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Really Slick Screensavers

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Really Slick Screensavers

    PCWorld Rating

    This bundle of open-source 3D CGI screensavers includes an amazing fireworks display, a trip through hyperspace, and other gorgeous examples of physics-based animation.

I've reviewed so many screen savers over the years that I've gotten jaded. There's a limit to the number of dancing teddy bears or trips through space that I can handle--and to make it worse, most of them actually cost money. Terry Welsh's incredible collection of Really Slick Screensavers blows everything else I've seen out of the water--and it's open source.

Load up Really Slick Screensavers and you get 12 incredible screen savers, varying in complexity from the deceptively simple Cyclone to Skyrocket, an incredibly realistic fireworks simulation. Yes, there is a "trip through space" screen saver included--but Hyperspace takes the genre to a different level.

The developer states that most modern PCs should be able to handle these screen savers, but warns that laptops often don't pack enough power. Nonetheless, I was able to run these screen savers just fine on my graphics-anemic and aging Thinkpad. I did have some trouble with the more complex screen savers--but a quick trip to the FAQ page helped me solve the problem. It turns out that Intel graphics cards disable OpenGL hardware acceleration, which the complex screen savers need to run smoothly. To work around the problem, I simply renamed the affected screen savers with an .sCr extension. Installing the screen savers is deadly simple: Just download the .exe file and double-click it. You'll be prompted to install OpenAL to enable sounds in Skyrocket; I experienced no problems with this program.

Really Slick Screensavers aren't just fun screen savers--they're terrific toys. You can tweak the parameters for each screen saver and see how your choices affect the display. The Skyrocket screen saver can be customized on the fly (go to the bottom of the Instructions page for details). And if you think these screen savers can be improved upon, you're welcome to go to the developer's site and download the source code. By the way, if you enjoy these screen savers, consider making a donation to support future development.

--Kim Saccio-Kent

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This bundle of open-source 3D CGI screensavers includes an amazing fireworks display, a trip through hyperspace, and other gorgeous examples of physics-based animation.

    Pros

    • Absolutely amazing CGI animations

    Cons

    • Need to rename the more complex screen savers to work around a display issue with Intel graphics boards
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