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Ubiquisys Launches 16 User Business Femto

Consumer indoor coverage technology, femtocells, get an enterprise-grade makeover

Femtocells – tiny base-stations designed to boost indoor coverage for consumers – could launch in the enterprise, with a new product from Ubiquisys.

A femtocells is a small low-power 3G base station, that handles calls and data from 3G phones, but sits inside a building and connects to the cellular network over wired broadband, thus easing the load on big “macro” cells outside the building, and giving the user better coverage indoors.

These devices have yet to be properly launched anywhere, although Sprint in the US sells a CDMA – not 3G – femtocell for voice calls only, and Softbank is holding trials in Japan. Vendors have so far been offering products designed for consumers (Ubuiqusys’ ZoneGate has been put into devices that Netgear and others are pitching to operators), but Ubiquisys will take a different tack with its G3 device, to be shown this week at the Femtocells World Summit in London.

The G3 supports up to 16 users and multiple devices can be co-ordinated to bring phone signals inside large offices where coverage is sparse. The device is made possible by a new femtocell chip, the Aquillo from Percello, and will be available in the Autumn.

The G3 supports the HSPA+ 3G standard, and can connect devices at up to 21.6Mbps down and 5.7Mbps up from devices connected to it. It includes cognitive radio technology, which reduces interference problems by adapting to radio signals around it.

The device also supports a co-ordination technology which Ubiquisys calls “FemtoMesh”. This is not an actual wireless mesh network, as all nodes are connected to the office LAN and thence to the cellular network. Instead it is a system to handle co-ordinate signal strengths, and handover client devices between the femtos in the office, explained Ubiquisys’ vice president of marketing, Keith Day.

The device also allows the IT administrator to monitor and control the wireless network (although coverage is completely automatic) and watch what devices are connected, and what performance they are getting.

Despite operators’ hesitation so far, the programme of this week’s World Summit includes presentations from more of them than previous years, including Vodafone, AT&T;,BT, Virgin, T-Mobile, Telecom Italia and Softbank.

“This year, the agenda is dominated by operators” said Day. “I’m hoping that some of them are going to say something concrete about their plans. What the industry needs is an operator that does the full promotional package on a femtocell.” With poor indoor coverage, there should be high demand for such a service, he said, and operators could offer free data connections at home without overloading the macro cells of their network: “That’s a way of getting poeple started on the 3G data experience.”

Meanwhile, enterprise femtos could be a good market as operators have trouble serving customers in small locations with poor indoor coverage: “If you have ten to 100 people, it is rarely cost effective to put in a picocell or a DAS [distributed antenna system]. Femtos take the cost of radio engineering out as these things can be self installed.”

Although initially launched for the business market, the G3 will eventually replace the earlier models in Ubiquisys’ consumer range, giving better performance across the board, said Day.

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Goverment IT News Security

UK Cyber Security Challenge Launched To Promote Skills

Autumn will see a Cyber Challenge in the UK, designed to create new security professional

A challenge is being launched to persuade users to develop necessary IT security skills in Britain.

The UK Cyber Security Challenge, modelled on the US Cyber Challenge will set tasks, such as treasure hunts or network break-ins, for people who want to establish their information security skills. Winners will get prizes, but will also be up for real jobs in the industry.

Demand for security experts exceeds supply

Details are scanty so far, but the challenge has backing from vendors and government bodies, for a programme which will “bridge the gap between the supply or cyber security experts and the demand,” according to Mohan Koo, managing director in the UK for Australian security firm Dtex – who is on the management team of the challenge.

“There are lots of graduates out there who are skilled, but don’t realise their skills can be harnessed to further a career.” said Koo. The management group surveyed 255 user companies in the UK, and 90 percent of them said they were already having trouble recruiting security professionals, with the majority expecting that difficulty to increase.

The group plans to launch its challenge in autumn, when graduates emerge from university, but aims to sign up more supporting organisations at the Infosec Europe show this week, where the programme will announce its existence.

With sufficient backing, the challenge should be able to offer significant opportunities. The US scheme launched in 2009 has already placed several graduates in jobs as well as creating interesting challenges on the way, said Koo.

Sponsors include the Metropolitan Police, the Cabinet Office, and the Institute of Information Security Professionals.

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UK Green Start-Up Gets Fujitsu Backing

UK start-up company Romonet has developed an open source Java-based simulator tool which will be deployed internally by Fujitsu

An open source data centre simulator platform developed by UK company Romonet and the Carbon Trust has received the backing of Japanese IT giant Fujitsu which has developed its own analysis software on top of the tool.

Fujitsu’s Laboratories of Europe announced details this week of what it calls its Total CO2 and Value Analysis system. The system allows data centre managers to analyse energy use and carbon emissions and “breaks new ground” according to Fujitsu by including physical infrastructure, software, applications and IT services.

The Total CO2 and Value Analysis system was demonstrated at Fujitsu’s European Technology Forum event this week and is expected to be deployed internally in trials in 2010.

Although Fujitsu may opt to sell the system to other companies, it said that one of the main motivations for the development of the tool is the need to improve efficiency at its own global network of 75 data centres. The company said that recent rising in energy prices has seen the cost of running data centres rise by 40 percent.

“A truly green data centre involves combining many different facets, from the correct initial design and provisioning of the centres infrastructure, to adopting a holistic management process that can optimise its energy-efficient operation. This essential combination of efficient infrastructure and management underpins our entire Green Data Centre initiative,” said Dr Fumihiro Maruyama, managing director of Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe.

Although not referenced directly by Fujitsu Labs in its announcement, the Total CO2 and Value Analysis tool is actually based on an open source data centre simulation platform developed by UK data centre efficiency start-up Romonet.

Set up by in 2006 by Zahl Limbuwala and Liam Newcombe, Romonet is currently focused on commercialising the open sourced data centre simulator it developed in conjunction with the British Computer Society and the Carbon Trust.

Speaking to eWeek Europe UK, Romonet founder Liam Newcombe explained it has developed software to provide its customers with credible granular analysis of the costs involved of running a data centre. “We can do things such as say for this virtual machine that you are running somewhere in your data centre, for this month how much of the ammortising capital cost and embodied carbon of the UPS was it responsible for.

A report from analyst company The 451 Group, Romonet emerges from stealth with datacenter energy-modeling software, released in August, explained how Romonnet’s software differs from other data centre efficiency tools. “Many software tools are emerging that can be employed to measure the energy use of individual pieces of datacenter equipment, or of racks and rows of equipment, and some of these tools can also aggregate data to produce measurements and metrics, such as real-time or point-in-time PUE ratios. Romonet’s software takes this further: it allows managers to model what might happen if, for example, a group of 20 servers were to be replaced by five new energy-efficient ones,” the reports author and 451 Group analyst Andy Lawrence wrote.

Limbuwala and Liam Newcombe are also founders of the data centre specialist group at the British Computer Society. Through their relationship with the BCS Newcombe and Limbuwala put through a grant funding proposal to the Carbon Trust which eventually put up around one third of the funding for the simulator. With additional funding, the pair were then able to begin developing their simulator technology

Newcombe said Fujitsu’s decision to build on top of its open source simulator system is recognition that the Japanese company had realised the short-comings of existing approaches to measuring data centre efficiency. “Fujitisu have recognised that that the simplistic piece-meal approach to data centres doesn’t work,” he said. “You can’t save 4 percent here, and 3 percent there and add 6 percent there and add it up and think you have got 13 percent because you haven’t – you have got something else,” he said.

Newcombe said that he hadn’t had time to analyse how Fujitsu’s offering differed from the simulation platform Romonet had developed but explained that only the Java-based simulation engine had been open sourced while a user-interface for the system remains in beta and is only available to BCS members at present. “The firs thing that Fujitsu would have to do is build an interface to the Java code so you can actually use it but the scientist at Fujitsu labs are smart guys and I am sure they have been going through and finding sections that are relevant to them,” he said.

The decision to open source its core simulator tool meant that one day the company could end up competing with commercial software developed on top of its own platform, Newcombe admitted. “That may become the case at some point yes and that is one of the risks of open sourcing it. Fujitsu are simply using the open source version so we would see no revenue from that,” he said.

Questioned on why Romonet had taken the decision to open source its simulator in the first place, Newcombe explained that he wanted to make the ability to accurately simulate data centre behaviour an industry given. “We thought the whole industry should be capable of being able to simulate an entire data centre – just all cell-phones have a GSM radio-stack which is largely open source between the vendors now as they realise they all have to have it,” he said.

Newcombe added that open sourcing the platform also might encourage companies such as Fujitsu to license the commercial version of Romonet’s simulator which has been under development since the open source version was completed.

“Our condition on developing the software [with the Carbon Trust and BCS] was that the software was made available as open source to the market so its now available for people such as ourselves and Fujitsu to commercialise. We thought it was very important that it didn’t come out under one of the more monolithic open source licenses so this has come out under one which explicitly allows commercial exploitation,” he said.

Newcombe added that the license was not a GPL license used to cover open source software such as Linux but rather “a straight open source license” which was non-restrictive. “We thought if the code was open source there would be more opportunity for people to evaluate the code and integrate with it so that people would be able to trust that the simulator wasn’t just another vendor’s “Buy my piece of hardware it will cost you less” tool.”

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UK Not Affected By Mass Nokia Charger Recall

The Finnish phone giant is recalling 14 million Chinese-made phone chargers that might give an electric shock – British users are saved by our eccentric electrical socket standard

Nokia has announced a product recall for 14 million phone chargers, made by a Chinese manufacturer, which could cause an electric shock. Chargers built to fit UK power sockets are not affected.

The recall programme – one of the largest in history – affects the the AC-3E and AC-3U models, made between June 15 and August 9, 2009 and the AC-4U model, made between April 13 and October 25, which have been sold around the world.

The chargers, made by BYD of China, were found to have a tendency to break open, exposing wires inside which could cause a shock if touched when the charger was plugged in. Nokia says it is “not aware” of any injuries, and found the danger itself during “internal tests”. Sources suggest the danger was first reported in the Nettherlands.

The recall does not affect any chargers built for the UK’s distinctive power socket standard, although some UK users may have the chargers, if they bought their phones while abroad.  Full details of the affected chargers are on a Nokia site, chargerexchange.nokia.com. China, Brazil and Argentina are also not affected.

Charger and battery recalls have been a feature of recent life in the tech industry, and have sometimes been damaging to the share price of the company involved, although in this instance Nokia has assured the industry that all the costs will be met by the manufacturer, BYD. In 2007, Nokia replaced 46 million batteries after Matsushita-made components overheated.

This summer saw reports of “exploding” iPods, and HP recalled laptop batteries in May, earlier this

eWEEK caught a rumour of this recall last week, and had it vigorously denied by Nokia last week – though possibly our contact was only referring to the UK.

The picture (left), from Nokia’s charger exchange site shows information to look for on the AC-3E charger.

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UK Owner Reports “Exploding” iPod Touch

The incident in Liverpool follows similar cases reported in the US recently

An iPod Touch belonging to an 11 year old girl from Liverpool apparently “exploded” last month but despite the claims Apple is refusing to comment on the case until it sees the device first hand.

As first reported in The Times on Monday, the girl’s father Ken Stanborough, 47, said that he dropped the device which then made a “hissing noise” and eventually exploded “there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10ft in the air” he reportedly told the newspaper.

Aside from the issue of whether the device actually exploded or not, Apple could be facing more bad publicity from how it appears to have handled the incident. Stanborough apparently told The Times that after contacting the company about the incident, he was sent a letter offering a refund on the condition that “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”.

Apple has so far refused to comment on the case – claiming that it has not seen the device in question so cannot verify the incident.

The reported incident in Liverpool, follows the apparent emergence of similar cases in the US. Late last month, a reporter from Seattle’s KIRO TV station reported how the station used the Freedom of Information Act to get the Consumer Product Safety Commission to turn over 800-pages which referred to issues of iPods overheating.http://www.kirotv.com/video/20142518/index.html.

While the Liverpool case and those reported by KIRO TV are the serious incidents to emerge, there have been other reports of iPod and iPhone batteries overheating.

The French tech site Nowhere Else first reported the story on 26 June, including images of lightly discolored phones, and at PC World, writer Melissa J. Perenson experienced a similar problem, with the iPhone heating up to the point that she couldn’t put it to her cheek. In Perenson’s case, she was using it while it was charging.

RapidRepair CEO Aaron Vronko—who performed this teardown of the iPhone 3G S, literally moments after it first became available—suspects the problem is the battery. If that turns out to be true, Vronko told Wired, “My guess is there’s going to be a whole lot of batteries affected because these are from very large production runs. If you have a problem in the design of a series of batteries, it’s probably going to be spread to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, and maybe more.”

Apple was contacted for further comment but did not reply in time for this article.

In May it emerged that Hewlett-Packard lithium-ion notebook batteries were being recalled, after two reports of overheated batteries resulting in fires that caused minor property damage, though no injuries.

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UK PC Users Are Greener Than Americans

PC users in Britain are more likely than those in the US to switch off PCs for environmental reasons. But there is still a long way to go in reducing wasted power

Nearly a third of UK PC users cite concern for the environment as the main reason for powering down their PC at night compared to around 10 percent of US users according to new research.

Released this week, the 2009 PC Energy Report from the Alliance to Save Energy and Windows management specialist IE, revealed that although UK computer users may be more environmentally motivated than their US counterparts, there is still a lot more that could be done to improve the energy efficiency of PC usage.

According to the survey, if the 17 million workers in the UK who regularly use a computer turned the machine off at night, it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 1.3 million tons – equivalent to removing 245,000 cars from the road. From a financial perspective, the report also claimed that powering down a PC can reduce a machine’s energy useby 80 percent, allowing companies to save more than £26 per desktop PC.

“Powering down inactive PCs can provide a simple yet effective way for businesses to reduce overhead costs and environmental impact,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. “The economic crisis and volatile energy prices make it even more imperative for businesses to save money by saving energy.”

The most common response from US office workers when questioned about why they shut down their machine at night was to ensure the machine continued to work properly, according to the report.

The report also showed that around three in ten workers in the UK do not always power down their PC when they have finished working for the day. For a UK business with 10,000 computers, leaving all the machines on overnight would equate to avoidable costs of £168,000 and 828 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“Employers today have a golden opportunity to demonstrate their environmental and financial leadership by taking a few simple,
energy-saving measures, like setting up processes to power down PCs,” said Sumir Karayi, chief executive officer, 1E. “A computer uses energy even when it appears to be idle. Shutting down PCs when not in use will help businesses to significantly reduce costs while preventing tons of CO2 from being emitted into our atmosphere.”

The report also cited the example of the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families. By enforcing the automatic powering down of PCs overnight and at the weekends, the department has seen a reduction of 35,290 kg of C02, and savings of 53,960kW of electricity.

But despite the energy efficiencies that can be gained from switching off PCs, some green experts have pointed out that the environmental impact of PCs is also linked to the resources used in manufacture.

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UK Staff Oblivious To Company Green Strategy

Corporate carbon emissions are causing a great deal of confusion, with UK staff kidding themselves about the green credentials of their employers

Most British staff believe their company is committed to the green agenda, but they are “in denial” over how green their companies are in reality.

So claims UK business ISP Lumison, citing its own research, which found the majority (67 percent) of UK workers believe their company prioritises green issues – yet less than a third of companies carry out a formal carbon audit. In addition, 43 percent of people didn’t even know whether their company had made any formal commitment or audit.

“The research was done over the last three weeks, so it is reasonably fresh data,” said Aydin Kurt-Elli, CEO at Lumison, speaking to eWEEK Europe. “The audience demographic was mostly businesses, corporates, SMEs, partners etc.”

“We had our suspicions of the ‘greenwash problem’ before we started this research,” said Kurt-Elli. “But the sheer volume of people that were unaware of what their companies are doing green wise, is not surprising really.”

Kurt-Elli said that most people were aware of the usual green measures such as recycling bins etc. “But do they know who buys their power, and if there is any carbon off-setting going on?” he asked. “These questions are so far removed from the actual business it is not really their fault, as so much is going on in businesses at the moment, that green maybe is not high priority, especially in these challenging times where cost is everything.”

“Businesses are telling us that green is important, but not at the expense of cost. Most of our feedback is from the ICT side and, for them, ticking the green box in their corporate policy document is not half as interesting as the bottom line,” he said.

Kurt-Elli called for carbon emissions to be appropriately charged. He cited examples that carbon trading schemes for example are currently biased towards large businesses because they get more free credits.

“We did little foot printing work,” he explained. “The total carbon cost of running a unified communication system in our data centre for one whole month equals the same carbon cost as running one flight from Edinburgh to London.”

The study received more than 700 responses in total. Respondents also called for improvements in power saving (79 percent), recycling (49 percent) and green IT (43 percent).

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Goverment IT News

UK Donates Skills – Not Cash – For EU Supercomputer Plan

The EU initiative will allow sharing of supercomputers across Europe, but the UK is only donating “resources and expertise”

The UK is one of 20 European countries contributing to a newly launched supercomputing initiative, which will help to boost scientific research into areas such as climate change and drug development.

But while other countries are contributing substantial funds, the UK is joining the likes of Cyprus and Bulgaria in only donating “expertise and resources”.

Officially launched in Barcelona this week, the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) project aims to provide access to supercomputing technology to researchers across the region. The scheme is being funded by contributions of €100 million (£82m) each by Spain, France, Italy and Germany over the next five years. The EC is also contributing around €70 million (£58m) via the EU’s 7th Research Framework Programme.

Efficient Solar Cells

The scheme should make it easier for scientists to get access to supercomputing systems in other countries. The EU believes this could help to speed up projects such as the development of more efficient solar cells or how drugs interact in the body.

“I warmly welcome the launch of the PRACE supercomputer infrastructure as scientific computing is a key driver for the development of modern science and technology and for addressing the major challenges of our time, like climate change, energy saving and the aging population,” said Commission vice-president for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes.

The iniative should give researchers from across Europe access to compute power equivalent to more than 100,000 of today’s fastest PCs, the EC stated. The UK is among a group of 16 countries who will also be providing “resources and expertise” to the project but is not among the lead contributors providing significant funds.

The UK’s Technology Strategy Board was contacted for comment on why the UK was not providing funds for the project, when the likes of Spain and Italy were able to, but did not reply in time for this article. The TSB was set up in 2007 and describes its mission “to stimulate technology-enabled innovation in the areas which offer the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity”.

JUGENE : Fastest In Europe

The PRACE scheme should be up and running by the 1 August 2010. The first supercomputing system being made available is the JUGENE system in Julich, Germany. The system is the fastest in Europe and the fifth fastest in the world, according to the EC. More super computers will join the scheme from 2011.

Last year, the previous government announced funding for supercomputing facility in Wales. The £44.27 million facility is a joint project between the Universities of Swansea and Cardiff and will concentrate on image processing, animation, 3D visualisation, data mining and simulations.

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UN Calls For More ICT To Fight Climate Change

The UN’s technology body has highlighted how Ghana is mitigating global warming effects through ICT

The United Nations’ technology body, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is calling for a wider use of technology projects in helping countries adapt to climate change.

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At the Durban Summit last week, the ITU released a study focusing on how an ICT project allowed Ghana’s cocoa industry to become more resilient to the effects of climate change. The ITU said Ghana’s case should set an example for other developing countries.

Real-time sharing

The study focuses on how ICT can be used in optimising production by, for example, sharing information in real time between producers and end users, said Dr Bilel Jamoussi, chief of the ITU’s Study Groups department, in an interview with Business Green.

He said ICT has, in general, been overlooked as a tool for helping developing countries adapt, and that Ghana’s case demonstrates the value that these countries can find in technology projects.

“It’s a really good sign that these countries are seeing how they can adapt,” he said. “These countries are not always big producers of greenhouse gases, but they are the most affected [by climate change].”

The ITU believes that ICT has in general been overlooked as a way of helping stem climate change and to adapt to its effects, Jamoussi said.

“Our key goal is that ICT is viewed as an enabler and plays a central role in adaptation and mitigation,” Jamoussi told Business Green. “Our report and recommendations are a concrete example of that.”

As part of its wider support of ICT’s role in mitigating climate change, the ITU has created a set of standardised methodologies for assessing the impact of ICT on the environment and has participated in other initiatives such as the development of a standardised, energy-efficient mobile phone charger.

Universal charger

The ITU gave its approval for the concept for a universal phone charger in 2009, with the aim of drastically reducing the number of chargers produced, shipped and subsequently discarded as new models become available.

Universal chargers also allow phone manufacturers to reduce their packaging by not including a new charger with every new phone. The ITU standard will enable users to charge not only their mobile phones but also other handheld devices, such as MP3 players, tablet computers, cameras, wireless headphones and GPS devices, all using a single micro-USB charger – that is, assuming the device makers all buy into the idea.

The charger also has a detachable power cable that can be used for data transfer or charging from a PC’s USB port, ridding users of the need for an additional cable.

Moreover, the ITU has specified a no-load power consumption (the amount of power used when nothing is connected) below 0.03W, which it claims is the most efficient available today. The recommended charging current has also been increased – in the range 750 to 1500 mA – to reduce charging time and ensure demanding devices, such as smartphones, can use the charger.

Last July, attendees at the ITU’s Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change in Ghana called for recognition of the value of ICTs in monitoring deforestation, crop patterns and other environmental phenomena.

“It is now clear to most observers that ICTs have a very important role to play here,” said ITU secretary general Dr Hamadoun Tourév at that time. “Recognition of this at the international level will provide countries with a solid argument to roll out climate-change strategies with a strong ICT element.”

Green growth

A report by the ITU and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative in December, 2010, found that ICTs can help tackle the problem of climate change both by driving down emissions in the technology sector – using more efficient equipment and providing better waste management – and improving energy efficiency in other sectors, by reducing their energy needs.

However, government spending cuts in the UK threaten to cripple many first-generation green IT projects. Compass Management Consulting warned in October, 2010, that environmentally-friendly IT projects may be axed as cost-cutting measures are implemented in the current financial climate.

UK Chancellor‎ George Osborne faced calls earlier this year from a consortium of business leaders – including Microsoft and BT – to set out a comprehensive green growth strategy. The group published an open letter pointing out that the UK was losing momentum to emerging economies in green sectors.

But, according to Fujitsu’s Green IT: Global Benchmark report, the UK is leading the way in the adoption of green IT practices, and Great Britain boasts a green IT index higher than the US, Australia and India.

The government has re-iterated its target of becoming “the greenest government ever” and, in October, announced £1 billion in funding for a Green Investment Bank, which will provide financial interventions to unlock significant new private investment in green infrastructure projects.

 

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Users Warned Over SIM-Free Palm Pre

While the UK waits for the Pre, some sites are taking SIM-free pre-orders, despite the exclusive deal with O2

Users have been warned that offers to order a SIM-free Palm Pre in advance of
its UK launch may in fact be too good to be true.

However, a spokesman told eWEEK Europe today, that users should be careful of pre-ordering on websites, as Palm and O2 are expected to try hard to enforce the exclusive deal.

Two UK retailers have – fittingly enough – started taking “pre-orders”
for Palm’s touch-screen smartphone which lis selling well in the US and is due to launch  in October. However, a spokesman for Palm warned users to take care, as the phone is exclusive to O2 in the UK, but is being offered SIM-free.

Handtec has no stock, but is taking pre-orders for £449.99 + VAT (£517.49), for the phone. The specifications on the page say it works on US EVDO networks,  although the features include the option of HSDPA, which works in Europe. m-Phone is cheaper, at £391.29+VAT (£449.98)

The phone also features, SIM-free on more established e-commerce sites, Expansys and Play.com, but these sites are not quoting a price or taking orders yet.

This week, Palm also announced the Pixi, a cheaper sibling to the Pre, which has a hard Blackberry-style keyboard, instead of the Pre’s slide-out design. There are no UKlaunch details at all for that.

eWEEK Europe had its first encounter with a Pre today, at Bite PR’s PlayBite event in London, and it is every bit as well-designed as reviews say. Being smaller than the iPhone with a hard keyboard, and the ability to multitask may be enough to distinguish it from the Apple device.

A Palm associate at Playbite warned eWEEK Europe that there may be issues with pre-ordered phones – advice which would well apply to any model or brand of phone ordered before its official launch.