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Bolt browser brings HTML 5 to J2ME

And Facebook integration too

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The latest version of Bitstream's Bolt browser adds HTML 5 audio and video, tabbed browsing and Facebook to any Java-capable handset.

Version 2.1 is now available to download from Bolt's web site, with added support for popular video streaming sites including the BBC and YouTube, as well as Facebook integration and its very own widget gallery. All of this is delivered with server-side compression to lighten the load on handset and network.

Bolt relies on that server-side encoding in much the same way as Opera's "Turbo" mode. The server grabs the requested site and encodes it in a more easily rendered form for delivery to the handset, reducing bandwidth requirements.

Being based on Java puts Bolt directly up against Opera Mini, and it fares reasonably well. In our experience Opera's offering renders slightly more clearly and is a bit more responsive, but it's always been the lack of tabbed browsing that's put us off Bolt in the past - reading one page while having a couple of others loading in the background has always seemed essential.

Facebook integration will be a killer feature to many, and it's certainly worth a free download to see if it works for you (or try the demo embedded in a web page, for a side-by-side comparison with Opera Mini).

Like Opera, Bitstream is hoping to make money through embedded search and bookmarking, with pre-installation by handset manufacturers being the ultimate aim. ®

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