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BumpTop Pro review

Karl Wright
24 Jun 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
29
(approx £20) inc VAT

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Specifications

BumpTop is an add-on for your Windows desktop.

It replaces your normal desktop with a simulated 3D space, with a floor and four walls. Instead of organising files into folders, you stack them into three-dimensional piles. You can fan them out or flick through them, just as you would piles of paper on your real desktop.

The three-dimensional effect is fun. You can move into the desktop space and pan round to look at the walls. This allows you to hang items on bits of the wall that you can't easily see from your usual vantage point and still access them in two or three mouse clicks. The effect is to provide a larger virtual space to work in, even if it takes a little more effort to navigate round than a conventional desktop.

Even more fun than the 3D effect is the way the icons interact with each other. You can make icons bigger or smaller, the idea being that you make important files larger to help you find them more easily. As an icon gets bigger, it also gets heavier. If you take one of the larger icons and use your mouse to flick it across the desktop, it will scatter the smaller icons it bumps into. We're not sure this will help you organise your files, but it's very cool.

Another feature we loved was the lasso. Normally, when you click and drag your mouse, you can select only the files in a rectangular area. With BumpTop's lasso tool, you can draw freely around the desktop, selecting files in any kind of doglegged shape you care to make. We were quickly persuaded that this is how Windows should work. When you bring the mouse cursor back to its original position, a menu appears offering you a range of options for working with the files you've selected. The most interesting of these is to stack the documents into piles. Using this method you can quickly organise the documents into a single pile, stack them by file type or, if you select files one by one, you can create custom piles that meet your own organisational needs. You can use your mouse's scroll wheel to flip back and forth through a pile of files and fan documents out or display piled documents in a grid formation, all from the same menu.

Another key feature is the ability to upload files to selected destinations in a single action. The program allows you to create icons for USB storage, Facebook, Twitter and your default printer. To upload a photo to Facebook or print a document, for instance, you simply pick up the file and toss it at the relevant icon. This generally worked well but sometimes our photos just sat on the Facebook icon rather than actually uploading.

There are other minor irritations: when we tried to apply BumpTop to folders other than the desktop (an option in Settings) it simply didn't work, and you can only upload photos to Facebook or a USB thumb drive if they're on the desktop. If you try to upload a photo from another folder it simply falls on to your desktop and you have to pick it up from there and toss it at the relevant icon. Aside from these minor niggles, BumpTop is great fun and some of its features are way ahead of Windows. You can download the feature-restricted demo for free, so there's no reason not to give it a go.

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