Long, long time ago screensavers have been used to prevent the so-called screen-burn-effect1 — a permanent disfigurement of areas on a CRT display caused by non-moving text or graphics being displayed continuously for long periods of time. To avoid this effect, screen savers have been used to blank the screen or fill it with moving images or patterns when the computer was not in use. Today, screensavers don’t serve their original purpose and are primarily used for entertainment.
In fact, we don’t need screensavers any more, however we tend to use them as eye-candy for our coffee breaks. Particularly complex and colourful 3D-screensavers are extremely nice to look at. But also if you’d like to lift your spirit with some calm and relaxing animations screensavers can definitely be just what you are looking for.
However, if you are tired of the default screensavers brought to you by your OS you might start searching for the fresh ones in the Web. And you’ll quickly find out: the choice is enormous; freeware is usually supplied with adware, and there are literally thousands of commercial solutions. What screensaver to choose? Most companies have limited demo- and shareware-versions, but they are almost always rather disturbing than helpful and will only get on your nerves.
In fact, there are only few pearls – amazing screensavers you’d be really ready to pay for once you’ve tested them. We’ve downloaded and installed a hell of a lot of them, we’ve had many problems (mostly adware) with them, but in the end we’ve tested all of them. And we’ve selected the most beautiful, interesting and unusual screensavers for you. Among them Flickr-, RSS- and time-screensavers – in the overview below both free and commercial solutions are presented.
in the overview below you won’t find enormous screensaver collections such as Screensaver.com (10 points for the first user mentioning this site in our comments). We’ve also tried to avoid sites filled with advertisements, pop-ups and hidden ad blocks. We also ignored cheap “discount screensaver providers” — mostly they offer just image galleries, and not real screensavers;
screensavers are executable programs. Therefore: caution, Windows-users! We’ve tested the software presented below, still: use them at your own risk.
some screensavers don’t work properly on dual-monitors;
PolarClock3 An elegant clock and calendar screensaver in which the circles move as the time passes – based on polar coordinates. Available in 28 languages, with a number of options such as text alignment, font size, arc properties, continuous / stepped motion (continuous was requested a lot, so that you can see a minute slowly stretching each second to become the next minute etc), appearance, colors etc. A screen saver for Mac and Windows, and also as a dashboard widget for Mac OS X Tiger.
Twingly5 Twingly screensaver is visualizing the global blog activity in real time. Forget RSS readers where you see only what you’re interested in. With Twingly screensaver you get a 24/7 stream of all (viewer discretion advised) blog activity, straight to your screen. Windows. Unfortunately testing didn’t work properly.
UniqLock7 – Music.Dance.Clock Japanese girls dance focusing your attention away from the passing time. Probably one of the strangest — unique — screensavers out there.
Worldclock13 World Clock Screen Saver shows your local time on its big central clock and adds five major time zones (Los Angeles, New York, London, Dubai and Tokyo) on smaller clocks placed around it.
Mapped Up15 MappedUp tracks a large number of RSS news sources and displays their latest items on a world map, geographically and in real-time. You can personalize the tool by setting the tags and specific RSS feeds you want to see on your MappedUp (registration is required16). And of course, you can download MappedUp17 as a screensaver, widget or active desktop — for Windows or Mac OS X.
Kuler Screensaver19 Excellent inspiration for a coffee break: the tool reads Kuler20‘s RSS feed, extracts the data and presents color schemes on your desktop. You can choose between displaying the highest rated, most popular or newest color schemes. It’s also possible to select the color schemes by hex-code and tags. For Mac OS X only.
UniveRSS22 UniveRSS is a 3D RSS feed reader for Windows Vista. It introduces a full-screen 3D universe where galaxies represent the folders of your RSS feed directory, and the stars are represented by the spinning cubes that hold the feed information. Size and position of the feed cubes indicate how many unread items they contain. RSS feeds are represented as 3D cubes spinning in a universe.
RSS Saver27 This free screensaver presents the excerpts of predefined RSS feeds in a 3D view. The text approaches you and passes away after 15 seconds. Unfortunately, the speed of displayed news can’t be changed.
Tiger RSS Screensaver29 RSS Saver for Mac OS X. Apple’s Tiger RSS Screensavers are pretty cool, but Apple news are often quite boring. So why not make your own for your obviously favorite website? With Tiger’s Quartz Composer, you can make both standalone RSS applications and Screensavers which ends up being really useful or at least handy if you’re an RSS junkie.
Seti@Home31 Yes, the project still exists. SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a screensaver that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. SETI@Home is currently the largest distributed computing effort with over 3 million users.
Electric Sheep35 A widely famous and versatile screensaver. Electric Sheep is a free, open source screen saver run by thousands of people all over the world. It can be installed on any ordinary Windows or Mac. When these computers "sleep", the screensaver comes up and the computers communicate with each other via Web to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep". The result is a collective "android dream", an homage to Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. You can also design your own sheep.
Really Slick Screensavers37 A collection of 10 colorful 3D OpenGL screensavers for Windows. Some of some have been ported to Linux and Mac OS. Including Skyrocket, an interesting fireworks-simulation.
System 4740 A Star Trek LCARS Screen Saver. Windows/Mac. LCARS is an acronym for "Library Computer Access and Retrieval System", which is the primary computer system in the universe of Star Trek’s Starfleet and Federation. The Saver runs on Dual-Systems with a different view on each monitor. And there is also Sound.
BlueScreen Screen Saver42 Bluescreen is a screen saver that not only authentically mimics a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), but will simulate startup screens seen during a system boot. Available for all Windows versions except Vista. This could be extremely irritating, watch carefully. An analog solution for Mac OS X – Kernel Panic Screensaver43.
FoxSaver46 This one is a little different. It’s a Picture Gallery running directly in Firefox. Use FoxSaver photos, Media RSS-Feeds or your own Pictures. There is a FullScreen mode if FireFox is maximized.
Fenêtre volantes47 Fenêtre volantes puts your windows in flight. After some idle time the windows take off the screen and flutter in the void. On a mouse move, the windows immediately come back and stuck to their original position. Freeware, for Mac OS X only.
Flurry51 This is a port to Windows of Flurry, a beautiful screen saver for Mac OS X. Site looks odd and old-fashioned, but who cares?
Holding Pattern Coach Class53 Looking out from a window on the plane. There is also a first class saver with 57 aerial views, but you have to pay $17.50 for your luxury viewing experience. Windows and Mac.
Fireflies55 A pretty one using OpenGL for 3D acceleration. Windows, Linux, Mac.