I’m currently test-driving a BMW’s all-electric i3 REX. One of the options the demonstrator model has is a web browser! Yes, for just £95 per year, you can get a slow and painful browsing experience IN YOUR CAR! (Only to be used when fully stopped – or in autonomous drive mode.)
Here’s a quick run-down of its features.
It reports as this unholy mess.
Chrome 15 on Windows XP. Helpful!
Oh, the IP address is in Germany because – I presume – that’s where BMW’s proxy is. Connectivity is provided by Vodafone’s 3G network.
The browser kept popping up with this certificate error.
I’m not sure if it’s the proxy, or the browser which is causing the failure to validate certificates.
There is an options menu. Cookies are blocked by default, there’s a flash player! Flash! In the car!
I ticked the “sound” option and visited an HTML5 sound test page. MP3 is supported. Impressively, so are Ogg and WebM!
Some HTML5 video is supported – although playback is a bit jerky. Audio support is variable.
So, let’s try out YouTube – the biggest video site on the planet!
Well, that’s underwhelming. I wonder what is up with the Flash player on this thing.
A quick (slow) visit to Adobe shows us part of the problem –
An ancient Flash version. Which means you can expect to see a lot of things like:
One thing that surprised me was the ability to have multiple tabs. Considering how slow the browser is, it’s useful to load up a site in one, then read another tab while waiting for it to load.
Open too many tabs (3 in this case) and you get this somewhat confusing error message.
There’s no obvious way to close a tab…
You can always go into your history to see what you were reading before the browser flamed out.
Headers and Proxy
A fairly sparse set of headers are sent by the UA.
The proxy is by M-Way Solutions. I’m not sure if it’s the proxy, or Vodafone, but there is some severe picture compression going on:
For regular web pages, the rendering is competent – if slow. Here’s my blog:
CSS rounded corner and webfonts all work.
But there is a glaring omission. The Unicode support from the browser is atrocious. Want to view Emoji? This is what you’ll see –
This is a shitty browser. It’s slow – and that’s not the fault of the 3G network – rendering takes forever, scrolling is awkward, mouse pointer precision is poor, and has limited support for modern web technologies. Along with the frequent SSL certificate warnings, the UA is probably vulnerable to modern attacks.
If you want to pay £95 per year to browse the web while sat in a motorway service station, I suggest you buy a cheap Android tablet and a PAYG SIM. Browsing will be a lot less frustrating, and you won’t have to put up with seeing this error message constantly.
But, apart from that, the i3 is a great car!