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LauncherX PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mohd Nazley Mohd Fadhley   
Nov 21, 2002 at 03:56 PM
lx bnwI was about to give up waiting for the successor to Launcher III to be released. After several delays, it finally came .... LauncherX.

I was (still am)a great fan of LauncherIII and eagerly waited for the new updated version, and I am not dissapointed with what LauncherX offers. It still has the same functionality of its predecessor and more. Better UI, very customizable and supports Palm OS 3.5 to the latest OS 5. Support for external storage cards is also great with this new launcher.

OK now .... where do I start? Ah! the UI.









User Interface.

The user interface gave me the "Frankenstien" impression. By that, I mean, LauncherX looks like a combination of several application launchers (just like Frankenstien); the tabbed interface just like Launch'em, the new gadget section reminds me of Silverscreen and the VFS support is quite similar to MegaLauncher. LauncherX creator, Little Mobile Creations, really put up an open ear and listen to what users really wanted, incorporate the strong points of the various launchers I mentioned and incorporate them into LauncherX.

LauncherX boasts the "Active Skins" customization. A module developed by the developer, for other programmers to create a "skin" or the layout of LauncherX. Out of the box, there are ready made skins for the standard OS3.5 and OS4 devices, one for the Sony Hi-Res screen (for both the 320x320 dispaly and the 320x480 NR series display). I installed the skin for HandEra 320x240 resolution and it worked great on my PDA. The user manual also states it has one skin for the new OS5 hi-res, for the Tungsten T.

I can only comment the UI on the HandEra, since I installed LauncherX on this device. Just look at these snapshots ....



I can choose to display up to five columns of icons, and it is legible .... not too small, not too big, it's just right (reminds me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears).

And .... I also like the two gauges at the top of Launcher X. A battery meter and RAM memory gauge.

Gadgets
Just like its older brother, the LauncherIII, launcherX still uses "gadgets" as shortcuts to several of the Palm functions. Now the gadgets has nice large icons thus making it easier to tap or to drag onto, Not like the gadgets on the "old" LauncherIII ... a little small to most people likings. Remember when I mentioned about similarities of this launcher and Silverscreen. Well, its the Gadget row at the bottom of the screen above the Grafitti area. (quite similar to MegaLauncher as well, i'd say)

Still using the "drag n drop" method, you can delete an application, beam it, send as email attachments (only works if you have the mail application, SnapperMail) and move/copy the file to storage cards, by dragging an application icon onto one of the gadgets icons. I can even beam files stored in my Compact Flash and MMC.

Other gadgets allows you to toggle the backlight, adjust brightness or contrast, or switch off/lock the device. Really a time saver.






VFS Support
I would say that this is one of LauncherX strong points. On the HandEra, LauncherX can read and write data on both expansion slots, the CF and SD/MMC. Plus, I can store my applications in any folder in the storage caards and LauncherX would be aware of the. All you have to do is let the launcher know where you store the files, i.e. in which folders.

If you have the same folder names on both the CF and MMC, LauncherX would "read" from both folders ... great isn't it?

Ok now, another boon for LauncherX VFS support is its built in "File Browser". Just tap the Card Tools gadget (the icon looks like an SD card) and you'll get the file listings in your Palms main memory RAM. You can then select files to be moved or copied to any of the storage cards and into any folder. This works in reverse as well, that is moving files from storage cards to RAM is also possible.

The "stub" or "shortcut" is another feature that seperates LauncherX from any other launcher. It is a VFS support for applications whichare not "VFS aware". it would be easier if I explain this function by introducing an example. I use Quickoffice as "Palm office suite" of choice and Quicksheet (251KB) and Quickword (361KB) is taking up space in my RAM. I can move these two application to the flash cards but then when I do a hotsync, the hotsync would not find the application in RAM hence my Quicksheet/Quickword data would not be synchronised. LauncherX lets me create a stub/shortcut, typically only 6-8KB, to "fool" the hotsync condits that Quicksheet/Quickwords resides in RAM and all related data would be synchronised. This enables me to release approximately 600KB of my precious RAM space which were earlier taken up by Quicksheet and Quickword.

On the launcher, these shortcuts or stubs are marked with a small arrow at the lower left-hand corner of the application icons (just like the shortcuts you have on your windows desktop).

Drawbacks
Ironically, LauncherX strengths is a reason of its weakness.

LauncherX scans the directory in the external storage cards to update any changes. This causes the launcher to take longer to refresh its display after you are done with one program. The larger the flash card or the more applications you have in the card, the longer it takes to refresh.

You can however, set LauncherX not to refresh its list of application by selecting a manual refresh in its preference. However, by doing so, when I enable AutoCard to access a certain folder in my CF, I cannot see the application icon until I do a "screen refresh".

I work around this limitation by storing the program file in the /Palm/Launcher/ folder and the data (pdb) file in a separate folder. LauncherX will "see" the application (prc) file and store in cache so I do not need to do a refresh that very often. I then mount (enable AutoCard) only the folder that have the data files, for example /etext/MobyDick/. Data files has no icons so I don't need to refresh the display. I just need to launch an etext reader, tap the Moby Dick chapter file and start reading.

It is a good thing that LauncherX automatically refresh its application icons after every hotsync to update any new installations, eventhough it is set for "manual refresh".

Conclusion
A launcher worth waiting for, IMHO.

After being "teased" and having to endure the agony of waiting, my patience paid off. As, a registered LauncherIII user, I upgraded (Littie Mobile Creations used the term cross-grade) to LauncherX for only USD5.95, a good deal if you ask me.

The faster you upgrade, the better, since the upgrade would cost you USD7.95 in December and USD9.95 from January 2003 onwards. For new users, LauncherX is on promotion price now at USD19.95 (it didn't say until when) and will be USD24.95 after that.


Tapping off.

Mohd Nazley Fadhley
Last Updated ( Oct 30, 2005 at 09:26 AM )