Webaroo has launched a beta of their offline website browser and search tool. Webaroo lets users store content from any of their content channels, or any websites the user adds manually. If you need offline access to specific websites for any reason, this free application is worth a try.
The Webaroo client is generally designed for mobile notebook users; they also offer a client for Windows Mobile PDAs and Smartphones. Webaroo will gain popularity of course because it’s free, but exposure is about to explode as Acer is going to start bundling it with their notebooks.
“Acer believes that the new, powerful ability to search the web offline will bring tremendous advantages for consumers and business people,” said Campbell Kan, Head of Mobile Computing Business Unit, Acer Inc. “Acer is committed to being first-to-market with innovative products that are easy-to-use, dependable and empowering — enabling our users to be more productive. We plan on incorporating Webaroo’s software into Acer’s mobile PCs. We look forward to creating mutual success for Acer and Webaroo and even greater satisfaction for our customers.”
How Webaroo Works
Webaroo offers two ways to get and store offline content. First they have what are called web packs, collections of content geared toward a specific topic. Right now these packs are very limited, there’s one for the World Cup, World News and a handful of cities around the world. The more powerful tool is their web caching system that lets users keep an offline copy of any website. Data can be updated manually or on a regular schedule when the computer is online.
Form for adding a new website (view large image)
When adding a new site, Webaroo offers several options regarding what to crawl and cache. Link depth, which only goes one deep, allows the user to cache just the linked page or pages that are one link deep as well. I’d like to see this option allow more depth, especially for links internal to the site being added. There is an option to include site links only or all links, which would include internal and external links, but again, only 1 level deep. If you select the images option, images on the host site will be displayed.
Status indicator (view large image)
Caching a website is surprisingly speedy. It took only a few minutes to get a copy of Brighthand.com, a bit longer for NotebookReview.com.
Cached version of Brighthand.com (view large image)
The cached view on the computer is a little ugly, but largely functional. I was able to browse through all of the current news, complete with images.
The Webaroo search is also pretty good. The results for my queries were relevant. The link descriptions were off a bit at times, but they were close enough to determine relevancy. Each link goes to a cached version, but if you’re online, a “live” link will take you to the current version of that page.
PDA and Smartphone Access
While Webaroo offers a Windows Mobile client, the documentation surrounding it just gave me a lovely mess. I’ve come to learn from Webaroo reps that the installer is for Pocket PC 2003 only, not Windows Mobile 5, which is what I tried. So I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the tools on a PDA, all I can say is Webaroo is going to update their application to better document PDA use, and if you have WM5, wait until they offer support before installing.
How to Get Webaroo
Webaroo can be downloaded for free here. Future versions will be advertising supported.