If you have Vista on your computer, you’ll be enjoying all those cool sidebar gadgets. But if you haven’t made the switch to Vista yet, you can always make do with software like Thoosje Vista Sidebar. This application allows you to have a gadget sidebar on your desktop, very similar to the one displayed in Windows Vista and also completely customizable. It looks very promising, but don’t let yourself be fooled by all the program’s bells and whistles.
The first few minutes after installing the program are quite confusing, because it takes quite a while to load. We just kept on clicking on the shortcut icon and almost ended up thinking that it simply didn’t work, only to find afterwards that we had started several sessions. This may also be the reason why we got some error messages during these first minutes of usage.
The sidebar starts as a darkened empty area on the right side of your desktop. To begin adding gadgets, click on the little cross button on the top. Be patient, because the gadget menu window also takes a while to show up. There aren’t many to choose from, but at least they’re quite varied and cover different needs: from the PC resources meter to the photo slideshow, from the RSS mini-reader to the weather gadget. Installing them is just a matter of dragging them onto the sidebar, but be aware that uninstalling may not be that easy. Some gadgets have the characteristic cross button to close, but others, like the Recycle bin or the Google search, don’t. We struggled with these two until we finally discovered that, if you want to make them disappear, you have to click on their icon again in the gadgets menu window. You can widen your gadget choice by visiting the author’s website and browsing around the gadget gallery. During our test we downloaded one to check our Gmail account but didn’t manage to install it in the sidebar, as the help provided in the author’s website is not really that accurate.
Once ready and customized with all your chosen gadgets, Thoosje Vista Sidebar looks really beautiful on your desktop. Plus, it includes some background skins to make it fit perfectly with the image you have as wallpaper. The downside to its graphical beauty is the constant instability and the annoying slowness we noticed during the test. Configuration windows take some irritating seconds to appear on screen and sometimes the sidebar just disappears from sight.
As for the gadgets, there’s a bit of everything. Some of them come in very handy, like the Google search bar or the audio player, whilst some others are rather useless, like the PC uptime recorder or the analog clock. Other points we didn’t like refer to certain gadgets in particular: for example, the RSS reader lacks the ability to take you to the whole article when you click on the headline and the photo slideshow gadget preferences are wickedly hidden in a transparent tiny icon on the gadget’s top right corner.
Thoosje Vista Sidebar seems very promising when looking at the program’s screenshots, but using it is a totally different thing. We definitely hope this app improves in its future versions. As for now, we must say it left a bad taste in our PC.