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Saturday, August 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | BBC TV channels to be put on net BBC TV channels to be put on net

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | BBC TV channels to be put on net BBC TV channels to be put on net
The BBC's TV channels will be made available on the internet, BBC Director General Mark Thompson has confirmed.

He announced plans for the MyBBCPlayer - which will allow viewers to legally download seven days of programmes - at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

He said he hoped the service would launch next year.

Mr Thompson said that unless the BBC adapted "we won't deserve or get licence-fee funding beyond 2016... that is very definitely not our plan".

A simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two, letting UK viewers see programmes on the web at the same time as they go out on TV, is also planned as part of MyBBCPlayer .

'Sophisticated' viewers

"We believe that on-demand changes the terms of the debate, indeed that it will change what we mean by the word 'broadcasting'," said Mr Thompson.

"Every creative leader in the BBC is wrestling with the question of what the new technologies and audience behaviours mean for them and their service," he added.

"An expanding portion" of the BBC's audio and video material from the archive will also be able to be accessed via MyBBCPlayer.

"It should make it easier for users to find the content they want whenever and wherever they want it," Mr Thompson said.

The popularity of the BBC's Bitesize revision series and Beethoven symphonies made available via the internet proves that viewers are already "very sophisticated in the use of this media," he said.

In a departure from past corporation policy, the player would also enable viewers to buy items via the BBC site.

"The idea that in the age of the iPod that the public would not welcome the opportunity to buy a piece of music they heard on the site seems to me to be ridiculous," he said.

Mr Thompson said he would be unable to estimate the cost of the MyBBC Player scheme until the government had confirmed a date for digital switchover - when all of the UK's analogue TV signals will be switched off.

He also responded to Lord Birt's James MacTaggart Memorial lecture, in which Lord Birt suggested that Channel 4 should receive extra funding to secure its status as a public service broadcaster.

Mr Thompson said this aim should not be achieved by giving the channel a share of the BBC's licence fee.

"If you want to strengthen public service broadcasting, beginning to unpick the solidity of the BBC funding to shore up other channels is the wrong way to do it," Mr Thompson said.

Proposals to make clips available on mobile phones are also being speeded up, director of TV Jana Bennett said last week.

The BBC received a "wake-up call" about the demand for new technology in March when the first episode of the new Doctor Who was leaked on to the internet, she said.

Internet debuts

A BBC spokesman said the corporation was aiming to simulcast a channel permanently but would restrict it to UK viewers only.

"These plans are subject to the approval of the board of governors and the resolution of rights clearance issues on content like music and imported shows," he said.

As well as the simulcast plan, more shows are set to follow the lead of BBC Three comedy The Mighty Boosh and appear on the internet before TV.

Sketch show Titty Bang Bang, sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Johnny Vegas' show Ideal will be made available on the internet first.

Clips from the shows will also be made available on mobile phones.

The makers of the new Doctor Who series are among the producers who have been developing ways to use mobile phone and portable players.

And extra content has been filmed for broadband to accompany BBC One's autumn contemporary Shakespeare series.

Story from BBC NEWS: - IBM Software Continually Backs Up Laptop Files - IBM Software Continually Backs Up Laptop FilesIBM Software Continually Backs Up Laptop Files

Company's 'continuous data protection' program available September 16.

James Niccolai, IDG News Service
Friday, August 26, 2005

PARIS -- IBM will release new software next month for automatically backing up files on laptop computers. The product will be aimed primarily at mobile workers and is intended to protect data in the event that files are accidentally deleted or become corrupted, or if a laptop is stolen, IBM says.

Called Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files, the software creates a local backup copy of files each time changes are made, according to Steve Cliff, a United Kingdom regional sales manager for IBM's Tivoli storage software. When the laptop is connected to a network--via a Wi-Fi connection, for example--the software also backs up the data to a remote server.

The product will join an emerging field of so-called continuous data protection (CDP) products. Other vendors include Storactive of Marina del Rey, California, and startup Lasso Logic, in San Francisco. In addition, Veritas is currently beta-testing a CDP product called Backup Exec "Panther".

Still, IBM claims its product is a novel one. Some other systems require a dedicated server to monitor and store file changes, the company notes, while others back up files only periodically--every hour or so--rather than continually.

IBM is aiming its product at both large and small businesses. While the company is marketing it primarily for laptops, the software also works on desktop PCs and enterprise file servers. It will be available via Internet download starting September 16 and on CD the following month, priced at $35 per laptop or desktop and $995 per server processor, IBM says.

Other Options

Most businesses today make backing up their file servers and databases a priority. However, laptop use has become more widespread in recent years, and increasing amounts of corporate data are stored on those machines, making it important to back up that data as well, IBM's Cliff points out.

The software is reasonably priced and could prove popular, particularly among IBM's existing Tivoli Storage System customers, according to Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates of Boulder, Colorado. "It spreads a lot of much-needed data protection out to the desktop, and particularly to laptops," he adds.

The software can be set to back up all files, including Word, Excel, and MP3 files, or to create backups only for particular applications and files, Cliff says. Users can choose where the local backup file is created. That can be done on the laptop's hard disk, or on removable storage media such as a CD or USB (Universal Serial Bus) memory device, he notes.

Applications typically record file changes frequently, even when users are not constantly saving their work. IBM's software records and time-stamps those discrete changes. When problems arise, users can go back and recover files at whatever point seems appropriate.

Later for Linux

The software will be available initially for Windows, with Unix versions to follow within about six months, IBM says. The company will translate the software into other languages besides English later in the year, and it supports double-byte character sets.

The CD will take users through the steps of deciding where the data should be saved on the laptop and configuring the remote server to receive copies. The product can be used on a stand-alone basis or with Tivoli Storage Manager, the company says.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Telegraph Online

The Telegraph Online Sony struggles to stand out in TV crowd

By ALEX PHAM, Los Angeles Times

Published: Friday, Aug. 26, 2005

LOS ANGELES – Keith Kaplan loves his two Sony televisions, one of which has served him well for a dozen years and continues to chug away in his bedroom in Santa Monica.

But when the 47-year-old limousine service owner recently decided to treat himself with a high-definition flat-screen TV, he picked a Panasonic set.

“I couldn’t find any Sony TVs I liked,” said Kaplan, who plunked down $3,500 for the 42-inch plasma set. “This one just had the best picture, and it was a good price.”

Kaplan isn’t alone among customers who are turning away from Sony Corp. for their TV purchases.

In the shift from cathode ray tube TVs to flat-panel displays, nimbler rivals have nibbled away at Sony’s dominance, narrowing the gap in quality and aggressively undercutting the Tokyo-based electronics giant on price.

“Sony’s products have always commanded a price premium because it was Sony,” said analyst Michelle Abraham of In-Stat, a market research firm in Scottsdale, Ariz. “But consumers’ willingness to pay that premium is eroding. . . . You can no longer assume that the other brands aren’t going to be as good. It’s an ongoing issue that Sony will have to face.”

That’s a dramatic shift from the days when Sony’s Trinitron sets garnered as much as 50 percent of the high-end television market and represented about 20 percent of all TV sets sold, according to market research firm Envisioneering Group in Seaford, N.Y.

Sony still commands considerable clout and market share in the $77 billion global TV business. The company sold $8.9 billion worth of TVs in the fiscal year ended March 31, up 3.4 percent from the year before; that represented 13 percent of total revenue.

But the company has struggled lately to keep up with a raft of low-cost competitors operating in China, Taiwan and South Korea, especially in the market for large flat-screen sets. Indeed, Sony last month blamed sour first-quarter financial results on its TV business, which suffered a 21 percent drop in revenue from a year earlier.

Company executives acknowledged that they were caught flat-footed when TV prices fell far more this year than they had projected. The price plunge has prompted Sony to lower its overall sales projection for its full fiscal year by 3 percent to $67.8 billion and its net income forecast to $93.5 million, down 88 percent from its April estimate.

Sony Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda, in announcing last quarter’s results, said prices plunged across the world in all TV technologies. Prices for TVs with liquid crystal displays, or LCDs, are expected to drop 50 percent in Europe this year, he said. In the United States and Japan, the declines are projected to be 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Although Sony has deeply discounted its prices, competitors have cut even more.

Some analysts say the Sony brand, though still strong, has less cachet than it used to. That creates opportunities for companies such as Dell Inc., the No. 1 personal computer maker, to sell low-priced plasma and LCD TVs sight unseen through its online store. Because Dell sells directly to consumers and does not need to share profit with retailers, it can generally offer lower prices.

“In our research over the years, we’ve found that the number of people who make their technology buying decisions based on brand goes down every year, while the number who base it on price goes up every year,” said Josh Bernoff, analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. “The advent of Dell shows that people aren’t as brand conscious. Dell caters to people who want value.”

The emphasis on value presents a challenge for Sony, whose traditional approach has stressed high quality at a price premium.

But with TV components increasingly coming from a handful of common suppliers, standing out from the crowd becomes more difficult.

“While Sony continues to have a good reputation for innovation, it’s become harder to maintain differentiation in the big-screen TV segment because they’re all starting to look alike,” Bernoff said. “That’s because many of the components for these sets are often manufactured in the same places.”

That’s the case with Sony’s plasma TVs. Sony has had to buy its plasma screens from South Korean and Chinese suppliers and thus rely on what is essentially generic technology.

Until recently, Sony had to turn to outside manufacturers for its liquid crystal display screens as well.

Sony executives say they are taking steps to regain their footing. They are placing their bets this year on LCD and even higher-resolution rear-projection microdisplay TVs, the one sector in which the company has consistently dominated.

Seeking growth in the LCD market, Sony has invested $1 billion in a joint venture with Samsung for a plant in South Korea that manufactures the screens. Sony, which in July began shipping TVs with panels from the plant, expects to ramp up production heading into the crucial holiday and Super Bowl selling season.

“This will be the fastest-growing segment of our product line,” said Greg Gudorf, vice president of television marketing for Sony’s U.S. electronics business in San Diego.

Sony also is shoring up its lead in rear-projection microdisplay TVs by incorporating a high-end chip technology it had initially reserved for its ultra-premium sets costing $13,000 or more.

Analysts expect Sony to further sharpen its product focus when new Chief Executive Howard Stringer releases the company’s reorganization plan, as he is expected to do next month.

“Once the dust settles from Stringer’s announcement in September, we’re likely to see from Sony a much more carefully and narrowly drawn set of priorities,” said Mark Stahlman, an analyst with New York investment bank Caris & Co.

Monday, August 22, 2005 - Magazine Article - Magazine ArticleGoogle Likely Range-Bound Post-Offering
David Ng, 08.19.05, 5:00 PM ET

The technology sector saw more mixed earnings results this week. Still, investors had a lot to mull over as an Internet giant filed a significant public share offering. In the computer sector, another giant revealed crucial information about a highly anticipated product.

Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) said on Thursday that it has submitted a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing to issue 14.1 million common shares. The total offering is valued at approximately $4 billion. Various reports stated that Google is likely to use the capital to pursue acquisitions. Shares of Google fell nearly 3% on Thursday's news and were down by slightly more than 3% for the week overall. The public offering announcement came a day before the one-year anniversary of the Internet company's much-heralded 2004 IPO. Merrill Lynch (nyse: MER - news - people ) reiterated a "neutral" rating on Google, saying the stock will likely be range-bound until investors have more information regarding the use of the proceeds of the offering.

Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) announced on Wednesday it will roll out two versions of its highly anticipated Xbox 360. The software company expects both versions to be available by the holiday season in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The Xbox 360 Core System will go for a $299.99 retail value, while the premium Xbox 360, which features a wireless controller and a 20 gigabyte hard drive, will sell for a hundred dollars more. UBS reiterated a "buy" rating on Microsoft, saying the decision to sell two versions may result in potential upside to its Xbox franchise revenue estimate of $3.7 billion in fiscal 2006.

Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQ - news - people ) showed signs of a turnaround when it reported strong third-quarter results on Tuesday. The hardware company's operating earnings beat consensus estimates for the period, even though net income fell year-over-year. For the quarter, HP posted net earnings per share of 3 cents, down from 19 cents in the year-ago period. Operating earnings were 36 cents per share, beating the analysts' estimates of 31 cents. Revenue rose approximately 10% to $20.76 billion. UBS maintained a "neutral" rating on HP, saying CEOMark Hurd has made a quick impact on the company. The research firm raised the fourth-quarter earnings estimate to 46 cents from 44 cents.

Gateway (nyse: GTW - news - people ) disappointed investors when it cut its 2005 forecast, sending shares of the hardware company down sharply on Monday. For the week, shares of Gateway were off approximately 17%. Gateway swung to a second-quarter earnings per share of 5 cents, versus a year-ago loss of 91 cents. Revenue was $873.1 million, up from $837.6 million. For full-year 2005, Gateway lowered its full-year GAAP earnings-per-share guidance to a range of 11 cents to 13 cents, from a previous range of 15 cents to 17 cents. Revenue guidance was lowered to a range of $3.9 billion to $4.0 billion, from a previous range of $4.0 billion to $4.25 billion. The company cited on-going tax settlements and margin pressure in several businesses.

Autodesk (nasdaq: ADSK - news - people ) rose more than 5% on Friday on heavy volume following a positive second-quarter earnings report. The maker of design software posted net earnings per share of 30 cents, almost double from the year-ago period. Revenue was $373 billion, up from $238.4 billion. Autodesk said in a press release that its performance was driven by strong growth in revenue from new seats, upgrades and subscriptions, increasing penetration of its vertical and 3-D products and continued improvement in profitability. Following the earnings announcement, Piper Jaffray reiterated an "outperform" rating on Autodesk and raised the target price to $46 from $42. The research firm cited the prolonged life cycle of the company's AutoCAD 2002 product as a positive announcement from the company.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sony VAIO VGN-S470P Laptop Review by PC Magazine

Sony VAIO VGN-S470P Laptop Review by PC Magazine Sony VAIO VGN-S470P
REVIEW DATE: 08.04.05
The Sony VAIO VGN-S470P packs a walloping performance in a remarkably sleek and slim design.

Travel friendly. Good performance. Very good graphics. Stylish.

Below-average battery life. Expensive additional battery. Base gets warm.

Sony Corporation

Price: $1,899.00 Direct
Type: Business, Gaming, General Purpose, Media, Ultraportable
Operating System: MS Windows XP Professional
Processor Name: Intel Pentium M 740
Processor Speed: 1.73 GHz
RAM: 512 MB
Hard Drive Capacity: 80 GB
Graphics: nVidia GeForce 6200 Go
Primary Optical Drive: Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Wireless: 802.11g
Screen Size: 13.3 inches
Screen Size Type: widescreen
System Weight: 4.3 lbs

By Joel Santo Domingo

Sony has always delivered impressively designed systems that inspired envy, and lately the company has been adding quite a bit of power to its systems as well. Its latest laptop, the VAIO VGN-S470P ($1,899.99 direct as tested), offers an impressive combination of power, sleekness, and portability. If you're looking for a very lightweight notebook that can efficiently handle tough workloads, this is the system for you.

The 4.3-pound laptop has a thin cover that houses a 13.3-inch XBrite widescreen, giving it a slim footprint (1.0 by 12.5 by 8.7 inches, HWD). The 1,280-by-800 resolution is good for graphics, movies, basic office apps like spreadsheets, and composing e-mails.

* Our Favorite Back to School Gear

The ports are what you'd expect on a laptop of this size: There are two USB (we wish they had squeezed in three) and one FireWire. We were impressed with the inclusion of the dual-layer DVD+/-RW drive (DVD+RW for dual-layer media) which will let you record up to 8.5GB of data, music, and video. Although that media is currently hard to find and a bit pricey, this drive is a nice addition. The 80GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive is also extremely attractive for such a small system, worthy of handling all your music and movie files, as well as adding a performance boost. The card reader will read only Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro formats—typical of Sony.

The VGN-S470P includes powerful components, such as a Pentium M 740 (1.73 GHz), 512MB DDR2 SDRAM, and discrete graphics powered by nVidia to complement the strong feature set. The system outperformed our current Editors' Choice, the significantly heavier HP Pavilion dv4000 ($1,429), on our SYSmark 2004 tests, even with a lower processor clock rate. It also outperformed the Dell Inspiron 700m ($1,199), which is similar in size, weight, and screen, but has older Centrino components. Such powerful performance is a boon, but it makes the base of the system get quite warm after about an hour.

The nVidia GeForce Go 6200 is perhaps the VGN-S470P's most attractive component. It's capable of running graphics-intensive applications, and delivered good numbers on our 3D and gaming tests. Battery life (2:42) did suffer a bit because of the discrete graphics. PCI Express graphics tend to draw a lot more from the battery than do the integrated Intel offerings found in the Dell 700m (5:30) and the HP dv4000 (3:17). Normally, we would recommend an additional battery, but in Sony's case, the additional battery will cost $300—a bit expensive for the average consumer, but if you frequently travel cross-country, it might be worth the investment.

The Sony VAIO VGN-S470P is a wonderful blend of style, power, and lightweight portability that will please commuters and frequent business travelers alike, as well as anyone who seeks power in small package.

Check out the reviews mentioned here in a side-by-side comparison table.
Sony VAIO VGN-S470P's Test Results

Multimedia Tests
PC Magazine uses the same tests and the same scale when rating the multimedia—Music, Photos, Video, Gaming—on desktops and notebooks. We do this so it is easy to compare consumer notebooks against consumer desktops in addition to comparisons within each category. As a guide: the best desktops will score above a 90 on a given subject, and the best notebooks will score above a 70. The reason for this is even the most advanced notebook will have to give up some capabilities, when compared to a desktop, for portability: notably size and weight compromises that affect hard drive space and screen size, as well as power compromises that affect CPU and graphics performance.

Subratings (out of 100):
Music: 58
Photo: 63
Video: 35
Gaming: 47

Benchmark Test Results
Check out the Sony VAIO VGN-S470P's test scores.