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Orange takes on the iPod (again)

Mobile music mayhem

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Orange takes on the iPod, again

So are music downloads via mobile phones taking off in the UK? Well yes and no. While some networks seem to now be only offering a half-baked service, others are going from strength to strength. Orange today has announced a few little tweaks to its music download system Music Player which should help make life a bit easier for its users.

The big news is the Orange Music Converter, a rather nifty bit of software for your PC which enables users to convert tracks they have stored on their PC's hard disk into the AAC+ format which is compatible with the Orange Music Player. It works with MP3s and WMAs, but obviously not DRM-ed WMA and AAC tracks downloaded from Napster, iTunes et al. The reason you might want to do this is that the AAC+ tracks take up just 700k of space on a storage card as opposed to 3/4MB of a full MP3 track. So your 512MB SD card instantly now holds the same as a two Gig card would if loaded with MP3s. There is obviously a slight trade off in terms of sound quality though not as much as you might think. Probably the best comparison is MP3 at 96kbps. From now on users will also be able control the tracks they have downloaded via Orange (they start at £1 a shot) using a web page. The page lists the tracks they currently own and enables the user to take the music to and from their mobile. Even if their handset is stolen they can automatically transfer the tracks they have paid for to their next phone.

Orange also let on that it was currently looking at the two hard disk based phones – the Nokia N91 and the Samsung SGH-i300 and that Orange subscribers might be able to take delivery of them in the New Year. The Music Player is currently compatible with eleven phones, though Orange has promised to roll it out to cheaper, more youth-oriented handsets next year.

Europe gets its first 4G network

Forget 3G - it’s old hat now with its sluggish connections, rubbish quality TV and video and snail-like downloads. Nope we are moving to the Czech Republic where, as from yesterday, the inhabitants of a country previously best known for top quality lager, Franz Kafka and not especially politically correct football fans have Europe's first 4G service to play with. Installed by T-Mobile it uses UMTS TD-CDMA technology to deliver download speeds of up to 1Mbps – two and a half times faster than the UK 3G networks. T-Mobile says it hopes to attract subscribers who will stick the 4G friendly PCMCIA card in their laptops (there’s no 4G phones available for Europe yet) and surf like there is no tomorrow. Interestingly T-Mobile is only charging €34 per month for the one Meg service, which is a lot cheaper than its 3G rates over in the UK. The service is only available in Prague at the moment, but it is being rolled out across the Republic.

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Top story on Games Digest

Sony upgrades PSP pack

Sony computer entertainment has unveiled plans to introduce a new retail package for the PSP entitled the Giga Pack. From 28 November, you will be able to buy a package bundle which includes the usual PSP unit, AC adaptor and USB cable on top of a 1GB (instead of the Value’s 32MB) Memory Stick Pro Duo and the new PSP stand for hands free viewing.

That means, unless Sony drop the price of the Value Pack, you’ll be paying a mere £35 for a stand and a gig of memory (equating to around 30 hours of music). Doesn’t seem too bad a deal does it? Also on Games Digest

Top story on Shiny Shiny

Tesco’s pink mobile

"Right then, guys! We've got to design a phone for women. What do the ladies like? I know! Make-up and the colour pink! Right! Let's get to work!" This Newgen C800 looks more than familiar, bearing a striking similarity to the ill-fated Siemens Xelibri "compact" mobile. So forgive me if I don't hold out a lot of hope for Tesco Mobile's latest exclusive handset. The powder-puff style pink phone seems to have a few more features on board than the old Siemens number, including a camera and built in speakers with 3D stereo sound effects, but it will still require some level of dedication when it comes to using it - just looking at that strange doubled-up keypad is giving me the collywobbles. Strictly one for pink-fixated teens with plenty of patience, I suspect. Grab yours for £79.99 pre-pay (special offer).

Also on Shiny Shiny

PC tip of the day from Propellerhead

Q: I have been invited by a friend to sign up for Google Gmail and it looks like a good idea but I have found in the past that webmail services are not very convenient, as I have to remember to keep checking the inbox. Is there any way I can get Outlook Express to check Gmail, and if so how? Jenny Hewlett

A: No problem and there's a couple of ways to keep tabs on your Gmail account. Google has produced a little freeware utility called Gmail Notifier: (http://toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper/index?promo=gdl-en) that monitors your Gmail inbox and tells you when there is mail waiting, or you can set up Outlook Express to check it at the same time as your regular email accounts.

To do that in OE go to Tools > Accounts and select the Mail tab, Click Add then Mail and enter your name in the Display Name box. Click Next then in the email address box enter you full Gmail address and click Next. In the next window in the Incoming mailbox enter ‘pop.gmail.com’ (without the quotes) and in the Outgoing mail box type ‘ ‘smtp.gmail.com’. Click Next and enter your Gmail username and password then click Finish. The last job is to go to Tools > Accounts, highlight the Gmail account and click Properties then the Advanced tab. Check both items ‘ This server requires a secure connection (SSL)’, in the Outgoing Mail (SMTP) box enter 465 and in the Incoming Mail (POP3) box should change to 995. Now select the Servers tab and check the box ‘My Server requires authentication’, click OK and it’s done.

Also on Propellerhead

Top stories from our Shiny Media's other blogs:

Bayraider

HDTVUK (High Def blog)

Popjunkie (great lost pop albums)

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