Friday, February 15, 2008

Another Dock Review: JetToolBar (Verdict: No Thanks)

A comment on a recent post on MakeUseOf that talked about cleaning up one's desktop pointed me to JetToolBar, developed by COWON America, best known for making digital audio players. I haven't figured out yet how that and object docks/toolbars intersect, but I don't fault them.

From the official site, here's what JetToolBar offers:

Despite Microsoft's best intentions, the Start Menu isn't everybody's cup of tea. If you're looking for an alternative way to launch your programs, take a look at jetToolBar. During installation this well-done utility creates 14 default categories, registers shortcuts for many of your applications, and adds bookmarks for recommended Web pages.

jetToolBar is a simple and easy-to-use program launcher. When you install jetToolBar, it creates 14 default categories, registers shortcuts for your application programs, bookmarks of the best recommended Internet Homepages.

You can position the toolbar on any edge of the screen of any monitor in a docked state, or in a floating state as a normal window. In either state, you can change the size of the toolbar and the program launch buttons to various button sizes.

You can optionally show or hide the categories, and an auto-hide feature is included for optional use in the docked state. If you set hotkey, you can see "ToolBar Menu" anywhere of the screen with the hotkey.

Drag buttons to where you want them. Intuitive right-click menus let you easily access appearance and behavior options.

Category : Control Panel, Desktop, Multimedia, Word, Games, Graphics, Utility, Internet, Book Mark ( News, Sports, Entertainment, Computer News, Download, Search )
My thoughts? Well, the guy who led me to this commented that it was the only dock/toolbar he used after trying all the different ones. I tried it for about 10 minutes and realized that I and that other guy could not possibly have more differing tastes in what makes a good Taskbar alternative.

First of all, JetToolbar is skinned like it's for Windows 98. It is butt ugly, and the complete polar opposite of Object and RocketDock. It isn't compatible with Windows themes, so it did not match my Zune theme at all.

It does offer an always-on view of all your application shortcuts, and you can customize what goes on there, so if you're the kind of person that needs to have 30 different applications available to you at your fingertips, then I guess that's good for you. I prefer keeping my less-than-10 most-used applications in the Quick Launch bar (along with the Recycling Bin).

And finally, the clincher (though even if it had this feature I'd probably still think it was too ugly to use), it did not offer support for taskbar window access and the system tray. Clearly this toolbar isn't meant to replace the Windows taskbar, just supplement it... but what a waste of vertical space to have this thing around at all times. I could just increase the number of rows the task bar occupies and add more icons to the Quick Launch.

That being said, the product IS freeware and does just what it advertises, so I can't fault it too much, especially since it's developed by a company not really known for productivity software. For me, however, I'm still sticking to my good-old-taskbar.

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