It's been a long time since we have heard anything about Spb
Software House most popular program - Spb Pocket Plus and the last
major release, Spb Pocket Plus 3,
was launched back in 2005 already. In the
meantime Spb has developed many other applications but now the long awaited version 4 of Spb Pocket Plus
As good as today's Windows Mobile Classic and Professional platforms are, there
are still a lot of missing components that many Pocket PC users consider as
seriously needed on the Windows Mobile touchscreen platform. These are simple
things, like a close button that really closes, the ability to open multiple
windows in Internet Explorer Mobile, the ability to view file properties in File
Explorer, a task manager, the ability to place shortcuts on the Today screen,
among many others.
Spb Pocket Plus is a utility that enhances all aspects of the Windows Mobile
touchscreen operation system and Spb Pocket Plus 4 now enhances previously seen
Pocket Plus versions as well, to make Spb's bestseller even better.
This review focuses on and describes the new features of Spb Pocket Plus 4.
New Features in Spb Pocket Plus 4:
So before you can test or use any program on your mobile device
you have to install it. It is very important to me that the installation routine
is very easy.
Spb Software House is known for its easy and smooth installation
and so it is with Pocket Plus. A good option is the ability to put in the
serial number on the PC.
During the installation you will be asked if you want to install
a test version of Spb Diary and/or Spb Weather. If you agree, the installer
will additionally download Spb Diary and Spb Weather over the internet and will
install the one or both on your mobile device.
The installation is an automatic process like the following:
Pocket Plus Installation
The installation of Pocket Plus is easy and smooth. I especially
like the possibility to enter the serial number on the PC.
Because of the installation of Spb Diary and Spb Weather, the today screen
is a little bit overloaded. Normally with Spb Software House software you
can work right away after installing it. Because of the additional installation of
and Spb Weather you have to change some options to get rid of the scroll
In my opinion it would be better to integrate Spb Diary and Spb Weather in a
Pocket Plus Tab. But with a few clicks in the options you get a clearer today
If you are working with a Spb Software House product for the
first time, I recommend installing Pocket Plus without Spb Diary and Spb
Once you get more familiar with Pocket Plus you can always add Spb Diary and
Before I describe the new feature in version 4, I would like to show you the
general functions of Pocket Plus:
- The main component of Pocket Plus is the today plug-in. It contains
a program launcher and the capability to include system indicators. Well known
is the battery indicator at the top of the screen which Spb Software House
invented. Other today plug-ins can also be integrated in Pocket Plus.
- The file explorer has been expanded with ZIP compression and
encryption function among other things.
- Pocket Plus is also a task manager. It can actually close programs
instead of minimizing them.
- The ability to assign additional actions to hardware buttons
(e.g. Alt-Tab) is given.
- One important feature is the safe mode. If you soft reset your
mobile device, you can activate the safe mode. Then all today plug-ins and
most of the startup programs will be deactivated. This can help you if e.g.
one of your today plug-ins crashes and your mobile device won't start any
more. In the safe mode you can deactivate or de-install the crashed today
plug-in or program.
This review focuses on the new features. The "old"
features are shown here only visually.
The options can be entered via system settings or directly from the today
The Today Plug-in Settings:
The Skins Settings
Skins can be downloaded and installed directly on the mobile device:
The Header Settings:
The Close Button and Task Manager Settings:
The Battery Indicator Settings:
The Internet Explorer Mobile Settings:
The File Explorer Settings:
The Safe Mode Settings
The first screenshot shows the mobile device booted in safe mode. The second
shows the options:
As you have seen above, Spb Pocket Plus 4 offers plenty of options to make it
best working for everybody including many options to customize it.
More Program Speed and
Less Memory Usage
A big disadvantage of Spb Pocket Plus was the speed and the great
memory requirements. If you only used Pocket Plus you will not have noticed
it, but users of heavy CPU programs like navigation software know what I am
talking about. In version 4.0 Pocket Plus is much faster and requires at the
same time less memory.
Spb Software House sent us a comparison list of the memory needs:
Less MB at the PC installer is not so important. Today internet connections
are fast and traffic is cheap. Much more important is the size of the CAB file
which will be downloaded mostly on a mobile device. And there data traffic is
The ROM is the part of the mobile device where the programs are installed.
The less memory one program needs the more programs you can install.
Even more important is the size of a program in the RAM memory. RAM is the
memory where a started program will be loaded. If you start e.g. Mobile Word
it will be loaded from the slower ROM to the faster RAM. Today plug-ins are
always running. So every byte less is an advantage.
Spb Software House successfully reduced the memory consumption of Pocket
Plus. One result is that Pocket Plus runs much faster now. A lot of users
complained about the speed of Pocket Plus. But it is not so easy to redesign
software. Spb Software House said they used more than 50 % of the developing
time for Pocket Plus 4.0 on optimizing the code. And I must say it was worth
it. Pocket Plus 4 is very fast now.
Tabs in Internet Explorer Mobile
Spb Pocket Plus integrates in the Internet Explorer Mobile the "tabbed
browsing" function. For most of us this enhancement of Internet
Explorer Mobile is all that
we need and you must not buy a replacement for the preinstalled Internet
The next screenshot shows the menu extension ob Pocket Plus
in the Internet Explorer Mobile:
You can reach the menu also from the Pocket Plus icon in the upper right
corner. The screenshot shows that two websites are currently open:
The "tabbed browsing" enhancement integrates very well in the
Internet Explorer Mobile. I personally seldom need more.
First I did not know what Smart Scrolling should be. A manual did not exist
at the time I tested Pocket Plus 4 and the description of Smart Scrolling simply
was: "finger-friendly scrolling".
After a while I thought of the Apple iPhone and
the HTC Touch. And indeed Smart Scrolling
is the same scrolling function. If you pull your finger over the screen it
starts to scroll. If you pull faster, it scrolls automatically. The scroll
bar is history with Smart Scrolling. Unfortunately I hadn't the time to make a video which actually shows
Smart Scrolling is available for many inbuilt and Spb products:
Well done Spb Software House ;-).
File save/open in any directory
One of the annoying problems with Windows Mobile is that you can only save
or open documents in the "My Documents" folder. This is the reason
your memory card normally has a folder named like this. Outside of this folder
you can not store documents.
Pocket Plus extends the standard open dialog of Windows Mobile and you can
store and open programs outside of "My Documents". Bellow an
example with Mobile Word where you can now save a document in the device root
Maybe it looks to you like a small feature. But advanced mobile users will
enjoy this function. If Microsoft will not take care of it, Spb Software House
will.Shortcut labels on today screen
Rather than doing a lot of explaining, just take a look at some screenshots.
Until know Pocket Plus looked like this:
Use the new option "Show Label" to add or remove the label individually for
every program icon:
And Pocket Plus looks like this:
Pretty clear, isn't it?Placing multiple today plug-ins in one tab
A really nice new feature is the possibility to place more than one today
plug-in in one tab. Until version 4 you could just add only one today plug-in
in one tab. If you have a lot of today plug-ins your number of tabs quickly
overgrows. Just think of all the small today plug-ins like lock device, windows
live / messenger, inbox and many more.
The screenshot shows normal program icons and the today plug-ins inbox and
Windows Live in the same tab. Of course you can integrate other today plug-ins
like Spb Diary or Spb Weather. The number of tabs can be largely reduced:
In my opinion this feature alone is a reason to buy Spb Pocket Plus. Programs
like Pocket Plus are used to increase the overall view of the mobile device.
The possibility to place more than one today plug-in on a tab is the right
way to do this.
Insert third party today plug-ins
One of my points of criticism was that Pocket Plus was not able to integrate
third party plug-ins. Version 4.0 fulfills this criteria.
The picture below shows the integration of two different
Spb Weather plug-ins. On the top, the well known Spb Weather plug-in, below one
of a third party:
Especially with Spb Weather plug-ins the needs are very different. Until now
Spb Pocket Plus users had no chance to integrate other today plug-ins. This
is now possible and a long missed feature has been integrated in Pocket Plus.
Additional actions to hardware buttons
In Spb Pocket Plus version 4.0 the list of actions you can assign to a hardware
button are increased.
Spb Pocket Plus 4 has major advantages in comparison to version
3.x. Many of the reasons for not using Pocket Plus are no longer valid in
my opinion. The major features are that you can now add more than one today plug-in in
one tab and the integration of tabbed browsing in Internet Explorer Mobile.
In addition Pocket Plus 4 consumes less memory and is much faster. Third
party today plug-ins can now be integrated.
Like any other program Spb Pocket Plus is surely not without any bugs. The
question is whether it is bothering you much and how soon it will be corrected.
Spb Software House software is fortunately bug free. I only found one problem until now. If you rotate the screen, Pocket Plus must rearrange
the program icons or e.g. rebuild the list in Spb Diary that they fit the screen.
Sometimes this goes wrong or Pocket Plus starts thinking for a few seconds.
This problem occurs mostly, but not only, with Spb Diary.
The errors I found so far are in the category annoying. They are not a reason
to decide against Pocket Plus. I can remember similar programs that had the
same problems. It took one or two minor releases to fix them.
Spb Software House has shown that Pocket Plus, as the first program of its
kind, is not old fashioned. Spb Fans should upgrade to version 4.0 and all
the others who have not used Pocket Plus until know should give it a try.
It's worth it.
Spb Pocket Plus is available in 14 languages and it's compatible with Windows
Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition for Pocket PC,
Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile 6 Professional and Classic
(with touchscreen) and it supports all Windows Mobile screen resolutions. As
always, a free 15 days trial can be downloaded. The full version of Spb Pocket
Plus 4.0 can be purchased for US$ 29.95. Users of any 3.x versions of Spb Pocket
Plus are welcome to upgrade to Spb Pocket Plus 4.0 for just US$ 14.95.