Bellevue (WA) – Startup Webaroo is offering cached versions of Internet portions for download. “Web packs” containing groups of websites about cities or current news are downloaded and can then be viewed on computers, mobile phones or PDAs. Webaroo’s servers take care of opening the connections to servers and ripping the text, images and links. Users can then browse or search small portions of the Internet without a connection.
Basically, Webaroo is offering a web spider service, which has been around for years. Various commercial and shareware programs are available to let users download websites, along with their associated links and pictures, to computers. These pages are often viewed when you do not expect to be near a network connection for hours like on an airplane or a long road trip.
However, the problem with these “web spidering programs” is that they often take very long to download a page. Multiple connections have to be established to download content from a website, which can put a significant load on a network. Webaroo says it clears this hurdle by running the downloads on its servers and providing users with pre-sorted content.
In a quick test run, we used Webaroo’s 4.71 MB client to download a 256 MB web pack with general information about the city of Taipei. Several other packs containing current news and information about other cities were also available for download. At the same time, we also had Webaroo prepare a cached version of the Tom’s Hardware Guides website. For website downloads, users can set how deep into the webpage they want to go, which is known as the “link depth” and whether they want to include images.
It took around 15 minutes to grab the Taipei web pack. We viewed the websites through the Webaroo client and browsed to the VirtualTourist.com link. Except for the top Webaroo banner, the page was indistinguishable from the original site. The story was different after clicking into the Nightlife section.
(Viewing Webaroo’s version of Virtualtourist.com)
While various Nightlife spots were shown, detailed information of the location was not cached. Only getting the first few links into a website may be a strange way to surf, but Webaroo claims that users typically just scan the first two pages of most websites.
Webaroo is currently offered as a free beta service; there is no word how much the company will charge when the service goes commercial. The company has recently signed a deal with Acer and plans to offer a laptop with 40 GB of pre-loaded Internet pieces.