Yet another review & comparison update: Web browser Teashark

As with UCWEB (see my new review HERE), it was more than one and a half year ago that I’ve reviewed the (then) current version of the Java-based Web browser, Teashark. In order to be as up to date as possible, I deemed it necessary to properly test the current version in order to see whether it’s any good and how it compares to the alternative browsers.

To make a long story short, I heavily recommend this browser if you have a non-touchscreen phone (for example, a Windows Mobile Standard smartphone or a Symbian phone) and, for some reason, you don’t want to use Opera Mini (or especially need the goodies Teashark has, while Opera doesn't: italic support and the sophisticated copy-from-webpages come into mind). Many of the shortcomings of the old version have been fixed; most importantly, the bad rendering engine. The new one is Webkit-based, which certainly shows: while one of the alternatives, UCWEB, completely fails at rendering most real-world Web pages retaining their original layout, Teashark very rarely fails to do the same. Two examples:

(DPReview forums – correctly rendered)

(the W3C page: here, you always need to press left/right to align the differently indented original text. This works in exactly the same way as in Opera Mini.)

If you have a touchscreen-based phone or PDA, on the other hand, you most probably will want to ignore this title: it makes absolutely no use of the touchscreen. As, otherwise, the browser is very nice, I really hope this issue is fixed before long so that Windows Mobile or Symbian S60 5th ed users will be able to use their touchscreens.

Unfortunately, as with UCWEB, it doesn’t have a BlackBerry-compliant version. (The JAR file can be installed and runs, but it can’t be used as it still presents a three-softkey-based menu, which is pretty much far away from the one menubutton-based approach of BlackBerry. This also means none of the menu items can be accessed – all you see when you press the hardware menu button on the BB is “Close”.)

Teashark has several goodies the other browsers really should implement:

- Excellent and very easy copy/paste support – much cleaner than that of UCWEB
- Support for italic characters (it also supports bold but not underline)
- It even supports “previous” in “find in page”
- Pretty well thought-out thumbnail-based quick switching between in-memory (and recently visited) pages

Compared to Opera Mini, it has some major problems, though:

- No touchscreen support at all – a MAJOR drawback!
- Much fewer Web pages can be kept in-memory
- Somewhat worse Web standards compliance (still much better than that of UCWEB, though.) Note that you will encounter for example dropdown list selection problems (with, for example, THIS demopage - give it a try if you have an old Jeodek [on Windows Mobile]! You’ll see you won’t be able to select any item) with old Esmertec Jeodek versions (for example, the one coming with the HTC Vox / s710 smartphone). You WILL want to upgrade to a newer Jbed version; for example, I haven’t encountered similar problems with the latest Jbed version, 20090217.5.1R2 available for download HERE (direct link to download) – or, if you want a version with multiple midlet execution support, 20081203.2.1 linked from the same post (direct link to download).

Comparison chart

You'll want to very thoroughly scrutinize the chart - as with most my articles, a lot more information is contained in it than in the article. It's HERE. Note that the chart has info on all the other Java-based browsers too – and a lot of never-before published tips and tricks on, for example, getting a signed version of Opera Mini.

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