First Look: Skyfire Very Good, Beats Opera Mini

I got my link to the Skyfire browser (beta) earlier today and just had my first chance to download and play with it. After about half and hour of doing so, my first impressions are very positive. Generally speaking it's better than the Opera Mini (I couldn't get the Opera Mobile browser to work on my Windows Mobile phone). It's easy to use, fast and the image/text rendering and resolution are good.

It didn't render Gmail as well as the Opera Mini browser however. And the zoom feature is somewhat more awkward than Opera Mini and quite a bit more so than Safari on the iPhone.

I also couldn't enter a blog post on Wordpress but I was able to post to my Facebook account.

As with the Opera Mini or Safari, there's lots of panning and zooming to read articles or view content (this also raises the issue of how effective ads will be in this environment). There are a few situations in which a WAP site is less work and potentially more to the point on even a smartphone screen. Indeed, there's probably some Platonic mobile ideal that exists between WAP and a full HTML/XHTML browser.

Skyfire does support flash and video relatively well, although the streaming was not entirely smooth and I had volume/sound problems with the videos on YouTube and other sites I saw. It's difficult for me to tell whether this is the network, the browser or both.

However, bottom line, I have to say it makes my Windows Mobile phone better and is hands down better than the current mobile, WAP-centric version of IE.