SpeedBooster 2.0 Review
TekSoft recently updated their SpeedBooster product to version 2.0, adding some nifty benchmark and comparison tools. I would love to find a utility that could truly speed up WinMo, so I thought why not give it a try. I have to say, after testing this on 2 devices, that other than a few useful tweaks (which are freely available through registry edits), my tests did not conclusively prove that this utility did anything. Maybe your model will produce better results.
Install and testing
Install is the same as any WinMo cabs… The cab file is only 579KB, and cabs are available here. I want to be completely fair about my testing of this product, and so will disclose exactly how I conducted the tests. I used 2 different WinMo devices: An i-mate 8150 Ultimate, and an iPAQ hx2495b. My methodology is pretty simple. Test device responsiveness during a standard set of WinMo tasks before optimization, and then test again after tweaking some suggested settings in SB. Both devices can be considered pretty high WinMo performers, even though they are not the latest devices. Both have Intel 520Mhz processors. The i-mate has 128M of RAM memory, and 256M of ROM storage. The iPAQ 64M/192M respectively. The i-mate is running WM6.0, and the iPAQ WM6.1 (obviously not the standard ROM). The i-mate is much more unstable and buggy than the iPAQ, in my opinion. Programs take longer to load, and crash more often. The i-mate performed the slowest of the 2 devices in every test. No significant differences were noted after using SB’s optimization tweaks, except in the case of browsing to, opening and playing back video via WM Player and Pocket IE. Even in this case, the difference was only a few seconds. The test was conducted as follows (only longest times noted below). :
1. Install the software and soft reset the the device
2. Turn off any performance “optimizations” and ensure no processes are being monitored by SB. Soft-reset again as required.
3. Open Start menu and Programs menu, conduct navigation through programs and note responsiveness. 1-2 seconds delay was noted on initial startup as well as opening MS Office folder (icons to appear) on i-mate.
4. Start PIM (Mail, Calendar, and Contacts) applications individually and note startup time and time to open events, mail, etc. On average this was 1-3 seconds with mail taking the longest at around 5 seconds on the i-mate.
5. Start Pocket Word and open a document. Time 1-2 seconds
6. Start Wifi connections, and note time until wifi starts (indicated by flashing light, and the disappearance of the rotating windows circle icon): 2-5 seconds on i-mate
7. Open WMplayer and select the WindowsMedia link button (opens PIE to the Windowsmedia.com web page). Note time to open both WM player, and PIE (1-3 seconds)
8. Download and view a movie trailer. Note responsiveness of player during playback. Leave all open apps running.
9. Start the i-mate’s camera application and note startup time. 7 seconds on average.
10. Use SBs benchmark feature to view and record the current performance score. 6.5 on the i-mate, high 7s on the iPAQ. This must be repeated several times to get a representative value.
11. Turn on all performance related tweaks in SB. Add a new monitor for an application (Mail, WMPlayer and PIE in this test). Set the monitor to the highest priority settings for those apps.
12. Turn on monitoring for the following WinMo core OS processes and adjust the priority of each to an above average setting (suggested by vendor):
-filesys.exe-set to the 90% level
-device.exe-set to 100% (to speed up loading of device drivers, etc.)
-gwes.exe-set to 90%
-services.exe-set to 90%
13. Apply all optimization settings, soft-reset and repeat tests above and note times.
As I said, the tests did not indicate any great change in the responsiveness of either unit, but it’s important to point out that I am describing the difference as being less than a second or so (largely not noticeable to the average user). I recommend that you try the product and see if it helps your device. It might work well for a specific application or game on your device. My devices, especially the iPAQ, are pretty fast compared to many WinMo models. In my testing, the apps loaded at about the same rate as before, and their responsiveness after loading remained unchanged. The PIE test loaded a couple of seconds faster the second time, but only on the i-mate, which made me doubt it was anything related to SB. I simply could not confirm that SB was making any difference at all. It is true you can improve older versions of WinMo with various tweaks (mostly registry tweaks). Indeed, there are a number of utilities (namely Tweaks2K) that will help you do this, but for most basic WinMo tasks, as the ones indicated above, there is not much that can be done about WinMo’s sometimes sluggish nature. I certainly welcome comments, and am willing to redo my tests if the vendor or anyone wishes to proscribe a different test scenario. I think it likely with a much older device running WM5 or earlier, this tool will probably prove more effective. Now back to the review…
The SB Screens and settings
SpeedBooster’s main screen provides a set of buttons to get to the various settings and tweak tasks. I’ll go into each individually:
The processes menu will enable you to monitor and control the “priority” of a given process (using process slots). You can use the sliders to accelerate a given process. The vendor tells me it is a unique method and not exactly analogous to elevating a process priority in normal Windows. They call it “safe overclocking”, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me. The only way I know of to “overclock” is to increase the frequency of the processor clock cycles over what are considered "safe" settings. There are WinMo utilities out there that can do this to certain processor types, namely the XScale and TI OMAP PPCs (XCPUScalar is one such product). I have used them with varying degrees of success on older devices. They usually end up crashing the unit at some point though, notably when you try to elevate processor freqs above the factory-set safe limits, most often to get faster performance from games. When you start SB, it will show the current running processes, which you can then tweak. You can also add in executables of other apps (not running) that you want to monitor…
The memory button will allow you to view and free up memory of background processes. This caused my iPAQ to crash/soft-reset, but actually reclaimed a tiny 0.113M of memory on the i-mate without issue.
The Video Speed button navigates down into a menu with a slider similar to the processes menu. You can disable animation, but also increase/decrease the video performance using the slider here.
More tweaks are available pertaining to storage under the Storage Performance button. They are mostly cache setting increases. You can also re-locate the PIE cache, which can save you from running out of RAM due to excessive web-browsing.
The tools menu allows you to turn on a battery monitor (across the top of the today screen), and SB is nicely equipped with a WinMo close button replacement that can be enabled. You can make WinMo actually close apps when you exit them, or select minimize/close options from a menu.
The final item is one of the most useful--a benchmark utility. The utility runs a set of tests and records performance measures against your device’s CPU, memory, storage, and video capabilities. The results can be saved (a .jpg of the graph). Be nice to be able to save the test results themselves in a text file. The results varied quite a bit in the case of my testing, so I ran the tests several times in a row to try and determine an average result. You can then compare your results to those of other models.
I am by no means saying that this product doesn’t work as advertised. It’s more accurate to say my tests were inconclusive as to what the benefit is. In my case, apparently not much. My gripes about WinMo are mostly about the initial startup of the OS, and certain apps either crashing, hanging or starting slowly. Truthfully, there isn’t many apps that my units don’t run pretty well. One gripe I have about my i-mate is that the camera app takes a long time to start up (almost 10 seconds sometimes). I was really hoping that I could use this tool to at least cut this in half, but no dice. I did learn that you can cut about 5-6 seconds of startup time off of apps like Winterface by removing any icons that require network services (weather, mail, etc.), which has nothing to do with SB, I know. If you have an older device, especially with limited resources, I would check out SpeedBooster. You can follow my test outline above to see if you see any improvements, or simply test your favorite app, etc. Please post back, as I want the vendor to get good feedback if this product worked well for you. SB is 14.95 (EUR) and compatible with all WinMo devices running CE version 4.0 and newer. You can also check out a very useful YouTube video of the product here…