Microsoft Confirms Windows Vista Operating System Line-Up

Microsoft Confirms Windows Vista Operating System Line-UpMicrosoft has unveiled the official line up of the Windows Vista packages, with no less than six versions being available, all in 32 and 64-bit flavours.

The full roll call comprises of Windows Starter 2007; Windows Vista Enterprise; Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Business.

There’ll also be two additional releases – Windows Vista Home Basic N and Windows Vista Business N – which are sold without Windows Media Player, as ordered by European Union antitrust regulators.

Microsoft Confirms Windows Vista Operating System Line-UpAll versions of the new OS will come with Internet Explorer 7.0, Vista desktop search, parental controls and Windows Defender anti-spyware technology.

Windows Vista Starter
Aimed at developing nations, Windows Vista will be customised for users in particular countries and offer reduced functionality and a stripped down feature set, and will only be available preloaded on cut-rate PCs.

Windows Vista Home Basic
As the name suggests, Windows Vista Home Basic is the version for casual PC users who only want to surf the Web, blast out a few emails and create, store and share basic documents. To keep things simple, there’ll be no support for the groovy Aero Glass user-interface effects seen in the full Vista version.

Windows Vista Home Premium
Offering the kind of functionality currently seen in the Windows XP Media/Tablet PC Editions, the multimedia-tastic Home Premium version bundles in support for digital photography, “mobility-focused technologies,” movie-making and high-def TV.

Microsoft Confirms Windows Vista Operating System Line-UpThe super-slick redesigned Windows Aero GIO promises to provide a ‘transparent glass’ design, with subtle effects such as dynamic reflections and smooth animations, along with Windows Flip and Flip 3D desktop navigation features.

Windows Vista Business
Offering the full bells’n’whistles Aero user interface, Vista Business is designed for organisations of all sizes and comes with Tablet PC functionality built-in.

Windows Vista Enterprise
Aimed at corporate business users, Windows Vista Enterprise comes with all the Windows Vista Business features, plus BitLocker drive encryption; Virtual PC Express virtual-machine support and the Subsystem for Unix-based Applications (SUA), designed to allow Unix applications to run on Vista machines. This version will only be available to Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Software Assurance (SA) volume-licensing customers.

Windows Vista Ultimate
Aimed at single home/office users and small business bosses and managers, the high-end Vista Ultimate combines the multimedia whizzbangery of Vista Home premium with the security and functionality of Vista Business.

Microsoft Confirms Windows Vista Operating System Line-UpAll versions of Windows Vista are scheduled to be broadly available in the second half of 2006, with pricing to be announced.

Windows Vista

YP-Z5: New Samsung MP3 Player Designed By Apple Whizz

YP-Z5: New Samsung MP3 Player Designed By Apple WhizzDue to hit the shelves in March, Samsung Electronics’ new YP-Z5 MP3 player is causing a stir because it was designed by Paul Mercer – the very same programming genius who created the interface for Apple’s runaway success, the iPod.

The veteran Mac software designer led a team of programmers at Iventor Inc to create a user interface to match the iPod’s well regarded touch-sensitive scroll wheel approach.

Samsung is confident that through his skills their YP-Z5 can succeed where a zillion ‘iPod killers’ have failed and make a real dent in the download music market currently dominated by his old employers.

Samsung is already making a big noise about the YP-Z5’s interface, which apparently offers super-duper transparency effects and other interface treats.

The Z5 is pitched directly against the iPod Nano and comes with a 1.8-inch colour screen and a claimed 38-hour battery life.

YP-Z5: New Samsung MP3 Player Designed By Apple WhizzAt $199 (~e167, ~£113) to $249 the pricing is similar Apple’s product, and – crucially – Samsung is promising a seamless connection between player and download service via Microsoft’s PlaysForSure digital music standard.”

Measuring 1.66″ x .45″ x 3.54″, the Samsung YP-Z5 comes in 2BG and 4GB flavours and offers an extended feature set over its rival, with MP3, WMA, WMA-DRM10 (PlaysForSure) and OGG support.

Sadly, there’s no FM tuner to be found (an order-canceller for us), but it comes with photo viewing and DNSe Digital Natural Sound Engine 3D audio processing if that floats your aural boat.


K800 and K790 Camera Phones From Sony Ericsson Earn Cybershot Status

K800 and K790 Camera Phones From Sony Ericsson Earn Cybershot StatusIn a reflection of the growing convergence between phones and digital cameras, Sony Ericsson have declared their new K800 and K790 phones to be worthy of the Cybershot brand.

In line with their photographic aspirations, the two handsets come with integrated 3.2 Megapixel digital cameras offering autofocus, Xenon flash and Sony Ericsson’s BestPic imaging technology.

Taking pictures on the phone is easy. Once you’ve finished yakking, turn the handset on its side, slide the active lens cover downwards and you’ll be presented with a ‘proper’ camera interface, similar to that found in Sony’s Cybershot models.

Using the 2.0″ QVGA 262K TFT display as a viewfinder, users can take advantage of the new BestPic technology, a fancy-pants burst mode which blasts out 9 full-resolution pictures in rapid succession.

Once the shutter is pressed, the camera presents the user with four pictures before and four pictures after the actual image was captured, with the option to scroll through the selection and save the ones that look best.

There’s also an auto red-eye reduction and PictBridge support for shunting your pics direct to a printer.

K800 and K790 Camera Phones From Sony Ericsson Earn Cybershot StatusTo help share your photographic masterpieces, Sony Ericsson have struck a deal with Google to enable easy photo blogging with the search engine’s Blogger service.

Photo storage is taken care of with onboard capacity for 100 pictures and a Memory Stick Micro expansion slot.

Both Cybershot phones come stuffed with useful mobile features, with the dual-mode UMTS/GPRS K800i boasting 3G connectivity with video calling, a stereo FM radio with RDS, Bluetooth 2.0 with stereo audio streaming and USB 2.0 for uploading pics to PCs.

The near-identical K790i knocks a few quid off the price by eschewing the 3G and video, offering tri-band GSM with EDGE connectivity instead.

Other gizmos to be found on both phones include video recording/output, HTML browser, an e-mail client with P-IMAP support; an RSS reader, 3D gaming and a music player with MP3 and AAC support.

Both products will be commercially available in (ahem) ‘Velvet Black’ and start shipping globally during Q2 2006.

K800 and K790 Camera Phones From Sony Ericsson Earn Cybershot StatusSony Ericsson have also announced two additions to the K series along with a new phone in the Z range.

The K510i comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera phone, Bluetooth, push email and fun imaging effects (whatever they are), while the entry level K310i offers a VGA camera with practical tools for viewing, storing and sharing images.

Finally, the Z530i clamshell camera phone offers a basic feature set including an 0.3 Megapixel camera, music player with MP3/AAC support, Bluetooth, 28 MB of onboard memory, RSS reader and WAP 2.0 browser.

K800 and K790 – Features and specifications

Imaging & Messaging3.2 Mega pixel with Auto Focus Camera
Xenon Flash
Video and image stabilizer function
2.0″ QVGA 262K TFT display
Active lens cover
Photo keys
Cyber-shot™ user interface
Memory for 100 pictures (at 3.2MP), 64 MB internal user memory
Video recording/playback
Adobe picture/video PC SW
16x Digital zoom
Auto red eye reduction
DPOF & PictBridge
Time line view of pictures
Picture Blogging (powered by Blogger)
PictureDJ ™ and VideoDJ
Standard push e-mail (P-IMAP) support
VGA camera for Video Telephony (no VGA camera in K790)

K800 and K790 Camera Phones From Sony Ericsson Earn Cybershot StatusEntertainmentMusic Player (MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+ support)
Video Player
Music DJ™
OMA DRM phase 1.x
Streaming Audio/Video
3D games
A/B buttons for horizontal games support
RDS FM radio

ConnectivityBluetooth® 2.0
HTML Full Browser with RSS readers
USB 2.0 Mass storage
External antenna connector
Memory Stick Micro (M2) slot
Flight mode
USB cable, stereo portable handsfree and PC software in the box
Talk time: up to 7 hours GSM/2.5 hours UMTS
Standby time: up to 350 hours
Size: 106 x 47 x 18 (22) mm
Weight: 115 grams

Sony Ericsson

SPH-B1300 DMB Phone From Samsung, Flipping ‘eck

SPH-B1300 DMB Phone From Samsung, Flipping 'eckMore flexible than a Russian athlete in a vat of oil, Samsung’s double-flipping DMB phone offers a novel twist on the clamshell format.

Naturally, we’re talking about a Korea-only release at the moment, but Samsung’s SPH-B1300 looks an interesting number serving up a DMB handset that flips two ways. A bi-flip-sexual, if you will.

The Samsung can function like a regular clamshell phone, with the colour display viewed in portrait orientation, or, with a clever bit of flipology, the screen can shuffle around into a landscape format – ideal for watching TV and videos.

SPH-B1300 DMB Phone From Samsung, Flipping 'eckAs well as the DMB functionality, the Samsung SPH-B1300 serves up the usual advanced mobile feature set, complete with a two megapixel digital camera and built-in MP3 player.

It looks like the handset will be taken up by KTF in Korea (DMB is huge in Samsung’s home country), although those waiting for a UK release may be in for a very, very, very long wait (think, “eternity”).

SPH-B1300 DMB Phone From Samsung, Flipping 'eckWe can expect more details about the Samsung SPH-B1300 to be revealed at the CeBit 2006 show in Hannover next month.

DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) is a digital transmission system for sending data, radio and TV to mobile devices such as mobile phones.

Operating via satellite (S-DMB) or terrestrial (T-DMB) transmission, DMB is based on the Eureka 147 DAB standard and shares similarities with the competing mobile TV standard DVB-H.

CeBit 2006

Digital-Lifestyles eTech Meetup

Digital-Lifestyles, as media sponsors of eTech, will be heading over to the US on Friday in preparation of the much-hallowed event.If you’re heading over there too, do get in touch and we’ll have a Digital-Lifestyles meetup over there, to chat about all things digital. We’ll be there during the whole event, heading back late on the Thursday, but figure Tuesday/Wednesday would be best.

Sony Cybershot and W Series Digital Cameras Announced

Sony Cybershot and W Series Digital Cameras AnnouncedIn a flurry of press announcements, Sony have announced no less than four shiny new cameras to add to their popular range of digital compact cameras.

Sony Cybershot DSC-H5 and DSC-H2
It seems that they liked their Cyber-shot H1 so much that’s it’s spawned two new updates, with both featuring an image stabilized 12x optical zoom, electronic viewfinders and a host of exposure modes including manual, aperture and shutter priority.

The bigger brother Cybershot DSC-H5 sports a 7.2-megapixel CCD with a man-sized three-inch LCD screen, while the DSC-H2 serves up 6 megapixels and a more modest 2.5 inch screen.

Sony Cybershot and W Series Digital Cameras AnnouncedBoth cameras come with optical zoom lens offering a huge range of 36-432mm (35mm equiv) at F2.8-3.7.

The combination of Sony’s Super SteadyShot optical image stabilisation and high sensitivity settings (up to IS0 1000) should let all but the shakiest folks on wobbly shoes get sharp pictures.

Offering 32MB of internal memory, both cameras take Memory Stick Duo or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards (now available in capacities up to 4 GB).

Sony Cybershot and W Series Digital Cameras AnnouncedThe DSC-H5 camera will be available in May for about $500 (~£287, ~€420) and the DSC-H2 a month earlier for around $400 (~£230, ~€337).

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W70 and DSC-W100
Slipping in to the front of the W series pack are the DSC-W70 and DSC-W100 compact cameras.

Sony Cybershot and W Series Digital Cameras AnnouncedFeaturing 8.1 and 7.2 million pixels respectively, the DSC-W100 cameras offer a 3x zoom (38-114mm), eye-level viewfinder and a 2.5-inch screen.

There’s some useful manual controls on the DSC-W100, with a manual exposure mode giving up to 46 steps of adjustable shutter speeds (30 – 1/1000 sec) but there’s only two steps of aperture control available.

Both cameras offer a wide range of ISO sensitivities with the DSC-W70 covering 100-1000 ISO and the W100 managing an impressive 80-1250 ISO.

Sony Cybershot and W Series Digital Cameras AnnouncedBattery life is an impressive 360 shots on a single full charge, with the W100 coming with 64MB of internal memory and the W70 58MB. Both cameras use Sony’s Memory Stick storage.

The Cyber-shot DSC-W100 will be knocking out for $350, and the DSC-W70 for around $300 (~£172, ~€253). Both models are scheduled for release in April and will be available in black and silver.


Lumix DMC L1 SLR Announced by Panasonic

Lumix DMC L1 SLR Announced by PanasonicPanasonic’s first digital SLR camera with interchangeable lens has been announced at the PMA show.

The DMC-L1 utilises Olympus’s Four Thirds System and employs an attractive, solid, traditional design that could prove mighty tempting to old school photographers fed up with fiddly dials and rummaging through onscreen menus.

Coupled with the new Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm/F2.8-3.5 lens (also announced yesterday), the DMC-L1 serves up a tempting array of hands-on controls, with a large shutter speed dial on the camera’s top plate and manual aperture, focus and zoom ring controls (as well as built-in image stabilisation) on the lens.

Lumix DMC L1 SLR Announced by PanasonicDo we like the sound of that? You betcha!

The 7.5 megapixel camera uses a new Live 4/3 MOS sensor using Panasonic’s Maicovicon technology, which claims to deliver “the beautiful images of a CCD sensor with delicate gradation and a wide dynamic range,” along with low noise and power consumption.

The camera’s innovative mirror box unit offers a Live View function that lets users preview scenes directly on the 2.5inch, high resolution, 207,000 pixel LCD as well as through the viewfinder.

This function can be selected in both Auto Focus and Manual Focus modes, so snappers can enlarge part of an onscreen image to fine tune a picture, with the option to also check the depth of field. Nice.

Lumix DMC L1 SLR Announced by PanasonicOnboard is Panasonic’s Venus Engine III image processing LSI, claimed to consume only 80% as much power as its predecessor, the Venus Engine II.

The camera also utilises Olympus’s excellent Supersonic Wave Filter which uses high frequencies to blast pesky dust off the camera’s sensor – a real Godsend for photographers fed up with seeing thumping great blotches all over their masterpieces.

The beautifully finished DMC-L1 uses the SD Memory Card format and includes compatibility for the upcoming super-high-capacity 2GB+ SD Memory Cards.

Lumix DMC L1 SLR Announced by PanasonicAlthough full details have yet to be announced, the camera does seem to share quite a bit in common with the Olympus E-330 EVOLT, although the new, Leica-branded lens looks to be a very classy number indeed.

Pricing is yet to be revealed although we suspect your wallet isn’t going to like it one bit.

Four Thirds system
PMA 2006

Google Digitises US Video Archives, Iraq Censorship Rumours Debunked

Google Digitises US Video Archives, Iraq Censorship Rumours DebunkedGoogle has struck up a partnership with the US National Archives to digitise their historic movie collection and provide free access to the public through their video search service.

Initially offering 101 digitised films, the public will be able to view World War II newsreels and footage of the Apollo 11 mission and other Nasa material online.

Also included in the pilot are reels from a 1930s documenting the establishment of the national park system (be steady, my beating heart).

In a statement, US archivist Allen Weinstein declared the partnership as, “an important step for the National Archives in its goal of becoming an archive without walls.”

Google Digitises US Video Archives, Iraq Censorship Rumours Debunked“Our new strategic plan emphasises the importance of providing access to records anytime, anywhere. This is one of many initiatives that we are launching to make our goal a reality,” he added.

Google censoring Iraq content?
But what Google gives with one hand it appeared to be taking with another as The Register reported that the search engine giant was blocking US viewers from seeing a piece of Iraq footage on their video service.

Although available to non-US viewers, the innocuous clip – which showed US military personnel detonating a roadside bomb in a controlled explosion – was unavailable in the US with The Register (and, to be fair, several others) citing this as an example of a new regime of political censorship at Google.

Google Digitises US Video Archives, Iraq Censorship Rumours DebunkedHappily, this was not the case, as a Google spokesperson explained: “Video uploaders, using Google Video’s ‘Advanced Options’ feature, can choose to blacklist countries. In this case the uploader blacklisted the US and only the US. When uploading the video the content owner set a preference not to show this content to users in the US.”

Of course, had Google not agreed to their highly controversial deal with China to censor search results recently, people would be less inclined to think them capable of censorship closer to home…

Google Video censors Iraq footage – for US only
National Archives via Google Video

Ask Jeeves Rebrands, Adds New Search Tools

Ask Jeeves Rebrands, Adds New Search ToolsThe site formerly known as Ask Jeeves has retired its long serving butler, rebranded itself as ‘’ and served up a new, simplified homepage offering access to new tools like enhanced maps, driving directions, encyclopaedia search and a Web-based desktop search.

With the butler now booted off the homepage, presents a simple, Google-like interface with a text search box and a collapsible, customisable sidebar with shortcuts to 10 default search tools including maps, bloglines, images, weather, dictionary and weather.

New map features galore (if you’re in the US) says that the map search service has been considerably improved, employing the new AJAX-based technology to let users add new locations (pins) on the map, and then move the pins around on the map to get instantly updated walking or driving directions.

Ask Jeeves Rebrands, Adds New Search ToolsAerial photos can also be overlaid or combined with regular street views, with the option to print aerial shots for a fee.

After several minutes frantically looking for some pin-pushing, drag’n’drop action of our own, we realised that it’s not for the likes of us Brits and all the groovy functionality is reserved for US maps only.

Were we impressed? Not at all.

And as if to wind us up a bit further, we then discovered that’s much-touted new encyclopedia search function was also noticeable by its absence on the UK homepage, as was the local search function.

Ask Jeeves Rebrands, Adds New Search ToolsHere’s an idea – how about you include a help file to explain this to users, or, even better, give us the same goodies too?

Keeping it simple
In an attempt to stand out from a highly competitive (and Google dominated) market, Ask executives are aiming to provide a super-clean interface with fewer ads and editorial results displayed above advertisements.

“We want to get the message out that is a serious alternative to any search engine out there,” said Daniel Read, vice president of consumer products at

Ask Jeeves Rebrands, Adds New Search ToolsOld Danny boy’s got his work cut out for him as Ask Jeeves has remained the least used among the largest search engines, way behind market leaders Google who currently hog an estimated 40 per cent of all queries.

Trailing behind Yahoo, Microsoft, MSN and AOL, Ask Jeeves can only muster a paltry 6.5% of the market, and until we get the same advanced functionality that our US counterparts enjoy, we’ll be sticking with Google, thanks.

Sky, Disney HD and VoD Deal Signed

BSkyB, the UK satellite TV behemoth, is getting closer to Disney. They’ve just announced a comprehensive agreement which covers both HD (High Definition) content, which Sky have said will be available in 2006, and the distribution of Disney content will be available on Sky By Broadband, their recently released free content-to-PC’s. service.

It’s the largest distribution deal that Disney has arranged outside the US and also mentions the deal covers video-on-demand (VoD). The VoD section of the deal does cover Sky-By-Broadband, but could also cover their yet-to-be-detailed, EasyNet-delivered VoD service, which interestingly isn’t mentioned in the release.

News release follows …


Two New Channel Brands – Disney Cinemagic and ESPN Classic – To Launch As Part Of New Arrangement

Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney Become Available to Millions More Viewers As Part Of ‘Kids Mix’ Package of Basic Channels

Walt Disney Studio Movies Available From Sky HD and Sky by broadband

Jetix distribution on Sky digital extended

Disney Media Networks, The Walt Disney Studios and British Sky Broadcasting (Sky) today announced plans to bring a wider choice of channels to Sky digital customers and to work together to exploit new opportunities in high definition television and broadband. The wide-ranging series of agreements expands the portfolio of great content from The Walt Disney Company available to Sky digital customers and extends the relationship between the two organisations.

Two new channel brands – Disney Cinemagic and ESPN Classic – will be made available to Sky digital customers for the first time, while Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney will be available to millions more Sky digital viewers as part of the Kids Mix package of basic channels. There will also be more ways to enjoy great films from The Walt Disney Studios as movies distributed by Buena Vista International Television join Sky’s legal broadband download service, Sky by broadband, and its forthcoming high definition television offering, Sky HD.

From 16th March, Disney Cinemagic, a new premium channel brand for families, will be the first place on television to see Disney’s latest animated films such as Pixar’s The Incredibles. Subscribers to Disney Cinemagic will also enjoy regular access to other great Disney favourites such as Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella. Disney Cinemagic will be available to Sky digital customers as a stand-alone premium channel or as a bonus channel for subscribers to Sky Movies 1 and 2.

From the same date, Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney will be available to Sky digital customers as part of the ‘Kids Mix’ of basic channels. Disney Channel will be even more kid-focussed, complementing Cinemagic, and offering live action favourites like That’s So Raven, popular animation series and Disney Channel Original Movies, including High School Musical which is currently taking the States by storm. Playhouse Disney, a channel targeted to preschoolers, will premiere the new CG animated, learning-focussed series, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, in May.

ESPN Classic, launching on 13th March as part of Sky’s ‘News and Events Mix’, will be the only sports channel in the UK devoted entirely to the greatest moments and legends of sport with a mix of all-time classic highlights, matches, movies, interviews, profiles and documentaries. ESPN Classic, part of ESPN Inc., the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company, will be available 24/7 on channel 442. Launch night alone will include Borg vs. McEnroe – the Great Wimbledon Rivalry, England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup Final victory over Australia and the 1984 European Cup Final between Liverpool and AS Roma.

Through a distribution agreement with Buena Vista International Television, Sky Movies will continue to offer a package of current and library Walt Disney Studio films,,with customers enjoying access to forthcoming Sky Movies premieres such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Sin City and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. In addition to the extension of existing pay-TV and pay-per-view rights, the new agreement gives Sky the ability to offer these titles in High Definition format and on a video-on-demand basis. These titles will also be available, for a set period, via the Sky by broadband service, which since last month has allowed dual Sky Movies subscribers to download films to their personal computers to enjoy when they want at no extra cost.

Under an amended distribution agreement, Sky digital customers will continue to enjoy access to Jetix and Jetix+1 for up to a further five years from the expiry date of the current deal in 2007. Jetix offers a dynamic programming mix of action, adventure and cheeky humour, both animated and live action, for kids with a core focus on 7-11 year olds, with programming highlights including Power Rangers, Jackie Chan Adventures, Totally Spies and A.T.O.M Alpha Teens on Machines.

In commenting on the announcement, Anne Sweeney, Co Chair of Disney Media Networks and President, Disney-ABC Television Group, stated: “This agreement, which marks our largest distribution deal outside the US, is great news for viewers, who will now be able to access an even broader array of Disney content, either through their TVs or via broadband on personal computers. The strategic utilization of new technologies to meet consumer needs is of paramount importance to the growth of the Disney Media Networks Group, and we look forward to this deal enhancing an already rich association with Sky, and our viewers in the UK and Ireland.”

Richard Freudenstein, Sky’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “These agreements show the range and quality of Disney content. Working with outstanding brands like Disney and ESPN allows us to offer great entertainment for every family member and to break new ground in multi-platform content distribution. With today’s announcement, we are creating another compelling reason for families to join Sky digital and demonstrating again the strengths in content and innovation that position Sky well for sustained growth.”

George Bodenheimer, Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks and President, ESPN, Inc and ABC Sports, said: “ESPN has built up a passionate bond with sports fans and we are very excited to extend this with the launch of ESPN Classic in the UK on the Sky platform. We are confident that ESPN Classic, a dedicated new sports channel designed specifically for the UK market, will capture the attention of the UK sports fan as it has in over 40 countries across Europe.”