i-mate JAMin PDA/Smartphone Expected Soon

i-mate JAMin PDA/Smartphone Expected SoonA week ahead of its scheduled launch, smartphone bigwigs i-mate have revealed details of their latest model, the JAMin.

Despite its name, the PDA/phone doesn’t come with Bob Marley ringtones or blow sweet wafts of ‘erb in the owner’s direction, but certainly offers redemption in the spec department.

According to i-mate’s site, the JAMin has a top rankin’ set of features, offering quad-band (850/900/1800/1900MHz) GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 64MB of RAM and 128MB of ROM.

i-mate JAMin PDA/Smartphone Expected SoonSwitching from a 416 MHz Intel processor to a 200 MHz TI processor (we know it sounds like it must be slower but they’re not directly comparable), i-mate have stuck with the JAM form factor, adding a different button layout and twice the ROM.

With Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11g Wi-Fi connectivity onboard, there shouldn’t too much waiting in vain, with the PDA-style smart phone purring along on Windows Mobile 5.0.

i-mate JAMin PDA/Smartphone Expected SoonAlso known as the HTC Prophet (and O2 XDA Neo), the phone shouldn’t stir it up in the pocket department, measuring a compact 10.8 x 5.8 x 1.8cm and weighing 150g. Memory expansion is taken care of courtesy of a SD IO slot

Powered by a 1200mAh battery, the JAMin comes with a large 2.8in, QVGA (240 x 320 pixel), 65k-colour display.

Users looking to shoot the sheriff can take advantage of the two-megapixel camera – with macro shooting mode – fitted on the back of the phone.

We’re couldn’t get any positive vibrations out of the rubbish camera provided with its predecessor, the JAM, so let’s hope i-mate have stirred it up in the resolution department.

The JAMin is expected on the streets of Babylon soon for around £440 ($770, €643) without an airtime package.

i-mate JAMin

UK Satellite-Delivered Broadband Switched Off

Rural Surfers Suffer Satellite Broadband Switch Off Several thousand rural surfers across Europe suddenly found themselves sans le Internet after European-based satellite broadband provider Aramiska unexpectedly slammed shut its operations with just five hours’ notice.

The sudden announcement left thousands of customers – including small businesses and numerous community broadband operations – without any access.

Using the Eutelsat Atlantic Bird satellite, Aramiska was able to offer services across five countries (the UK, France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain), with the majority being in the UK.

A message posted on the Website of the UK-based Internet company Ehotspot, which used Aramiska to provide satellite links, confirmed that the Netherlands-based firm had gone into liquidation.

Jon Sprank, eHotspot’s MD, explained: “eHotspot would firstly like to apologise to our customers for lack of service. This came as a bolt from the blue with no notice – we have suspended all billing to our customers. This has only truly been dropped on us and we are currently spending our time sourcing an alternative backhaul supplier

The disappearance of the Aramiska service is expected to have a serious knock-on effect for community broadband providers who provide “second mile” backhaul connectivity.

Rural Surfers Suffer Satellite Broadband Switch Off The Community Broadband Network (CBN) is organising efforts to help Aramiska customers find an alternative satellite broadband supplier, with their director, Adrian Wooster, commenting, “The Aramiska issue totally caught our members unaware, and is causing many problems for rural businesses beyond simple connectivity; the Aramiska service was also hosting many Websites and has been offering file storage capabilities for businesses.”

Although there’s no shortage of alternative satellite broadband providers in the market, smaller, shoestring operations may find it difficult to get their users back online quickly.

The closure reflects the fragility of some companies in the satellite-based broadband service market, which is coming under increase pressure in some areas from the increased availability of conventional wired broadband.

Despite this, large areas of Europe still remain on the wrong side of the digital divide, and reliable wireless and satellite services are needed across the European Union to ensure that all its citizens can keep up with technological change.

Community Broadband Network
Aramiska users scrabble to find supplier after Web blackout

Skype To Sell Warner Music VoIP Ringtones

Skype Announces Deal With Warners To Sell VoIP ringtonesLooking for new sources of revenue beyond their Internet telephony service, Skype have announced a deal with Warner Music Group to flog ring tones and artist images.

The agreement – the first between a music company and an Internet telecoms outfit – will see Skype marketing the ring tones and artist images.

The tie-in will see Warner Music Group supplying the ring tones to Skype, with each song snippet being available for 68p (€1, $1.50), with pricing for artists’ mugshots yet to be announced.

Skype Announces Deal With Warners To Sell VoIP ringtones“We are excited that more than 70m Skype users around the world will now have the ability to enjoy content from Warner Music artists,” said Alex Zubillaga, executive vice-president in charge of digital strategy and business development at Warner Music (that’s some job title – we wonder if he meets people saying, “Hi, I’m Alex Zubillaga, EVPICODSABD at Warners?”)

The service is launching with Madonna as a “featured artist” with Skype adding: “In the coming months, consumers will be able to download master ringtones from WMG artists including Madonna, Green Day, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, D4L, T.I., and many more to Skype’s leading Internet calling service.”

The move sees eBay looking to cash in on their considerable investment in Skype, and with an estimated 74m registered users, there’s considerable scope for some juicy ringtone-shifting action.

Skype Announces Deal With Warners To Sell VoIP ringtonesRingtone sales have proved a surprise hit for mobile operators and content providers, coining in an astonishing $4bn in worldwide sales in 2004 – around 10 per cent of the $32.2bn worldwide music market.

Not surprisingly, record companies love the additional bonus revenue scooped in from ringtones, particularly as their emergence comes at a time when sales of compact discs are in decline, partly as a result of illegal music downloads (and partly as a result of their greedy pricing strategies).

Warners Music

Kodak’s Digital Revenue Snaps Past Film Sales

Kodak's Digital Revenue Snaps Past Film SalesFor the first time in its long history, Eastman Kodak is generating more annual sales from digital imaging than from film-based photography.

Figures for the fourth quarter saw Kodak’s sales rise 12% to $4.197 Billion, with digital sales making up 54% of total revenue for 2005.

Kodak's Digital Revenue Snaps Past Film SalesBut it’s not all good news though, with the company reporting that total losses could top an eye watering $1 billion, as a result of the hugely expensive restructuring demands required by a potentially risky shift to digital.

With film cameras rapidly vanishing off consumer’s shopping lists, Kodak – the world’s top maker of photographic film – had no choice but to jump ship into digital or risk fading to irrelevance.

Kodak's Digital Revenue Snaps Past Film SalesThe company is still half way through the arduous task of restructuring the business for the digital world, and has already laid off some 25,000 workers.

Costs of restructuring are immense adding up to $900 million in 2004, $1.1 billion last year, and an anticipated $1 billion to $1.2 billion in 2006.

Kodak's Digital Revenue Snaps Past Film SalesFortunately for Kodak, Christmas proved a highly profitable period with sales of its EasyShare Printer Docks surging 95%, and sales of kiosks to drugstores and other outlets up 23%.

Despite the Everest-high losses, Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eastman Kodak Company remains chirpy and upbeat, insisting, “We have reached a critical mass that will allow us to be a profitable consumer-digital company,”


Google Release Version 4 of Toolbar to Boost User Loyalty

Google Release Version 4 of Toolbar to Boost User LoyaltyGoogle have released version 4 of their popular toolbar for Web browsers, with groovy new features to lure more visitors to their sites.

The new toolbar comes with an enhanced search box offering a dynamic list of suggestions based on popular Google searches, spelling corrections and the user’s Toolbar search history/bookmarks.

A new Custom Buttons feature lets users create their own buttons to search chosen Web sites or display RSS feeds from selected sites.

Clicking the ‘G’ icon in the search box also lets users search different Google sites, the current site, or their Custom Button sites.

Google Release Version 4 of Toolbar to Boost User LoyaltyThe Bookmarks functionality has also been enhanced to allow users to create and label bookmarks that can be accessed from any computer – something noticeable missing from arch-rival Internet Explorer.

Users will need a Google account for this to work, but once signed in they’ll be able to access their Bookmarks menu on any computer with the new Google Toolbar installed.

Google’s new ‘Send To’ feature lets users share Web pages via email, text message (SMS), or blog.

An entire page can be sent by selecting the Toolbar’s “Send To” menu, whereas snippets can be conveniently sent by simply selecting the content you want before clicking “Send To.”

Although sending text messages via the Google Toolbar is free, charges may be slapped on by mobile networks, and we’re not sure if this feature will work in the UK as yet.

The new gizmos add more power to the Google toolbar which already offers useful functions like word translation, spell checking, auto-fill, pop-up blocking (IE only) and page rank display.

Google Release Version 4 of Toolbar to Boost User LoyaltyBy ramping up the feature set Google is hoping to grab a larger share of Web users (and thus more advertisers) and steal a march on Yahoo and Microsoft who both offer their own toolbars.

[The toolbar] “promotes loyalty and repeat usage,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst at market researcher Kelsey Group Inc. in San Francisco.

“Over time everyone expects the number of searches initiated in the toolbar to grow,” he added.

The new Google toolbar is available from its website and as part of the recently announced Google Pack.

Google Toolbar 4

Symantec: Average Laptop Contents Are Worth Half A Million Quid!

Symantec: Average Laptop Contents Are Worth Half A Million Quid!The average laptop is stuffed full of data worth more than half a millon quid.

Well, that’s the headline grabbing claim made Symantec, who asked laptop users across Europe, Middle-East and Africa the value of the contents of their machines.

We’re not sure if anyone’s actually checking the accuracy of their estimates, but 78 per cent stated that the data on their device is of “substantial value” in terms of “intellectual property or commercially sensitive information”, with users slapping an average estimate of its worth around the £550,000 mark ($974,000, €804,000).

Some respondents, perhaps getting carried away with their self worth, declared that the data on their mobile device was worth as much as £5 million.

Despite the self-proclaimed monster value of their laptop’s content, it seems that only 42 per cent of companies automatically back-up employees email on laptops. The majority (45 per cent) leave the back-up duties in the hands of their employees, the crazy, reckless fools.

Symantec: Average Laptop Contents Are Worth Half A Million Quid!According to the study – taken from 1,700 quantitative interviews with general employees and IT managers – over three quarters of respondents (80 per cent) laboured under the misconception that their employer had a safe copy of all the emails on their PC.

“It’s alarming that executives have mobile devices containing data of such financial value and that very little is being done to protect the information on them. The research shows that only a few organisations have measures in place to retrieve this information if their laptop is lost or stolen, which is very worrying,” said Lindsey Armstrong, senior vice president EMEA at Symantec.

Of course, one should always look closely at who’s asking the questions when sensational studies are published, and in this case it’s web security firm, Symantec – who just happen to offer, “solutions to help individuals and enterprises assure the security, availability, and integrity of their information.”

But even without Symantec’s hyperbolic headline, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that you should back up the contents of your laptop and your email regularly – and archive them separately.

After all, we reckon the pictures from the Christmas office party must be worth £10 million at least. Possibly.


Fujifilm F11 Digital Camera Review (88%)

Fujifilm F11 Digital Camera ReviewWe raved about the auto-everything Fujifilm F10, so when we heard that they were producing an updated version of the camera offering more manual controls, we were happy to dust off the chequebook and place an order.

Although the design remains the same (the F11 still looks more like a bottom of the line camera than a highly capable compact) the F11 adds shutter priority and aperture priority and a higher resolution LCD screen, up from 115,000 pixels to 153,000 pixels

As with the F10, the camera features a class leading sensitivity of ISO 80-1600, courtesy of Fujifilm’s ‘Real Photo Processor’ technology.

Fujifilm F11 Digital Camera ReviewWe remain impressed with the results, with the high ISO rating letting us capture natural-looking images where other cameras would be reaching for the flash or crumbling into a noisy mess.

Once again, we liked the overall speed of the camera, with a swift start up time, fast focussing and negligible shutter lag reducing the chances of missing a vital shot.

Although we welcomed the extra control afforded by the new aperture and shutter priority modes, we did get a bit frustrated with the interface.

Fujifilm F11 Digital Camera ReviewWith no new dedicated controls to control aperture and shutter settings, exposures had to be adjusted through a rather clunky interface that involved doubling up the main four-way controller and central MENU/OK buttons – not always without confusion.

Some other niggles remain too: we don’t like the way the LCD display briefly turns off when the flash is charging nor do we like Fuji’s annoying ‘breakout box’ that users have to drag about if they wish to charge up the camera.

But overall, the camera continues to impress, and produced excellent exposures throughout our tests (although minor problems with purple fringing remain).

Fujifilm F11 Digital Camera ReviewFor folks seeking a simple, all round point and shoot camera, the F10 remains our first choice, but for photographers keen to take advantage of Fuji’s outstanding low light abilities with the ability to control exposure manually, the F11 is well worth the extra £30 or so.

Sensor 6.3 million effective pixels
Image sizes 2848 x 2136, 3024 x 2016 (3:2), 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
Movie clips 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 30 fps with sound
File formats JPEG, Movie: AVI (Motion JPEG), WAV
Lens 36-108mm (35 mm equiv) 3x optical zoom, F 2.8 – 5.0
Auto focus area modes Centre, Multi, Continuous
Focus distance Normal: 60cm to infinity, Macro: 5 – 80cm (wideangle)/30 – 80cm (telephoto)
Metering Multi, 256-zone, Average, Spot
ISO sensitivity Auto, ISO 80, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600
Fujifilm F11 Digital Camera ReviewShutter speed 3 – 1/2000 th sec
Modes Program, Shutter priority, Aperture priority
Scene modes Auto, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night scene
Continuous shooting Top 3: Max. 2.2 frames / sec. up to 3 frames
Flash Range Wide angle approx. 0.3m – 6.5m/ Telephoto approx. 0.3m – 4.0m
Flash Modes Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro., Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro
LCD monitor 2.5″ TFT LCD, 153,000 pixels
Weight (no batt) 155 g (5.5 oz)
Dimensions 92 x 58 x 27 mm (3.6 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)

Features: 78%
Ease of Use: 62%
Image Quality: 87%
Overall: 88%

Street price £260 (~$460, ~€380)
Fujifilm F11

‘The IT Crowd’ Comedy Premiers Online: Channel 4 First

Channel 4 Debuts 'The IT Crowd' Comedy Series OnlineIn a significant new development, Channel 4 will be allowing their viewers to watch their new comedy program, ‘The IT Crowd’ online and on-demand in advance of their TV broadcast.

The new series, which stars Richard Ayoade from digital-lifestyles fave, Nathan Barley, centres around three people working in the IT department of a large firm.

Channel 4 Debuts 'The IT Crowd' Comedy Series OnlineThe online debut is a first for a terrestrial broadcaster in the UK and apes a similar strategy employed by US network NBC, which launched the US version of The Office online last year.

The first episode is scheduled to air on Channel 4 on Friday, February 3rd, but surfers have been able to view the entire show, on-demand, through the C4 Website since yesterday.

Channel 4 Debuts 'The IT Crowd' Comedy Series OnlineChannel 4 are saying that this is the first time that they’ve premiered a full episode of a new series, adding that they find it “particularly exciting ” to be airing such a “high profile and apposite programme.”

The content is free to view, with Channel 4 bods seeing the online offering as a way of extending a “buzz” around the show and “enhancing the marketing activity.”

Channel 4 Debuts 'The IT Crowd' Comedy Series OnlineThe program has already received substantial online coverage already with sites like MSN, Yahoo! and Wanadoo running features, and Channel 4 are hoping that the coverage will help in pull in viewers.

We haven’t had time to watch the program yet (we’re too busy slaving over a hot keyboard, goddamnit!), but we reckon the EFF sticker on the laptops was an encouraging touch.


i-mate JAM Review: GSM/GPRS Pocket PC (85%)

i-mate JAM GSM/GPRS Pocket PC ReviewAfter many years of trotting around town with pockets stuffed full of a Palm PDA and a mobile phone, we decide that an all-in-one PDA/smartphone combo would be the best way to reduce our ostentatious trouser bulge.

Our first instinct was to go for the Palm Treo 650, a fabulous looking device with a big screen, great ergonomics and a top-notch thumb board, but after we realised that Palm’s promised Wi-Fi card had turned into vapourware, we were forced to look to the Dark Side and switch to a Microsoft solution.

After much chin-stroking and spec sheet sniffing, we settled on the i-mate JAM (aka T-Mobile MDA Compact), a feature-packed little fella running Windows Mobile 2003.

Measuring just 5.8cm wide by 10.8cm deep by 1.81cm high, the handset is considerably smaller than o2’s chunky XDAII, offering similar proportions to Orange’s SPV C500 and Sony Ericsson’s P910.

Attractively finished in a brushed silver finish with a ribbed black side section, the JAM is of a fairly minimalist design, with call and end buttons sitting beneath the 2.8in TFT transflective screen (240 x 320 pixels), plus three buttons and a rocker controller for accessing the built-in calendar, contacts and other applications.

If anything, the case is a little too sleek for its own good, with its shiny finish making it a bugger to keep a grip on at times. We recommend buying a ‘rubberised’ case like those from proporta.com for safety.

i-mate JAM GSM/GPRS Pocket PC ReviewThe left hand side sports the camera button, volume control and voice memo switch, none of which are particularly well placed (it’s all too easy to fire off the voice memo/camera switched when turning the handset on).

On the opposite side can be found the on/off switch and slightly fiddly stylus silo, while the 1.3 megapixel camera lens and small mirror can be found on the back.

In use, the tri-band GSM/GPRS JAM 416MHz device seemed nippy enough, with the Intel XScale PXA272 processor providing enough muscle for any tasks we threw at it.

The handset comes with a rather stingy 64MB of RAM installed (57.41MB available to the user), with 7.6MB of ROM also available for backing up data.

Bluetooth support is built in, and there’s a SD card slot for adding extra storage capacity or for fitting a Wi-Fi card (our SanDisk Wi-Fi card worked fine on the JAM).

i-mate JAM GSM/GPRS Pocket PC ReviewPerformance

After six months with the phone, we’re still generally pleased with its performance but there are some niggles.

First off, the built in camera is absolutely rubbish. Despite its 1.3 megapixel credentials, we’ve had better results off much lower spec’d camera phones and you certainly won’t be printing out too many snaps captured on the thing.

Voice quality isn’t great and the sound quality fell considerably behind regular mobile phones, with the speakerphone being somewhat under-powered. MP3 playback quality was good though.

Although the on-screen keyboard comes with several intuitive interfaces, we’d still prefer a hardware keyboard, especially when we’re out and about – in fact, the awkwardness of inputting text onscreen via a stylus means that we may well be considering the new Treo 700w when we upgrade phones.

Battery life proved excellent throughout our test period, providing enough juice to keep the MP3 going for around five hours.

In general use, we found it prudent to charge the phone daily using the provided mini-USB sync/charge connector – a handy way of charging the phone from a notebook.

At £359 without a phone contract, the i-mate JAM isn’t the greatest value, but with a slew of much cheaper contract deals available, we can recommend it as an excellent, albeit not perfect, all round, all-in-one PDA/smartphone.


i-mate JAM

First UK Filesharers Sued By BPI

UK Filesharers Fined By CourtsNews has broken that two men in the UK have been found liable for file sharing their music. The first ruling of its kind in the UK.

Both men who were ruled against are, as yet, unnamed. The details that are know are – one is a postman, father of two and living in Brighton; the other living in King’s Lynn.

King’s Lynn, as we shall call him, has been instructed to pay £5,000 ‘down-payment’ on costs and damages, Brighton must pay £1,500. Both have been instructed to stop filesharing.

UK Filesharers Fined By CourtsHaving been found liable, the two are now exposed to the BPI’s legal fees. Given the City law firms the BPI use, where it’s not unusual to pay £200/hours for their services, it’s going to be an expensive business. BPI have stated that “Total costs are estimated at £13,500 and damages are expected to take the bill even higher.”

Each defense used a different argument. The first, that the BPI had no direct evidence of infringement; the second on the grounds that he was unaware that what he was doing was illegal and did not seek to gain financially.

The second case was dismissed by Judge Justice Lawrence Collins declaring, “Ignorance is not a defence,” which we thought was known by one and all. Given the weakness of this defence, we imagine that this person must have defended themselves. Details of argument against the first were no disclosed.

The names of the people who were sued haven’t been released by the BPI. When we asked for their names, we were told they weren’t to be made available as, “we don’t want to put them through anymore stress.” A bit strange when the stress they’re under, which we imagine to be pretty considerable, would have been caused by the BPI’s actions.

This route, taking legal action against members of the public, has been well trod in the US. Reaction there has been varied from Hurrah! from the majority of the US music business – to Boo! from a large number of citizens, who in reaction have threatened not to buy music from the major music companies.

The BPI is obviously taking this opportunity to pressure the 51 file-sharers that they have in their sights, urging them settle. We suspect that many will take the hint.