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Why Nokia's 'Tube' Is the iPhone's Biggest Threat



The iPhone is still king of the smartphone, but Apple's future dominance is in serious question with a flurry of new competitors. Nokia is the latest to threaten the iPhone's dominance with its just released touchsceen phone the 5800 Express Music phone, previously known as "Tube."




While this is not Nokia's first touchscreen phone (the 7710 was launched back in 2004) the Finns definitely borrowed some design cues from Apple's iPhone, but it seems that Nokia has hit all the right notes with the 5800. And above all, apparently, you get so much more for your money than with an iPhone.

The 5800 Express Music will be available this quarter for about $390, simfree (iPhone comes with a two year contract for $199). Only the simfree part could be a great selling point, as you would be able to use the phone on any network, anywhere around the world, without the hurdle of unlocking the phone(legally or not quite as legally).

No word on when this phone will hit the US market. Unfortunately it's highly unlikely to see the 5800 here in the U.S. in time for this holiday season. Most likely, Nokia will test the waters across the pond in Europe and early next year we might see Tube on a GSM carrier in the UK, as in T-Mobile or AT&T. But if you travel to Europe this winter, you can snap up an unlocked one from there - as the Tube is compatible with North American HSDPA (GSM) carriers.

Tube will feature the Nokia's Comes with Music bundle, which will allow users to freely download an unlimited number of songs from Nokia's Music Store over a year after the initial purchase.

For the iPhone, you know the drill: iTunes Music Store, $0.99 a pop. Being able to download as many songs as they want, for free, seems to be a great selling point for the 5800, especially for those who are on a lower budget.

Nokia's 5800 Express Music also features a 3.2-megapixel camera, with autofocus Carl Zeiss optics and a dual LED flash. All these blow iPhone's 2006 style 2-megapixel-no flash camera out of the water. Also, Tube records videos at VGA quality (640X480px) and has a frontal camera for video calls, something that the iPhone can't do at all. In this category, it's clear who's the winner.



Storage capacity-wise, the 5800 and iPhone seems to be on the par. Tube comes with an 8GB memory card and supports up to 16GB cards. Still, the Tube can have a slight advantage for those who want more than the given storage capacity, as they can buy additional memory cards and just pop them in the phone (iPhone's memory is built in and cannot be expanded).



The rest of the features, are just like one would expect from a true iPhone competitor. GPS, Wi-Fi and a 3.5mm jack so you can plug in any headphone you like. But as an added extra, 5800 will support Adobe Flash from the start, something that iPhone is still lacking, so the Web browsing experience might even be better than Apple's.

The only thing left to doubt about the new Nokia 5800 Express Music is the software interface. From pictures and video snippets around the Web one can't really give a proper verdict which one is the winner.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for a full review.

The Apple hype did help Apple to sell millions of iPhones, but Nokia sells over 500 million devices every year, out of which almost 100 million are smartphones. If we take in consideration brand loyalty and the other advantages Tube has over iPhone, we're about to see a very tight competition between the two.

Budget-minded photo enthusiasts will like the premium features tacked onto this unit's basic chassis.



HP's Photosmart D5460 inkjet printer is a bargain that you can brag about. Though it's a bare-bones printer in most respects, it has a few standout features that any photo enthusiast would love to have.

In our laboratory tests, the Photosmart D5460 pushed paper quickly, managing a swift 11.4 pages per minute when printing text-only pages and 3.4 ppm when printing graphics. The main input tray holds just 125 sheets (lower than average), however, and it doesn't accept legal-size media.

Among the printer's positives are a dedicated 20-sheet photo-paper tray, which handles paper sizes of up to 5 inches by 7 inches, and an integrated input tray and caddy for specially coated CD or DVD media. The CD/DVD input tray nests within the printer's front bay and pulls down easily for use. The caddy (conveniently stored beneath the main input tray) is bendy, but it makes feeding optical media into the printer fairly straightforward.

The Photosmart D5460 has one other interesting feature: an extra, pigment-based black ink for printing text, supplementing HP's usual, dye-based black, cyan, magenta, and yellow inks for graphics. We liked the blackness of the text we printed on plain paper, though we noticed a little feathering around the characters. Photos printed on HP's own paper looked natural (aside from a slight orange cast to flesh tones) and showed sharp detail even in dark or muted areas.

The inks are impressively economical, too. The Photosmart D5460 ships with regular-size (130- to 300-page) cartridges for all five inks, butHP sells high-capacity versions of all colors. The regular-size cyan cartridge, for instance, costs $10 and lasts about 300 pages (per HP), which works out to an affordable 3.3 cents per page. The 750-page (by HP's estimate) cyan cartridge costs $15--or just 2 cents per page.

The printer's control panel is simple, with an angled, 1.5-inch color LCD and only four buttons. When you insert a media card into one of the front slots, you can use the LCD display to scroll through your photographs and select one or more for printing.

The Photosmart D5460 starts out as a basic machine, but it provides more options and higher-quality output than you'd expect for the price. If you're concerned about the high cost of photo printing, this economically designed model may provide the answer you've been looking for.

Windows XP gets another lifeline




Bowing to continued demand, Microsoft has again extended the life of Windows XP.


Three months after Microsoft stopped selling new copies of Windows XP, the software remains a top seller on Amazon.com.
(Credit: Amazon.com)

Although the largest PC makers can't sell XP anymore (except for ultra-low-cost machines), they can sell Vista Ultimate and Vista Business machines with XP discs in the box, or even Vista machines that are "factory downgraded" to Windows XP.

That option was supposed to go away early next year, as Microsoft was going to stop supplying Windows XP media after January 31. However, the company now says it will offer the discs through July 31, giving the option a six-month extension. (Update: PC makers will also be able to sell the factory downgraded machines online as well.)

In a statement provided to CNET News, Microsoft tried to put the best face on the move.

"As more customers make the move to Windows Vista, we want to make sure that they are making that transition with confidence and that it is as smooth as possible," Microsoft said. "Providing downgrade media for a few more months is part of that commitment, as is the Windows Vista Small Business Assurance program, which provides one-on-one, customized support for our small-business customers."

CEO Steve Ballmer said on Thursday in France that 180 million copies of Vista have been sold, but he noted that businesses continue to move at their own pace. When asked about whether companies should move to Vista or wait for Windows 7, even Ballmer said it depends on the business.

"So, my point isn't to encourage you to do it immediately; of course, we'd love you to do it immediately," Ballmer said. "My real advice is to do it in the natural rhythm of your PC upgrade cycle...Most of you will not upgrade the software on existing hardware. Some will. Most of you will actually choose to buy new machines when you move forward, and so we should work with you in that context."

The less major computer makers, known as system builders in Microsoft parlance, are still able to sell XP machines without having to do the Vista downgrade thing. That option is set to end Jan. 31 and Microsoft says that date isn't being extended.

Microsoft stopped selling Windows XP on June 30, though it continues to be available as retail supplies last. It has been a top seller on Amazon for some time, and several versions of XP are still among the retailer's top 25 best-selling software titles.

The six-month extension for XP discs was noted earlier by The Register, a tech news site.