Friday, June 23, 2006

DS Opera

Seems like the preview of the Opera browser is going down well:

Just yesterday I had the chance to try out the prototype version of Opera for Nintendo DS. I wanted to take this opportunity to express my first thoughts as well as give a review of how it worked and how I felt about it overall. Before I get to far into this I would also like to say that the Release Date in Japan is slated for the 24th of July and should retail for around $33 USD.

Now, my initial impression when I heard that the Opera browser was going to be available on the DS blew me away due to the fact that a 129.99 device will have full access to the internet. With that said, when I got my hands on a Nintendo DS Lite with the prototype cartridge I knew I was going to once again be blown away. My anticipation was right on track.

Getting online with the Opera software was just as easy as it is with any Nintendo DS game. I simply turned the device on, touched the Opera software picture on the screen to start up the browser and before I knew it I was connected via the DS' built in Wifi. Upon booting up the browser you are presented with a simple easy to follow guide if you choose, but it's so simple to use I doubt most people will need it. The navigation is very simple in the browser, along the bottom of the screen you are presented with all the tools you need to perform searches, change the screen layout etc.

Graphically the browser is very eye pleasing. The look is very minimal to give you as much space to view web pages as possible. The little things that could not be without on the browser like the navigation buttons, the scroll bars and other necessities all fit in very well and enhance the overall experience.

When I started it up I was browsing in dual screen mode. Basically the page was fit to the width of the screen and the height spanned both screens. With an easy touch of the stylus you can switch into a "zoom" mode where you are presented with a picture of the web page on the top screen and on the bottom screen you can drag a box around to see in actual size what you need to view. You can also simply swap the screens so that you can type in text as needed where fields or check boxes etc. are presented.

Typing on the DS is a breeze. Basically when you need to go to an address, or you need to enter text in a field you simply tap where you are to enter text and you are presented with a keyboard on the touch screen where you can tap away whatever it may be that you need to spell out. The keyboard is large enough to give you plenty of space so you aren't tripping over the other letters and mistyping. On the other hand the keyboard isn't too large so as to block out all of your decadent online pleasures.

Opera Software's strong focus on web standards really shines on the DS. I surfed through a handful of web sites while I was using the browser and didn't come upon one that didn't work flawlessly with pint sized browser. It appears that security doesn't cause any problems as I browsed in and out of my e-mail accounts with ease. The switching of views proved extra handy when you wanted to get a nice shot of that picture on your friends blog(or any other picture). The screens on the DS Lite proved to be a great match for the browser and provided me with beautiful images every time. What I found to be extremely nice was the fact that Opera on DS stayed true to the speed of the desktop Opera browser and I felt as comfortable browsing on the DS as I did on my desktop at home.

Nintendo seemed to have knocked on the right door when they decided to work with Opera. Opera seems to be right at home on the DS and you would think that the software was designed at the same time the DS was. It's not often when you get a chance to play with beta products that work perfect right off the bat but it seems that piles of time have been poured into making this piece of software perfect. I don't want to speculate too much but it would be suprising if Nintendo didn't seek to create more applications to continue to broaden the use of the DS. All in all it would be safe to say that Nintendo and Opera have really hit it home with this combination of Hardware and Software innovation by providing the DS with an inexpensive, easy to use and beautiful product that anyone can afford.


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