QuickLook: Spb Software House Spb Mobile Shell v1.5

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INTRODUCTION

   A PDA is supposed to intuitively assist you with information at your fingertips. In Windows Mobile, the Today screen is the portal to that information. On March 12th, 2007 pocketnow.com reviewed, version 1.0, a very innovative Today screen plug-in from Spb Software House called Spb Mobile Shell. Barely 4 months later, Spb Software House has just released version 1.5. Let’s see if it is worth upgrading to! Read on for the QuickLook.

SPECIFICATIONS/VERSION HISTORY

    The three major issues with Spb Mobile Shell version 1.0 were the lack of support for Windows Mobile 6, the large size of the application which caused occasional lockups, and the lack of advanced configuration options.

AT A GLANCE

(all images link to higher resolution)

   Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 is now fully compliant with Vista’s Mobile Device Center 6.x and Windows Mobile 6.

The Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 Windows installation screen. You can also download the .cab file (link) directly onto your device bypassing the Windows installer.

The Windows Mobile 6 installer does not provide a choice for the location of the installation. Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 must be installed in Storage memory. The installer is 2.7MB and Spb Software House list a requirement of 1.7MB of Storage memory once installed. This is quite large.

There are two choices for the Now screen. Classic from version 1.0. and a new Professional look.

   The Professional Now screen new functionality provides direct access by tapping the appropriate icon to a weather forecast, and sound profiles. You access the Microsoft calendar application by tapping the event or the date on the calendar at the bottom of the screen. Spb Software House also provides an API and a sample application (link) to access popular applications like Pocket Informant, Agenda One and Agenda Fusion. Unfortunately, the sample application only opens the third party PIM at the current date. Spb Software House is looking to third party developers to fill in the gap. I think they should take the lead.

The Today screen still has the familiar tab layout, however pinning applications has become much easier with additional options. You can also manage them with a check box list. This is a very nice addition.

The Spb Menu can now be customized using a check box list.


THE DRAWING BOARD


   Spb Software House has addressed some of the issues from my last review, however I would still like to see:

  • The ability to add more than five contacts on the Dial tab
  • The customization of the size of the tab drop down
  • Smaller memory utilization

   Spb Software House support a great support forum here. I think the biggest problem with Spb Mobile Shell is that it can hang due to low memory.

PURCHASING

   Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 can be purchased for $29.99 here. The upgrade for user of Spb Mobile Shell 1.0 is free. A trial version is available for download here.

PROS


  • Direct access to weather forecast on Now screen


  • Direct access to sound profiles on Now screen


  • Enhanced program tab pin function


  • Enhanced Spb Menu configuration

CONS


  • Memory footprint is too large


  • Size of tabs is not configurable


  • Third party PIM sample plug-in lacks functionality

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?




OVERALL IMPRESSION

    I really like the concept and found Spb Mobile Shell 1.0 very useful on my T-Mobile MDA. I was disappointed that I could not run it on my T-Mobile Wing. Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 solves this issue and the additional functionality is very helpful. This is a worthy upgrade I can recommend, although if you don’t already own Spb Mobile Shell, I would download the trial to make sure it runs smoothly in your device’s environment.




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