NetWasp.net’s FlashThemes

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Photographer:
Brian Forman

SETUP

      FTPlayer can be downloaded
from NetWasp’s Download page for free, and then loaded onto your PDA.
Easy enough. FTGenerator, on the other hand, is a piece of windows software.
Once you download it to your PC, you’ll need to install it.

PRODUCT
FEATURES

      Once installed on your PC,
FlashThemes Generator provides a simple and intuitive workspace (in
the shape of, you guessed it, any of several popular PDAs) to create
and view FlashThemes content. Working with the player’s stock media
takes no time at all to get the hang of, and in a few minutes you can
have an aquarium motif or be cruising the highway right from your PDA.
FTGenerator comes with 5 stock FlashThemes, (Sunset, Aquarium, Sunday
Driver, Digital Clock and a FlashThemes-theme advertising all of FT’s
features) and the Internet is teaming with others that can be purchased
for fewer than three dollars. Check out PocketPCMall’s
staggering selection. Creating original Flash content however, requires
Flash Media talent; something your reviewer does not have.
      On top of animated FlashThemes, FTGenerator
allows you to customize just about every color and static image on your
device. Fonts, lines, menu, just about anything with a defined color
can be altered to your liking. And if you ever get bored with FTGenerator
and want to take your PDA’s designs to the next lever, NetWasp offers
FlashThemesPro, a bundle of FlashThemes and a host of features including
the ability to play full-screen FlashThemes and rotate automatically
between several themes according to a user-defined calendar.

BUGS
AND WISHES


     
One thing that will always bug me about the PDA software market is that
it is almost exclusively Windows-driven. As an avid Macintosh user I
find it annoying to have to run all of this software through Virtual
PC…a program that tricks Windows into running on a Mac. This is clunky
at best, and some software (including ActiveSync) won’t install into
VPC at all. A native OS X/Windows CE interface program, and OS X counterparts
to third-party software would make my life a lot easier.

     
That being said, I think NetWasp did a great job with its FlashThemes
interfaces, making them easy and intuitive to use. Personalizing your
PDA is simple, and can easily be learned in one or two sittings. I do,
however, find the content a bit childish at times. Like I said in my
review of Conduit Technologies, Inc.’s Pocket Launcher, I feel that
PDA’s are tools to help collect and organize data. I personally have
no reason to change the color of my menu bar, or to have a setting sun
move around in the background of my device. To me such alterations to
the Windows CE interface are a little silly and better suited for people
who own PDA’s for the image they project rather than people who use
them for their functionality. But again, if you like the idea of turning
your PDA into a fish tank with pink writing, by all means look into
FlashThemes. You will by no means be alone, as FlashThemes has created
quite a following, theme-makers and theme-viewers alike.

PURCHASING

      FlashThemes Player is available
for free from NetWasp’s
Website
.

     
FlashThemes Generator is available from NetWasp’s
Website
for $14.95

PROS


  • Easy
    to use


  • Built
    on existing software formats


  • Adds
    unique flair to your PDA


  • Fun
    and novel to some

CONS


  • Offers
    no new functionality over CE


  • Animated
    themes may be childish and distracting to some


  • Not
    a large set of pre-fab themes available with free Player


  • New FlashThemes are not free

OVERALL
IMPRESSION

      FlashThemes is a relatively
new software concept for customizing your Windows CE PDA. It will be
interesting to watch as people develop more and more custom content
and the content base expands. I think many people will find that NetWasp’s
suite of programs offers an entertaining and aesthetically pleasing
change to the stock CE environment. Keep an eye on this software as
it goes through significant growth and improvement in the coming months

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