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Palm OS Launcherfest: Facer, LauncherX, MegaLauncher, SilverScreen, YiShow, and ZLauncher
Posted Jan. 2004 By Tanker Bob

(Continued: page 3)

MegaLauncher 4.3 from MegaSoft2000

Megasoft2000 develops and markets a large number of applications, some utilities like FastCPU, but mostly games. MegaLauncher has a distinguished history, being the first third-party launcher to support Sony's 320x320 screen resolution. I started with that version—MegaLauncher 3.2.2—when I bought my Clié PEG-T615C. That was a couple of years ago, and I regret to say that MegaLauncher has changed little since then.

Upon initial install, MegaLauncher does not read the system category settings, nor can they be imported later. Apps can be dragged and dropped onto the category tabs to rearrange them. The three elements at top of the screen may be changed by tapping and holding them until the choices pop up.

Category tabs may be assigned icons, but they just take up more space on the screen. I couldn't find a way in the documentation to eliminate the category text names, although you can change their font. Tabs are optional and can be passed by in favor of a category pull-down list. Application icons may also be changed to those in MegaLauncher-specific icon files. Multiple icon files may be simultaneously active in RAM.

Tapping and holding on an app brings up a quick info dialog with useful function icons. The category can be changed from here, and the file can be deleted, beamed, the name changed, or copied/moved to/from the card. A very nice and colorful implementation.

The configurable tools at the bottom of the screen can be customized. Three tools per position pop up when tapping the arrow next to the displayed tool. Tapping the displayed tool executes its function. Some tools act immediately like the display controls, some bring up further menus for selection. MegaLauncher includes a world clock as one of its tools. However, the tool icons take up too much real estate for hi res devices. They almost seem to be smoothed out low res icons rather than custom-designed hi res versions. The extra space could be better used to display more apps or tools.

The Application Information display list constitutes one of my favorite MegaLauncher features. It lists each application together with its data/support files (i.e., those with identical creator IDs) and their respective sizes. Entries may be expanded individually. Using this information will tell you which files will be deleted with an application, as well as how much space an individual app eats up in RAM.

As you can tell from the screen shots, MegaLauncher supports background images. Unlike other launchers, these images must be in a proprietary ML format rather than readily available bitmaps or jpegs. MegaSoft provides free creation utilities on their web site, but from what I see, the process involves breaking images into pieces and thus not very straight-forward. Each tab can have its own image, but of course they'd all be in RAM at about 300K each for a 320x480 display, 200K for a 320x320 display—no free lunch. The application name text colors and sizes can be tailored for visibility against the chosen background.

All the add-on icons, skins, and images may be stored on a memory card until needed. MegaSoft provides a built-in data manager to manage these files. All operations remain manual, though, requiring the user to delete or move files. The background files are essentially bitmaps, and therefore eat up a lot of card space for hi res images.

Unlike the other launchers reviewed here, MegaLauncher does not support Palm's 320x480 display. This makes the huge tool icons even more annoying on a T3. It does support 16-bit color, though.

MegaLauncher tips the RAM scales at 391K (hi res OS5 devices) for the app and 971K for skin, category icons, replacement app icons, and background image. The net total comes in at 1,362K for the entire package.

MegaLauncher provides a useful launcher of moderate power that adds significant capability over the built-in offering. It sells for $19.95, mid-range for this roundup and a reasonable value for that price.

Nice file information display
Background image support for individual tabs

No Palm OS 320x480 support
No file manager or other advanced tools
Poor use of screen real estate (huge tool icons, no ability to hide tab text labels)





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