Improving Web Browsing on Wireless PDAs Using Thin-Client Computing

Albert Lai, Jason Nieh, Bhagyashree Bohra, Vijayarka Nandikonda, Abhishek P. Surana, Suchita Varshneya

Proceedings of the 13th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2004), New York, NY, May 17-22, 2004, pp. 143-154

Abstract

Web applications are becoming increasingly popular for mobile wireless PDAs. However, web browsing on these systems can be quite slow. An alternative approach is handheld thin-client com- puting, in which the web browser and associated application logic run on a server, which then sends simple screen updates to the PDA for display. To assess the viability of this thin-client approach, we compare the web browsing performance of thin clients against fat clients that run the web browser locally on a PDA. Our results show that thin clients can provide better web browsing performance com- pared to fat clients, both in terms of speed and ability to correctly display web content. Surprisingly, thin clients are faster even when having to send more data over the network. We characterize and analyze different design choices in various thin-client systems and explain why these approaches can yield superior web browsing per- formance on mobile wireless PDAs.

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Columbia University Department of Computer Science