Thursday, January 08, 2009

Software Review: Cooliris

I finally downloaded the Cooliris extension for the Firefox web browser. What is Cooliris? It's a program that turns any compatible photo or video site/collection into a wall of images. Instead of browsing through page after page of small thumbnails, you see a never-ending wall of larger images. It definitely has the 'cool factor.'

I've installed it and tried it out, so what do I think of it? I think it's a much easier and visually appealing method of viewing images. To see more photos, you drag the image wall with your mouse. Click any photo to enlarge it. Click outside the photo to go back to the wall. It's as simple as that.

The best thing about Cooliris is how different it is from the normal page-by-page view of most web sites and services. The program takes over your screen, so there are no distractions from the image-viewing. Clicking and scrolling is very intuitive and, frankly, offers a more interesting experience. I also appreciate seeing many photos at one time. The smaller versions are much larger than your typical thumbnail. You can adjust how many images you see at one time in the settings.

Nice as it is, Cooliris does have some drawbacks. Firstly, each image is preloaded at a lower resolution. When you click on an image, you must wait for the higher resolution to load. There is a blue progress bar to show you how long it will be until you can see the clear image, but the loading time still takes away from the expected fast-and-smooth performance.

Secondly, Cooliris must reload the images when you click out of the program back to your browser and desktop. You can go back to it, and you will be where you left off, but the images must load up again. After a minute or so, you'll once again have many images to scroll through.

I think this is a very nice extension that offers a new, different way of browsing the web. My one recommendation for improvement would be for image links to load in the background (i.e. clicking to see a Flickr photo's page). This may not be an essential extension, but it does provide some fun.

You can download Cooliris

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