February 16, 1998
Last week, this column addressed the notion that the sheer size of today’s Internet browsers seems to be getting out of hand. Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 4.01 I pointed out, is a fat pig at a hard drive suffocating 25 MB! But aside from Netscape with version 4.04 weighing in at a whopping 9.2 MB, what can we do? Plenty!
They’re out there! Programs other than the big two and services that let you have the net “your way”. My friend Bill just got WebTv. There’s a lot this service will not do, but if you don’t have a home computer it might be worth looking into. WebTv is a self contained “box” with a built in modem and hard wired programming to get you onto the World Wide Web. It also has a converter to get computer images onto your TV screen. It won’t print, or download programs and such. My little demonstration showed it is harder to get around the net on WebTv than on a lot of other systems, but you CAN do it. And you can do it without going out and buying a home computer. Cost is $299 for the “box” and about $20 a month for service.
For the majority of net surfers alternatives to Netscape and Internet Explorer are limited to a handful of programs with names like HotJava, Cyberdog, Amaya, Opera, and Mosaic. Finite space for this column prevents a full review of each, but that’s almost unnecessary. The later, Opera is getting rave reviews all over the net. It should. I downloaded the package at http://opera.nta.no and have been blown away by the results. It’s small, fast and does just about everything all the big programs do. How small? You can load the whole thing on a 1.4MB floppy and have room to spare. It’s free to evaluate a month, and purchase price is a reasonable $35.