Enfora 802.11 Wi-Fi Sled For Palm Treo 650s Review (75%)

Enfora 802.11 Wi-Fi Sled For Palm Treo 650s ReviewAlthough we’re not alone in thinking that the Palm Treo is the best smartphone around, the device suffers from one tragic omission; Wi-Fi.

For reasons best known to Palm, the promised drivers for their 802.11 Wi-Fi SD card never materialised, leaving Treo 650 users looking like chumps when the Wi-Fi gang were in town.

Enfora to the rescue
Seeing a sizeable hole in the market, Texas tech company Enfora released a WiFi Adapter for the Treo, unusually shaped in a ‘sled’ design, bolting on to the back of the Treo rather than using the SD card slot.

Enfora 802.11 Wi-Fi Sled For Palm Treo 650s ReviewThis design has obvious advantages and disadvantages; the advantage is that the sled offers its own power supply, giving users a considerably enhanced battery life compared to handheld-powered Wi-Fi cards; the disadvantage is that the thing adds bulk to the phone.

Getting started
Tearing open the box with gay abandon, we found the adapter (smaller than we imagined), an AC adapter that conveniently offers four different international plugs, an installation CD and the flimsiest instructions we’ve seen for some time – just a tiny scrap of paper.

There’s also a custom battery cover for the Treo which has two slotted holes for attaching the phone to the sled. Aesthetes may be offended to note that it’s a different shade of silver to the Treo.

Enfora 802.11 Wi-Fi Sled For Palm Treo 650s ReviewThe unit must be charged for two hours before use, with a small amber LED blinking while charging. This turns to solid green when the Treo is connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Installing the drivers
Installing the drivers via Windows XP was easy enough, with an automated setup program on the CD transferring the required WiFiMgr.prc driver file to the Palm.

Mac users will have to manually install the driver which is simple enough.

Getting connected
It has to be said that getting the WiFi Sled on to your Treo is a bit of a palaver, needing a dexterity akin to the Vulcan death grip.

Once you’ve changed the battery cover you have to pull the button on the sled, give the Treo an almighty shove downwards and then click the phone back into place.

Enfora 802.11 Wi-Fi Sled For Palm Treo 650s ReviewThe first few times we tried this, it took so much effort to pull the phone in and out of the sled we began to fear we’d end up breaking the thing.

In the end, we just took the cover off and fitted the Treo bareback, if you, err, get our drift.

Once wedged into the sled, we turned on the unit, clicked on the Wi-Fi icon on the Treo and ran the Enfora application to look for available wireless base stations (WBS).

As soon as you locate your network, you have to select ‘add’ to create a network profile and then input IP information and WEP passwords (if needed) and then hit ‘connect’ and you’re online.

Although this is fine if you know what network you’re looking for, the software for ‘sniffing’ connections is rather woefully Spartan, with no indications whether located networks are open or encrypted.

We did write to Enfora (who have excellent customer support by the way) and they said that they couldn’t justify writing a brand new Wi-Fi sniffer application for what is basically a niche product.

Using the Enfora Wi-Fi Sled
Although the Wi-Fi Sled is nowhere near as big as we thought, you’d still feel a right berk making calls with it attached, so a headset is a must (see our BoxWave Dual Handsfree Stereo Adapter review).

Happily, the Enfora has been designed so that you can still use the audio port on the Treo and there’s a microphone on the front of the unit so you can receive calls while surfing the web too.

Conveniently, the Wi-Fi Sled’s AC adapter will also charge the Treo when it’s in situ, so you won’t need to drag around two adapters on your travels.

It has to be said that although it feels a bit of a bodge, it actually works very well and for users who need to combine the slick functionality of a Treo 650 with the speed of a broadband Wi-Fi connection, the Enfora WiFi Sled is well worth the money (approx £106/$170).

Once connected, we had no problems hurtling through our email and whizzing around Websites and although the pocket-filling girth didn’t thrill, the additional battery life meant that it may prove far more practical for road warriors away from base for lengthy periods.

One thing: it looks like Enfora may be cancelling UK shipments in the near future, so get your order in quick!

Features: 70% Build: 70% Value For Money: 75% Overall: 75%

Enfora Online ordering (UK)

Sun To Join Blu-ray Board: IFA News Blip

Sun To Join Blue-ray Board: IFA News BlipThe Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has just announced that Sun Microsystems will join their board.

Why Sun? The interactivity of Blu-ray is powered by Sun’s Java, so in someways it’s pretty surprising that they weren’t there already.

Here at IFA, there’s a pretty strong feeling that the battle for the Next Generation of video disc has been won, with stronger and stronger support for Blu-ray being shown over it’s rival HD-DVD.

Sun To Join Blue-ray Board: IFA News BlipMike Dunn, President of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment announced a roster of 8 films that will be released on Blu-ray, with the first being Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s cut). This title has extensive use of Java-driven interactivity, including a video game that uses scenes from the film.

The BDA board already contains some of the largest names in consumer electronics; computing and film companies.

Logitech Z-10 Interactive 2.0 USB Speaker System Launched

Logitech Z-10 Interactive 2.0 USB Speaker System LaunchedAlthough speakers are an essential part of any gadget lovers set up, let’s be honest: they’re a bit boring to look at.

Although some may sport a groovy metal grill or maybe an exposed speaker or two, there’s little there to catch the eye of hard core, gizmo eye-candy addicts.

Thankfully, Logitech have come to the rescue with their new USB interactive 2.0 speaker system that comes with a built-in Media display and touch sensitive controls. Woohoo! Lights and buttons – on a speaker!

Naturally, the designers have dreamt up a suitably tech sounding name for the speakers (say hello to the “Logitech Z-10 Interactive 2.0 Speaker System,” with one of the units sporting an illuminated LCD display showing digital-music track information, volume and – whoopee! – yet another clock to look at.

“Until now, PC speakers have simply delivered sound”, correctly observed Jef Holove, Logitech´s vice president of product marketing for audio.

Adjusting his hyperbole slider upwards, Holove continued, “The Z-10 speakers aim to incite more of the senses – sight, touch and sound – with their media display, touch-sensitive controls and premium audio,” adding that their new system has, “eliminated the need for people to toggle between applications to control their music on their computer monitor”.

Logitech Z-10 Interactive 2.0 USB Speaker System LaunchedWell, we actually already use one of their keyboards that does just that, but we’re sure that some folks may appreciate being able to adjust volume, treble and bass, and play, pause, skip forward and jump back through tracks from the comfort of their, err, speaker.

There’s also four Internet radio preset buttons located on the speakers’ touch sensitive panel, and there’s software support for iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp and Music Match, although the multimedia controls are Windows-only.

The 30w RMS USB speakers have built in amplifiers and are medium sized – 9.7 inches tall, 4.5 inches wide and 4.7 inches deep speakers – with each having an integrated 1-inch tweeter and 3-inch woofer.

The Z-10 comes with a headphone socket and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input, but with no bundled subwoofer, drum’n’bass heads looking to rattle the dentures of their neighbours with some Boeing-like bass are advised to look elsewhere.

The Logitech Z-10 Interactive 2.0 Speaker System is scheduled for a US/Europe September release, with a suggested US retail price of $149.99. No UK pricing has been announced yet.


GoGear SA9200: Philips’ Nano Competitor: IFA

GoGear SA9200: Philips' Nano Competitor: IFAAs we’ve all witnessed, Apple’s Nano is a beauty to both behold and hold. The whole industry has been gunning for Apple, ever since they realised that Apple had shifted the market. We’ve seen many attempts to put out devices to match or catch them, only to watch them fall by the wayside..

Today we saw the Philips GoGear Flash player and very sweet the thing is too. The same thickness of the Nano, it’s just 9cm long and weighs in at a nearly unnoticeable 48g.

GoGear SA9200: Philips' Nano Competitor: IFAWhat’s it like?
It looks like they’ve done a great job on the interface, which displays rich icons. Controlling it uses their touch sensitive SuperScoll, so tapping, dragging or swiping a finger on the smooth surface is possible.

The ‘buttons’ themselves glow an attractive blue, complementing, rather than distracting the eye away from the 1.7″(4cm) colour screen, that is also able to display photos.

They reckon there’s up to 14 hours of continuous play in the battery. Unclear if that’s playing mp3s or the Windows Media DRM10 files which we suspect will need additional power to service the DRM fucntion. PlayForSure is supported, which we’re not sure is the biggest selling point.

GoGear SA9200: Philips' Nano Competitor: IFAThere’s going to be an optional docking station that works with the newly-upgraded Streamium, WiFi HiFi. Once the GoGear (a nifty name, the more you say it) is docked, its track list appears on the streamium and tunes can be played through it.

There will be two versions available; 1Gb (SA9100) and the 2Gb (SA9200), ‘at the end of summer’ (when ever that is) and will sell for €149 and €199.

Year on year, Philips really do look like they’re pulling themselves out of the old rut they had – great R&D, but terrible looking products.


O2 Germany Goes DSL, UK Actively Considering: IFA

O2 UK Actively Considering Broadband OfferingO2 Germany have just confirmed that they are spreading their communications wings beyond mobile phones, by moving into DSL, and fixed line voice provision.

The move had been discussed for some time following their take-over by Telefonica, but until today, the date of 27 October hadn’t been confirmed.

There are three levels of offerings – €35/month for a 4Mb/s service; €50 including a flat-rate phone service; or €55 for 16Mb/s and flat-rate. Current O2 mobile subscribers will pay €5 less/month.

What about O2 UK
The obvious question for a UK-based publication was if O2 UK was planning the same.

O2 UK Actively Considering Broadband OfferingAn O2 spokesperson said that she understood that O2 UK was in discussion with broadband providers in the UK, although no dates were expected.

It is absolutely no surprise that a mobile operator is moving in to providing fixed line services too – If they don’t, they’ll be left hanging in the wind, as all of the other companies offer a single bill for all their communication services.

O2 Germany have identified two reasons for people not taking up a DSL service at home. While early adopters and singles have embarrassed DSL, strangely families have not been signing up, as they’ve been worried about the complexity of installing and configuring the service.

To tackle the installation, O2 have come up with a completely automated install DSL modem/router. Simply by plugging the unit into the telephone line, the unit will self-configure. In the few cases that this doesn’t work, they will offer to send someone to the house. This shows their level of confidence in the self-install – sending out engineers is very expensive, especially at the low monthly prices they’re offering.

O2 Germany said they weren’t frantic about gaining subscribers and hoped to gain 100k-150k DSL customers within the first 6 months. They currently have 10.2m mobile subscribers.

Google CEO Joins Apple’s Board Of Directors

Google CEO Joins Apple's Board Of DirectorsIn a Star Trek-like melding of minds, Google CEO Eric Schmidt is joining Apple Computer’s board of directors, setting tongues wagging that some kind of alliance between the technology giants could be looming.

The subsequent statements by both companies suggest that a veritable flurry of back-slapping and advanced mutual fawning took place, with Eric Schmidt effusing, “Apple is one of the companies in the world that I most admire.”

“I’m really looking forward to working with Steve (Jobs) and Apple’s board to help with all of the amazing things Apple is doing,” he gushed.

Not to be outdone, Apple co-founder and chief executive officer Steve Jobs was ready to share the love, “Eric is obviously doing a terrific job as CEO of Google, and we look forward to his contributions as a member of Apples board of directors.”

“Like Apple, Google is very focused on innovation and we think Eric’s insights and experience will be very valuable in helping to guide Apple in the years ahead,” he continued, as the room filled with dust from several hours of hearty back patting.

Google CEO Joins Apple's Board Of DirectorsThe addition of Schmidt to Apple now brings the total number of board members to eight, and these include Steve Jobs, Al Gore, former vice president of the United States and the head honchos of Intuit, J. Crew and Genentech.

Google book search expands
Elsewhere, Google have expanded their controversial book search service to allow users to download full PDF copies of public domain books, which can now be printed out.

Previously, surfers could only read books on the Google Book Search site, but not download or print them.

Google Books

TV’s Annual Scottish Play: EITF Roundup

Last week was the annual get together of TV ‘luvvies’ in Edinburgh and this year, as for the last few years, the current moguls felt it necessary to behave like Scrooge, reflect on their previous misdemeanours and take a bit of a look at TV to come.

TV “yet to come” was epitomised by Ashley ‘Zeitgeist’ Highfield, who managed to appropriate the Long Tail in his round up of what the future has to hold (just to prove we can jump on bandwagon too – don’t forget there are still copies to be won at Digital Lifestyles).

There was a rapprochement between the Blair and Brown of the TV world, that figure of Calvinistic integrity John Birt and the once swashbuckling radical Michael Grade acknowledge the existence of one another. After 20 years of cold shouldering they’re talking again, so John deliberately avoided mentioning possible ‘top slicing’, where Channel 4 and any broadcaster with Public Service credentials might receive a portion of the BBC’s some say generous, licence fee take.

The spectre of Banquo’s ghost in the shape of everyone’s (now) favourite caterer, Mr Charles Allen, was there and delivered the keynote address, he of course blamed all and sundry for the mess ITV is in – ‘nothing to do with me guv’ should have been the title.

And of course there was the figure of fun brought down this time by Sir Alan Sugar, poor Simon Shaps, the man who brought us Celebrity Love Island was asked by the UK’s cut price Donald Trump in a festival remake of The Apprentice “Why do I get the feeling that you’re the kind of fella you find hiding behind the bushes?” Simon should be so lucky that he can find some bushes in the barren terrain of ITV primetime.

In a sign that TV executives are at long last spending some time staring into their crystal balls, rather than monitoring the value of their plummeting share options, talk was abound that the annual get-together could have a makeover and become a media festival in 2007.

Microsoft Windows Vista Prices Leaked

Microsoft Windows Vista Prices LeakedPrices for Microsoft’s much-anticipated update to their Windows operating system, Vista, have leaked out onto various Websites, including an official Microsoft site.

Retail prices for the four different versions of Vista (priced in Canadian dollars) briefly appeared on various sites before vamoosing in double quick time.

The top dog Windows Vista Ultimate Edition was spotted carrying a hefty price tag of $499 Canadian dollars ($450, £237) while the Home Premium version was listed at C$299 ($270 or £142).

The Vista Ultimate Upgrade was priced at C$299 ($270 or £142) with the cheapest option being the Home Premium Upgrade for C$199 ($180 or £95).

Microsoft Windows Vista Prices LeakedVista on Amazon
As the scheduled release date grows ever-nearer, prices are popping up elsewhere, with Amazon’s ‘pre-order’ pricing advertising Windows Vista Ultimate Edition at $399 (£210) and Home Premium at $239 (£126).

Upgraders could get the Ultimate and Home Premium versions for $259 (£136) and $159 (£84) respectively (these prices seem to have varied, depending on the site).

Availability was listed as from “January 30th, 2007.”

Microsoft Windows Vista Prices LeakedAs we reported earlier this year, there will be no less than six different versions of Vista, all in 32 and 64-bit flavours.

Users who like to live on the edge, can download Windows Vista pre-RC1 ISO file from here, but be quick – there’s only 100,000 downloads available!

Microsoft Vista

Brando 52 in 1 USB Bluetooth Card Reader

Brando 52 in 1 USB Bluetooth Card ReaderIf – like us – you’ve been using digital cameras and electronics gizmos for years on end you might now be the proud owner of a huge pile of memory cards in a host of different formats, with a ton of cables scattered around the office.

With limited USB ports available on laptops, most of us have had to invest in a card reader, and although we were pretty impressed with the Targus 14 in 1 USB Card Reader we reviewed last year, compared to Brando’s brand new, read-anything-that-moves USB Bluetooth Card Reader, it’s positively Spartan.

Brando’s new reader manages to accommodate an astonishing 52 formats and, for your enlightenment and enchantment, here’s the full list:

CF I, CF II, Extreme CF, Extreme III CF, Ultra II CF, HS CF, XS-XS CF, CF Elite PRO, CF PRO, CF PRO II, IMB MD, Hitachi MD, MagicStor, MS, MS PRO, MS Duo, MS PRO Duo, MS MG, MS MG PRO, MS MG Duo, MS MG PRO Duo, Extreme MS PRO, Extreme III MS PRO, Ultra II MS PRO, HS MS MG PRO, HS MS MG PRO Duo, HS MS PRO, HS MS PRO Duo, MS ROM, MS Select, SD, *MiniSD, HS Mini SD, Extreme SD, Extreme III SD, Ultra II SD, SD-Ultra-X, Ultra speed SD, SD PRO, SD Elite PRO, HS SD, MMC, MMC 4.0, HS MMC, HS RS MMC, RS MMC, RS MMC 4.0, DV-RS MMC, SM, SM ROM, XD, *T-Flash.

Brando 52 in 1 USB Bluetooth Card ReaderThe USB 2.0 reader also conveniently doubles up as a Bluetooth hub, allowing you to wirelessly transfer data between Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones and PDAs.

Being a device from our favourite weird’n’wonderful gizmo makers Brando, there’s also some totally pointless eye candy on offer, with the device cycling through “multi moody colours” – perfect if you’d like to host a mini disco by the pencil sharpener on your desk.

Brando claim a receiving/sending range of 20m, with the supplied cable measuring in at 64cm.

Brando 52 in 1 USB Bluetooth Card ReaderCompatible with Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP, the 63x63x15mm reader weighs in at 76g and is powered by the host computer’s USB slot.

It’s as cheap as chips too, priced at just US$25.

We only wish that electronics manufacturers would stop inventing bloomin’ new formats every other day and made these multi-readers obselete….


Spiralfrog Offers Free Universal Music Downloads

Spiralfrog Offers Free Universal Music DownloadsVivendi Universal, the biggest music group on the planet have signed a deal with Spiralfrog to let surfers download the contents of its man-sized music catalogue for free.

The New York based company Spiralfrog will be launching the new service offering Universal’s songs for download in December – but in US and Canada only – bah!

As some old bloke in the pub used to tell us, “You don’t get nuffink for free in the world, no way, not ever,” and for once he was right – surfers wanting to gorge themselves on all that luvverly free music will have to endure tons of adverts, presumably of the targeted kind.

The dreadfully named Spiralfrog are looking to take on the mighty iTunes, and have high hopes that punters will be quick to switch loyalties when download prices of nuppence are whispered in their shell-likes, compared to Apple’s current rate of 99 cents per song in the US.

“Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling,” enthused Spiralfrog Chief Executive Robin Kent said.

Spiralfrog Offers Free Universal Music DownloadsMaking it pay
With an estimated forty dodgy downloads to every legal download over the Internet, Spiralfrog could attract the huge number of users currently risking prosecution from pirate file-swapping services, making their money by sharing income from advertising with content partners like Universal.

Amongst the music industry cognoscenti, a few eyebrows have raised about the practicalities of the new service, with music industry specialist Josh Lawler telling the BBC: “The Internet is very much a viable media, but the trick is going to be getting it off the ground in the first place”.

“Spiralfrog will have to find a way to pay artists from the advertising dollars they are generating. But they’re not necessarily going to know how many advertising dollars there are and so some artists are going to be hesitant about it,” he added.

If Spiralfrog does get it right, the company could seriously shake up a market that saw 60 million MP3 players sold and 420 million single tracks downloaded last year.

Spiral Frog