Pocket PC Skinning Revisited

Well, I cannot believe it's been almost 3 years since I last did an article on Pocket PC skinning (which actually was the very first thing I wrote for Tek) and guess what? I think it's time to torture you guys again! hehe

Actually, so much has transpired in the last few years in the way of Pocket PC's, this article should be a little more informative and useful than my first silly article, so hopefully you'll bare with me and get turned on to at least one good thing out of it =)


Over the course of 3 years, Pocket PC's that were used merely to store your contacts phone numbers in and schedule Tasks and Appointments on, are now being used for many functions that most never even dreamed they'd be doing now on their Pocket PC's, such as making Phone calls around the world, surfing the internet at super speeds, taking pictures with their devices and sending them out via e-mail around the world instanteously, storing important business databases, using them as remote controls for all their appliances in their homes and even using them as remote controls on Networks!

Even the larger Corporations are starting more and more to see these devices as a must for their industries and are developing PPC software for scanning bar codes and also I've seen Doctors that are using new medical software to access their patients medical charts and even software that helps assist them in making medical diagnoses. Some businessmen hook up a big screen to these little devices, then put on a full blown PowerPoint slide show presentation for various important meetings when they travel and the list goes on and on…

But that stuff is not important, I only care about skinning the thing! hehe

So lets get down to the serious business at hand and go down the skinning line. If you own a Pocket PC of course. Common sense tells you that you will want to cover it up so it don't catch cold ('specially as expensive as these toys are, you better). So the very first skin you will want to put on it is some sexy leather and Vaja has some of the softest Italian Vitelino leather cases around (very elegant). Now, let me warn you they are not cheap, but they sure make holding your Pocket PC pretty exciting hehe!

Vaja is w/o a doubt the Cadillac of leather cases, so you'll want to check them out and they also carry (7) other ‘textures’ of leather, some being less expensive but definitely not the same feel, so I would not compromise there if I were you =)

Okay, now on to the other kinds of skins. I made a few skins for my own Pocket PC use, by shredding to death a DesktopX & WindowBlind theme called FauxS-Toon which was done by a skinner named Paul Boyer aka Mormegil (there was nothing left but a few dust particles when I got done porting them). So I will also include some screenshots off of my own device as we go along, okay?

DashBoard

I'm sure most of you are familiar with Dashboard or have seen the word before? It's basically a Today Screen plug in that has modules so you can organize several today screens in divisions with productive applications. It's really not just good eye candy, but also a necessity if you are an organisation freak and want to make better use of your pocket pc. WinCustomize has a pretty broad selection of Dashboards skins available, so that's definetely the place to go for them.

The one on the left is the Port I did off of Mormegils FauxS-Toon DX & WB and the one on the right is Xymantix Dashboard called Graduate. I love it. (These are my two default Dashboards depending on my mood these days)

Here are a few cool today screen plug-ins that you could use along with DashBoard.

  • T-Day Counter

    T-Day Counter is one of the plug ins I use with Dashboard for quick and easy reminders, that I can color code and set with a .bmp that I make for myself. But this app comes with default reminder icons to select as well, if you don't know how to make your own .bmp icons.

  • Battery Pack

    I don't know too many other Pocket PC owners that don't have this, 'cuz it's not just the best looking of them all, but it also is so needed to keep your eye on how much juice is left on your ppc and has several nice looking meters to watch your memory storage internal & also both external SD or CF cards etc. plus home clock, as well as set a time clock if you travel or have a relative away from home in another time zone. It has tweakers of all sorts such as using ClearType and selecting system fonts for your ppc, animating your start menu and windows(!), clearing out temp files and cookies via manually or auto delete every hour. It has a scrolling customized app launcher, short cuts to much needed Pocket PC settings and the thing even talks too! Telling you when your mem & bat are getting low (which can be irritating if you don't have atleast a 512 SD Card and 50 million apps on your device!) hehe

  • Journal Bar

    Well, too much to cover here. This thing is awesome, gives you the coolest five day weather forecast graphically, as well as when you tap on the icons, it gives you a more detailed weather forecast. It has a one line scroll to different bars such as Movie and Ticket info, News around the entire world, Stock info, Sports, you name it! You have to check this one out! (Me, I only like the cool clouds and thunder lightning bolts on the weather forecast) =)

  • Hand notes & Bug me

    I have this one 'cuz it is also a today screen plug-in. I organise into my Dashboard, but I actually still find myself going to my BugMe note app. Why? Why else 'cuz my BugMe notes are skinnable and I like my own notes! hehe

    Here are some screenshots of both. First Handnotes, which is clean and easy to organise your notes, with it's default calendar and a tree directory, alarms, etc. Also you can shoot your notes out as little .bmp attachments instantaneously via e-mail off of your device! But you cannot skin your notes, that's the only drawback or this would be the perfect one for me =(

    So I also posted a few screenshots of the Bug me notes below which are the skinnable ones.

Okay, I could bore you to death with Dashboard and all the Today screen plug-ins you can mix and match to suit your needs and skins, but I won't. I'll stop here and move on to a few other skinnable things.

PocketBlinds

Well if you've ever used a thing called Windowblinds, there is nothing left to say 'cept gotta have it for your pocket pc and you can get it here for free. Though it does not support the notification icons yet, for us pocket pc phone edition users, unfortunately. So the much needed icons to interpret missed calls, backed up incoming msgs waiting for you or your internet connection signal status. Of course you cannot see them, 'cuz the task bar gets skinned over them. However you can use something called TodayPhone Pro as a today screen plug in for the missed calls. I use it 'cuz it logs, so you can keep track of your phone usage minutes, etc.

Media Player & Winamp

WMP for Pocket PC has gotten much better, but PocketMusic will prob blow the default Pocket Media Player right out of the water, 'cuz it supports Winamp 2.x skins on your Pocket PC now.

Check these out… The one in the middle is a port off of two skins that were originally done by Mormegil and also Juni. Done just for the purpose of the ss, but my skin on my device has one other thing added to it, so it actually has the work of 3 people in it (talk about a serious ripper!) hehe

Calculators

Skinnable calculators, welll, one is fully skinnable and one is semi-skinnable, 'cuz you cannot actually skin the buttons (nor the buttons on tap), but that one talks, so it's a talking semi-skinnable Calculator? Not much else to say on this subject really. 'Course we all use our Pocket PC's calculator, why not skin it & let it tell us the totals? =/

Power Launcher

Tons of Pocket PC launchers, but of course I like this one. Why? Yup, 'cuz it's skinnable! hehe And really cool, 'cuz you can actually assign it to a hardware button and it has a sorta jog dial effect. Not only can you skin the thing, but you can ‘assign’ and ‘label’ customized catagories of your apps, making it 100 times faster and easier to find what you want quickly and launch the app via hardware button, so there is no need to pull out the stylus everytime you want to launch something. Plus more and more apps are now being designed to function via hardware buttons, like calendars and of course the Media Players and stuff. Anyways, this one is called Power Launcher.

The default skin needed help badly, so I threw a quickie one together for the ss below.

Calendars

And speaking of Calendars, this one is my mostest favorite! Why? Yup, 'cuz it's 100% skinnable. Down to the icons, you can totally skin this thing to death! It's called VoCalendar.

Here's two screenshots of my current default Calendar skins. I also had a Brown & Beige Skinz.org theme with matching icons, but can't find it now.

Phone Dialer

I have a Samsung i700, the ultimate bestest toy, I think, I ever owned. I love it! And its not only a Pocket PC, but my phone and internet connection as well. Giving me a tiny bit more freedom when I need to sneak out, but still be connected for work and kids and since I cannot skin my regular home phone this really gets me happy when I have to talk on the phone, which I hate… This app lets you set the skin, so all you do is open the default images and replace the files with your own and select the new skin. It is called XDA Skin Chooser and here is a link to Yorches' Tutorial (/me plugs the Yorch guy, hellooo Yorch!)

Here are some more screenshots, one is of the XDA options panel and a couple themes of my skinned phone. You don't wanna see the default skin, it's b-o-r-i-n-g…

Animated Caller ID

This has got to be the neatest contact list organizer I've ever seen. And also it lets you assign either a static photo of the person and/or a customized animation. So when you recieve an incoming call, their assigned images pops up on your device. ('Course these are only the default templates and this is currently in Beta so I have not had a chance to make my own ani's for it yet and these are, should I sayyyy, a bit loudddd) hehe

Turn off Computer

Last but not least, when I power off my device and put it to bed…

Yup, you guessed it, a skinnable shutdown window, that even has the default desktop windows shut down ‘sound’ file that plays! hehe!

Tons of shutdown apps for Pocket PC, but this one called Turn off Computer is ‘skinnable’, howeverrr it is in German? (I think? 'Cuz I can't even understand his site) So it was a bear for me to figure out how to even skin it 'cuz all the files were in German, but I did!

And now I guess I'll turn myself off on this article. I hope you guys realize now how silly you are just using your Pocket PC's to store phone numbers on, while you're trying to look cool tapping with your stylus on the boring default apps that come pre-installed on the thing! Either that or maybe I should be feeling silly that I know all this stuff, when I should be just using the thing to store a few numbers on it??? hehe =)

…and in closing let me drop a few more must haves

  • Thunderhawk is a must have for full-screen browsing on internet.

  • HD MailPage auto checks your incoming mail by first powering on your device automatically, then it dials into your network and receives your mail (at your assigned interval times), then activates a customized alert to your screen either LED, Audio or Popup to you and then finally it powers back down your device. Very cool, since the default MSN Inbox on PPC is a liar and does not do this for you when you're out and about, so PPC ppl are hot all over this app right now…

    I got to beta test this one and was on cloud nine (insert *brag* here) =)

  • Tweakers2k2, totally tweak out with this.

  • ClearType for Pocket PC — nothing to say here, 'cept go get it! =)

  • Voice Technology is for ppl too lazy to push buttons, so you can just tell your ppc to dial a phone number or launch your apps for you.

  • Two different kinds of Today screen plug-ins that work differently. One uses flash technology, which is the Animated Today and the other one is called ActiveToday, which uses standard HTML or your own customized .gifs (*hint* *hint* to evil daemon bunny) [Yeah yeah, I'll make you your animated crae voodoo doll one day — crae]

  • IceBar or Wisbar, which are both top Task bar skinners, if you don't need it all skinned (I do so I use PocketBlinds).

  • NeuSillyClock — Cool HTML Javascript Clock that is customizable via fonts, colors etc. and when you move your stylus around, it follows it floating around on your screen.

    I basically throw this on when I cradle my device for charging, so it's sorta like my screen saver that shows me the date and time.


What?! Still not satisfied? Well have fun over here then. It's my 3 favoritest playgrounds when I feel like hunting. =)

Good stuff 1) here, 2) here and 3) here too!

— Doreen, July 6th 2003

I say Doreen is the most knowlegeable person in the scene, when it comes to the PocketPC and its customisability.

And no sis, I'm still not getting one.
// craeonics / 574 weeks, 3 days, 2 hours and 13 minutes ago
* pulls you by your big nose to tne nearest pocket pc store and forces you to buy one already! (so stubborn you are) hehe
// Doreen / 574 weeks, 3 days, 1 hour and 38 minutes ago
Hell no, not until these things can properly recognise my handwriting.
// craeonics / 574 weeks, 3 days, 1 hour and 10 minutes ago
*craeonics no like having to conform his handwriting to machine standards
// craeonics / 574 weeks, 3 days, 1 hour and 9 minutes ago
oh, when oh when will we get the high speed connectivity via cell line that everyoen in Asia already has???

when american companies quit paying to keep us in the freakin stone age, that's when....

the possbilities are nearly endless....if only The Man weren't keeping us down

(well never get HDTV either)
// kenray / 574 weeks, 0 days, 16 hours and 19 minutes ago
ps - I love what crae is doing in here
// kenray / 574 weeks, 0 days, 16 hours and 17 minutes ago
Don't get me started on HDTV. They've been hyping that for decades now and it still isn't available.
// craeonics / 574 weeks, 0 days, 10 hours and 58 minutes ago
yup crae seems to be getting fancy now Ken, and HDTV is everywhere you look over here now, prob is the price is so High Definition you can't really touch them...
*Doreen has a 64 inch screen but nope it's definetly not HD or I would have had to move under a bridge w/ my HDTV unable to make rent! (since the HD's came out though now you can grab the regular big screens for peanuts)

and I see I'm stilllll the only one using and skinning a pocket pc? such a lonely world it tis me and my ppc (which reminds me I have to go play w/ it now)
// Doreen / 573 weeks, 4 days, 16 hours and 58 minutes ago
I cannot believe I have read every word in this article, i was planning on doing that since i dont have a pocket pc.. (i have a laptop, almost the same..;) but it was a very nice read, nice article Doreen!

Craeonics: The new look is great, and I like the footer text :D
// PK / 572 weeks, 4 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes ago
Thank you PK =)
maybe in another 3 years I'll torture you guys again and by then you might have a Pocket PC too!
// Doreen / 572 weeks, 4 days, 0 hours and 49 minutes ago
Let's hope them blasted things will recognise my handwriting by then. And that they consist of only the screen. Perhaps made of that foldable display material that's been developed some years back.

*craeonics dreams
// craeonics / 572 weeks, 0 days, 21 hours and 42 minutes ago
*sigh* dutchy...
Whilst you dream & wait for the perfect Pocket PC the sun will dim and burn out and the world will end hehe

I still say better to be living in a Cardboard box under a bridge w/ a bunch of cool gadgets then in a big mansion w/ no gadgets and just 4 walls.

btw there is an HP going for around 100-150 bucks(something like that I think I read) w/ a rebate and they even have the 400 Xscale processesor (which was unheard of 6 mos ago at that price)
// Doreen / 572 weeks, 0 days, 7 hours and 16 minutes ago
Impressive article, but I can't help feeling that skinning a PocketPC is all about putting lipstick on a bulldog. I used an iPAQ at work a while back, and after the initial novelty wore off (trying everything beneath the sun, wireless access etc), I must admit I found it pretty useless apart from being a *really* expensive calendar. Furthermore, the operating system (PPC2002 I think it was at the time) pretty much sucked imho, but maybe it's better now. However, given the number of really nice mobile phones with similar functionality (calendar+camera+mp3+storage...) I can't see a future PDA in my life, at least not a PDA as we currently know it. Bottom line, I'm with crae, save your money for the NextBigThing(tm)! :)
// qwilk / 502 weeks, 3 days, 16 hours and 52 minutes ago
Hmm, given that the last comment was posted 69 weeks, 3 days, 14 hours and 29 minutes ago, I wonder if anyone is still alive to read mine... ;)
// qwilk / 502 weeks, 3 days, 16 hours and 46 minutes ago

yup (crae has everything set up to sound bells when there is life on the site)

Anyways you're not alone having the assumption that ppc's are just expensive calendars (most ppl don't know what to do w/ them) though I skin mine to death in actuality I use mine for alot of things both work and play related and I'll be writing my own programs hopefully soon so I won't be at the mercy of devs to get what I want and how I want it... =)

windows mobile 2003 w/ VGA puts a Sony Desktop screen to shame (atleast on the HP iPAQ hx4700)
// Doreen / 502 weeks, 3 days, 15 hours and 59 minutes ago

Friend of mine dropped in the other day: "Look, I got my brother's old PDA. The thing is though, I can't think of any use for it, other than being a fancy agenda.".


*craeonics gets kicked by Doreen


Then again, even agenda's need skins.
// craeonics / 502 weeks, 3 days, 8 hours and 17 minutes ago

There's a ton of uses for these devices now. When they first came out yes you could honestly say they were nothing but a fancy agenda but not now. I guess the least you could use one for is a fancy reader there's a default program that will actually "read" you your books so you don't have to read them yourself (cept I'm not into books)

Note to self bore ppl to death maybe w/ another article on "What to do w/ your PPC instead of just skinning it to death" hehe =)

I'm serious though there are crummy ppc around and there is 1-2 ppc out there right now that are awesome the display on them is incredible! shadows on icons and details are more crisps than on your DT. (anyways don't evennnn get me started)


The prob is most guys don't knowww what to do w/ their tools... =)
// Doreen / 502 weeks, 3 days, 2 hours and 7 minutes ago
i just got myself and XDA IIs and it rocks! win mob 2003se its quite stable unless u start mucking about with it i had it 2days and i cant find enough things to do on it. you PDA haters must be mad!! whats better than having a phone, organiser, mp3player, movie player, email, internet in the palm of ur hand. anybody know a way to raw edit all the images the OS uses? i wanna skin this thing to the last pixel. great article BTW even tho its ancient, still helpfull!
// dgr / 495 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours and 22 minutes ago
i just got myself and XDA IIs and it rocks! win mob 2003se its quite stable unless u start mucking about with it i had it 2days and i cant find enough things to do on it. you PDA haters must be mad!! whats better than having a phone, organiser, mp3player, movie player, email, internet in the palm of ur hand. anybody know a way to raw edit all the images the OS uses? i wanna skin this thing to the last pixel. great article BTW even tho its ancient, still helpfull!
// dgr / 495 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours and 19 minutes ago
i just got myself and XDA IIs and it rocks! win mob 2003se its quite stable unless u start mucking about with it i had it 2days and i cant find enough things to do on it. you PDA haters must be mad!! whats better than having a phone, organiser, mp3player, movie player, email, internet in the palm of ur hand. anybody know a way to raw edit all the images the OS uses? i wanna skin this thing to the last pixel. great article BTW even tho its ancient, still helpfull!
// dgr / 495 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours and 15 minutes ago
i just got myself and XDA IIs and it rocks! win mob 2003se its quite stable unless u start mucking about with it i had it 2days and i cant find enough things to do on it. you PDA haters must be mad!! whats better than having a phone, organiser, mp3player, movie player, email, internet in the palm of ur hand. anybody know a way to raw edit all the images the OS uses? i wanna skin this thing to the last pixel. great article BTW even tho its ancient, still helpfull!
// dgr / 495 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours and 12 minutes ago
i just got myself and XDA IIs and it rocks! win mob 2003se its quite stable unless u start mucking about with it i had it 2days and i cant find enough things to do on it. you PDA haters must be mad!! whats better than having a phone, organiser, mp3player, movie player, email, internet in the palm of ur hand. anybody know a way to raw edit all the images the OS uses? i wanna skin this thing to the last pixel. great article BTW even tho its ancient, still helpfull!
// dgr / 495 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours and 7 minutes ago

Hmm does someone have a studdering problem here? (Seems he/she has left their window open and keeps refreshing?) at any rate:


You can color all your system colors w/ this: [link]


You can skin every window, start menu and context menus, buttons and tabs etc using this:

[link]


Grab some skins here: [link] and here:

[link]


(That should keep you busy)
// Doreen / 495 weeks, 2 days, 13 hours and 52 minutes ago
It's nice to see the Pocket PC looking so sweet, Saddly these days I have my laptop with me 24/7 so I dont use mine much.
// Mormegil / 475 weeks, 5 days, 13 hours and 26 minutes ago

Hi Paul... =)

The lastest devices are getting so streamline and there is a new OS due out that even brings the ppc that much closer to the desktop OS but look at this new toy that came out last week... [link]
// Doreen / 475 weeks, 4 days, 2 hours and 23 minutes ago
Hoe can i download this skin
// Amin / 416 weeks, 0 days, 16 hours and 27 minutes ago
Its So good
// morteza / 413 weeks, 0 days, 11 hours and 54 minutes ago

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