are: turn pictures on / off, font size, homepage, user agent, proxy server, cache clearing, history clearing, cookies on/off.

My results

On the one hand, it isn’t legal to upload, download or use it if you don’t have a device with Picsel Browser in ROM, on the other hand it is a very good browser with singularly features, especially rendering pages and speed. And no other program can display native PDF files, no other browser show non-HTML documents without changing the app (except WebToGo IMHO) – you can return browsing when you’ve read the document. Other browsers would open DocumentsToGo for example and if you start them again they return to the start page and you have to find your last page again.

For me it isn’t the only browser on my Tungsten|C because sometimes I need downloads – and it can’t download ZIP files e. g. – or I need to save the page offline (NetFront can) or writing mails, Picsel Browser can only write 80 letters. So read the next part of “Web Browsing on a Palm” – maybe I’ll review NetFront then – and you know which second browser you need, too.

What do you think about Picsel's work?

37 Comments:

Anonymous A. Nonymus said...

Couldn't you include a few more pictures...?! Just the splash screen...?

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,

Could you add an RSS feed to your blog?

Thanks!

1:59 AM  
Blogger Alexander Gratz said...

@a.nonymus: Yes of course there will be more pictures - yesterday I couldn't upload them - I don't know why. I'll try it again now.

@anonymous: I think we'll change the platform soon. Then we have IMHO RSS. For the moment I think we have something like "Atom" or so.

Alexander Gratz

11:50 AM  
Blogger Brock said...

Awesome post! Very interesting site! I'm a newbie at your site, but I love it. I'll be visiting often!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Brock said...

Anyone else get an error "Document ErrorbT" ? I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Alexander Gratz said...

Do you get this error when you're starting it?

Alexander

6:45 PM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi,
first of all, I am very happy to see that there are users who enjoy TamsPalm! I wish you a pleasant stay on TamsPalm, brock!

Also, I have to apologize for the problems with the images. It is my fault for not providing an adequate image hosting solution, however, I am adressing this problem as well!

About RSS: We currently offer an Atom feed. RS feeds are not supported by blogger, however, as said, we will move to WordPress very soon. RSS should not be a problem, and until then, feel free to use a service like FeedBurner!

Last but not least, I have very little experience with the program. However, maybe you have incompatible files!

Best regards
Tam Hanna

7:10 PM  
Blogger Brock said...

Yes, I get the error right after the start up screen. I also get it when I try to open a document of any type. Thanks for your help.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Alexander Gratz said...

At the start it wants to show a help page (~start page) but this page is unavailible. So go to the preferences and select the menu "Home". Then choose "Blank".

I don't understand that you get always an error when you try to open something. Can you open files on your storage card?

Alexander

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I've installed it following the instructions but I also get the Document Error message plus my options are all in strange characters (still Chinese?)

Could there be a problem with the help and language pack files?

8:14 PM  
Blogger Brock said...

Yes, that's the same problem I'm having. I'll keep searching for a solution, let me know if you find one.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update to the above - found an english translated version on the web - installed that and the strange characters have been replaced with english :-)

Only problem now is the Document Error with the help file - I've changed it so it doesn't load on startup, but obviously the ? help button still gives that error...

9:05 PM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi,
please forgive me if I sound arrogant:

Tamog@gmx.at is the gate to magic, Picsel Browser, diets, wight loss and PRC files!

You get the message ;)
Tam Hanna

9:28 PM  
Blogger Brock said...

Could you email me your solution please? Prayerwarrior4ted@yahoo.com

Thanks!

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The english translated file (and other bits) is on the 1src thread here:

http://www.1src.com/forums/showthread.php?t=88200&page=10&pp=15

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PicselBrowser on RapidShare

Just click free. I beleive that this file should work, it at least should be stable, but no warranties about englishness!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Alexander Gratz said...

I'm afraid you won't get the help working. I use the English version, my files are listed above. If you got it work, please let me know!

Alexander

10:08 PM  
Anonymous poptart said...

Got Picsel Browser installed today on my T3 and it is very impressive - perfect PDFs and impressive web pages.

Thanks for the article on this...

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No version given above seems to work on T|X though...

1:26 AM  
Anonymous admin said...

I didn't see your comments because we moved to tamspalm.tamoggemon.com...

However, to get this working on a T|X, you might need MaxX.

Alex

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can some one email me a copy of Picsel browser would love to try it. Can't find it on the web piscel.10.hfolmt@spamgourmet.com

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I just learned about the Picsel Browser from this blog. It's been about a year and a half now since this entry. Do you have any updated information on it's new releases and availability? It is the perfect program I need. I just want to look at html, txt, pdf, and doc files, I don't need to edit them. I'm just upgraded to a treo 650. I have used cile's in the past, but I haven't seen it in the bundle. Any information or links?

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