Hands-on: HyperSpace by Phoenix joins the instant-on fray

Phoenix is jumping into the action with its HyperSpace OS, as featured on a handful of new Lenovo laptops including the S10 Netbook.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read

Does your laptop take too long to turn on? Linux-based instant-on operating systems have turned up on plenty of recent laptops, such as the Splashtop-powered Asus N10J, and now Phoenix is jumping into the action with its HyperSpace OS, as featured on a handful of new Lenovo laptops including the S10 Netbook. We got a chance to get a hands-on preview with HyperSpace.

Hyperspace boots up automatically when you start your laptop, instead of Windows. The emphasis is clearly on Web surfing, as the landing screen is a custom Web browser with a sidebar full of links and settings. Shortcuts on the left side are basically just bookmarks for popular Web sites and services.

One of our problems with these instant-on environments has always been the networking options. Users comfortable with Windows XP or Vista know how to find and join a Wi-Fi network--but many of these quick-launch operating systems bury that info in confusing Linux-flavored menus. HyperSpace gets points for putting a big Wi-Fi button right at the top right of the screen, which simply brings up a list of available networks.

From the HyperSpace desktop, you can hit a button with a Windows logo on it which will reboot the system into Windows (you may have to hit the F4 key during the reboot). Laptops more powerful than a Netbook will be able to run both HyperSpace and Windows at the same time, and switch between them at will.

Using a Lenovo S10, we timed the HyperSpace OS as taking 24 seconds to fully boot, compared with 50 seconds for Windows XP.

One point worth noting--these pre-Windows OS systems (more on them from our pal Rafe Needleman here) are useful for getting quick access to vital information on the go, or extending battery life--but they're not exactly mainstream. We know several people who have them preinstalled on laptops and either never use them or don't even know they're there.