A mobile browser, but for a laptop
July 14, 2009 4:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a mobile browser (or similar solutions). But there's a catch. I want it for a laptop, not a phone.

I'm travelling around a lot at the moment, away from cities and wifi-connected areas. But there's fairly good mobile network coverage, so I bought myself an O2 mobile dongle to connect my laptop to the mobile phone network.

I pay a set amount for a set amount of data for a month, and because I don't want to pay more money than I have to, I don't want to have to go over the data limit.

Also, looking at regular sized websites, with all their fancy stuff, in Firefox is almost dial-up slow, when accessed through my mobile dongle.

So, what I would like is to be able to view webpages to the best of the mobile dongle's ability - much like as if I were browsing the internet via a mobile phone.

Is this viable? Is there a browser that would work on a laptop as it would on a mobile phone? Or an add-on for Firefox? Or can I view webpages online using their mobile web addresses (m.something.com)?

The dongle I'm using (not that it matters, I think) is the Huawei e160, on the O2 network. I'm using Ubuntu 9.04 FWIW.

Thank you!
posted by Petrot to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Use firefox and set your browsers useragent to Opera Mobile or Blackberry's browser/etc.
posted by iamabot at 4:44 PM on July 14, 2009

Firefox user agent switcher.
posted by iamabot at 4:46 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: You can install Mozilla Fennec on your PC. You can download it by following instructions on this page.
posted by brenton at 4:57 PM on July 14, 2009

Sorry, that last link I gave was to 1.0 alpha 1. I'm not sure what the most current version is, but I found a 1.0 beta 2 download page (by URL guessing) here:
posted by brenton at 5:04 PM on July 14, 2009

Sorry for the spam, here's the most recent info on Fennec: http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/2009/06/26/new-fennec-releases-available/
posted by brenton at 5:05 PM on July 14, 2009

As imabot alludes to above, a lot of websites automatically detect, based on your browser's user agent, whether it's a mobile browser or not. Other sites require you to use a special url such as m.something.com, as you mentioned. The two can also be used in combination. For example, if you hit www.something.com, it'll automatically redirect you to m.something.com after reading your user agent as a mobile browser. That should allow you to access a bunch of mobile sites.

Another alternative is to use something like Opera Mini. Opera Mini and a few other mobile browsers actually work in conjunction with a server that pre-renders a webpage, so you theoretically get the full webpage experience, but the actual data transferred to your mobile device is much less. The biggest drawback is that it's mostly useful for static webpages, and has problems with flash, video, and the like. But something like Opera Mini runs on J2ME, which is the version of Java for mobile devices. Theoretically, you should be able to download the J2ME development environment, which includes an emulator, and then download and run Opera Mini or similar browser from it, thus taking advantage of the remote servers. But I've never tried it myself.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 5:21 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: If you'd like to use Opera Mini on your PC, use MicroEmulator. Also, the beta of desktop Opera has "Turbo" mode, which compresses images on their proxy before downloading them; as well as being able to spoof a mobile browser.

In addition, using Opera can give you a smug sense of superiority. This may or may not be desirable, depending on taste.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 6:24 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I'm browing on my phone, and don't want to deal with the per-KB charges of loading all that gunk and throwing it away, I browse through Skweezer, which turns the page you're reading into this, stripping out the fluff and rewriting follow-on links on the fly to keep your bandwidth consumption down to a minimum. You might find using the 'settings' button to turn off images and disable pagination before you start using it helpful.
posted by Orb2069 at 9:48 PM on July 14, 2009

For prerendering options:

Opera Turbo in Opera 10 - works the same as Opera Mini by compressing the webpages before they ever reach you.

Google Mobilizer, strips webpages at google's end before they are sent your computer.

For sites that have awesome mobile versions based on User Agent String and don't let you get there by URL (slashdot, I'm looking at you) -
make a custom user agent string in Opera, edit the ISP block in Opera6.ini (find your Opera6.ini by clicking here)

Id=Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1A543a Safari/419.3

What I recommend is using Opera Turbo in Tandem with the Custom User Agent String. In addition, toggle off images and plugins.

Have fun!
posted by bigmusic at 10:42 PM on July 14, 2009

Ok, I'm probably missing something stupid here since I'm not familiar with this JME business. Can anyone tell me how to run the jar/jad for Opera Mini from the JME SDK toolkit?
posted by Iosephus at 12:26 AM on July 15, 2009

Well that was embarrassing, but I still think it's a bit of an awkward place for it to be. So for reference, I found it: lower left corner ("device selector"), right-click on the device, gives you "run JAD or JAR". Neat!
posted by Iosephus at 12:31 AM on July 15, 2009

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