[Review] xScope Browser

Discussion in 'Android News' started by RinTinTigger, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. RinTinTigger

    RinTinTigger Premium Member
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    xScope Browser is a self-described fully functioning web browser, file browser, and task killer. Using this type of a comprehensive application in theory is a great idea. Admittedly, with my normal setup, I use stock browser, Advanced Task Killer Free, and ASTRO File Manager/SUFBS . So, to save internal memory, homescreen space, and a bit of RAM, why not give xScope a shot?

    I am currently using a rooted Motorola Droid as my primary phone, running CyanogenMod 5.0.4.2 with the MidasTouch theme (now if this is all gibberish to you, don’t worry about it. Continue reading anyway). I was pleased to see that the free version and full version of xScope are rather similar; the latter includes the ability to store more favorites, as well as some additional download options. I

    was graciously provided the full version (v4.6.0) of xScope by its development team (“xScope Developers”), and this is the copy I will base my review on.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    I first wanted to test the multitouch capability of the browser, as this is a selling point to many people in the Android community. Sure, it has multitouch… but how does it perform? I first tested pinch-zoom. The good news; pinch-zoom works. There is bad news, however; it is somewhat laggy and jittery. I just could not believe how much smoother the pinch-zoom is on the stock 2.1 browser. xScope also includes a unique zooming technique, called Pin-Zoom, which takes double-tapping to a whole new level. By tapping once, and then dragging your finger, you will be able to zoom in with incredible precision. The idea behind pin-zoom is to have the accuracy of pinch-zoom while using just one finger. And this is accomplished flawlessly; perhaps this is my favorite aspect of the browser.

    Next I tested page rendering. xScope loaded full web pages rather easily with no errors, but I noticed no performance gain, when compared to standard browser (on both 3G and WiFi connections). Page scrolling on full webpages was rather slow too, again when compared to the stock browser. Could the extra available options give us a reason to switch from stock? Let’s see.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    As you may be able to tell, there are many more options in xScope than in the stock 2.1 browser. Specifically, you can choose themes and the user agent (Android, IPhone, or Computer). Also the browsing bar at top has many new options and auto-hides when scrolling, which makes for a “clean” browsing experience. Its options include shortcuts to favorite a page, to refresh, home, forward, add new tab, history, search, and copy text. This is a sigh of relief, coming from stock browser, which has a very limited top bar and few options. xScope also deals with tabbing in a similar fashion to desktop browsers to which you may be accustomed. Switching between tabs is also intuitive and quick.
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Now for the included task killer and file browser. Both are simple and lightweight lists. They get the job done, just as good as any other third party apps. However, I found difficulty adjusting to the selecting/unselecting method. The text seemed too small, and even though you can zoom in, it still felt a bit odd. I personally would not use these features, but I gather, practice makes perfect, and they could be used as efficiently as any other Android application. And considering most Android phones have limited memory, you can’t go wrong with having less apps installed at a given time.

    Overall, this truly is a fully functioning web browser, file browser, and task killer. Browsing is speedy, but not any faster than stock browsing. The available options and tweaks are numerous and useful, especially the ability to choose a different user agent for the full-page view (as opposed to the mobile view) of websites. Pin-zoom is the most shining aspect of xScope; you will not find this feature on any other browser, and I bet many people will prefer this method of zooming over pinch and double-tap. However, multitouch options are disappointing. Pinch-zoom is there, but is too laggy and jittery for my taste. Also, the included task killer and file browser are difficult to get used to, and will likely be ignored by most users. Overall, I would highly recommend this browser for those people running stock 2.0.1, or if you need to see full webpages 100% of the time. On the other hand, if you are rooted and running a custom 2.1 ROM, I would stick with using the stock browser (which has native pinch-zoom). Final word: since there is a free version of xScope Browser on the market, you should give it a try for yourself.

    4/5 stars

    Review done by wuyanks

     
  2. KZIWarrior

    KZIWarrior Silver Member

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    Maybe it has something to do with the ROM build(s) or OC speed but I know I've yet to find the default browser that can compare speed wise to xScope (I'm running Pete's BB). The pinch-zoom on mine is nice and smooth though I generally use the pin-zoom. Perhaps Cyogen uses a slightly more 'tuned' browser for his ROM? What tests (apps/sites) did you use for speed comparison? IME xScope is consistently faster than most, if not all other browsers in both browser speed tests and real-world application (i.e. opening actual pages) the one closest contender being Dolphin.
     
  3. wuyanks

    wuyanks DF News Team
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    i tested it on cyanogenmod, which i believe has the stock 2.1 browser from ESE53... page rendering was as fast, but scrolling and pinch-zoom was slightly more laggy than stock in my experiments... (of course zooming overall is smoother on mobile sites, maybe that's what you're referring to)
     
  4. KZIWarrior

    KZIWarrior Silver Member

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    huh, looks like something in the builds. Just tried a few (non-mobile pages) on the default browser on Pete's latest 2.1 BB build and both browsers lag a bit in the pinch-and-zoom. They are both about the same with mobile sites. Wonder if Cyogens has added space allotment for page holding/rendering?

    As far as load times though xScope is loading a bit faster. Nothing alarming but enough to be noticeable (using wi-fi for more consistent results). Oh well, just goes to show the difference between ROM and/or phones. Nice to know the default browser is coming along though (this is admittingly the first time I've used it in a LONG time, lol):icon_ banana:
     
  5. wuyanks

    wuyanks DF News Team
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    either way, i'm impressed with xscope browsing... but will not be switching from stock yet for it ;)
     
  6. Phoxus

    Phoxus Member

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    Thanks for the review guys, as always we shall continue to upgrade and improve for you all
     
  7. Riddick

    Riddick Member

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    For me the real benefit of this browser are the tabs. The xScope is Droids equivalent of Firefox. The stock browser isn't horrible but it's too limited, it's just a vanilla browser.
     
  8. ajGoes

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    Among the many nice features in xScope, the one I appreciate most is that it doesn't seem to shift focus around as it loads a page. In the stock browser, if you navigate to a spot in a page while various images are still loading, the browser is likely to reposition your view as the images arrive. This happens to me two or three times on some pages.
     
  9. chops

    chops Member

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    why does that happen with the pinch to zoom that it is jittery and laggy?
     
  10. DigiK

    DigiK Member

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    RinTinTigger, Are you experiencing lag and jitter at stock speeds? I don't find this to be the issue at all overclocked. One trick that the stock browser uses for perceived speed increase on user manipulation is turning off anti-aliasing, but the result is somewhat discontinuous and jarring.
     
  11. Brokn68

    Brokn68 Member

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    I like it thus far and agree on the pinch zoom, it's good, but not great. It's a good alternative to the stock browser.
     
  12. chops

    chops Member

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    yeah i get it with stock speed i have a non rooted droid so thats the reason the pinch to zoom is jittery and laggy is cause of anti-aliasing on xscope and dolphin?
     
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