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InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors

December 1-7 2001

About News and Rumors. InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors is a daily column. It features news coverage of new PC and Mac computer hardware and software, Internet news, and other technical news items.
Every Sunday, News and Rumors features "Sunday Shopping Watch", which is a comparison and analysis of Sunday computer store advertisements.
The Computer News and Rumors is an archived column, so feel free to review previous week's or month's computer news by clicking on the link below. Previous computer news articles can also be searched, by using our site search feature found in the right-hand column.

InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors Article Index
Date
(Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to the Index.)
Dec 7 Customers Give Low Grades to Internet Service Quality
Dec 7 Online Holiday Shopping Jumps 59 Percent
Dec 7 Nearly 15 Million More People Worldwide Gain Internet Access
Dec 6 ViewSonic Introduces New 21-Inch Monitor
Dec 6 Acer Communications and Multimedia Group Renames Itself "Benq"
Dec 6 Cahners In-Stat Group Says Bluetooth Chips Kick Butt
Dec 6 Computer Techies Pick the Top Five Gifts for the Holidays
Dec 5 Symantec Issues Warning on New Computer Worm
Dec 5 Trend Micro Provides Protection from New High-Risk Virus Threat
Dec 5 e.Digital Introduces New Digital Music Jukebox
Dec 5 MicronPC Re-enters the PC Server Market With New NetFRAME Server
Dec 5 Survey Shows Consumers Not Willing to Swap Privacy for Ease of Use
Dec 4 Intel's Barrett Demonstrates McKinley Processor
Dec 4 Philips Showcases Advanced MPEG-4 Authoring Solution
Dec 4 Gadgets, Gizmos Top Holiday Lists
Dec 3 SONICblue Begins Shipping ReplayTV 4000
Dec 3 Planar Unveils Flat-Panel Monitors Featuring Rotating Screens
Dec 3 ViewSonic Announces Smart Display Devices
Dec 3 Bluetooth Expert Rejects Claims That Bluetooth is Losing Ground
Dec 02 Sunday Shopping Watch

 

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Dec 7 - Customers Give Low Grades to Internet Service Quality. Many customers rate their Internet service providers poorly, according to a new survey of over 14,000 Internet users by the National Regulatory Research Institute and BIGresearch. Almost one half (47 percent) of those surveyed have complained to their ISP about the quality of service.
"The survey results suggest a surprising number of customers are not fully satisfied with the service they are receiving from their Internet service providers," said NRRI Associate Director Vivian Witkind-Davis. "Interrupted connections are a frequently cited concern -- 75 percent of the respondents told us that their connection is occasionally or frequently interrupted." The question on grades in the survey asked, "Overall, how would you grade the quality of your customer service from the company that is providing you with Internet service?" The percent giving grades of "A" through "F" yielded the Grade Point Averages (GPA) showing that level of satisfaction varies by connection and provider:

Connection GPA
ISDN 2.76
Cable 2.73
Wireless 2.71
DSL 2.69
All Respondents 2.62
Dial-Up 2.58

"With these grades, the ISP industry doesn't make the Dean's list. It's an industry of C students when it comes to satisfying the customer," said Joe Pilotta, VP of BIGresearch. "It's no wonder the survey showed almost 70 percent of the customers interested in switching to a different service if they could get it for their home today. FYI...Excite@Home's GPA was among the lowest."
Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) cited fewer service interruptions as a reason for switching providers. For those customers who would consider switching or definitely switch providers the quality of Internet connections is the most frequently cited reason for a move. Other top motivators are faster data rates and lower prices. Less than 25 percent say the speed of their Internet connection meets their expectations.
The national survey of Internet users was conducted from October 25 to November 3 by BIGresearch for the NRRI.
The National Regulatory Research Institute can be found at http://www.nrri.ohio-state.edu.

Dec 7 - Online Holiday Shopping Jumps 59 Percent. The Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eCommerce Index today revealed that online shopping surged 59 percent during the week ending December 2, posting the biggest gain thus far for the holiday ecommerce season. Surfers conducted more than 117 million shopping visits during the week, compared to nearly 74 million visits at the beginning of the season, the week ending October 28.
"After a solid Thanksgiving shopping week, consumers rushed back online the following week to make their holiday gift purchases, while taking advantage of the many promotions and sales," said Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst, NetRatings. "The 59 percent growth puts shopping activity right on par with last year's results, which jumped 62 percent for the same week in 2000."
"This year, with the U.S. economy in a full-fledged recession, it's encouraging to see that holiday ecommerce has caught up to last year's pace with the next two shopping weeks serving as critical benchmarks for the entire season," added Strand.

Hot Shopping Categories

Toys and games continued to dominate the categories, skyrocketing 123 percent since the beginning of the holiday season. Consumer electronics maintained its popularity with shoppers, spiking 97 percent and claiming the second fastest growing category this season. Home and garden captured the No. 3 spot, as shopping visits for the category grew 82 percent.
Shopping aggregators, which include portal-affiliated sites, took the No. 4 spot, increasing nearly 81 percent from the last week in October. Rounding out the top five, apparel jumped 67 percent since the beginning of the holiday season.
"In sheer size of shopping visits, shopping aggregators such as the Yahoo!, AOL and MSN online malls are neck-and-neck with well-known virtual department stores such as Amazon.com in attracting consumers," said Strand. "Shopping aggregators offer consumers the power to browse through a myriad of online storefronts, drawing a steady stream of visitors with one-stop shopping combined with the ability to comparison shop."
For more information, visit www.nielsen-netratings.com.

Dec 7 - Nearly 15 Million More People Worldwide Gain Internet Access. Nielsen//NetRatings, the world's fastest growing Internet audience
measurement service, today released its Third Quarter 2001 Global
Internet Trends report on Internet access and penetration, finding a
total of 474 million people now have Internet access from home (see
Table 1).
The Q3 results show an increase over Q2 of 14.8 million people
with home-based Internet access.
"For the first time, over half the people in six of the seven Asia
Pacific markets measured by Nielsen//NetRatings have Internet access
from home," said Richard Goosey, chief of measurement science and
analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings. "The exception is India, where only
one household in 250 has home Internet access. In both Europe and Asia
Pacific, there is continued growth in the rate of Internet
penetration, but the growth rate has steadied this quarter over last
quarter."

Table 1. Total Number of People with Internet Access from Home*
*Among households with fixed line telephone(s)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Number of People with % of World's Internet
Internet Access Population, by Region
(in Millions)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
US/Canada 185.6 (39%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Europe/Middle East
and Africa 128.4 (27%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Asia Pacific 104.3 (22%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Latin America 20.0 (4%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Rest of World 35.9 (8%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Total 474.2 (100%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------

For more information, visit www.nielsen-netratings.com.

Dec 6 - ViewSonic Introduces New 21-Inch Monitor. ViewSonic(R) Corporation, a worldwide Visual Technologies(TM) leader, today introduced the E220, a big screen CRT monitor, designed for the cost conscious small office/ home office user and corporate and education environments.
With an estimated street price of $575, the 21-inch (20.0" viewable) E220 provides consumers with a perfect balance of screen size, performance and affordability. It offers an ultra-fine 0.22 horizontal dot pitch and a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 for clear images and optimal picture definition.
"Consumers shouldn't have to sacrifice performance for affordability," said Steve Fung, CRT product manager, ViewSonic Corporation. "The E220 provides superior performance for people who want to upgrade to a larger, higher quality display for everyday applications."
The E220 is engineered for ideal color performance. Using ViewSonic's SuperContrast(TM) screen technology, the E220 provides greater contrast and brighter colors. Color management software ensures reliable color matching from the screen to other peripherals such as color printers. The E220 also features an anti-static, anti-glare screen coating, which refracts unwanted light away from the user while maintaining the highest quality of the displayed image.
The E220 is currently available through authorized ViewSonic resellers, distributors and mail order catalogs. For further information, visit www.ViewSonic.com.

Dec 6 - Acer Communications and Multimedia Group Renames Itself "Benq". Acer Communications and Multimedia (America), a $3.2 billion industry leader, today announced a change in name and global brand identity. This new brand is Benq, which will operate independently of Acer. All Benq products will be marketed through global distribution and it is anticipated that they will invest approximately $50 million to market the new name and products over a one-year period.
The new company will center on quality and enjoyment to consumers with products digitally in tune to their needs. Benq plans to extend the technological innovation and brand recognition previously established by Acer to the next level of enjoyment. The communications and multimedia consumer products will be the focus of Benq's product lines, including CRT and LCD monitors, scanners, projectors, storage, keyboards, digital cameras and plasma displays.
"Benq's business strategy is focused and forward-looking and will position the organization at the forefront of the industry. This is about clarity and consistency for our customers," said Stan Shih, chairman and co-founder of the Acer Group. "All our customers will now have one voice and one experience with each brand."
With long standing expertise in technological synergy, Benq aims to seamlessly integrate its products across a variety of media laying out the roadmap for the present and future. Consumers can enjoy the benefits of integrated technologies that combine video, audio, imaging, storage, networking and communications functions.
"Consumers of today are constantly searching for the ultimate digital lifestyle -- one that brings together innovation, quality, value and enjoyment. Why should they have to make a choice between all four? Enter Benq, which is all about the lighter side of technology -- quality solutions that are easy to use and everyone can understand. True innovation. Benq offers devices and services that cross media and applications to enrich life, contributing to our vision of a better way to see, hear and touch the world," said K.Y. Lee, President of Benq Corporation.
The consumer benefits are at the core of the new brand, driving its product strategy and direction. Keeping in line with these key benefits, the Benq brand will exude youthfulness that is unique and fun -- traits that will soon materialize in its entire range of products.
With manufacturing facilities throughout the world, Benq boasts more than 10,000 employees worldwide. This supports a strong global sales, marketing and service network spanning Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. For more information, visit Benq Incorporated at www.benq.com.

Dec 6 - Cahners In-Stat Group Says Bluetooth Chips Kick Butt. Bluetooth is definitely a reality, with chipset shipments on track to meet a previous 2001 forecast of 13 million, according to Cahners In-Stat Group (http://www.instat.com).
The high-tech market research firm reports that the excellent shipment results this year, in spite of the economic climate and recent events, helps to further cement the fact that Bluetooth is here to stay. As a result, Bluetooth chipsets this year will double those of 802.11b.
"Activity has moved forward in the mobile phone, notebook PC, and adapter space, with specialty adapters just beginning to show up for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)," said Joyce Putscher, a director with In-Stat.
"Once people are educated on what the benefits are, demand will rise for products that include Bluetooth connectivity, as long as prices of products are reasonable. The challenge lies in getting the message across, and being able to educate the general public correctly in a variety of ways and channels."
In-Stat also reports that:

-- Misrepresented issues about Bluetooth this year have not had any significant impact regarding real industry development, nor relationships between the Bluetooth chip vendors and their customers. Driven by consumer and equipment vendor demands for Bluetooth-enabled devices, the semiconductor opportunity in this area will be substantial.
-- On the carrier side, wireless providers indicate that they have an interest in and are evaluating deployment of Bluetooth access points and networks. Japan, Korea, and Europe are ahead of the curve, with respect to carrier deployments and enterprise Bluetooth access point deployment plans.
-- Taking into account the economic slump, Bluetooth chipset shipments will still rise sharply to 780 million units in 2005.

Dec 6 - Computer Techies Pick the Top Five Gifts for the Holidays. When it comes to defining the cutting-edge gift list for tech enthusiasts, gadget-heads, and just about any person over the age of 14, you couldn't do any better than to ask 1,000 computing professionals--the people who live and breathe technology--to pick their top five tech gifts. So, with hearty holiday cheer IT media company TechTarget today announced the results of its holiday tech wish list poll, which asked computer professionals to pick their "Five Most Wanted" tech gifts.
Surprisingly, the "geekiest" gifts fared worst in the poll, while today's high-tech incarnations of old-tech standbys like TVs, cameras, and DVD players topped the techies' wish lists. The least popular selections included such true techno-gadgets as the Apple iPod music player, Nintendo's new GameCube gaming system, and the Blackberry wireless handheld device. Nearly 1,000 registered members of the TechTarget network of Web sites for IT professionals completed the holiday poll.

 


Top Five Most Popular               Top Five Worst



1. Flat Screen TV                   1. Sega DreamCast

2. Digital Camera                   2. Apple iPod

3. DVD & RW System                  3. Nintendo GameCube

4. Digital Video Camera             4. Infrared Mouse

5. HDTV                             5. Blackberry Wireless Handheld


More information about TechTarget is available at www.techtarget.com.

Dec 5 - Symantec Issues Warning on New Computer Worm. Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq:SYMC), the world leader in Internet security, warns against W32.Goner.A@mm -- a mass mailing worm that spreads itself through e-mail by accessing the Microsoft Outlook address book and through the ICQ network messaging system. W32.Goner.A@mm also attempts to delete critical files associated with anti-virus and personal firewall programs.
If mIRC, an Internet Relay Chat program, is installed on an infected computer, the worm can also insert mIRC scripts that will create a backdoor. This will enable the infected computer to be able to be used in a Denial of Service (DOS) attack.
"At this time we are not seeing the high level of infected file submissions that we received with some of the more widespread viruses such as VBS.LoveLetter and CodeRed," said Vincent Weafer, senior director of Symantec Security Response. "Customers who utilize Symantec's LiveUpdate feature to obtain the most current virus definitions are already protected from this latest threat."
The subject line reads "Hi." The text in the body of the email reads, "How are you? When I saw this screen saver, I immediately thought about you. I am in a harry, I promise you will love it!" When the attached document -- Gone.scr -- is executed, the worm modifies the registry, attempting to delete files of common anti-virus and personal firewall products. If the files are in use and cannot be deleted, the worm will create the file %SYSTEM%\Wininit.ini, which causes the files to be deleted when the computer restarts.
Symantec recommends customers use the LiveUpdate feature built into Symantec's Norton AntiVirus software to protect their systems. Updates are also available at the Symantec Security Response Web site: http://securityresponse.symantec.com.

Dec 5 - Trend Micro Provides Protection from New High-Risk Virus Threat. Trend Micro Inc. (Nasdaq:TMIC) (TSE:4704), a worldwide leader in network antivirus and Internet content security solutions, is warning computer users of a recently discovered mass-mailing virus known as Worm_Gone.A (alias Gone.scr). This threat is currently classified by Trend Micro as a high risk due to the fast-spreading nature of this worm.
This virus is capable of spreading through Microsoft Outlook and the ICQ (I Seek You) messenger program. When spreading through email, th attachment is named "GONE.SCR," with the following subject and message body:

Subject: Hi.
Message: How are you?
When I saw this screen saver, I immediately thought about you I am
in a harry, I promise you will love it!

Trend Micro has created updated virus pattern files No. 177 and 977 (depending upon the scan engine being used) to detect and remove this worm, Worm_Gone.A. This pattern file is available for download from Trend Micro's Web site at www.antivirus.com. Trend Micro also advises customers to use Trend Micro's InterScan(R) and ScanMail(R) eManager(TM) content filtering plug-in to block the attachment, "GONE.SCR."
Desktop users can take advantage of Trend Micro's free online virus scanner, Housecall, to scan their system for this virus.
"This is a rapidly spreading worm that appears to be making the rounds," said Joe Hartmann, director of North American antivirus research for Trend Micro. "We have had several reports of the virus in the U.S. and Europe, however, the number of actual infections and the extent of damage from this virus is yet to be determined.
For more information regarding Worm_Gone.A, please go to www.antivirus.com.

Dec 5 - e.Digital Introduces New Digital Music Jukebox. Music lovers everywhere have a new option for easily taking their entire music collection with them everywhere they go with the introduction of e.Digital Corp.'s (OTCBB:EDIG) Treo(TM) 10, a lightweight, pocket-sized digital music jukebox with the capacity to store approximately 200 CDs worth of music.
The Treo 10, one of the smallest digital jukeboxes available, offers superior sound quality and more than 150 hours of music storage. The Treo 10 effectively combines excellent audio quality with an easy to use interface, while providing access to large collections of music in a small, lightweight device. The jukebox is the second branded consumer offering from e.Digital, a global provider of comprehensive digital product development and designs.
"Music lovers can enjoy their entire music collection, from ABBA to Zeppelin, wherever they go with the Treo 10," said Fred Falk, president and CEO of e.Digital. "The sound quality, storage capacity, and portability of the Treo 10 make it an appealing, affordable choice for consumers."
Made in the United States, the Treo 10 incorporates a 10 gigabyte (GB) embedded 2.5-inch hard disk drive (HDD). Based on e.Digital's patented MicroOS 2.0(TM) operating system, the Treo 10 also uses Texas Instruments' digital signal processor (DSP) and IBM's Travelstar mobile drive. IBM's Travelstar family of high-performance, high-capacity drives deliver superior capacity, performance and power efficiency for both traditional notebook and nontraditional applications, such as music players or other portable products.
"The IBM Travelstar hard drive has offered superior performance and reliability in notebook PC environments for many years, giving it a strong basis for excellence in the `beyond-PC' markets including portable music players such as e.Digital's new Treo 10," said Michael Kuptz, mobile product line manager, IBM Storage Technology Division.
The Treo 10 features Smart Song Selection(TM), allowing users to quickly and easily manage and navigate music files even as they are listening to their favorite selections. At 9.9 ounces including the carrying case, the brushed-aluminum Treo 10 is lightweight and has a large, easy-to-read backlit LCD display.
e.Digital's MXP(TM) Music Explorer software, shipped with the Treo 10, helps first-time users transfer and organize digital music and data files easily. MusicMatch Jukebox software is also included with the unit, making it easy for users to rip music files from their personal CD collection to their PC's hard drive and then quickly and easily download them to the device. The Music Explorer and MusicMatch software package included with every player enables consumers to create MP3 and Windows Media(TM) music files. The unit is also field upgradeable to support other popular formats and digital rights management systems as they become available.
The standard Treo 10 package retails at $249 through e.Digital's online store, www.edigital-store.com. All Treo 10 packages include Koss(TM) portable stereo earphones, an AC adaptor/charger, a mini USB interface cable, a carrying case, a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that provides an average of six hours of playback time per charge, and easy-to-use PC software.

Dec 5 - MicronPC Re-enters the PC Server Market With New NetFRAME Server. MicronPC, a Gores Technology Group company, today announced it is re-entering the PC server market with its NetFRAME server product line.
Today's announcement marks the first product in MicronPC's new line of NetFRAME servers -- the NetFRAME 3500.
This re-launch of the NetFRAME product line comes just two months after MicronPC announced it had achieved profitability for the first time in over two years. "Now that we have made progress in stabilizing the company's financial position, we are reinvesting in the business by introducing a new line of servers," said Mike Adkins, MicronPC president and CEO. "These new servers will enhance the solutions we offer to customers by combining an advanced feature set with aggressive pricing. They are particularly well-suited for our customers in small and medium business and government organizations, and backed with MicronPC's comprehensive service and support programs specifically designed with these customers in mind."
MicronPC's NetFRAME 3500 is designed for small and medium businesses and government customers looking for an affordable, expandable and reliable server solution. The NetFRAME 3500 is a full-featured workgroup server offering a powerful set of features at an aggressive price. It is available with dual Pentium III processors, redundant hot swap power suppliers, 64 bit PCI slots, up to 10 hot-swap hard drives, and a convertible 5U pedestal or rack chassis. The NetFRAME 3500 can also be configured with Microsoft's Windows 2000 Server operating system.
"MicronPC's entry into the server market with the NetFRAME server product line reaffirms our continued commitment to bring unprecedented value, performance and service to our customers. By investing in our own server product line, we can deliver value along with the service and support that our customers have come to expect, " said Paul Petersen, vice president of product marketing and development for MicronPC. "The new NetFRAME 3500 provides a comprehensive suite of features and service options at price-points unmatched by the competition."

NetFRAME 3500 Server Sample Configuration and Pricing

CPU - dual 1GHz Intel Pentium III
Case - Pedestal
Memory - 512MB (2x256MB)
Int. Storage - 72GB (4x18GB hard disk drives)
SCSI Controller - dual channel RAID w/64MB cache
Warranty - 3yrs. Parts
Service - 3yrs. Next Business Day On-Site
Price - $4899

For more information visit www.micronpc.com.

Dec 5 - Survey Shows Consumers Not Willing to Swap Privacy for Ease of Use. At a time when security and privacy are online consumers' top two priorities, identity services have a long way to go before they meet consumers' basic needs and win their support, according to a survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. (NYSE:IT and ITB).
Identity services are marketed to consumers on the premise that they eliminate the hassle of repetitive Web-site registrations. However, consumers aren't ready to trust identity services in exchange for ease of use, according to the Gartner survey.
"The sober truth is that although consumers are bothered by multiple user IDs and passwords, most consumers don't see much relative value in having one credential to navigate the Web," said Avivah Litan, vice president and research director for Gartner. "Consumers don't believe that the potential costs, such as sacrificing data privacy and encouraging online solicitations, are worth the benefits of saving time and gaining convenience."
According to a Gartner survey of 2,145 online U.S. adult consumers in August 2001, approximately 95 percent of the responding online consumers register with Web sites, and more than half of them (54 percent) say they do so because it is a requirement of the site. Only 22 percent register to save time. Seventeen percent register for personalized services, such as book suggestions tailored to individual preferences.
Among the 5 percent who never register, 43 percent of them say they avoid registering because they don't want to be solicited, and 30 percent of them do not trust the sites with their financial data.
Although consumers aren't anxiously awaiting the ultimate in identity services, major players are vigorously competing for their place in the market. According to Gartner, Microsoft's Passport already has 25 million American users after Microsoft automatically enrolled all of its Internet service provider, Hotmail and MSN e-mail users. However, only 7 million Passport enrollees know they use it and less than 1 million have ever used it outside a Microsoft Web site.
Other major competitors include the Sun Microsystems-sponsored Liberty alliance, made up of 32 companies, and AOL Time Warner. Liberty Alliance specifications and software have not yet been established, but if they are successful in bringing their service to market, the 32 companies will together claim enormous market reach, according to Gartner. AOL subscribers are among the most interested in using identity services, but AOL has not yet rolled out its secretive Magic Carpet service.
"Microsoft's online service competitors must launch their identity services quickly to prevent Microsoft from becoming the default primary gatekeeper of consumer Web-based experiences," said Litan.
Gartner predicts that 40 million online U.S. consumers automatically enrolled in identity services will use them to access an average of three Web sites each month by the end of 2003.
Gartner, Inc. is a research and advisory firm that can be found on the Web at www.gartner.com.

Dec 4 - Intel's Barrett Demonstrates McKinley Processor. At the ORACLE OPENWORLD conference in San Francisco, Intel Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett today demonstrated of Intel's future "McKinley" 64-bit processor running Oracle9i Real Application Clusters.
Barrett showed how systems are able to scale to match the future processing requirements of larger databases, rich media, Web services and other e-Business applications. The demonstration featured the McKinley processor (Intel's second product from its Itanium(TM) processor family which will be available in mid 2002) in a four-node cluster configuration with binary-compatible Itanium processors and the Intel Xeon processors.
He demonstrated how doctors can securely access and review patient medical records more quickly when using fingerprint recognition technology, and how this configuration has the power to search through a video database of hundreds of thousands of multimedia files.
"Technology is not slowing and continues to be driven by Moore's Law, increasing bandwidth, and a growing network. The Internet will be the center of commerce, communications, research, information and entertainment, and companies must invest in Internet technologies that are cost-effective and grow with the businesses needs," Barrett said.
"The Internet is evolving to a services model, where applications interact with each other on any device using Internet standards-based infrastructure. Companies need to be ready to fully realize the capabilities of the Internet through macroprocessing," said Barrett. He explained how Intel's products and architectures are focused on providing the fundamental computing and communications building blocks of the Internet.
Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com.

Dec 4 - Philips Showcases Advanced MPEG-4 Authoring Solution. Visitors to Internet World Wireless, from December 4-6 at the San Jose Convention Center, will be able see Philips' unique MPEG-4 multimedia content authoring tool, Philips VeonStudio 5.0.
Philips will be demonstrating how to develop engaging, interactive streaming content created by Philips VeonStudio 5.0, and enabled by MPEG-4, the ISO-compliant open standard for multimedia streaming over IP-based wireless and broadband networks. Philips VeonStudio 5.0 offers a novel approach to creating engaging, interactive content in a streaming format, challenging conventional methods involving only linear audio and video, by delivering tools enabling content developers to create multi-layered multimedia content.
For the first time, the system provides development tools for creating interactive television and mobile multimedia programming in MPEG-4 format. Used in conjunction with commerce and digital rights management, a publisher now has the framework necessary to enable rich multimedia user experiences necessary to drive commerce to emerging Internet appliances.
Philips VeonStudio 5.0 also provides tracking tools to enable publishers to understand user behavior, linking video, animation and graphics assets with commerce and real-time information sources, in order to connect content and transaction information.
"Philips VeonStudio 5.0 enables in a new and improved way, interactive streaming content programming, delivery, and secure usage tracking over IP networks," says Rob van Oostenbrugge, Executive Vice President, Philips Digital Networks. "This empowers advertisers, content developers and service providers to transform easily, existing one-dimensional Internet content, into engaging multimedia user experiences that will drive new business opportunities throughout the value chain."

Easy-to-use environment

Philips VeonStudio 5.0 provides content developers with a unified and easy-to-use environment to develop interactive streaming content in MPEG-4 format. Preview tools enable "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" content assembly and editing. This saves up to 90 percent of the time normally consumed in traditional coding methods, giving designers enormous freedom in what techniques they apply and where.
Static and moving objects in a video stream can be tracked automatically and made "clickable" for interactivity at any time in the stream. Philips VeonStudio 5.0 supports MPEG-4 Audio/Video streams with simple and advanced profiles. It supports vector animation formats such as Flash as well as numerous image file formats. Video, animation, and image assets are retained in their original format, while interactive elements are stored separately and are laid over the original media assets in real time.
Other feature highlights of Philips VeonStudio 5.0 include:

-- In-Place Editing - designers can place objects anywhere in a scene and define how those objects appear in accordance with the storyboard process.
-- Stage Layout with Placeholders - placeholders can be used in the layout process, to facilitate the placing of the media elements in their respective location on the screen.
-- Layering - unlimited discrete placeholders can be used and overlap and overlaid over each other, enabling new design possibilities such as playing Flash content over video or partially covering a video with an image.
-- Publishing Wizard - once programs have been created this wizard prepares the deployment of content directly to any public server, bridging the gap between locally developed material and network-deployed assets in an easy-to-use menu-driven interface.

Experience Philips MPEG-4 today

Philips high-quality ISO-compliant MPEG-4 audio and video streams can be experienced by downloading the WebCine Player at www.mpeg-4.philips.com and is supported by any PC running Microsoft(R) Windows(R) '95, '98, 2000, NT, or Millennium Edition.

Dec 4 - Gadgets, Gizmos Top Holiday Lists. On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...a PC in a pear tree. Those may not be the original lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas," but early indications are that personal electronics are topping the list once again this holiday season.
So what are the hot items topping Santa's list this holiday season? Early indications are that anything with a chip will be a big seller -- from personal electronics to computers and peripherals.
IBM thinks technology that helps people simplify their lives will be big on the gift list this year. DVD burners, for example, enable you to make your own DVD movies. They're now under $500 on ibm.com.
Flat panel monitors save energy and save space on your desktop. They now start around $400.
If you have a digital camera, the IBM Microdrive stores 300 images on a tiny little hard drive that fits in your camera's memory slot. It sells for under $200.
There are also some bigger ticket items. ThinkPad notebooks now include built-in wireless capability. They start at about $1200.
And one desktop PC that capitalizes on several trends is the NetVista X41. It tucks an entire PC -- 1.5 Gigahertz Pentium 4 processor and all -- into the space behind a flat panel monitor. It starts at about $1500.
If you still don't know what to get the person who seems to have it all, you can search for more stocking stuffers at www.ibm.com/pc.

Dec 3 - SONICblue Begins Shipping ReplayTV 4000. In a move designed to give consumers the control they want over their television viewing, SONICblue(TM) Incorporated (Nasdaq:SBLU) announced that it will begin shipping its exciting new ReplayTV 4000 digital video recorder (DVR) this week, in spite of the lawsuits recently filed by major TV networks and movie studios.
SONICblue's ReplayTV 4000 provides consumers with the power to control their television experience. The world's first broadband and home network-enabled DVR, the ReplayTV 4000 allows consumers to distribute recorded programs within the home and share their personal recordings of non-protected video content with up to 15 friends and family who also own ReplayTV 4000s. The ReplayTV 4000 allows consumers to automatically pause, replay and slo-mo live television, with no tapes, no timers and no trouble, as well as the choice to playback recorded programming with or without commercials using the Commercial Advance(TM) function.
"The ReplayTV 4000 is so good the networks don't want consumers to have it," said Ken Potashner, CEO and chairman, SONICblue. "It is ironic that the entertainment industry presented us with an Emmy Award for the advancement of television, and a couple of months later decided that we may have advanced it too much. The lawsuits are another attempt by the entertainment industry to control the living room. SONICblue provides technology that gives consumers choices regarding how they enjoy television in their home; we believe consumers should have the power to make this choice, and we will work diligently to protect their interests."
SONICblue believes consumers want to watch television on their own schedules, not be constrained by network scheduling that pits multiple programs consumers want to watch head to head and imposes commercial breaks that interrupt programming they are enjoying.
The lawsuits against SONICblue are an attempt by the networks and movie studios to strip away consumers' fair use rights by undoing the 1984 SONY Betamax decision, where the Supreme Court ruled that consumers should be allowed to record programs for time shifting purposes, according to Potashner.
"The networks and the studios should be embracing new technologies and exploring the benefits, instead of trying to crush them," Potashner said. "We believe the ReplayTV 4000 is the beginning of a great new future for TV and an opportunity for content and service providers to develop new business models and potentially, new streams of revenue. We believe we should be thought of as a potential partner in expanding the industry, not as an adversary of content creators."
SONICblue says the ReplayTV 4000 is the first in a series of exciting digital products that will soon be available from the Company, along with new content and services for consumers with a home network and a broadband connection to the Internet.
"SONICblue respects copyrights, and our products are compatible with the entertainment industry's own copy protection technologies. The ReplayTV 4000 is Macrovision-approved and will support other industry copy protection standards as they emerge. The ReplayTV 4000 doesn't allow indiscriminate and anonymous file trading over the Internet, our SendShow feature permits only limited sending of non-protected shows to friends and family who own ReplayTV 4000 devices. Commercials are not deleted by our device, we give consumers the choice of whether to watch their recorded shows with or without commercials," said Potashner.
"We have experienced a significant increase in order rates for the ReplayTV 4000 since the lawsuit was announced. It appears as though consumers have begun voting in favor of this product with their wallets," concluded Potashner.

Dec 3 - Planar Unveils Flat-Panel Monitors Featuring Rotating Screens. Planar Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:PLNR) has launched innovative 15- and 17.4-inch flat-panel monitors that feature the ability to rotate the display from landscape to portrait viewing, providing users a choice to fit their specific desktop application.
Designed to appeal to both the business and consumer markets, Planar's new models offer crisp, high-contrast images, large format viewing areas, USB hubs and built-in speakers. The units can be ordered in a range of exterior colors, including translucent red, blue and clear, as well as classic white or professional black.
"Planar's extensive experience in the development, procurement and integration of flat-panel display technologies allows us to deliver state-of-the-art products," said Erick Petersen, director, desktop monitor business, Planar. "We're expanding our line of desktop monitors to offer business and consumer users an array of options to suit their needs, and we see rotating displays as a compelling choice that will ultimately become the standard."
With rotating screens, users can easily switch from landscape to portrait viewing with a simple twist of the display, allowing them to see an entire Web page, PDF, e-mail or word processing document without needing to scroll down. Software provided with the monitors easily switches the orientation of the displayed information with just a click of the mouse.
Planar's 15-inch PV150 supports resolutions up to 1,024 x 768 (XGA) and has a viewable area equivalent to a 17-inch CRT monitor. The 17.4-inch PV174 is capable of 1280 x 1024 (SXGA) resolution and features analog and digital inputs.
Planar offers a broad selection of flat-panel displays, including 15-, 17.4-, 18.1- and 19-inch models, featuring the company's industry-leading three-year "Customer First" warranty.
For more information visit www.planar.com.

Dec 3 - ViewSonic Announces Smart Display Devices. ViewSonic(R) Corporation, a worldwide Visual Technologies(TM) leader, announced that it is building upon its relationship with Microsoft Corp. to create a new category of smart display devices, including large-screen monitors that bring unparalleled digital entertainment to home and business users.
Expected for release in first quarter 2002, the first of the series--the VX3600--will allow users to view all forms of digital entertainment from one device--VCR, DVD, camcorder, digital camera, cable box, game player and television signals--at resolutions up to four times higher than standard television images.
As a member of Microsoft's Windows XP Embedded Rapid Development Program (RDP), ViewSonic worked closely with Microsoft to ensure that it takes advantage of the latest Windows-based technologies found in the Windows XP Embedded operating system to deliver feature-rich multimedia functionality to the VX3600, along with enhanced connectivity.
"ViewSonic selected Microsoft's Windows XP Embedded for its smart devices to maximize the product's ability to process all forms of digital media," said Marc Mcconnaughey, senior vice president, Advanced Products Group, ViewSonic. "The combination of ViewSonic display technology and Windows XP Embedded will quickly bring a new caliber of viewing and entertainment capabilities to homes and businesses alike. And, it will accelerate ViewSonic's ability to develop and deliver the most functional displays on the market."
Windows XP Embedded provides the broadest device support and cutting-edge technologies found in Windows XP Professional, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, Windows Media Player 8, DirectX 8 API, Digital Rights Management 8, Windows Image Acquisition, USB, IEEE 1394 and Universal Plug and Play.
"ViewSonic's new VX3600 demonstrates the power and possibilities of using the latest Windows technologies such as DirectX, Windows Media and Digital Rights Management, found in Windows XP Embedded to create innovative devices that redefine the consumer's experience for digital media and entertainment," said Jim Allchin, group vice president of Platforms, Microsoft.
ViewSonic can be found on the Web at www.ViewSonic.com.

Dec 3 - Bluetooth Expert Rejects Claims That Bluetooth is Losing Ground. Eric Janson, vice president North America, CSR has rejected claims that Bluetooth will be limited to use as a cable replacement technology. Commenting on research published by IMS and Cahners In-Stat, showing that Bluetooth chipsets will outsell 802.11b chipsets in 2001, Janson denied that 802.11b is pushing Bluetooth out of major markets.
Matthew Towers, senior Bluetooth analyst for IMS commented, "this finding is particularly encouraging for Bluetooth as 802.11b chipsets have been shipping in volume since 1997, whereas 2001 is the first year of volume Bluetooth shipments. Our annual Bluetooth study predicted Bluetooth chipset shipments would rise from close to zero in 2000 to just over 10 million units in 2001, and the year will end not far from this figure. The 802.11b market is also growing fast, but shipments will still only be around the 6 million mark in 2001. We expect further dramatic growth in the Bluetooth market in 2002 as more products hit the market and consumer awareness of Bluetooth grows substantially".
"The markets for 802.11b and Bluetooth are very distinct and we see both succeeding in their respective markets," said CSR's Janson. "802.11b offers faster connection speeds and full corporate LAN functionality and hence is more likely to be used in notebook PC to LAN connections. But the higher cost, bigger footprint and higher power consumption of 802.11b means it will never be able to compete with Bluetooth in mass market personal area networks - mobile phones, PDAs and other personal devices."
More information about CSR can be found at www.csr.com.

Dec 2 - Sunday Shopping Watch. This is the tenth Sunday that Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows XP, is bundled with new computers. For some reason, local merchants continue to advertise high-end systems and not the less powerful Celeron and Duron systems. This trend applies to both desktops and notebooks.
Windows XP became available for separate purchase on October 25th. For more information on Windows XP visit Microsoft's Windows XP home page.
This Sunday's Special Discounts and Financing. In addition to sales on specific items, the following store-wide sales are advertised this week.
Best Buy
is giving away 1 year of free MSN with any computer purchase. Additionally, they are advertising $100 mail-in rebates on all Pentium 4 desktop packages and no interest financing until January 2003 on all computers $299 and up.
Circuit City is advertising $100 mail-in rebates on all Pentium 4 desktop packages and no interest financing until January 2003 on all desktop packages and notebook computers.
Office Depot has no store-wide sales this Sunday (individual items may be on sale).
CompUSA. No ad this Sunday.
Staples No ad this Sunday.

Internet Rebates. Most stores are no longer advertising 3 year Internet rebates. Check with your local store before you buy. Please see our article, What You Need to Know About Internet Rebates and Free PCs, for an in-depth discussion of Internet Rebates.

Definitions. A complete system/package is defined as a computer with monitor and printer or scanner.
A build-to-order system is customized at the retailer and then ordered from a vendor's store. In addition to the computer's stated price, you still pay sales tax and shipping charges (if you order direct from the vendor without going through the chain store, you may not have to pay sales tax and you could get a better warranty).

* Prices discussed in this article. Advertisers typically deduct the $400 Internet rebate from an items true price. We report all prices without subtracting the $400 Internet rebate, however all other rebates and discounts are usually subtracted.
Caution about advertised prices. When reading advertisements, read the fine print of the ad to make sure you know what is being advertised and what it cost. For example, many advertisers will show a complete system with computer, monitor, and printer but advertise a price for the computer only.

Best Deals this Sunday
Category
Product Description
Price* (see above)
Store
Best Celeron Deal
HP 1.2 GHz complete system
$849
Office Depot
Best Pentium III System
None Advertised
   
Best Pentium 4 System
HP 1.5 GHz complete system
$1149
Best Buy, Circuit City
Best Duron System
None Advertised
Best Athlon System
HP 1.3 GHz complete system
$999
Best Buy
Best Athlon XP System
Compaq 1600+ with 17 inch monitor build-to-order
$1099
Best Buy
Best Low Cost Notebook
Compaq 900 MHz Duron with DVD
$999
Office Depot
Best High-end Notebook
Compaq Pentium IIIM 1 GHz with CD-RW/DVD
$1349
Best Buy

Additional Information. For additional technical information, advice on how to buy a laptop or desktop, and vendor and manufacturer links, please see our Computer Buying Advice page.
About Sunday Shopping Watch. Sunday Shopping Watch appears every Sunday (except some holidays like Easter and Christmas) in our News and Rumors column. It is a review of the highlights of local (Dayton, Ohio) computer chain store advertisements. While we can not guarantee your local chain store has the same items, this article should help you to make informed buying decisions.

 

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