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Shell of choice (Spb Mobile Shell)

posted in Reviews on August 14th, 2007

After more than seven years since it’s first release, six full releases and lots of time to improve, the default Windows Mobile setup still looks a bit bland. Even though there are thousands of themes, extended themes and a handful of Flash themes, the overall look and usage of these devices has not changed all that much.

Shell shock

If you have never heard of Spb Mobile Shell, you might be wondering why (and probably if) you would need it. Let me preface this review by stating that the Pocket PC interface, per se, is not bad, but I think we can all agree that a lot of stuff is missing.

Officially, Spb Mobile Shell is categorized as an UI enhancement tool. Many Windows users are already familiar with this kind of tools and might be reluctant to try it out, due to bad experiences with memory usage. Contrary to its bigger brethren however, Spb Mobile shell is very memory conscious and does not delay the execution of applications at all.

Shell in

The first thing you will notice after installing Spb Mobile Shell is the beautiful main screen. All the icons are big enough to be used with your fingers, but you can also use your stylus or your D-pad and buttons.

The content of the various menus is highly dynamic and depends on the applications you have installed, however, it is also filled with various enhancements from Spb Mobile Shell:

Some of the functions that are visible in the main screen are shortcuts to previously installed applications and some of the icons lead you directly to important PIM functions:

Spb Mobile Shell

 

Spb Mobile Shell also contains a small camera utility that even works if you do not have the camera software that originally came with your device installed.

It should be noted that on my XDA Flame, the camera application always selected the front side camera and I had no way of switching cameras. This maybe related to the lack of an original camera software though.

The time is Now

The feature you will see the most, unless you change the settings, is Spb Mobile Shell’s Now Screen. The Now Screen provides you with all the information you need at a quick glance:

The top most row contains battery information, signal strength and the name of your MNO. Below that is a bar that displays the latest weather information, your missed calls as well as your unread text messages and emails. The last icon in the listing is a shortcut to your profile settings.

If you have multiple Spb applications, you will appreciate the work that the Spb Mobile Shell development team has put into various integration features:

For example, if you have Spb Weather, the weather forecasts will contain a lot more information. If you use Spb’s Phone Suite, you will be provided with a couple of extra options too. The same integration is also available for Spb Time and Spb Diary and, in fact, virtually any other Spb product.

Feels like Today

Not unlike Spb Pocket Plus, Spb Mobile Shell adds a couple of tabs to your today screen.

The primary row contains information about your battery, the current time, a weather forecast as well as a picture dialing extension that works with or without Spb Phone Suite.

The various tabs themselves contain additional information, such as a listing of recently used applications for the battery tab or World Time in three different cities, which can be selected from a huge listing.

I personally found no need to change the order or content, however if you need to alter the information that is displayed, Spb Mobile Shell provides you with an extensive menu with various functions. The only thing missing is a way to delete a tab.

By default. the bar auto-collapses and thereby saves a lot of space. If you need it, just tap one of the big icons and the linked menu will pop up.

Other than modifications to the Today screen and the addition of a Now Screen, Spb Mobile Shell also provides a way for you to change the color scheme of your device. A very simple feature, but if you are not looking to create your own Themes, this is a nice alternative.

Shell-in-a-box

If you are looking to beef up your device with a collection of useful tools, Spb Mobile Shell is the application you want. Even thoughh Spb Mobile shell is not particularly cheap, at $30, the various features definitely justify the price.

Spb Mobile shell provides great enhancements and little overhead. Every function in this software is done the right way with no half-hearted attempts at adding extra functionality at the cost of usability. Spb Software House is known for their solid applications and Spb Mobile Shell is no different.