Instant-On Hyperspace Promises New Era of OS Co-Habitation
- Hyperspace Dual - Boots into Hyperspace separately from Windows. As with Splashtop, you have to exit the instant-on OS before you start Windows. This version will work on any computer.
- Hyperspace Hybrid - This truly unique and innovative flavor of Hyperspace runs the instant-on OS concurrently with Windows. Hyperspace boots first and then starts Windows in the background. A status icon in Hyperspace shows you whether Windows is currently active, in the process of starting, asleep, or stopped. You can also switch back and forth between the two operating systems instantly, just by hitting the F4 key. This version of Hyperspace requires a bit more horsepower.
- Hyperspace Netbook - Not available for download yet, but planned for the future is a version specially designed for netbooks. Hyperspace Dual works fine on today's netbooks and indeed we tested it on a Lenovo IdeaPad S10.
- Time and date
- Status / Config icons for the battery, network connection, and volume.
- Application shortcuts that launch either the Hyperspace Browser alone or sites such as Meebo, Gmail, or YouTube within the browser. In the present version of the software, the menu bar cannot be hidden, moved, or customized with new icons. However, Phoenix CTO Gaurav Banga tells us that future versions of the Hyperspace will have customization functionality.
- A help button and a settings button (most of the settings are disabled)
- The Windows logo and Windows status icon. In Hyperspace Hybrid, the status icon lets you see whether Windows is starting, started, or asleep and the Windows logo, like the F4 key, lets you toggle between Windows and Hyperspace. In Hyperspace Dual, click the Windows icon exists Hyperspace and boots WIndows.
- The power button icon which lets you put the system to sleep, shut down, or restart.
On the right side of the screen is where the application Windows display. At launch, the browser, a port of Firefox 3.04 which has a theme that makes it look strangely like IE 7, will be the only available application. However, Banga tells us that several additional apps, including an e-mail client, a chat/IM client, and a port of Open Office, will be available as free updates in the near future. In our testing, we found that the Hyperspace browser functions identically to Firefox and even allows you to tweak its settings much as you would in Firefox, but you can't yet install new plug-ins or add-ons. Fortunately, the latest version of Flash is preloaded.
While the application bar cannot be moved or resized we did find that the Hyperspace Browser window could be resized or even set to display full screen (by hitting F11), at which point it covered over the bar completely.
In the pre-release version of Hyperspace we tested, there was unfortunately no way to share files between Windows and Hyperspace. Clicking a folder icon in the application pain revealed a Linux folder that was hidden from Windows. Banga informed us that future versions of Hyperspace will be able to share files or folders between the operating systems so, if you download a file in Hyperspace browser, you'll be able to open it in Windows.
Cold Boot / Shutdown
We received two test systems from Phoenix, a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 running Hyperspace Hybrid and a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 running Hyperspace Dual. On both systems, Hyperspace was up, running, and had connected to Wi-Fi and loaded a Web page within 30 to 35 seconds from hitting the power button. Because a big portion of any cold boot time is taken up by the BIOS posting, we expect the time to vary based on how quickly a particular system does its preboot power-on dance. However, Banga tells us that OEMs will be able to build Hyperspace into their firmware, allowing it to cold boot in as little as 11 seconds.
Unfortunately, the pre-release version of Hyperspace Hybrid we used was a bit slow somewhat inconsistent in starting our installation of Windows Vista after Hyperspace itself had loaded. However, Phoenix assures us that the Vista startup issues we experienced have been resolved in the final release version.
Shutdown was incredibly quick, with the machine completely powering down in 5 to 7 seconds. But let's forget about start up and shutdown for a moment and focus on sleep.
Sleep: The Real Power of Hyperspace
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Hyperspace is just how quickly it goes to sleep and wakes up, even if Windows is running in the background. When you first close your notebook's lid, the system enters "hot sleep" for a period of about 5 minutes, during which time the screen is off but the system still has enough juice to wake in less than one second after the lid is reopened. After 5 minutes, the system enters a deeper, more power-saving sleep, but still wakes in under 4 seconds.
Banga tells us he expects Hyperspace's quick sleep and wake times to make users think of their laptops the same way they think of their cell phones, as devices they never turn off. He expects users to eschew complete shutdowns in favor of closing the laptop lid, letting the system go to sleep, and then charging it periodically to maintain battery. In our briefing with the Phoenix CTO, he correctly pointed out that when mobile workers carry their notebooks around they office, they often leave the lids open to avoid the delay associated with slow sleep and wake-up times. Hyperspace, he says, will allow users to close their notebook lids with the confidence that, as soon as they arrive at their next meeting, they will be able to have productive systems in 4 seconds or less.
Phoenix also says that Hyperspace uses 25% less battery power, a claim we were unable to test. The power savings, of course, would not apply when you're in Windows and Hyperspace is running in the background.
Switching Back and Forth
The feature of Hyperspace that absolutely blew everyone in our office away is its ability, in the Hyperspace Hybrid flavor, to instantly switch back and forth between Hyperspace and WIndows environments just by hitting the F4 key. While you are in Hyperspace mode, whatever tasks Windows is performing continue in the background so, if you're installing software, rebooting the system, or ripping a CD in WIndows,you can pop on over to Hyperspace and Windows will keep going though Hyperspace will be unaffected.
If, for some reason, you want to boot into WIndows without loading Hyperspace , you can hit the F4 key at boot time and go straight into Vista. We're waiting for the final version of Hyperspace to bencmark and see if there's any performance hit to Windows when running side-by-side with Hyperspace.
While a free trial will be available at hyperspace.com today, Phoenix tells us that intends to sell users 1 to 3 year subscriptions to use the software. The pricing is as follows:
- Hyperspace Hybrid will sell for $59.95 for a one year subscription and $149.95 for three years.
- Hyperspace Dual will sell for $39.95 for a one year subscription and $99.95 for three years.