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Palm Pre browser '4x faster' than iPhone

Palm's webcast showed the Palm Pre loading a big, chunky site in 7 seconds -- about 4x faster than our iPhone test. Is it a coup, a cache or a crock?

There is such a thing as time travel -- just try surfing the Web on most mobiles, and you'll be transported back to 1997. Slow and buggy rendering can make riding the Infobahn more like being stuck behind a tractor on a country lane.

So far, Safari on the iPhone and Opera Mini have been the best choices for ramping up the browsing mojo, but a video shown during last week's Palm Pre webcast has us all a-flutter. The Pre already has our spider senses tingling with its sexy user interface and wireless charger, but now we smell its browser may also be something special.

In the webcast, Palm showed the Pre visiting the US university basketball site It's a graphics- and JavaScript-heavy site, and it took over 30 seconds to load on our iPhone over Wi-Fi. But in the Palm video, as shown on mobile blog jkOnTheRun, the Pre only took about 7 seconds to display it.

There's no way to know if the Pre browser was loading the site from a cache, but even that would be news -- the iPhone doesn't do caching. The Pre browser is based on WebKit, so it's a cousin to the iPhone and Mac OS X versions of Safari. Here's hoping it's slick enough to make them look like inbred Cornish cousins.