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Daily Computer News and Rumors

May 24-31 2003

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 Daily Computer News and Rumors is an archived column, so feel free to review previous week's or month's computer news. Previous Daily Computer News articles can also be searched, by using our site search feature found in the top and bottom menu bar.

InfoHQ Daily Computer News and Rumors Article Index
Date
(Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to this index.)
May 30 AOL Time Warner and Microsoft Agree to Collaborate on Digital Media Initiatives
May 30 Kano Brings Plug-and-Play RAID Storage to PC and Mac Desktops
May 30 SanDisk Commences Sale Of New miniSD Flash Memory Cards in Japan
May 30 Survey Claims Businesses Do a Poor Job Managing Email
May 29 Crucial Launches Pocket-Sized Gizmo! Drive in UK
May 29 Hitachi Announces New 4200 RPM Notebook Hard Drive
May 29 eMachines Customer Care Launches On-Site Repair
May 29 ATI Launches ALL-IN-WONDER Encode
May 29 New Kodak EasyShare Software Simplifies Digital Picture Organization and Printing
May 29 Teens Will Download More Music as Connection Speeds Improve
May 28 Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Product Line Now Shipping
May 28 Plextor Introduces DVD+R/RW Drive with Dual-Interface
May 28 Wi-Fi Hotspot Land Grab In Full Swing
May 28 InterVideo Enhances New Release of WinDVD Recorder Software
May 28 SplashData Launches SplashPhoto for Windows Powered Pocket PC
May 27 FirewireDirect Offers FireWire 800/1394b Notebook CardBus Adapter
May 27 Other World Computing Introduces Mercury Extreme G4/1.33GHz Processor Upgrade
May 27 AMIBIOS Supports Intel's Latest Chipsets
May 27 Kazaa Media Desktop Sets Most Downloaded Software Record
May 27 Lydia Email Agent adds Aggressive Anti-Spam Features

 

 

May 30 - AOL Time Warner and Microsoft Agree to Collaborate on Digital Media Initiatives. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: AOL) today announced an agreement to collaborate on long-term digital media initiatives that will accelerate the adoption of digital content, and to settle the pending litigation between their companies. The two companies have also agreed to a new royalty-free, seven-year license of Microsoft's browsing technology and a variety of steps designed to ensure that their products work better with each other.

Under the digital media agreement, the companies will work together on a series of initiatives to support the more rapid deployment of digital media for consumers and support new business models for content owners through digital rights management technology.
The companies aim to help develop a successful digital media environment that is secure from piracy, open to all companies across multiple industries, and offers consumers access to broad content in a compelling manner that is easy to use. As part of this agreement, the two companies have entered into a long-term, non-exclusive license agreement allowing AOL Time Warner to use Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Series and future software for creating, distributing and playing back high-quality digital media.

The legal settlement resolves the private antitrust lawsuit filed against Microsoft in January, 2002 by AOL Time Warner's America Online, Inc. unit on behalf of its subsidiary, Netscape Communications. As part of the settlement, Microsoft will pay $750 million to AOL Time Warner.

In addition, as part of today's announced settlement, Microsoft has agreed to provide AOL Time Warner's AOL online service with a new distribution channel for its software to certain PC users worldwide. Also, the two companies will cooperate to ensure the best possible AOL member experience on current and future Microsoft operating systems, including commitments by Microsoft for technical cooperation and information disclosures.

"With Microsoft's media technology expertise and AOL Time Warner's content expertise, we believe we can accelerate the adoption of digital media for the Internet and help content providers across the entire industry," said Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect. "While our companies will continue to compete, I'm pleased that we've been able to resolve our prior dispute and I'm excited about the opportunity to work together collaboratively to make the digital decade a reality."

AOL Time Warner's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dick Parsons said: "We welcome the opportunity to build a more productive relationship with Microsoft. Our agreement to work together on digital media initiatives marks an important step forward in better serving consumers and protecting the interests of all content businesses. We look forward to others in the media and entertainment industries joining together with us to help to advance the digital distribution of content to consumers while maintaining copyright protection."

May 30 - Kano Brings Plug-and-Play RAID Storage to PC and Mac Desktops. Kano Technologies brought affordable, compact, plug-and-play RAID storage to the PC and Mac markets today when it introduced its SureVAULT(TM) desktop RAID storage systems

. The SureVAULT RAID Desktop Mirrored Solution writes data simultaneously to two drives, creating and maintaining a constant mirror-image of all data. The SureVAULT RAID 5 Desktop Solution stripes data to three drives simultaneously. Both systems feature USB 2.0 or FireWire 1394A connections and the latest generation IDE hard disk drives. Both are portable, very easy to install, use hot-swappable drive bays, and provide RAID's fast, secure and reliable performance.

"SureVAULT's IDE-based disk array is ideal for protecting important financial, video and imaging data at a desktop, workstation or network server," said Robert Young, Kano's director of national sales. "Its small size and plug-and-play capability make SureVAULT a fast, simple way to share protected data between desktops, networks and workgroups -- or between the office, home and school."

SureVAULT makes data recovery very easy. In case of drive failure, SureVAULT automatically switches operations to the remaining drive, and gives a visual and audible alert. Without shutting down the desktop, the user can slide in a replacement Kano SureDRIVE. Then, SureVAULT immediately and automatically rebuilds the data while the user continues to use the desktop.

All Kano products feature exclusive, custom-designed industrial enclosures that minimize vibrations and dust infiltration. Each chassis has high-volume, low-noise fan ventilation, specially engineered to maintain the optimum operating temperature for maximum drive life and dependability. All enclosures are CE-certified and UL-approved.

"We added this RAID product line because of the high level of interest from our optical storage channel partners. They wanted a low-cost, plug-and-play RAID solution that can be used for storage of video-development applications as well as for archiving," added Young. "A FireWire 800 version of the SureVAULT will be released in 60 days to address our customers' need for higher through-put RAID storage for their larger video editing and archiving projects."

SureVAULT RAID systems are available in storage capacities that range from 80GB to 600GB. SureVAULT systems are 4.75-inches high; 9.5-inches wide; 12.75-inches deep and weigh 14.5 pounds. The MSRP starts at $795.00 for a SureVAULT RAID Desktop Mirrored Solution, and $1345.00 for a SureVAULT RAID 5 Desktop Solution.

Both products are available now from Kano storage solution providers. A local provider may be contacted through a listing at www.kanotechnologies.com.

May 30 - SanDisk Commences Sale Of New miniSD Flash Memory Cards in Japan. SanDisk Corporation (Nasdaq:SNDK) announced today that it has started selling miniSD(TM) flash memory cards through retail stores in Japan making SanDisk the world's first company to sell the new small-size cards to retail consumers. Sales of the SanDisk miniSD cards, which started this month, come as the first mobile phones with slots for the card are entering the Japanese market.

The new miniSD card format was introduced by SanDisk for sale to OEM customers in March 2003, and is being sold to consumers through retail outlets with a complementary adapter that converts the miniSD card into the SD card form factor. The adapter allows the miniSD card to fit into existing SD card slots, thereby providing compatibility with the growing number of SD compatible devices in the market.

Hisao Kushiyama, president of SanDisk Limited (SanDisk Japan), a wholly owned subsidiary of SanDisk, said, "The new generation mobile phones being introduced this year have exciting multimedia capabilities including cameras, MP3 players and internet messaging, and we expect that this will drive the requirement for more storage in these phones. The first of these phones, the NTT DoCoMo i-mode cellular phone 505i series, debuted this year and four of the models have a slot for miniSD cards. Consumers who buy the new miniSD-based mobile phones and wish to have additional storage will now be able to purchase SanDisk miniSD cards from their favorite retail outlets."

SanDisk sells its flash memory cards, card readers and other products through major retail store chains in Japan.

The new retail miniSD cards will start at 32 megabytes (MB) capacity with higher capacities ranging up to 256MB to be introduced later this year and in early 2004. Suggested retail pricing for the 32MB miniSD plus SD adapter is approximately YEN 2,800 (US, about $24).

SanDisk's web site/home page address is www.sandisk.com.

May 30 - Survey Claims Businesses Do a Poor Job Managing Email. E-mail, the electronic equivalent of DNA evidence, is playing an increasingly common role in workplace lawsuits and regulatory investigations.

A primary source of evidence in high-profile discrimination, sexual harassment, and antitrust claims, e-mail is regularly used to bolster cases, embarrass organizations, and damage reputations. A new survey of 1,100 US companies reveals that 14% of respondents have been ordered by a court or regulatory body to produce employee e-mail, up from 9% just two years ago.

In spite of growing scrutiny from courts and regulators, most employers are doing a poor job of managing e-mail business records and preparing for the likelihood of e-mail discovery. Only 34% of employers have a written e-mail retention and deletion policy in place today. That's the same figure reported in 2001, 12 months before five Wall Street brokerages were fined $8.3 million for failing to retain e-mail. When it comes to strategically managing e-mail business risks and reducing legal liability, business has been slow to learn its lessons.

According to the 2003 E-Mail Rules, Policies and Practices Survey, a new survey from American Management Association, The ePolicy Institute, and Clearswift, the average employee spends 25% of the workday on e-mail, with 8% of workers devoting over four hours a day to e-mail. While failing to meet the challenges of e-mail retention, most employers are eager to keep online employees in line.
Over half (52%) of employers monitor e-mail. Three-fourths have put written e-mail policies in place. And 22% have terminated an employee for violating e-mail policy. Over 1,100 US employers participated in the 2003 E-Mail Survey, a follow-up to an e-mail survey conducted by American Management Association and ePolicy Institute in 2001.

"Most employers drop the ball when it comes to educating employees about e-mail risks, rules, and responsibilities," says Nancy Flynn, co-author of E-Mail Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policies, Security, and Legal Issues for E-Mail and Digital Communication (AMACOM Books 2003) and executive director of The ePolicy Institute, www.ePolicyInstitute.com.
"While 75% of organizations have written e-mail policies in place, only 48% offer e-policy education to employees, and merely 27% offer e-mail retention/detention training." says Flynn. On the upside, e-policy training has doubled since 2001, when 24% of companies offered e-policy education to employees.

The use of technology to monitor e-mail and control message content has increased since 2001, when 24% of respondents reported using software to conduct key word or key phrase searches of e-mail and/or computer files. In 2003, over 40% of employers report using software to control written e-mail content. Fully 23% couple software with education, which corresponds with the Three-E approach to e-risk management detailed in Flynn's new book E-Mail Rules: (1) establish written e-mail rules and policy; (2) educate the workforce about risks and policy compliance; and (3) enforce e-mail policy with policy-based content security software that works in concert with the organization's established e-mail rules and policies.

While 90% of employers have installed software to monitor incoming and outgoing e-mail, only 19% are using technology to monitor internal e-mail among employees. "Management's failure to check internal e-mail is a potentially costly oversight. Off-the-cuff, casual e-mail conversations among employees are exactly the type of messages that tend to trigger lawsuits, arm prosecutors with damaging evidence, and provide the media with embarrassing real-life disaster stories. The fact that 90% of respondents send and receive personal e-mail at work and 66% of companies lack a policy for deleting nonessential messages, compounds the problem," says Flynn.

Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents say that they have lost time in the last year due to e-mail system problems, with 35% estimating half a day lost, and 24% reporting more than two days lost. Among the workplace problems e-mail has caused: disabled computer systems (38%), business interruptions (34%), and computer viruses (33%). Five percent of 2003 respondents report business has been interrupted as the result of e-mail-related lawsuits.

Eighty-six percent of respondents agree e-mail has made them more efficient, in spite of the fact that 92% receive spam mail at work. Fully 47% say spam constitutes more than 10% of all their e-mail; 7% report spam represents over 50% of all e-mail received.

May 29 - Crucial Launches Pocket-Sized Gizmo! Drive in UK. Crucial Technology Europe, one of Europe's largest direct memory upgrade providers, today introduced the Crucial(R) Gizmo!(TM) USB flash drive, a miniature, portable flash storage drive that plugs into a computer's Universal Serial Bus (USB) port.
This high-density alternative to the traditional floppy disk stores digital documents, music, and photographs and conveniently transfers data from one USB-enabled computer to another. About the size and weight of a pack of gum, the Gizmo! drive slips easily into a pocket, purse, or briefcase.

"Computer users today work with larger files, more programs, and on more than one system; the floppy disk just doesn't meet those needs any longer," said Crucial Europe General Manager Stefanie Summerfield. "The Crucial Gizmo! drive is the future of mobile data. It allows for the rapid transfer of large files between any USB-enabled system. And the sturdy design of the Gizmo! drive ensures simple, worry-free portability for those on the go."

The Gizmo! drive is a full-speed device, compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1 ports. A true Plug and Play(TM) solution, the Gizmo! drive automatically appears as a removable drive when plugged in to the USB port of a desktop or notebook. Required Windows(R) 98 and Special Edition drivers are available for download on Crucial's Web sites at www.crucial.com/uk or www.crucial.com/eu.

The Crucial Gizmo! drive is available on Crucial's Web site in three densities: 64MB, 128MB, and 256MB. Pricing currently ranges from 22.99GBP to 57.99GBP or 33.99 euros to 84.99 euros.

May 29 - Hitachi Announces New 4200 RPM Notebook Hard Drive. In a move that will strengthen its position in the mainstream mobile hard disk drive market, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies today introduced a second 4200 RPM offering. Hitachi's dual-product approach in the 4200 RPM segment will give customers supply flexibility, which is a considerable benefit in the supply-constrained environment of the current mobile market.

The new Travelstar 4K80 joins the previously announced Travelstar 80GN to make up the most technically advanced and comprehensive family of mobile products. The 4K80 is the most rugged mobile drive on the market with an industry-leading operating shock tolerance of 250 G/2ms, while the 80GN boasts the highest performance and lowest acoustic in a 4200 RPM mobile drive.

Both products implement the latest in areal density technology at 40 GB/disk and are available in one- and two-disk designs for a top capacity of 80 GB. The 4K80 begins volume shipment in June. The 80GN, shipping since January, has been a favorite with customers, who have purchased as many drives as Hitachi can produce.

"The industry-leading and complementary features of the 4K80 and 80GN offer our customers tremendous options in choosing the product that best supports the value proposition of their solutions," said Bill Healy, general manager, Mobile Business Unit, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.
"In addition, our ability to provide a second 4200 mobile drive offering at this time is a clear benefit for customers, who are looking for additional supply sources. And because the 4K80 and 80GN have roots in the Hitachi and IBM-legacy roadmaps, respectively, they also provide our customers with supply continuity within their own product plans."

Hitachi's family of Travelstar mobile hard drives addresses customer needs ranging from standard notebook implementations to emerging applications such as automotive and other consumer digital devices, which increasingly require higher performance and capacity. The 4K80 is available in 30, 40, 60 and 80 GB capacities. The 80GN has a complementary capacity offering at 20, 30, 40 60 and 80 GB.

For more information on Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, please visit the company's Web site at www.hgst.com.

May 29 - eMachines Customer Care Launches On-Site Repair. eMachines Inc., the fastest-growing PC company in the United States according to IDC, today launched on-site repair service with new extended service plans (ESP) that offer customers comprehensive technical support and repair coverage beyond the one-year manufacturer's warranty.

"While other companies are reducing customer service budgets, we continue to invest in Customer Care to ensure our customers receive the best service in the industry," said Mike Zimmerman, eMachines' senior vice president of Customer Care and Quality Assurance. "eMachines wants to be the optimum technical support resource for our customers."

On-site service is available only to extended service plan customers. The two-and three-year service plans are available in the United States for all new eMachines PCs and those still under manufacturer's warranty. The two-year ESP costs $99 and the three-year ESP costs $139, if purchased within 90 days of the original purchase date.

Both plans can be purchased after 90 days, within one year of the original purchase date, for $139 and $179, respectively. ESPs will be sold through in-box registration materials, eMachines Web site www.emachines.com, and an electronic prompt that will pop-up the first time the PC is turned on.

May 29 - ATI Launches ALL-IN-WONDER Encode. ATI Technologies Inc. (TSX:ATY)(NASDAQ:ATYT) has launched ALL-IN-WONDER(R) Encode, a software MPEG2 encoder for PCs running Microsoft Windows(R) XP Media Center Edition.

MPEG2 encoding is absolutely central to the function of a Media Center PC and has previously been accomplished using dedicated hardware on an add-in card, because software based decoding was believed to be too slow. However, OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) can now get the same or better performance from ATI's ALL-IN-WONDER Encode software. This saves them about $50 per PC, reduces complexity and frees up a PCI slot.

ALL-IN-WONDER Encode is currently available with ATI's highly acclaimed ALL-IN-WONDER(R) range of combined graphics and TV in/out boards. The combination is the ideal solution for Media Center PCs because an OEM using ALL-IN-WONDER Encode and an ALL-IN-WONDER board saves the PCI slot by including all the TV in/out functionality with industry-leading graphics on a single AGP card.

"ATI's ALL-IN-WONDER Encode will offer OEMs a way to reduce costs, differentiate their Media Center PC offerings and, perhaps most importantly, open the door to new and exciting form factors suitable for any room in the house," said Kevin Eagan, general manager of the Windows eHome Division at Microsoft Corp.

"Software encoding is the way of the future," said Godfrey Cheng, ATI's Director of Multimedia Marketing. "It frees us to easily add encoding for other media formats in the future, without requiring OEMs to make expensive hardware changes."

"ATI's ALL-IN-WONDER Encode makes incredibly effective use of our Hyper-Threading Technology," said Jason Ziller, Technology Initiatives Manager, Intel Corporation. "It proves, very dramatically, that Hyper-Threading Technology enables more and more of the heavy lifting to be done in software, allowing extensive adjustment and fine-tuning for specific applications."

ALL-IN-WONDER Encode is tightly integrated with ATI's VIDEOSOAP(TM), an application that cleans up the video before it is encoded. Not only does this improve picture quality, it allows MPEG2 compression to work much more effectively, enabling users to fit more video onto their hard drive.

Counterintuitively, the highly optimized ALL-IN-WONDER Encode video encoder actually uses a similar amount of CPU time to the hardware alternative. This means that users can record video and still surf the web, use office applications and so on, without the danger of degrading either experience.
However, because ALL-IN-WONDER Encode is software, CPU utilization actually goes down as CPU speed goes up, something that is not true for the add-in-board. So although utilization is about the same for a 2.4 GHz Pentium(R) 4 (the likely entry point for Media Center systems), it gets better as faster CPUs are used, meaning that users will be able to run "heavier" applications - photo editing software, for example - with a Media Center PC equipped with ALL-IN-WONDER Encode than one with a hardware MPEG2 encoder.

Visit their Web site at www.ati.com.

May 29 - New Kodak EasyShare Software Simplifies Digital Picture Organization and Printing. Addressing the needs of millions of digital camera owners worldwide, Eastman Kodak Company today released the latest version of its free, popular all-in-one digital picture organization software.

Kodak EasyShare software version 3.0 offers any digital camera owner new features designed to make it even simpler to quickly view, organize, edit, share, and print their digital pictures, including CD burning, on-screen album creation, and compatibility with Microsoft Outlook address books.

"When you take a picture, you're capturing a memory. All too often, these memories are 'trapped' inside a computer, preventing people from sharing and reliving moments with others," said William Jackson, general manager of desktop software and new services for Kodak's digital & applied imaging products and services. "Kodak EasyShare Software -- designed with the one-touch simplicity that the world expects from Kodak -- frees your digital pictures so you can enjoy all the benefits of digital photography."

Millions of people have already discovered the benefits of Kodak EasyShare software. Regardless of what brand camera was used to take the digital pictures, the software provides straightforward ways to review, sort, e-mail, and print the images, whether using at home inkjet or thermal printers, online photofinishers, or neighborhood retailers.

Create CDs for Sharing and Archiving

Kodak EasyShare software's new CD burning feature enables people to back up their precious memories with a few clicks of the mouse. Using easy-to-follow directions, any PC user with a CD-recordable drive can quickly burn selected pictures to a standard CD-R, which can then be stored for archiving purposes or given to family and friends.

Easily Create On-Screen Albums

Version 3.0 offers an enhanced method to organize photos with the new "album" feature. Once EasyShare software is loaded, it automatically locates and indexes picture and video files, enabling people to view and sort (e.g., sort by date taken, view entire collection) their digital images from one central location. A person can then create virtual on-screen albums, and simply drag and drop pictures and videos into these albums, categorizing them much like they would when creating a traditional photo album with prints.

The free download of the full Windows version is available by visiting www.kodak.com/go/easysharesw. A CD will also available for a nominal charge.

May 29 - Teens Will Download More Music as Connection Speeds Improve. The Yankee Group, a global technology research advisory and consulting firm, today reported that music downloading by teens, a major revenue-loss and copyright issue for music artists, producers, and distributors, will increase dramatically as broadband penetration increases.
According to its recently released 2003 Youth Market Survey, 30 percent of teen respondents not currently downloading music stated that connection speed was a major reason, while only 20 percent of teens stated that illegality was a reason they did not currently download.

"Broadband Internet access via DSL and cable, now present in nearly 20 million U.S. homes, is rapidly gaining ground on dial-up," says Tom Gramaglia, Director of Internet, Media, and Consumer Communications for the Yankee Group.
"Our recent survey suggests that peer-to-peer file sharing, using software programs such as KaZaa and Morpheus, will increase substantially as the "speed barrier" diminishes. This is mixed news for the new online music firms such as the iTunes Music Store. Their market opportunity will certainly benefit as broadband penetration overtakes dial-up within the next 5 years, but competition with free services also will increase."

The 2003 Youth Market Survey investigates teen and young-adult habits, influences, and motivations regarding consumer technology and media. More information is available at www.yankeegroup.com/surveys.

May 28 - Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Product Line Now Shipping. Adobe Systems (Nasdaq:ADBE) Incorporated, the leader in network publishing, today announced the immediate availability of the Adobe(R) Acrobat(R) 6.0 product line, a major upgrade and expansion of one of the company's cornerstone software applications and a critical component of its solutions for integrating documents into business processes.
The new Acrobat 6.0 family enables workgroups, as well as business, creative and engineering professionals, to efficiently create, share, review, and archive files in the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), a recognized standard for reliable electronic document distribution.

"The need to streamline document-based processes to run an enterprise more efficiently has never been more critical than in today's business environment," said Yasuo Yoshinari, business planning department manager, Hitachi, Ltd. Power & Industrial Systems. "With the Acrobat 6.0 product line, we can improve both the accuracy and quality of our engineering documents. In particular, Acrobat 6.0 Professional provides us collaboration tools designed specifically for the manufacturing industry. Ultimately, this adds more value to our technology investment, our organization and our people."

The Acrobat family -- Acrobat 6.0 Professional, Acrobat 6.0 Standard and Acrobat Elements -- offers different levels of functionality to address specific customer needs. The most comprehensive product, Acrobat 6.0 Professional, helps business, creative and engineering professionals, who work with complex or graphically rich layouts, to improve the process of document exchange and collaboration.

Acrobat 6.0 Standard enables workgroups to simplify document reviews using intuitive tools and a new, task-based interface. Acrobat Elements is a volume-license-only product that allows enterprises to place inexpensive Adobe PDF creation capability on every desktop, enabling reliable document distribution. Each member of the Acrobat family enables businesses to leverage the strengths of PDF for document presentation and XML for data exchange.

Adobe also announced the immediate availability of Adobe Reader(R) 6.0 software, an upgraded and re-named version of the widely distributed, free Acrobat Reader. Adobe Reader, which supports numerous desktop and mobile device platforms, is the definitive application for viewing, interacting with and printing Adobe PDF content ranging from business documents and forms to Photoshop(R) Album slide shows, eBooks and embedded multimedia. Adobe Reader is available free of charge as a download at www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html. The company has distributed over half-a-billion copies of the product since its 1993 introduction.

Pricing and Availability

Acrobat 6.0 Professional and Acrobat 6.0 Standard for Windows(R) 98 Second Edition (Acrobat 6.0 Standard only), Windows NT(R) Workstation 4.0 (with service pack 6), Windows 2000 Professional (with service pack 2), Windows XP Home, Professional and Tablet PC Editions, and Mac OS X v10.2.2, are immediately available in English. French and German language versions are expected to ship the first week of June and Japanese language versions are expected to ship in early July.

Acrobat 6.0 Professional has an estimated street price of US$449. Registered users of Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat 5.0 can upgrade to Acrobat 6.0 Professional for an estimated street price of US$149. Acrobat 6.0 Standard has an estimated street price of US$299. Registered users of Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat 5.0 can upgrade to Acrobat 6.0 Standard for an estimated street price of US$99. The products also are available through Adobe's licensing programs.

Information about the availability of other language versions of the Acrobat 6.0 product line, as well as further details on pricing, upgrade and support policies, is available online at www.adobe.com/products/acrobat.

May 28 - Plextor Introduces DVD+R/RW Drive with Dual-Interface. Plextor(R) Corporation, a leading developer and manufacturer of DVD and CD recording equipment, today announced the new PX-504UF DVD+R/RW drive. The external DVD/CD burner delivers fast 4X DVD+R Writing, 2.4X DVD+RW Rewriting, and 12X max DVD-Reading; the versatile 6-in-1 drive also supports 16X CD Writing, 10X CD-Rewriting, and 40X CD-Reading.

The PX-504UF DVD+R/RW drive features Plextor's first dual interface to support both Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and full-speed compliant IEEE-1394 FireWire for high-speed data transfer. Now PlexWriter customers can easily share a single DVD/CD recorder among multiple Apple(R) Macintosh(R) and Microsoft(R) Windows(R)-based personal computer systems. The new Plextor drive also bundles a package of premium digital media software from Roxio (Nasdaq:ROXI), including Easy CD Creator(R) 5.3 DVD Edition, and PhotoSuite(R) 5 SE and Toast 5 Lite.

"Many of the people who purchase PlexWriter drives also use Apple Macintosh computers, and we want them to be able to take advantage of the performance and convenience of FireWire connectivity," said Howard Wing, vice president of sales and marketing for Plextor. "It's not uncommon for a single household to have both Windows PCs and Apple Macintoshes. With the new PX-504UF, Mom and Dad can use the PlexWriter drive on the Windows PC to backup work data to a CD, and then five minutes later the kids can use the exact same external drive to play a DVD on the Macintosh in their room."

"We're pleased to be expanding our relationship with a leader in the CD and DVD burning market," said Brad Duea, vice president of worldwide OEM sales for Roxio. "By integrating Easy CD Creator 5.3 DVD Edition, PhotoSuite 5 SE and Toast 5 Lite with its new external PX-504UF drive, Plextor is providing its customers with a flexible and powerful package of hardware and software so users can easily create and manage their digital media, whether they have a Mac, a PC or both."

Plextor PX-504UF DVD+R/RW Drive

The Plextor PX-504UF is a highly versatile DVD/CD burner specifically designed to deliver high-quality recording performance. The drive gives users the ability to create, edit, and share customized DVDs and CDs using video, photos, audio, and data. Users can use the Roxio applications to back up and archive up to 4.7GB on a single-sided Recordable DVD disc and create photo albums for viewing with DVD players.

Lossless-linking technology enables users to perform basic editing tasks directly on the DVD disc, so there is no need to reload DVD content back to a PC to make minor changes, and no need to re-burn an entire DVD after making small edits. The unit features a 2MB data buffer and burst data transfer rates of 5.5 MB/sec., allowing users to burn a 4.7GB CD disc in less than fifteen minutes.

Pricing and Availability

The Plextor PX-504UF DVD+R/RW drive is scheduled for shipment to distributors and resellers in North and South America in June 2003. It will also be available nationwide through Best Buy stores. The PX-504UF drive has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $329.00. Reservations for the PX-504UF drive are now being accepted at www.plextorshop.com.

May 28 - Wi-Fi Hotspot Land Grab In Full Swing. Wi-Fi hotspots may be hot, but only some venues will prove profitable.

This is one of the key findings presented in a new report, "Wi-Fi Hotspot Opportunities: Exploiting the New Phenomenon," which differentiates between and among the various venues and assesses their profit potentials.

According to the study's author, Daniel Sweeney, Ph.D., "The purpose of the report is not to contribute to the hype, but to examine as dispassionately as possible the real market potential. We see the emergence of hotspots as almost a textbook case of effective repurposing of technology, but a closer look reveals some troubling deficits in the market thus far."

Dr. Sweeney went on to say, "In most cases where repurposed technology has succeeded in a big way, such as the Internet, it has exhibited a strong grass roots component in terms of the user base. In hotspots to-date the grass roots aspect of the phenomenon resides in the service providers themselves, which are often very small, single-location businesses linked in a franchise arrangement with a hotspot aggregator or platform developer. Unless hotspots inspire a similar degree of enthusiasm among subscribers, the same fate could befall the hotspot industry as befell e-commerce at the turn of the millennium, where similar vendor enthusiasm far outstripped market acceptance."

According to the report, the "land-grab" frenzy will propel the U.S. hotspot market to grow by an estimated 46,000 new locations in 2003. The year 2004, on the other hand, will see a dramatic slowdown in new buildouts as the industry seeks to identify appropriate applications, content, and terminal designs. The report predicts that growth will return in 2005 and by 2007 there will be some 530,000 hotspots in the U.S.

The report further predicts that in Europe almost 800,000 hotspots will be installed by 2007, while in Asia, by even the most pessimistic estimates, there will be over 1 million hotspots by 2007. A more optimistic estimate places that figure at almost 4 million by that year.

The report estimates the mean for hotspots in the U.S. to be about 190 sessions per year, with a disproportionate share going to business hotels and major airports. In 2007, the report predicts some 4 billion sessions for the U.S. The U.S. usage revenue for 2007 is projected to be $8 billion, or about $15,000 per hotspot. At such usage levels profitability for the industry as a whole is contingent upon the lowest possible infrastructure costs, a fact that will force telco incumbents to re-evaluate their business plans.

Forward Concepts can be found online at www.fwdconcepts.com.

May 28 - InterVideo Enhances New Release of WinDVD Recorder Software. InterVideo, Inc., the software company that was one of the first to combine DVD playback and recording functions into a single PC software solution, announced today that Decisionmark's TitanTV(TM) EPG (Electronic Program Guide) has been integrated with the latest release of WinDVD Recorder.

With TitanTV EPG, consumers can use key words to quickly locate the codes of favorite television programs for scheduled viewing and recording. When combined with WinDVD Recorder's Direct Recording technology, users can bypass their hard drive and record the programs directly to a CD or DVD. The ability to burn CDs (VCDs and SVCDs) is also new with this release of WinDVD Recorder.

Real-time burning eliminates waiting while the video file is saved to the PC's hard drive, compressed and ultimately burned to a disc. With this feature and WinDVD Recorder's broad device support, consumers can record video captured from many sources -- camcorder, DV camera, digital TV set-top box or VCR -- directly to disc for immediate playback. The software can also be used to archive videos and to convert old home movies from VHS tapes to CD or DVD.

WinDVD Recorder incorporates the advanced features of WinDVD Platinum for broad DVD playback capabilities and key features of WinDVR, a comprehensive program for viewing and recording TV broadcasts with a PC. By providing both recording and playback functionality, WinDVD Recorder is a software replacement for a VCR.

Designed to support CD, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM, WinDVD Recorder puts an end to the confusion about formats and compatibility. DVDs created with WinDVD Recorder will automatically play on any consumer electronics player or recorder with support for DVD +/-VR and DVD Video Format. Compatibility gives consumers the flexibility to move their videos from a PC to a TV or a laptop equipped with a DVD player or recorder.

"WinDVD Recorder meets the needs of consumers and OEMs who are looking for a cost-effective PC/living room convergence solution because it provides both DVR and DVD player functionality," said Steve Ro, CEO and founder of InterVideo. "With the integration of TitanTV EPG, the new version is even more compelling because it offers program scheduling and support for the codes in program listings that make it easier to schedule recordings."

In-Stat/MDR predicts that worldwide unit shipments of PVR products will increase from 1.5 million in 2002 to over 11 million in 2005. Of the new PVR product segments, their analysts consider combination DVD player-PVR products among the most promising. Although the combination products were only introduced in late 2002, In-Stat/MDR projects that unit shipments will reach 2.5 million by 2005.

Installed in minutes, InterVideo's next-generation WinDVD Recorder includes help menus to guide new users in mastering the software's dual-playback/recording functionality and broad feature set.

Pricing, Availability

Compatible with Microsoft(R) Windows(R) 2000, and XP, WinDVD Recorder is available immediately at InterVideo's web site www.intervideo.com. The MSRP will be $149.95 but WinDVD Recorder is currently available for an introductory price of $119.95. InterVideo also offers WinDVR, for users who want the ability to record TV broadcasts with time-shifting capabilities.

May 28 - SplashData Launches SplashPhoto for Windows Powered Pocket PC. SplashData, Inc., the leading developer of "virtual wallet" applications for mobile devices, announces the launch of SplashPhoto for Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC.

SplashPhoto for Pocket PC is a conversion of the company's popular Palm OS title, recently named "Best Image Viewer" by the editorial staff of Handheld Computing Magazine.

SplashPhoto offers a fast, easy-to-use image viewer for Pocket PC PDAs, bringing the speed and simplicity that has made SplashPhoto such a popular choice among users of Palm Powered PDAs to the Pocket PC platform. SplashPhoto provides a host of options for building and managing a library of photo images on Pocket PC devices, with a simple user interface and a first-of-its-kind Windows desktop application designed to make it easier than ever to crop, edit and install optimized images for handheld display.

"For decades, people have been showing off wallet-sized pictures of their kids in cheap, discolored vinyl pockets that unfold accordion-style to ridiculous lengths," said John Chaffee, SplashData's president. "SplashPhoto is a much better alternative, providing the ability to store and present hundreds of photos in the crystal clear display of a Pocket PC."

SplashPhoto users can browse images stored on internal memory or external memory cards in either list or thumbnail views and categorize them into personalized groups. Images may be viewed individually or as part of a slide show.

SplashPhoto Desktop, the application's Windows companion, is used to crop and edit images to the proper resolution for the Pocket PC display, and enables users to easily drag-and-drop images or entire folders of images for uploading to the handheld. Images are immediately uploaded to the handheld and organized into user-defined categories.

Offering copies of pictures to friends, family members or colleagues has never been easier thanks to SplashPhoto's picture-sharing options. Users can choose to beam selected images to another Pocket PC handheld device or Windows Desktop computer via infrared or attach images to emails for Outlook distribution.

"SplashData offers an exciting, new Pocket PC application that highlights the rich digital media experience enabled by the Windows Powered Pocket PC platform," said Mark Spain, Director of the Mobile Devices Division at Microsoft Corp. "Using SplashPhoto, the growing user base of digital photographers are empowered to organize entire photo albums and create personalized slideshows on their Pocket PC devices."

SplashPhoto is available for a limited time at an introductory offer of $9.95 -- 50% off the normal price of $19.95 at www.splashdata.com.

May 27 - FirewireDirect Offers FireWire 800/1394b Notebook CardBus Adapter. FirewireDirect.com, Inc announces the industry's first FireWire 800 CardBus/PCMCIA adapter for Type II slots. The new FireWire 800/1394b CardBus Adapter offers 2-Ports, a 9-pin FireWire 800 port for connecting new 800Mbps FireWire 1394b devices and an independent legacy 6-pin port for 400Mbps FireWire products.

The separate legacy and 800Mbps ports are capable of supporting up to 63 devices with no negative performance impact on the newer, faster FireWire devices while maintaining compatibility with existing cables.

800Mbps FireWire possesses all the same features that make FireWire the standard for digital data transmission and storage, but FireWire 800/1394b doubles the performance. The new card is fully compliant with this new implementation of the FireWire standard, offering speeds of up to 800Mbps (twice as fast as the existing FireWire standard) along with enhancements to data integrity that will make FireWire 800 even better suited for digital video and audio work.

Daniel Jackson, FirewireDirect's Chief Technical Officer, says FireWire 800 is cause for excitement: "FireWire is already the technology of choice for high speed peripherals. This new CardBus brings this technology to a more portable format."

The new FireWire 800/1394b CardBus employs the latest and most powerful Texas Instruments (TXN) OHCI-Lynx chipset.

It is for sale now at the FirewireDirect web site: www.firewiredirect.com.

May 27 - Other World Computing Introduces Mercury Extreme G4/1.33GHz Processor Upgrade. Other World Computing (OWC) today debuted its Mercury Extreme product line with a G4/1.33 Gigahertz (GHz) processor upgrade, available immediately for $579.99.

The first 1.33GHz processor upgrade to hit the market for the Power Macintosh G4, OWC's Mercury Extreme G4/1.33GHz processor is also the fastest Macintosh processor to date. Each unit comes with a 30-day, 100 percent money back guarantee, as well as a three-year limited warranty.

OWC's Mercury Extreme G4 is a simple replacement solution for existing processors that increases computer speed, efficiency and longevity, and is a true plug-and-play solution that does not use or require enabling software. Fully compatible with PowerMac G4 AGP-equipped models (350Megahertz to 1GHz), the Mercury Extreme G4 acts as a replacement to the stock Apple G4 daughtercard and does not take up a separate PCI or AGP slot. The Mercury Extreme G4 also includes a pre-installed, high-performance heat sink and an ultra-quiet cooling fan.

"We're extremely pleased to be the first to market these new G4/1.33GHz processor upgrades and to introduce the Mercury Extreme brand to the world," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "We believe that the OWC Mercury Extreme is positioned to become one of the most reliable and economical brands available. With this new processor upgrade our customers will experience extreme speed and performance at a very reasonable price. In other words, the Mercury Extreme G4/1.33GHz delivers a whole lot of bang for the buck."

Made with the highest-quality components available, the Mercury Extreme uses Tantalum-dipped resistors and capacitors (to resist electroshock discharge), is capable of safe operation at high temperatures, and is designed to last longer than other upgrade processors using conventional parts.

"Since the Mercury Extreme G4's custom heat sink/fan system actually operates cooler than the competition, we used heat-resistant parts to further increase reliability and lifespan," O'Connor said. "Not only is our heat sink greatly improved over other heat sinks designed for older processors, but our system also includes a cooling fan which directs air across the heat sink for optimum cooling without simply pushing air against it. The fan is also whisper quiet and does not add to system noise."

The Mercury Extreme G4 features a Motorola PowerPC G4 7455a 1.33GHz processor, 256 Kilobytes of 1:1 L2 cache on-chip and 2 Megabytes of high-speed synchronous dynamic RAM (DDR L3) operating at up to 267 Megahertz (MHz). The Mercury Extreme G4 is compatible with Sawtooth, Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio, Quicksilver and Quicksilver 2002 Apple Power Macintosh models and supports Mac OS 9.2.1 and higher, as well as OS X and higher, including all 10.2.x versions.

Additional details and complete pricing information about OWC's Mercury Extreme G4/1.33GHZ processor upgrade can be found online at http://www.macsales.com/Extreme.

May 27 - AMIBIOS Supports Intel's Latest Chipsets. AMI announces that its PC initialization software, AMIBIOS, supports platforms based on the combination of the Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 processor and the Intel(R) 865G Springdale chipset, as well as high-end gaming PCs based on the 875P (Canterwood).

The Intel(R) 865G and Intel 865PE chipsets with integrated graphics extend the computing power of Hyper-Threading technology -previously targeted only at high-end systems - to mainstream desktop applications. This support, coupled with existing support for the 875P (Canterwood) allows AMI to address two crucial markets: desktops and PC-based workstations based on Intel's Pentium 4 processors. Several new features in these chipsets expand desktop performance, graphics and communications capability:

-- Intel Extreme Graphics 2

-- 800MHz FSB, Hyper-Threading Technology

-- Dual Channel DDR memory

-- Stable Image Technology

-- Intel Gigabit Ethernet

-- Optional integrated software RAID technology

The 865G and 865PE chipsets are designed to support Pentium 4 processors with Hyper-Threading technology and 800 MHz FSB system bus. Systems powered by those processors and chipsets are meant to execute network-intensive tasks simultaneously.

Numerous PCs featuring the new Intel Pentium 4 - 2.80C, 2.60C and 2.40C GHz - and the 865G Chipset are enabled by AMIBIOS8. These platforms are being shipped by major motherboard and PC manufacturers.

For more information on AMI products and services, visit www.ami.com.

May 27 - Kazaa Media Desktop Sets Most Downloaded Software Record. Sharman Networks Limited today announced that Kazaa Media Desktop has become the most downloaded software, having overtaken the previous record-holder, ICQ, by reaching 229,513,316 worldwide downloads. Kazaa Media Desktop is distributed without charge and enables its users to download more licensed content than any other application.

"The entire Sharman Networks team thanks users worldwide for embracing Kazaa Media Desktop," said Sharman Networks CEO Nikki Hemming. "Our vision from inception was to develop and prove a model for the distribution of licensed content."

Kazaa Media Desktop's download record comes at a key period in the peer-to-peer industry's positive evolution, following the April 2003 ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that reinforces the legality of file sharing applications.

Licensed files, including music, movies, games and software are made available to users through Sharman Networks' partnership with Altnet. More than 20 million licenses are acquired by Kazaa Media Desktop users per month. In 16 months of operation, Sharman Networks has shown that its business model is both sound and successful.

"Congratulations go to the entire Sharman team for an outstanding accomplishment," said Hemming. "We will continue to innovate and deliver users the best possible experience, while expanding the choice of licensed content."

Hemming credits the success of Kazaa Media Desktop to her team's rigorous respect for user privacy and their focus on delivering users the best in usability, security, and speed.

Kazaa Media Desktop Features Include:

-- Seek and Find: Search for and download audio/music, documents,

images, playlists, software, and video files in an easy to use

interface.

-- Gold Icon Files: Licensed content from Altnet including

software, games, music and films.

-- Kreate: A long-running program that encourages users to

generate and distribute original content.

-- Family Filter: Default setting designed to filter and remove

adult or offensive material from search results.

-- Free Virus Protection: Integrated and easy to use protection

from Bullguard -- when activated, shared folders are

automatically scanned on startup and during each download.

-- Integrity Ratings: Files labeled by users according to

technical quality and completeness of metadata to enhance

reliability.

-- Help Guides: Orientation for new users, plus web-based,

technical instruction to educate users and enhance experience.

-- Kazaa Showcase: Promotion platform for premium licensed

content.

-- Languages: Available in English, French, German and Spanish.

The record for most downloaded applications, as counted by CNET's industry-leading www.Download.com, was achieved May 23, 2003. Kazaa Media Desktop has been the most popular application available through Download.com for 55 consecutive weeks.

May 27 - Lydia Email Agent adds Aggressive Anti-Spam Features. KAB Software has released version 5.0 of Lydia Email Agent, a Windows email utility that provides a first line of defense from malicious email and spam while making it easy to read, write and reply to your email.

Lydia Email Agent runs from the Windows system tray monitoring your email accounts for new messages, spam and unwanted email. You are notified when new, valid email messages arrive while spam and unwanted messages are unceremoniously dumped to a spam trap. When new email arrives you can easily read it, reply to it, delete it or launch your regular email program with a single click. Because Lydia Email Agent accesses your email while it is still on the server you can quickly delete potentially harmful messages before they get to your inbox.

Version 5.0 adds real-time blocking lists and custom filters to provide aggressive spam filtering. Spam and unwanted email is automatically sent to the spam trap where it can later be reviewed, recovered or deleted. Other features include automatic dial-up and broadband support, spell checking, sending file attachments and SMTP authentication.

Lydia Email Agent includes a complete installation utility with full uninstall support, a setup wizard, and context sensitive help.

Lydia Email Agent costs $19.95 and can be purchased from www.kabsoftware.com.

 

 

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