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Silver Screen review
Alan C. Brawn (kosh@ukonline.co.uk)
5/5/2000


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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Silver Screen --> Version needed for IIIc!

bricors @ 5/5/2000 11:26:43 AM #
I was very excited with the prospect of having some very cool themes on my Palm, but when I downloaded the app, and installed it - it turned everything on my IIIC to greyscale, as far as the interface goes. Its definitely an awesome product - but get a color version, and it'll be amazing!
RE: Silver Screen --> Version needed for IIIc!
Alan C Brawn @ 5/6/2000 5:51:57 AM #
I agree, color would definately be great. Having only used the product on a greyscale palm I have to say that its use of greyscales is great.
If they can pull it off on the color palm then they will really have a winner, but lets not forget it is all too easy to make a mess when playing about with color.
RE: Silver Screen --> Version needed for IIIc!
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/21/2001 7:57:52 AM #
CromaCast is now availible for version 1.95 at their website.

Silver Screen IIIc please, and add'l icons

Shooter @ 5/5/2000 9:29:33 PM #
I downloaded it for my IIIxe, and was disappointed that they hadn't supported the 3rd party apps like Datebk3, Address+, AddressPro, JFile, etc... the developer emailed me and said to wait for version 1.5 for that. Let's hope they also go with a COLOR version for 1.5 too!!!!!!!
RE: Silver Screen IIIc please, and add'l icons
Alan C Brawn @ 5/6/2000 5:49:59 AM #
Additional icons would be great, however you have to understand that it is hard to support everything, though a few 3rd party progs do have new icons, such as Yesturday. I suppose the best way to manage it would be to make a large iconset and let the user set icons for apps in the app info section.

It crashed my palm Vx...

Micke @ 5/5/2000 11:29:47 PM #
Silver crash (auto reset) my Palm Vx (OS v3.5), when showing the version list view for the Mobile Link program.
Else it is a very good program indeed.
RE: It crashed my palm Vx...
Alan C Brawn @ 5/6/2000 5:55:04 AM #
I have tried that on my device, Palm V OS3.3, but it works fine. I`d imagine it would be problem involving OS3.5.
RE: It crashed my palm IIIx...
Ed @ 5/6/2000 9:15:01 AM #
I tried it on my IIIx that I have 3.5 d4 on and it crashed like a 747 full of liver and onions.
RE: It crashed my palm Vx...
Alan C Brawn @ 5/6/2000 2:36:09 PM #
Looking more and more like it has a few issues with 3.5 then.

OS vs GUI

Paul @ 5/6/2000 3:53:28 AM #
No to be too nit picky. But, this program isn't an OS (Operating System) replacement. It's a GUI (Graphical User Interface) enhancement.
I just think it's important for people to have accurate info.
This does sound like an interesting product.
RE: OS vs GUI
Alan C Brawn @ 5/6/2000 5:49:15 AM #
Yes, technically it is a GUI replacement, sorry about the mistake.
RE: OS vs GUI
Paul @ 5/7/2000 3:06:50 AM #
Thanks for the quick reply. Other than that minor oversight, I enjoyed your review.
RE: OS vs GUI
Alan C Brawn @ 5/7/2000 2:45:07 PM #
Glad you liked it. You may be seeing more of my reviews in the near future.
RE: OS vs GUI
BillT @ 6/2/2000 10:13:20 PM #
Alan,
I also enjoyed your review.......and appreciate your ability to acknowledge your mistake in terminology.

Would like to recommend that you ALSO make
*the necessary corcection* to your article tho, as one of the above posters pointed out......

I would consider this high quality journalism,
especially considering :
1)people who have yet to read the article.....
2)newer Palm users, as well as .......
3)the current shifting of OS version numbers and their related issues...(evident even within the responses to this thread)...

Thanks again for the review....agree that an Icon editor would be a BIG plus.

My $.02

Best Regards,
Bill


RE: OS vs GUI
Posted by: Alan C Brawn @ 5/6/00 5:49:15 AM

Yes, technically it is a GUI replacement, sorry about the mistake.

Great app

V0iD @ 5/8/2000 2:04:15 AM #
I've been testing silver for some time now, and it's definitively worth every penny. Could benefit from modularity, install only what you need, save memory.

I prefer 1.1 version

Luigi @ 6/10/2000 11:48:40 AM #
I have tested the program and I'm very entusiatic of it since the first versione 1.0. I have seen the program was going slowly and slowly from one version to next. So, after I tested the 1.4 version I decided to keep the 1.1 version, fast without evident bugs!
RE: I prefer 1.1 version
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2000 8:02:16 AM #
I bought v1.7 and love it. It is much faster now than previous versions I trialled, and the relativley new ability to replace all third party app icons means that the entire interface is now fully customisable. It runs perfectly on my trgpro, except that it doesn't recognise the existence of the AutoCF category, although there are no problems accessing programs on Compact Flash

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