Darkmatter: Subspace Hypersuite Review

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For those of you who don’t know, Hypersuites are part of a desktop skin series designed by The Skins Factory, the same guys behind those cool themes Alienware bundles with their systems.

Now Hypersuites aren’t quite your average desktop theme kit and believe me – I’ve used third party skin software before. Not only do Hypersuites include a base theme, icon set, desktop wallpaper, media player skin and amazingly animated media player widget, but Hypersuites (with the exception of the widget – it’s optional BTW) runs ENTIRELY within Windows XP’s built in skinning system.

Basically you can go into the display part of the control panel, go under themes and select the Hypersuite theme of your choice. But it’s even simpler than that – after you install the Hypersuite you can simply run the Hyperdesk config software and kit out your GUI to your liking.

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You get four different choices for the main theme:

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Plus six icon set choices:

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You can also chose to enable the Subspace wallpaper:

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The Subspace media widget:

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And the Subspace WMP11 skin:

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You can also chose to remove the shortcut overlay icon and/or the sharing overlay icon:

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After the switch you’ll notice My Computer looks quite a bit different:

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Here’s a screen shot of my dual monitor setup using Nvidia’s nView to allow two wallpapers (so yes – Hypersuites work with dual-screen nView setups) using the included wallpaper on the right screen (I chose to leave my Lamborghini wallpaper on the left screen as the included wallpaper has a maximum 1680 x 1050 resolution, my 24” Samsung being 1920 x 1200), plus few open programs (Firefox, Audacity, Adobe PDF Reader), the included widget, and the start menu open so you can check out the overall look of this theme.

Overall

The Skin Factory Subspace Hypersuite is a really neat little piece of software. It’s certainly a nice alternative to the stock XP skin, assuming you like the “otherworldliness” of it. I’d say the best part is that if you don’t use the included widget, your system won’t take a performance hit. If you choose to use the widget (and by extension the Yahoo! Widget system in general) expect it to take about 80 extra megs of RAM, which isn’t too bad, but not good either.

It’s nice that The Skin Factory do give you a few choices within a particular theme, with a few alternate theme designs and icons to choose from. It’s also nice that if you don’t dig the blue/black theme as I do, you can choose from the Darkmatter Solar Flare or Gamma Ray suites, which are slightly different in orange/black and green/black respectively.

But quite possibly the nicest thing about the Hypersuites is the price. You can get any one of the Darkmatter suites for $9.99 USD or all three for $19.99 USD. For ten bucks the Darkmatter Hypersuites are almost a no brainer; geez, I’ve spent more than that on lunch before. The only really big downside to these Hypersuites is that they presently lack Windows Vista compatibility, but according to the Hyperdesk website, Vista compatibility is coming soon.

Pros:

  • Without using the included widget, the Hypersuite is completely transparent performance-wise
  • Looks cool (assuming like like space or sci-fi)
  • The price is right at $9.99 USD
  • The animation on the included Media widget is quite remarkable (check it out in action here: http://hyperdesk.com/subspace.html)
  • Trick your non tech-savvy friends into thinking you got Windows 9000! (a little Windows boot screen tweaking and you’re good to go)
  • Included icons are high-res (256 x 256) for those of you who would like to run with larger icons

Cons:

  • Included “high res” wallpapers only go up to 1680 x 1050, alienating users with larger monitors somewhat
  • Yahoo! Widgets system eats a 80 meg hunk of ram
  • No Vista support yet
  • If you don’t like space or sci-fi, you’re out of luck

Conclusion

Coming in at $9.99 apiece, the Darkmatter Hypersuites are a great way to spice up the otherwise boring Windows XP GUI. The only real negative point I can come up with is that higher-res wallpapers should really be included, at least 1920 x 1200 and 2560 x 1600. Other than that, The Skins Factory has come up with a great product for a great price, I highly recommend it.

Want more views of the Darkmatter: Subspace suite? Go to:

http://www.hyperdesk.com/product_details.php?p=7

Want more info on Hyperdesk products in general? Go to: http://www.hyperdesk.com/

Kyle Lunau

EDIT: As it turns out the Subspace Suite DOES include a 2560 x 1600 
wallpaper that is used by default, but if you look in the Subspace
Wallpapers folder after the install you will only find up to 1680 x 1050
res wallpapers. Thanks to Jeff Schader, the President and CEO of The
Skins Factory for pointing this out. So that removes the only real con I
had for this product, meaning it is now basically perfect ;)

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Discussion
  1. This article came at an interesting time for me - I've recently been digging into rainmeter - a freeware UI developer program of sorts for windows/linux. At some point when I feel I've got polished suite finished I'm hoping to distribute it for others to try out... maybe I'll do a 'review' of rainmeter for our frontpage to bring it to the frontlines and describe how it all works...
    I've already got some OCF themed stuff finished like desktop RSS feeds of recent threads. This particular tool is so handy as it now takes so much less time to find the threads where I can chip in to help someone out - it's way more efficient than browsing through the forums myself scanning the titles!
    Regarding the article as it stands - I can see how it must be difficult to convey the differences of a UI theme package using just picture/text... I wonder if a streaming video review would be more a better format, for clarity? The article was well written regardless =).
    Was going to try it out, but I couldnt get it to keep my state in the form so it kept returning me to correct the state. This was with FF. Tried IE7, but couldnt even get to the payment part.