Three buttons below the display window represent the standard main buttons of a typical Android device, from left to right: Back, Menu and Home. But it's curious why BlueStacks' developers did not order them in the same sequence found on most Android devices: Menu, Home, Back. (On Android devices running the latest version of the OS, Honeycomb, this order is reversed: Back, Home, Menu.)
The far-right button, for Settings, leads to a menu in which you can switch on or off syncing between your Android device and BlueStacks; change the language (BlueStacks supports 39); adjust the ways that the on-screen keyboard and your computer's actual keyboard work when used with an app running on BlueStacks; manage apps (here you can uninstall apps); and set the resolution an app will be displayed at when you launch it (the available adjustments are "small phone," "large phone" and "tablet").
Icons for "Suggested Apps" run along a sidebar to the right of the main display window, the selection of which changes based on the app that is presently running on BlueStacks. For example, when I ran the messenger app eBuddy, this sidebar then listed apps for other instant messengers.
Syncing with your Android device
Apps and SMS texts on your Android device can be synced to the BlueStacks application running on your Windows PC. You set this by entering an email address and your phone's number into BlueStacks. You'll then receive an email which contains a 9-digit PIN assigned to you by the BlueStacks server.
Next, you download and install on your Android device the free BlueStacks Cloud Connect app from the Google Play Store. The first time you run this app, you enter the PIN. After you do this, Cloud Connect will list all the apps that are installed on your Android device. To sync an app with your Windows computer, you tap on the checkmark box by it. A copy of the app on your phone or tablet will be installed on your computer running BlueStacks, and will appear in the applications' My Apps folder.
It doesn't look like you can sync things in reverse -- that is, set things so that an app on BlueStacks will be copied over to your Android device.
I tested several popular apps on the two notebooks on which I installed BlueStacks, and the results varied widely. The Facebook app ran well and fast on both notebooks, and it even was able to access the built-in webcams. Angry Birds worked on the notebook with the Dual-Core processor, but BlueStacks refused to download the game onto the Core 2 Duo one, presumably because it was running the limited version of BlueStacks. Although the YouTube app is listed among Popular Downloads, I couldn't get it to successfully install on either notebook.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.