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REVIEW: Spb Software House Mobile Shell 2.0
Posted by Heinz Burkart - on Wednesday, 05.03.08 - 14:01:20 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 38150x
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Earlier this week, Spb Software House has upgraded their Spb Mobile Shell to version 2.0, which is easier to handle now and has a fresher and enhanced design. Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 has been reviewed thoroughly before and therefore, I mainly tested the new features of version 2.0 so that the user can get an idea if the update is worthwhile, especially because an upgrade from 1.x to 2.0 isn't free or charge since it's a version upgrade, not an update.
Spb Mobile Shell is a program designed to simplify your daily job with your Windows Mobile devices, especially smartphones and works with Windows Mobile 5.0 and 6 Professional and Classic PDAs and smartphones.

You can reach the most important functions from one screen, the Now screen which is quite similar to Windows Mobile's Today screen but sits on top of it. Mobile Shell got a new and fresh design and now looks more modern.

Generally, Mobile Shell 2.0 consists 3 screens:

  • Now Screen with time, upcoming appointments, weather forecast, and the most important phone and message status information.
  • Spb Menu with the program launcher.
  • Speed Dial with up to 15 contacts (version 1.5 had five contacts only).

All these features are well known from other Spb programs like Spb Pocket Plus, Spb Phone Suite, Spb Time and Spb Weather and while these programs have a lot more functions they are therefore more difficult to configure.

What's new in version 2.0

  • All functions in one tabbed window with animated transitions
  • Navigation with gestures
  • Full screen dialogs for weather forecasts
  • Full screen dialog for world time and next alarm
  • Quick panel selection with taskbar gestures
  • Spb Menu folders and MRU shortcuts in one window
  • Full Speed Dial panel
  • New contact dialog
  • Profile popup on Now screen
  • Improved RAM consumption

Let's begin with the central interface on the Today screen. The optic hasn't changed dramatically but now you can also use gestures to open the Spb Menu windows. First a comparison of both Today screens (on the left version 1.5, on the right version 2.0 (the 3D effect comes from Windows Mobile 6 not from Mobile Shell)):

As mentioned, one new feature is the gesture control. In the pictures below you can see what happens if you move your finger down from the Start menu. Three real-time animation-windows appears, showing the three Spb Mobile Shell decks. If you move your finger to the right or left, you choose the window:

The new Now screen has slightly changed. The newest feature is the function bar on the bottom. It gives you the possibility to change quickly between the decks of the Now screen by tapping the appropriate icon. This can also be done with gestures by sliding the finger to the left or to the right, you scroll forward or backward (on the left the v1.5 themes, on the right v.20):

The most noticeable thing is the function bar on the bottom, which lets you easily select the right deck with your thumb instead of using a stylus and that the appointments are now shown within the classic theme.

Besides the known tabs in the Today screen you can also tap on the clock or weather symbol on the Now screen to get detailed time or weather information:

Bellow a demo how navigating with gestures works. If you like animation you will enjoy this function, if not simply turn it off:

The "Spb Menu" and the program launcher are now combined in one window. This is practical because you no longer have to switch back and forth. In this view you can best see the new design of Mobile Shell 2.0. i.e. the icon property window looks very good.

Another example of the new design is the dialog for the backlight settings:

And the overhauled change dialog for the telephone profile (as a comparison on the left v1.5 and on the right v2.0):

The speed dial window is now in full screen when selected from the Now screen and allows to add up to 15 contacts:

If you choose a contact a completely new designed contact dialog appears. The choice of the right telephone number is now easier than ever and also includes the SMS option. However, MMS isn't featured in this screen:

Final Conclusion

Spb Mobile Shell Version 2.0 scores mainly with a improved user interface. In my opinion the design is much better, but this is a matter of taste. But Mobile Shell 2.0 also received some worth memory consumption updates and since memory is a valuable good even in modern devices, it is nice that Spb reduced the memory consumption by about a half. Nevertheless, I have to ask the question why this was not possible in version 1.5 already?
Users with little memory and an affinity for gestures should install the trial version. This way you can best decide if the update is worth the price.

Spb Mobile Shell 2.0 works with Windows Mobile 5 Professional and Windows Mobile 6 Professional smartphones and the full version costs US$ 29.95; but as always, Spb also offers a fully functional time limited trial version. The upgrade from version 1.x is available for US$ 14.95 only.

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