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Silver Screen review
Alan C. Brawn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Silver Screen is a replacement app launcher for the Palm OS, and a darn good one at that. Several programs including Handscape have seen shortfalls in Palm's Operating System and took it upon themselves to improve and replace it. What Silver Screen has which all the others don't is style.
Before I start talking about the product let me first explain how it works. You install it as you would any palm program, it takes up around 100k of ram, and once run it sets itself up so that it is always running and resident in memory so that taps of the home button takes you back to the program instead of Palm OS. You can switch back easily at any time, so you can try it and not worry about removing it if you don't like it which is a big plus point.
The first thing that strikes you when you first load up the program is how slick the interface is. The icons for standard programs and the battery level indicator have all been replaced with much nicer looking alternatives, and there is a wonderful and extremely useful Toolbox, which you can access by just tapping its tab in the corner. Itís great to see it smoothly scrolling up.
The toolbar itself contains icons for info, beam, category and delete as well as two user customizable hotspots. What really makes this a great feature is the drag and drop support - want to delete something, just drag the programs icon and drop it on the trashcan - no more messing about in the menus. Additional Menus also make it easy to perform resets and other functions. Text View has also been enhanced, in a tabular format you can see the program name and a selected category such as size, you can even sort your applications by size or number of records, which is useful when looking for memory hoggers. One of the most interesting features is Stroke of Genius, a very useful and versatile feature. Basically its a single pen stroke from the top of the screen down which can be used to launch application, change the prefs, activate the backlight etc. Useful for people who insist on having a button or a stroke of everything...
You would think that with all these features and using a higher screen depth would cause slowdown but to be honest after using the program extensively on my Palm V, I didn't really notice any slowness. Though please bear in mind that that is a matter of opinion. Another thing to note is the speed at which the new Info screen opens, under the Palm OS launcher it took several seconds, on Silver Screen it is almost instant. A definite improvement, especially if you have lots of applications installed.
As far as I know Silver Screen is the first Palm program to support themes. On the website is a gallery of nice looking themes which replace the icons. Some of them are very nice; I especially like the gravity one which will be very familiar to anyone who has owned a certain Apple PDA. The only problem is that not all icons are replaced, only the standard programs and one or two others (such as Yesterday). I would welcome either a windows based icon editor and an online archive perhaps, or perhaps the function to assign a certain icon to any given program so you can pick the one that fits best.
The documentation of Silver Screen is adequate but could do with being spruced up, instead of a text file a nice HTML file with a few pictures would be nice, but not essential as it is fairly rare that you need to refer to the manual. Aside from this the only other bad point I can think of is the size of the program, 100+k. Although this is comparable to similar programs you always do want the programs to be just that little bit smaller if you only have a 2.8Mb Palm V.
In conclusion Silver Screen is a very powerful OS replacement and a treat to use. Finally style and functionality have been successfully combined into a brilliant program. Although it has a few (and just a few) flaws it is still worth a try and excellent value for money.
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