3D Desktop Cube Reviews and Comparisons (Windows)

Sep 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Windows

So in my switch from Linux to windows the one area that is seriously lacking in windows is being able to properly organize your applications and workspaces.. Right now the way windows works is you just lump everything all into one desktop and alt-tab through, sorting it as you go.  This is an insanely archaic and would be like putting all of your files in one directory and not being allowed subdirectories.  Try to find shit then.

Introduce the desktop cube, or just simply virtual desktops.  As a good friend of mine put it, imagine tabbed browsing on crack but for your entire computer.. Well grouped tabbed browsing more like it.  Instead of one desktop you have 7 and you gruop your applications based on their function and stick them on specific desktops.  So that when you want to bring up all of your communication programs, IM/Email, you just go ot desktop 6.  all office apps like librewriter, librecalc, etc etc you go to desktop 2..

 

So there are 3 main options worth considering for this: Dextop, Deskspace(Formally Yod’m 3D) and finally Cubedesktop.

Dextop – FREE:

Dextop offers an impressive array of options

I’ll start here as I have the most experience with Dextop(as it’s free).  Dextop does an adequate job at simulating Virtual Desktops and a desktop cube but from what I can tell all it is really doing is hiding and unhiding windows.  Which in essence is what a virtual desktop does but in linux I had the sense that they windows are actually located on a separate desktop instead of just being hidden on the current one.  The more you use dextop the more rough around the edges it will feel and you will notice how un-native it looks and behaves.  It’s pretty buggy to boot, nothing earth shattering, just a ton of annoyances.  There are certain windows that will follow you around no matter which desktop you are on like gtalk and skype.  You can stick windows on your second monitory and switch desktops and they will stay there.. Which is handy in it’s own right but certainly isn’t what the native behavior should be.

Dextop has some nice features like having programs start up on certain desktops automatically when you log into windows.  It also tries to stick programs to certain desktops but this fails miserably as the program will popup on whatever desktop you are on, stay there long enough for you to try to interact with it and then disappear off to whatever desktop it was supposed to be on.

the desktop cube portion of this is a joke as well, it’s really only a cube simulation as apposed to a real cube like you would get in Compiz in linux.  Basically what the cube option for dextop does is to play a cube spinning animation between desktops.. It looks convincing, kind of, but you can manipulate it like you would with Compiz, free spinning it in space.. This is because dextop is only simulating virtual desktops, not truly creating them.

On the plus side Dextop provides an incredible amount of technical tweaks and features to how you use it and how it behaves.. You can have programs start on specific desktops for example, yuo can have them stick to desktops, although this is kind of broken, you can spend hours digging through how this thing behave and what it does to suit your needs.  Now given all of these options are all rough around the edges but they are at least there, which is more than I can say for some of the paid options

Conclusion:  Dextop is the only option that is Free Free Free and that will probably win a lot of people over inspite of it’s inferiority.  Overall I would get it 2.5 stars out of 5 for it’s use and a 3.5 if you include the fact that it is free. Like I said it’s rough around the edges but at it’s core Dextop provides a lot of flexibility in how it behaves and definitely looks like it was created with the power user in mind to be more than a silly piece of eye candy.  In the end it doesn’t provide a true cube experience but if you dont’ want to pay for your desktop cube then it’s your only option.

 

Deskspace(Formally Yod’m 3D) $24.95

 

At first glance this is already looking infinitely better than Dextop in the fact that I can manipulate the cube freely with my mouse and that I have desktops on the top and bottom of the cube which doesn’t exist even in Compiz.

The best looking of our options

The first thing I notice here is that the controls are very sluggish.  Instead of it instantly popping to the cube when I hit the hotkey it waits for 200ms or so to fully zoom out.. Now there’s an option to control the zoom speed but that only takes effect after this first initial delay.  It’s like it’s loading the cube instead of it being resident and just waiting to be used so again it feels a littel hokey in this sense.. You really get used to that fluidity in compiz of how it reacts to your ever will and desire, this is seriously missing in Deskspace and if CubeDesktop doesn’t this better I’ll definitely be giong with that as this just makes the experience feel like a cheap copy of what it should be.

there are plenty of options in here, you can adjust the skybox, the transparency of the cube, the zoom and rotate speeds.  It does offer window dragging between desktops which is something Dextop can’t do, meaning you can just drag the window to the side of the screen and after it sits there for say 300ms it will rotate teh cube and allow you to keep on dragging it to a new desktop.  Again this is still no where near as fluid and smooth as compiz but at least it is there

You can also customize which windows/programs are affected by the cube on a program which is a nice little advanced feature fi you want programs to always stay put no matter where you rotate teh cube to.

Conclusion: Do I think that what Deskspace offers over Dextop is worth paying for?  Absolutely not and you’re crazy to disagree.  It does provide a smoother and truer cube experience but that is absolutely where the benefits end and in a plethora of other areas it is an inferior product to Dextop.  You cannot move windows between desktops with the keyboard alone, you are reliant upon the incredible awkward dragging option they offer.    Deskspace is a piece of eye candy and nothing more and for eye candy it is poorly implemented and lacks most all of the functionality that would make it useful.  Linux trounces this piece of software with compiz in it’s sleep and if you have ever used compiz you’ll unintall Deskspace faster than skype 4.0 can break pulseaudio to pieces.  Overall I’d give this app a 2 out of 5 rating, although considering you are paying money for it I’d drop that down to a 1 out of 5

 

 Cubedesktop – 19.95 €:

While it’s a contender, it’s not a serious one

The last contender to the list and after the disappointment that was Deskspace it’s all riding on Cubedesktop now.  The free trial offers you 2 hours of unlimited use.. More than enough time to dig around and figure out if this is worth paying for or not.  After 1 minute with this piece of garbage I can tell you that it also disappoints even more than Deskspace.  Multiple monitor support is bugger when you are manipulating the cube with your mouse.  Switching desktops with the keyboard shortcuts makes it pretty apparent that again they are faking virtual desktops by cleverly minimizing windows depending on which desktop you are on.

Cubedesktop does offer an impressive amount of options about how the cube looks but all of the options are pretty much focused on the aesthetics or the resource usage in conjunction with those aesthetics.  There is very little here to add to the functionality of the cube/desktops with the exception of starting apps automatically on specific desktops and desktop privacy.

 

 

Conclusion: Another horrible disappointment and the fact that these people are charging money for this is a travesty as it once again falls short in almost every way shape and form to dextop.  Overall I’d give this app a 2 out of 5 rating, although considering you are paying money for it I’d drop that down to a 1 out of 5

 

The Verdict

The verdict is in and it is horribly disappointing.  From what I can tell there are NO close alternative to Compiz for windows that operaties as fluidly, gives you the flexibility on behavior, functionality and especially with Eye Candy.   All attempts to do this in windows are sloppy and next to useless in terms of adding efficiency to your experience..  In fact with how poorly all of these options handle this I really don’t see the purpose in using any of them at all as you aren’t really gaining anything besides some bullshit eye candy at the expense of your cpu/memory usage.   Dextop comes the closest to making a difference with how you work in windows but it is so buggy with how certain windows behave that you will probably look efficiency just correcting for this.  You’ll have thunderbird showing up on 3 desktops for example, or skype and gtalk following you around no matter what you do that you are always minimizing them anyways.   After all is said and done what we are looking for is a way to group applications quickly and visibly so that if I awnt to see all of my communications programs open I can just click a few times and boom, there they are.. All my office windows, click click and there they are, the cube and everything else are just the pretty eye candy that give us a little smile when we are doing that but for productivity that is what we are after.   So for this Dextop again is by FAR the superior option here with it’s alt-q option that just brings up all your windows grouped by desktop, you just go click on the one yuo want and it will open them all according to that desktop.  It’s obvious that we aren’t goin to get to have our cake and eat it too like we get in Linux but as long as we have this functionality all is not lost

In the end the compiz cube is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons I used linux over windows as it allowed me to work and organize my desktop so much more efficiently.  If it wasn’t for the insane lack of support for hardware in linux and me spending hours a week debugging my system I would have never left it for this poor excuse for an operating system called windows.  But as such I am forced back into this bullshit of a single desktop and I know that is going to eat me up inside like a bird that knows the feeling of freedom stuck in a cage.  AAHHHHH, god dammit.

Anyways, at the end of the day if you want to use any of these options for productivity go with dextop, if you want to choose one for eye candy alone go with deskspace, but none of them are worth a damn in my book and you are better off not wasting your time at all because really at the end of that day that is all they all are.  One big waste of god damn time.

One incredible disappointment and resentful window user signing off and wishing he was back in Linux.

 

PS – There is also Shock 4Way 3D Desktop Utility – http://www.docs.kr/ but again ti looks like a cheap knockoff that’s just there for effect and even then the effect is lack luster.

 

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