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Windows Vista DreamScenes Reviewed (12-22)

Here’s my second review of new Windows Vista DreamScenes, 11 new ones and two revised ones. Watch the YouTube video, or the Soapbox video to see parts one and two together, then keep reading on for the reviews:

3D Vista Ultimate is a series of Vista Ultimate wallpapers, completely static images, changing with a cool flyby transition effect. There’s not much of any animation to satisfy those looking for cool DreamScene effects, but you do wind up with a new, sweet-looking wallpaper every 20 seconds, and the transition effect isn’t too distracting.

Butterfly Effect makes for one of the better ideas for DreamScenes: A static image with a single moving area. In this one, there are a number of flowers, and two butterflies flapping their wings. While the effect and concept are great, the flowers are too out-of-focus for most people who like sharp wallpapers; I actually found the blurriness distracting.

CrystalLake features a clean, almost transparent lake shimmering on a dark day, below a motionless sky. Good darker wallpaper, with not that much distraction, but bad performance and bad looping. I can’t run this on a relatively powerful Vista system, and that’s enough of a problem.

SunnyForestDay_03 is a video of a forest on a not-sunny-enough day, with the trees moving slowly in the breeze. If you want a .dream with little motion, this could be it, but it is a bit too blurry and not bright enough to be great.

Hot Lava is a poorly looping scene of steam gas rising above water, next to rocks. Very orangy/brown. The bad looping hurts it bad, otherwise it looks great.

TrueBlue has been updated. The look is the same, but movement seems smoother, and the looping is now near-perfect. Gains 1.5 points.

Lost Island is another nature scene, this one featuring an island in the near-distance, waves crashing against the shore, and branches moving in the breeze in the foreground. A little too dark, subtle enough movement, but poor looping.

Soothing Blues features vertical bars of blue getting darker and lighter. A little too fast, but a great effect, marred by a glitch at the end of the loop on the bottom of the screen.

Vista is Vista V3 under a different name. There is no discernable performance or appearance difference. Rating remains the same.

Blue Plasma is identical to Exotic Plasma (and both are from Stardock), just bright electric blue instead of multiple muted colors.

Laser features a tunnel of shimmering green light. Has to be seen to be believed. Beautiful. Best of the new bunch.

Wasser is everything we expected out of static/single point dreams, with an amazing photo of an old house, grass, trees and a waterfall. The waterfall is the only thing moving, making for a subtle, beautiful effect. The picture is sharp, high quality. Amazingly, the .dream is only three megabytes, so it should run great on older systems. This is the DreamScene many people have been waiting for. Just amazing.

IceCold features a waterfall in a tight close up on an icy rock face. The quality is too low, and the effect on system performance is atrocious. Could be better if it didn’t slow my system to a crawl, or if it was sharper.

Dreams everyone should have installed:
Exotic Plasma/Blue Plasma

Dream I’m running right now:


Part one (1-11)

February 21st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | DreamScene, Reviews, Vista, Windows, General | 2 comments

Windows Vista DreamScenes Reviewed (1-11)

The first DreamScenes have started appearing, and I’m going to review every damn one of them so you can choose the best. Watch them all in this video, and read below for my thoughts.

Here are the first eleven:

Aurora comes with DreamScene when you install it from Windows Update. It features the familiar green and blue Vista themes and flair, and matches all of Vista. There is very subtle movement, perfect looping, and the only annoyance is the Vista flair in the lower right-hand corner drawing attention to itself once in a while.

Exotic Plasma comes with Stardock’s Deskscapes. It is a bright swirling mass of color, looks amazing, and has little movement so as not to be distracting. Of the early bunch, it is easily the best DreamScene.

Mana Shades is a sheet of silver/blue silk shimmering slowly. It is subtle, calm, but a little too slow. You might forget it is even moving, which almost defeats the purpose of these. Still, it looks sharp.

Sylock Red features several rotating giant gears. The Gears move slowly so as not to distract or annoy. The quality is excellent, and if you do not want too much bright color, this is the best Dream of the early bunch.

Nebula features a purple/black starry space view. The only motion is the twinkling of the stars, making it a little too simple for those looking for fancy Dreams. If other Dreams run too slowly to look good, this could be your answer, since any lag would not be noticeable due to the lack of motion. Otherwise, forget it.

Robotica is a short video promoting Windows Media Video HD. The graphics are great, but there is a ton of motion, and it repeats every 15 seconds (with no seamless looping). This is way too busy for most users, only good for showing off DreamScene. Not for daily use.

Yellow Sun features the Sun, the Earth and the Moon orbiting on a ten second loop. The looping has a small lighting problem, but is otherwise seamless. The movement, while slightly less than Robotica, is still too distracting, with the giant sun flying around your screen. Also, there is no background detail, with the universe being presented as a flat gray plane and no stars in the sky. Needs slower movement and more detail to be a contender.

Deep Ocean features a great idea, waves in the ocean, very poorly executed. There is no thought given to looping, making it very awkward. Could be way better.

Vista V3 features the Windows Vista logo on a black background with swirling blue ribbons around it. If there’s any better way to say, “I have Vista and it looks killer!”, I don’t know of it. Slightly more distracting than I’d like, but damn good anyway.

Dark Avatar features an alien planet with small passenger ships traveling in the skies and streets. Oddly, the ships are not that distracting, except for one that swoops down at the screen, but the shadowing can get annoying. Too much motion for some, but better than average.

True Blue has a blue fabric background with zero motion, just shifting shadows. Could have been one of the better subtle Dreams, but is hampered by truly awful looping. If they fix that, it would be a lot higher on this list.

Dreams everyone should have installed:
Exotic Plasma
Sylock Red
Vista V3

Dream I’m running right now:
Exotic Plasma

February 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | DreamScene, Reviews, Vista, Windows, General | 6 comments