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Developer: The Price:
  • $20
The Pros:
  • Great Ticker
  • Memory Card Access
  • 16-bit Color
  • Cool Themes
The Cons:
  • Slow Loading
  • Ticker Un-Customizable
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SilverScreen 2.5 Review
By Davy Fields
3/26/2002


Overview
Anyone whoís ever picked up a Palm knows how underwhelming the application launcher is. Even on a richly colored Palm, the drab blues make up the only colorful and interesting part of the user interface. Using the memory card is a burden, as is trying to delete, beam, or get any useful information on your applications. Many people who mistakenly purchase Pocket PCís purchase them merely on appearance.

Thankfully, Pocket Sensei created SilverScreen, the complete Palm OS launcher out there today. It combines the features of dozens of applications all into one neat $20 package. SilverScreen allows you rename, get information, and even rename applications. Running programs off the memory card is accomplished with ease, and everything (including databases) can be quickly beamed.

Best of all, the themes are fun, interesting, and great looking, on everything from a Palm III to a Sony NR70. All in all, this is one of the best programs on the market today.

Customization
Cool-looking themes are one of SilverScreen's shining points. Certainly, color themes look better, but the grayscale ones are perfectly fine as well, many are available for your viewing pleasure at pocketsensei.com. SilverScreen recently added a feature to allow you to configure a nice-looking new scroll bar, as well as custom item and tab fonts.

You'll also find the ticker preferences in there. The ticker is a little bar that scrolls like a "stock ticker" across the bottom and shows you your to-do list and Date Book information for the day, and can scroll at different speeds. It's an extremely cool feature, just by itself.

Categorizing is hardly an exciting feature, but the tool bar makes it easy to arrange things on the fly. The fonts of the application, tool bar, and even the side scroll bar can be configured. SilverScreen ships with four interesting designs, and you can add your own using Font Bucket.

The scroll bar change is a very nice feature. Itís a small change, but aesthetically to eliminate it removes all traces of a regular Palm on your handheld. SilverScreen transforms it entirely into something much better.

Another thing you can configure is the program's names in the browser, as well as the ability to hide them (which another application that will remain nameless charges money for), and change their icon.

Pocketsensei.com also contains lots of free icons, so you've got a wide variety of customization available. Finally, you can configure the two dots on the side of the tool bars to go to apps, turn on the backlight, lock the palm, you name it, it does it.

There's also a recent apps/favorite apps button at the top right of the screen. If you don't like the icon view, you can easily switch over to a list view instead by hitting a green arrow. Simply put, there's a lot you can configure.

Other Features
Another great feature of SilverScreen 2.5 is the memory card use. It's the easiest program to use to put apps on a memory card to run, just drag their icons to the categorization icon in the tools section, and the program is quickly transferred to the /Palm/Launcher Folder.

That brings me to the four icons in the tools section. The info one allows you to see information on your handheld, such as OS version, processor, power source, user name and last HotSync. It displays info about a program if you drag an application icon to the info tool, and it will allow you to change the name and icon there, as well as display miscellaneous info on the app.

Next is the categorization icon I already mentioned.

The beam tool allows you to beam anything, including databases, and although I really wish it allowed you to beam stuff off the memory card, it's great the way it is.

Finally, there's the industry standard trash can, and it works more like a regular trash can, where you can drag stuff in, and empty or save the stuff later.

The battery display at the top shows a colorful power indicator, and you can tap on it to have it give you a percentage, and if you keep tapping on it, will show you internal memory space available.

The Down Side
My one main gripe with SilverScreen is the load time. Periodically, you'll come out of an application and have to sit for a while with a "Loading" screen. This is caused by what I believe to be a lot of apps on the memory card, so if you don't use that feature, it doesnít matter. But if youíve got a significant number of apps on the memory card, it can take a while. Iíve got about fifty, and the waiting is about five seconds using Fast CPU, and it occurs about five times a day.

One other thing is the tickerís lack of customization. I use my To-Do list by the date-due only, and not priority, but the Ticker insists on showing the priority and not the date. Considering all that Pocket Sensei has added, I think itís a safe bet theyíll add it one day. But, considering how fast the overall package is, it's not much of an issue.

Conclusion
This pretty much is the ultimate Palm application launcher; there's nothing it can't do. If you actually like Palm's internal browser, you're probably not the one to go for flashy graphics, and this isn't for you, but for everyone else, dig in.

Update: Pocket Sensei has released SilverScreen 2.6, which has high resolution support for the first time. Hi-Res It!, included with the SilverScreen download, lets 320 by 320 graphics be used by the launcher interface. It also has improved Jog Dial support.

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Don't like it

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 3:20:30 PM #
Tried it on my Sony Clie T615 and don't like how it looks. A hi-res version might be worth considering.

Anybody here anything new about Launcher X? According to its website it's still "coming soon". How long has it been, 2 years?

RE: Launcher X
Ed @ 3/26/2002 3:26:06 PM #
While it may seem like two years if you are really anticipating its release, the sneak preview of Launcher X appeared only two months ago:
www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=2916

---
News Editor
RE: Don't like it
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 3:30:24 PM #
I can appreaciate the fact that it seems like 2 years - I don't know why they would advertise that it will be released soon and then not be able to deliver. I am sure that many have gone the way of megalauncher.

I really like SS on my 505, but with my 615 it just doesn't do it. I had a hard time switching to megalauncher, but I have become very happy with it.

I would like somehting a little less boxy looking - hopefully launcherx will be out soon, or evern a Hi Res SS.

RE: Don't like it
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 3:36:06 PM #
Thanks to a post at palmvenue.com, I've learned that the LauncerX release has been significantly delayed due to some personal issues in the developer's life. The reason it was announced 2 months ago is because it was supposed to be released a month and a half ago. the developer hopes to release it in April.
I'm a long-time SilverScreen user, but I'm very much anticipating the release of LauncherX.
Please don't hold it against the developer for the delay, there were circumstances beyond his control.

RE: Don't like it
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 3:40:57 PM #
I find SS a bit goofy looking with some its "skins" - hopefully launcherx will be a "cleaner" looking launcher.

I heard a hi-res version is coming
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 3:52:03 PM #
I complained about the lack of a hi-res version as well. Someone at PocketSensei techsupport told me that a hi-res version was coming out pretty soon.

RE: Don't like it
Lock @ 3/27/2002 10:44:54 AM #
> Please don't hold it against the developer for the delay, there were circumstances beyond his control.

Ok, but I think a small message on the page can help ppl to think he's working on the project.
It seems totally abandoned... No changes at all in the page... :

Love at first sight, but...

Altema @ 3/26/2002 3:26:04 PM #
OK, so I'm a speed freak who only recently gained enough self control to turn FastCPU off (don't worry, any battery related tests were always done with it off). I only want to move around quickly and get the job done, but I love SilverScreen and keep the demo in my archive folder on SD. Sometimes I will load it just to gaze at those beautiful screens in full 16bit color, and then delete it when I get tired of the screen delays. Perhaps they could cache the card app list instead of reading the information each time? They have a winner, and I am going to check out this version too, and if there is a workaround to the speed problem, I'll buy it ASAP.

Far from the ultimate Palm application launcher
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 3:40:28 PM #
I tried the latest version of Silver Screen, but I found that it was very slow. It seemed as though it always wanted to check and refresh the applications on my MS. If they would cache them or give me that option on when to refresh I think it would be a much better application. So unless they speed it up, I will stick with Meaglauncher until/if launcherX is released.

"Indecision may or may not be my problem"

Slowdown
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 3:45:34 PM #
This is why I don't like these eye-candy Launchers. It slows my m515 down too much. Palm should buy one of these companies and just integrate the best candy into the OS.

VVEERRYY SSLLOOWW
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 6:22:31 PM #
this speed is verry slow on my palm vx with fast cpu.
:(

Way TOO slow!
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2002 9:38:49 AM #
The real purpose of any launcher is to launch another application. SilverScreen is way too slow for practical use. I suppose their next icon will be the infamous MS hourglass as you spend so much time waiting for the thing to load.

RE: Love at first sight, but...
Altema @ 3/27/2002 3:08:01 PM #
Ok folks, I had a chance to play around with it and get some better speed out of SilverScreen.

One advantage of SS is that, unlike the default Palm launcher, you can place the icon for any card application on any of the menus. This lets you have your favorite app showing on the main menu, even though it is really on the card. Cool feature, but here is the problem when you exit an application and get back to SilverScreen; IF there is an application on the last used menu screen which is loaded on the expansion card, THEN SilverScreen will scan the card's entire /Palm/Launcher folder, determine which applications belong on the menu, sort the list, Then display the menu.

I may be wrong, but that is what appears to be happening. A successful workaround for me entailed creating an expansion card category for those applications on the card, and assigning the card apps to that category.

I know, it's too much like the default launcher setup this way. But, you get the cool appearance of SS, minus the speed hit. Or, you could just keep the card app icons off your main menu so SS does not scan the card every time. I might buy this after all...

Perhaps someone from PocketSensi can throw in their two cents?

RE: Love at first sight, but...
Altema @ 3/28/2002 10:34:09 AM #
Here's a new update. SilverScreen appears to be caching the menus now that the card apps are isolated. One change I did make to my setup is moving all the game icons on the card to the games category, and leaving the remaining card apps in the card category. Speed is good now, except when exiting McFile which forces a fresh card read. I'm going full tilt with all hacks, SS, full time sidelight, and overclocking to 44Mhz to see what happens to the battery...

(seatbelt ON!)

RE: Love at first sight, but...
Altema @ 3/28/2002 4:15:47 PM #
Battery still hanging tough at 60% after more than 3 hours continous runtime under worst case scenario mentioned in last post. Sidelight on full time, spent almost an hour gaming, and 20 minutes reading during a meeting with the sidelight on maximum, let three or four videos run through multiple times, and performed two full backups to SD card. Rest of the time was spend on spreadsheets and relational databases. Should work out to about 6.5 or 7 hours total before recharge under these extreme conditions. Can't think of any other way to run it down quicker except by looping a movie with sound until it dies, or shorting out the battery. Not bad for a little matchbook sized power source!

44Mhz is a little overkill, even with every hack turned on, so I'm going to slow it down to maybe 38 or 40 to get back some of the battery life. No problem from SilverScreen yet, screen changes are still instant except for the pause when exiting card apps and McFile. Now, where did I put that charge card?..

RE: Love at first sight, but...
Altema @ 3/28/2002 8:10:29 PM #
Ok, last post on this thread before the story drops from the PIC homepage. I give up... I can't kill my Palm battery in a reasonable amount of time. I thought it was going to give up the ghost between 6 and 7 hours of continous use,.. but now it looks like 8 hours easy, and may even get as far as 9 hours of overclocked, overhacked, overloaded use on one charge.

I'm sick of games and it's still going strong.

I quit! Palmie wins.

Lefties Still Not Wanted?

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 4:06:37 PM #
I tried SS a while ago and things might have changed, but SS does not support Lefty. It's an app that sets some bit in the OS telling it to draw scrollbars on the left so that left-handed people aren't having to block the screen with their hand while their trying to scroll down. AFAIK, apps are supposed to check for this bit and adjust where it draws things. SS ignores this bit and you wind up with lots of space on the right and icons and the scrollbar overlapping. It's ugly and difficult to control.

I sent them email asking about Lefty support and they replied with "it's not a big deal as we have few left-handed users." Of course they have few left-handed users! They don't me and I would have been happy to register SS at the time if it had Lefty support. Being left handed, I don't care how pretty your launcher is, if you refuse to consider me as a potential customer, I'm not going to go out of my way to give you my money.

RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
GregGaub @ 3/26/2002 6:11:06 PM #
While I agree that Lefty support should be broader, you need to understand that Lefty is a 3rd party solution, NOT part of the PalmOS. The guy who wrote Lefty wanted to make a preference that is open to all applications to read. It's entirely up to the individual application developers to decide to support the Lefty preference or not. Like you, I wish more of them did, but it's certainly not mandated or required by anyone official. Still, requesting that developers support Lefty, and giving them the link so that they can look into it, is always a good idea.
http://www.strout.net/pilotsoft/lefty/intro.shtml


RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 6:44:21 PM #
Oh, I understand that it's 3rd party, but if you _do_ request it and send them a link and they blow you off saying it's not worth the bother and their app works like crap with Lefty turned on (I'm not going to turn off Lefty just for this one app), then I will (and did) take my money elsewhere.

RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 7:25:51 PM #
Geez - these app developers probably dont have time to address all the requests that they get.

Lay off dude!!

RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 8:47:20 PM #
-Geez - these app developers probably dont have time to address all the requests that they get.

-Lay off dude!!

It's a simple request, most apps already do it. Unfortunately most left-handed people have made themselves fit into what is available, and don't think about making the request. This guy did. With this company, laziness stepped in and they did not get the money.

RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2002 2:57:39 AM #
I'm a left hander and proud of it! However, I have to say us left handers have to put up with a lot in a right handed world. From working with right handed computer mouses to working with right handed dental chairs (I'm a dental student and I've got to tell you it's very awkward). If a company has the time to look after its users, even the minority, then I'll look after that company. However, if they don't, don't I have a right not to buy their product and tell others that they are not willing to look after their customers? I think this is what my fellow left hander is trying to do; and I applause him on his endevour. As a side note, is there a place where I can find out what Palm apps support Lefty or other left handed preferences??

All PalmOS Users UNITE!

RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2002 11:53:27 AM #
I completly agree. For those of you who tell us to "lighten up", are you left-handed? If not, then you have no right to tell us that. It IS a hassle having the scroll bar on the right side. Don't get me started on the stylus on the right side design. Granted we are a minority, but our spending dollar is just as important and our issues should be considered.
I've spent my entire life adapting to a right-handed world. It would be nice to have a left-handed option for many things without having to pay more for it...Dammit!

Ok, rant over.

Peace,
Bill

RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
Lock @ 3/27/2002 12:05:49 PM #
Lock, lefthanded, here... :]

RE: Lefties Still Not Wanted?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2002 7:02:19 PM #
Hey lighten up! I guess I am allowed to tell you this because I am a lefty. I am also a developer so my view might be a little tainted that way...

Lefties Unite! :)
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/28/2002 11:36:41 PM #
Who cares about Palm vs. Sony fans (I love all devices). How about Lefties vs. Righties (Just kddding). As a lefty, it is hard to use alot of things, including palm programs. I adjust, but don't put us down for having problems in a righty world.

I don't get it?

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 5:26:35 PM #
I don't know what all the facination is with these launchers. I don't spend any time on a launcher, I spend all my time in the app ( via runwrite and switchhack ). I am either in ActNames, Quicksheets, address book, bankbook, avantgo or noah. I am bouncing from app to app that going to a launcher in between would really slow me down. Maybe because I use my palm for work or to manage my life. I am always working on things to do, people to call, recording sales. Am I the only one? I must be because SilverScreen is consistantly in the top 5 apps sold.

RE: I don't get it?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 6:30:53 PM #
Some of us use more than 10 apps quite frequently, and also like to have a launcher to manage the copious quantities of shareware we try out. SilverScreen handles moving and deleting files better than the built-in launcher, and since there are a very wide variety of apps I may need at any time (and since SwitchHack doesn't fully support removable media), I need to use the launcher.
I'm not saying your reason for not needing a launcher replacement is invalid, I'm just saying not to assume that people who use these launchers don't use their handhelds for work or to manage their lives. It's just that many of us require literally dozens of applications to do this.

RE: I don't get it?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 6:31:08 PM #
I tried MegaLauncher and removed it for the same reason - I went from app to app and it slowed me down.

I do like extra information provided on a constant basis like free memory, etc.

The feature in Launcher III that turns off the constant refresh does speed things up quite a bit - I just never found that capability in MegaLauncher (maybe I missed it).

RE: I don't get it?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/29/2002 1:16:14 AM #
You're not the only one. I do see why some people find add-on launchers to be useful, but like you I spend the majority of my time with just a small number of applications, bypassing the launcher altogether when possible.

On the other hand, I do like the launcher that comes standard on Clies. It's based on the Palm launcher, but allows more icons to be displayed (using hi-res), allows selection and even movement between categories with just the jog dial, and provides free memory info for the handheld and memory stick by tapping on the battery icon (even though this is a non-intuitave place to tap for such information).

Categories

Stefanos @ 3/26/2002 7:01:32 PM #
The problem I have with Silver Screen is that I also use PiDirect. When I need to perform a reset, PiDirect needs to be re-activated. As a result, the categories on Silver Screen are messed up. The multitude of apps I have on the MMC card go back to 'Unfiled'. I would like to rely on categories, but it is ipossible this way. I may be doing something wrong, if so, please correct me.

RE: Categories
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 7:27:45 PM #
Try downloading Quicksilver from palmgear. It reactivates SS after a reset.

http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?prodID=34198

An extra 5 seconds is worth it!

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 7:59:05 PM #
Silverscreen is a very cool and useful app! I've used it since its first version and absolutely love it. Yeah, it is a little slow loading, but to me its worth it to pick up all the functions. It's super with the memory cards on my m505, and I really like being able to rename apps.

Pocketsensei's customer service is super, too!

launcher X release?

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 9:12:21 PM #
Anybody know when Launcher X will release?

RE: launcher X release?
Ed @ 3/26/2002 9:42:34 PM #
Please read the thread titled "Don't like it" for the answer to this question.

---
News Editor
RE: launcher X release?
akiy @ 3/27/2002 11:56:54 AM #
Looks like there's a new "unveiled" image of Launcher X here:

http:./www.launcherx.com/sneakpeek.cfm

There's no release date given yet, though.

RE: launcher X release?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2002 4:24:16 PM #
Mmmmm "Homer" button. Doh!! hahahaha

No thanks...

Foo Fighter @ 3/26/2002 11:51:49 PM #
Silverscreen sucks. There is no way to create your own custom themes, so you have to settle on the small selection of mediocre themes offered by the developer. And there is no hi-res support.

Thanks, but I'll take LauncherX..when it becomes available.

RE: No thanks...
dethblud @ 3/28/2002 12:33:52 AM #
You actually can make your own Silverscreen themes. It's just that nobody knows about the page explaining how. Try this link.
http://www.pocketsensei.com/design.htm

RE: No thanks...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/28/2002 2:07:23 AM #
Well it looks like they will accept artwork from the public and they'll make the skin for you if they think it's cool enough. What I wonder is what are the terms of the artwork you submit? Do they suddenly get all exclusive rights to it?

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