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Thursday, August 12, 2010

SPB Shell review

For Nokia's S60v5 users there are little options to customize the homescreen. Only the latest phones like C6 have widgetized homescreens, but not even these come close to the level of customization expected in a smartphone.

Here is where the SPB Shell comes in handy. It's a bit pricey (29USD) but it changes the whole user experience of S60v5 phones. SPB Shell offers a bunch of useful widgets like weather, birthdays, missed calls, sms and email, analog and digital clock, connectivity features, music player and links to any app installed on your phone. Here is how the default homescreen looks like.

You have two layouts available, one called Lifestyle and the other called Professional. Each of these layouts offer up to 5 different homescreens. Each lifestyle have different wallpapers. The latest SPB Shell version can be configured as portait, landscape or autorotate. The landscape view however doesn't look that good, so I for one keep my SPB Shell on portait only. It would be nice to have a fullscreen shell, but I guess such an option will be available on future releases.

Choosing widgets is pretty straightforward as you can see in the below screenshot.

Every widget, as well as links to the applications can be customized, or as they say, "skinned". The predefined widgets usually have normal looking skins or professional skins. These skins also come in different sizes, varying from a thumbnail to a halfscreen widget like the weather one in the next screenshot. Same goes for the clock, tasks and calendar.

The shell also comes packed with a contacts application that is far better than the default one, coming with T9 search and it's a lot faster that the S60 one.

The shell has a panels and a carousel view that can be used to find any screen available in the shell.

The bottom line is that if you give this shell a chance, you may end up never wanting to leave it.