Although there are a few minor annoyances, Phoenix HyperSpace Dual offers an excellent alternative to those who want lightning quick access to the most basic applications.
Super fast boot, standby and resume times.
Limited applications; unchangeable keyboard layout; no file access between operating systems.
From £28.52 for annual subscription
Phoenix Technologies has used its experience as a Bios specialist to create a pared down operating system dubbed HyperSpace, which provides an instant-on environment in which users can perform basic tasks.
The company is offering two versions of HyperSpace: Dual, which is designed for low-powered netbooks and can only run HyperSpace or the main operating system separately; and Hybrid, which is a more fully featured version for PCs that run on Intel processors and support virtualisation technology (Core Duo, Core 2 Duo and higher) and can run HyperSpace and a virtualised instance of Windows at the same time.
Although HyperSpace should run on just about any system that meets the requirements, it has been ratified by Phoenix only on a handful of laptops, predominately from Lenovo. In order to ensure the most accurate review possible, Lenovo let us hang on to the recently reviewed IdeaPad S10e, as the netbook is on Phoenix's approved list for HyperSpace Dual.
Installation is a very simple procedure of downloading the application, just like you would any other program. However, it's worth noting that, as part of the installation, the program repartitions a section of the hard drive where it will be installed, so doing a backup is a good idea in the event that something goes wrong during the process.
Once installed, powering up the notebook will give users the option of booting into HyperSpace or into Windows as normal. There is a four-second countdown with HyperSpace as the default choice, but both of these options can be altered by editing the 'boot.ini' file.
Including the four-second countdown, it took around 30 seconds from pressing the power button to loading HyperSpace on the S10, and around another 15 seconds to connect to the network and fire up the web browser. Although an impressive boot time, a fresh installation of Windows XP on the S10 was up and running in around 50 seconds, so at first glance HyperSpace doesn't seem to offer that much of a saving.
However, when coming up from standby, Windows takes around 30 seconds to resume, while HyperSpace is up and running in just two or three seconds. So, by the time you've opened the lid completely, you are ready to go.
On the left is a menu which provides network, battery and volume information at the top. As you might expect, clicking on any of these allows you to adjust the various settings associated with each. Within HyperSpace, connections can be made via wired local area network and Wi-Fi, and it also supports some 3G USB modems.
Below the menu is the scrolling list of applications. For Dual, the list currently includes the web browser, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation application, notepad, calculator and links to My Documents, as well as shortcuts to YouTube, Facebook, Meebo and Amazon.
Those familiar with Sun Microsystems' OpenOffice will have no problem getting to grips with any of the productivity applications, and the notepad and calculator are very straightforward.
A minor gripe is that it's not possible to install any other applications or customise the menu in any way. A Phoenix spokesman said that this is to make sure that HyperSpace retains its super-fast performance capabilities.