Your new Windows Mobile phone is great, right? You know under the bonnet is a powerful machine running the latest version of an OS that's supported by a slew of freeware and shareware applications. The trouble is every time you whip out your new smartphone to impress your friends they end up falling asleep after glimpsing the über-dull Windows Mobile interface. Well, no more.
Design and features
Software developer Spb have the solution to you Windows Mobile doldrums. SBP Mobile Shell 2.0 is an application that sits 'on top' of the Windows Mobile interface giving quick access to most of the phone's functions and menus while also managing to look very sexy.
The shell's greatest advantage is what Spb call 'thumb touch' icons, which are desktop icons big enough to push accurately with your big, fat thumbs. Anyone who has tried to use the tiny Windows Mobile 'Start' menu without a stylus will welcome thumb touch with open arms.
When executed the Spb Shell has three active screen spaces. The first is the 'Now' screen displaying the time, local weather, organiser notes, as well as messages and missed calls and remaining battery life.
The second is a 'launcher' screen; giving shortcut access to almost every application and settings menu on the phone via a 'rotating cube' display, which is very similar to the interface we see on the latest HTC devices. But the SBP shell goes much deeper than just the contacts and media gallery display on HTC handsets. All installed programs, tools, settings, organiser listings, as well as 10 customisable shortcuts can be accessed through this second screen, removing any need to use the ultra-tiny Windows Mobile Start menu ever again.
The final window is the speed dial; a graphical display of your 15 favourite contacts plus a shortcut to your complete contact listings. Selecting a contact from this screen opens the contact's details with access to two phone numbers and a link to SMS the contact.
For the most part the design of all three screens is excellent. The launcher screen is the exception, being slightly more cluttered with coloured icons, although this is a style over substance complaint. We're not sure we'd want to see the functionality sacrificed for good looks.
Like all software, the performance will depend on the machine you installed it on. We've been testing the mobile shell on an imate Ultimate 8502 and have found no perceptible lag, even with the animations turned on.
In information their Website Spb claim to significantly reduced resources, including memory usage, from their previous Mobile Shell releases. From our hands-on experience the Shell seems very lightweight. Almost all applications load as if the Shell wasn't active, and we couldn't see any significant change in the performance of the handset. Switching between the screens of the shell's interface is instantaneous.
After reviewing as many Windows Mobile handsets as we have at CNET.com.au the Spb Mobile Shell 2.0 is a breath of fresh air. The interface is attractive, powerful, easy-to-use, and customisable; to a point. Now your new WM handset is ready to show off to your boardroom buddies.
The Sbp Mobile Shell 2.0 is available to download from Sbp Software House and registering the software costs US$29.95.