Monthly Archives: September 2021

Nec e616

Released in 2003, The e616 was one of the first generation of 3G capable phones for the Hutchinson 3 network in the UK.

NEC were not a commonly known manufacturer of handsets in the UK, the market previously dominated by Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens at the time, with Samsung and Sony (Who’s mobile division would merge with Ericsson). In Japan they were known for their i-Mode handsets

Introduction

Apologies for the poor image quality on some of these captures, since the only way to capture was using a camera pointed to the phone screen, which can yield in some weird effects on screen.

Bootup screen, there is a lot of 3 branding within the handsets firmware, it seems the handset was produced exclusively for Hutchinson 3G and was used in their international markets also.

Home Screen

The default home screen, the calendar can be set as the background, or the wallpaper can be displayed instead. The row of icons can be accessed by pressing the middle enter key, which acts as a shortcut bar or dock to access common phone functions. Items can be added here by pressing ‘Link this’ when you are in a menu.

There is also a task manager like function, which gives the impression that this is some sort of smartphone, perhaps Symbian based?

Main Menu

Menu scheme uses a grid like layout, shortcuts can be used by the number keypad. The quick menu is used to quickly access different phone functions without having to trawl through the main menu. Taskbar lets you select and reopen running background applications, a very smartphone like feature.

Messages

3Mail looks to be a remote email service provided by 3, to be an alternative to Blackberry push email that was offered at the time. Having email on your phone was still a high end feature that many phones were not capable of, and even the ones that did have severe restrictions in what emails could be displayed. Also many webmail email providers did not support third party POP3/IMAP clients, which these phones were classed as, so email would be part of the network provider.

Text messages can be composed and sent from here, the handset supports SMS and MMS Multimedia messages. There’s an option for a video message which is really a vieo clip attached to a multimedia message.

A full text editor is provided, with support for copy and paste and predictive text. An annoying feature is typing a message using the keypad, the phone makes DTMF sounds.

The phone also supports copy and paste, a feature that is rarely seen in feature phones.

Phonebook

Contacts can be created and saved to the phone memory or the USIM card

Settings

Handset Settings

Video Calls

One of the big appeals of 3G phones was the advent of video calling, where you and the recipient could see and speak to each other in glorious CIF resolution. Here you can change the picture quality and the camera orientation mode

Screen Settings

Set a greeting message and change the power on jingle

Network setup

Here you can change the network selection, choose if you want the device to connect to 3G exclusively, and any access points settings.

Security

Dial Lock – allows you to set a passcode that is entered via the keypad when the device is opened, when enabled you can only make emergency calls unless the code is entered

Side Key lock – prevents the side volume buttons from being pressed when the device is closed

Supplementary

Misc call settings, you can change the caller ID options, divers and waiting options.

Date and Time

Clear Settings

Changes settings back to their default factory values

Multimedia centre

Access to multimedia features of the phone,

Camera

Capturing picture using the external camera. Both the front and rear camera can be used however both are limited to CIF resolution which is a bit low for this class of phone. Typically phones of this era use VGA resolution camera. Different effects can be applied. Both still images and video clips can be captured.

Record Sound

Sound can be recorded, up to 60 seconds in length and saved as an amr file

Image Viewer

View images captured by the camera, or any images downloaded

Video Player

Videos captured by the camera or downloaded videos from three can be played here, Videos are stored in the MPEG4 format.

Music Player

Capable of playing the Midi ringtones, but can also play back MP3 encoded files, either on the built in phone memory or from the memory card, just be mindful of the 5Mb transfer limit. Music can be played though the headphones or through the built in speaker.

Sound Player

Same as the music player, but for the recorder voice clips stored on the device.

Toolbox

Calendar

To Do

Add, set and remove reminders, and specify when the phone should alert you

Alarm Clock

Up to five different alarms can be set, with the option to set the reoccurrence to a selected number of days.

Notes

Similar to the Windows notepad, a text editor that lets you save up to 9 separate documents. Text is composed similar to an SMS message.

Calculator

A calculator and a converter, the calculator is capable of simple sums, but scientific operations are not supported. The converter is cable to convert currency only, and has the option to specify the rate manually.

GPS and compass

Supposedly comes with a GPS feature built in, but I wasn’t able to get it calibrated, perhaps it’s dependant on the mobile network being functional?

Call Memo

Java

The phone has the ability to run Java J2ME applications that are published and downloaded by 3. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to load the Java applications over USB or Bluetooth using the PC Software, so there’s not much to do here. I tried copying the Jad and Jar files over manually using the USB connection below but it didn’t work, seems the only way is to use the built in browser and download the games via the 3G network

External Connection

Bluetooth

This phone supports Bluetooth however it is very limited compared to other handsets, there’s no file transfer, only dial up networking and audio headset is supported.

USB

The phone can connect to a Windows PC using a USB adaptor cable, and with the appropriate software installed. Here files can be transferred to and from the phone, and contacts can be synchronised using an external application

Synchronisation

You can Sync contacts, calendar and To do lists from an external server, similar to how you can sync with Outlook or Gmail, only back in these days you had to use the Three server.

File Manager

You can explore both the phone memory and the external memory card. Internally the device has 19Mb of available memory for use, and can support up to 128Mb of external memory, using the Sony Memory Stick Duo standard. You can also format the memory card, check its filesystem for errors and view the amount of space free for use.

Files can be copied or moved, or sent via the MMS if the file size is small enough, Bluetooth cannot be used to send or receive files.

Web browser?

When Three launched their 3G service in the UK, it was designed to be a walled garden where only 3 service could be accessed using the phones internal browser, and external web access was not supported. This meant it was not possible to browse WAP sites on the handset, the browser that ships with the phone is locked down to work with Three’s services only, and from the article below was supposed to be the Netfront browser.

ACCESS’ NetFront™ Microbrowser Selected for New NEC Handsets on Hutchinson 3G Network | ACCESS (access-company.com)

Windows Memphis Beta 3 (Build 1619)

One of the Beta 3 builds, closer to the final release build.

Despite being a beta 3 build, the boot screen used is from Beta 2.1

Install

Initial installation, looks very similar to the released product. The welcome program comes with an extra item dedicated to the beta guide which details whats been added in this beta phase.

Desktop

Booting for the first time

This build seems to have issues booting up in normal mode due to a botched device driver instillation when the OS was installed for the first time. To rectify this you will need to boot into safe mode and uninstall the corrupt device, in this case this was the network adaptor which was missing its hardware title. I’m not sure if this is an issue specific with this build or if its due to the hardware PCem is emulating (Could be with the emulator itself)

Tutorial

When Windows 98 boots for the first time, a welcome screen is shown giving the user an option to start a tutorial on showcasing the new features of Windows 98, and a section for users who are new to Windows itself. This is stored on the Windows 98 CD and is required to be inserted to run the tutorial. In this build there are some differences with the images and layout used from the final build.

WebTV Windows

Microsoft acquired WebTV and was intended to be used as an early precursor to the media centre applications as seen in Windows XP Media Centre edition. WebTV for Windows was to bring the WebTV guide interface to the desktop using the computers TV tuner. A TV Guide would be offered which delivers TV listings over the internet, whilst using analogue TV (Digital TV wasn’t widespread yet, US wouldn’t launch its digital terrestrial works from late 1998 onwards and cable slightly later)

Wavetop was a protocol to receive data from terrestrial broadcasts and was an early form of interactive TV. Web pages would be transmitted between the VBI of the analogue signal and would be related to the program being broadcast. A competing system was Intel’s Intercast

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 4 is bundled with the operating system and was integrated into the explorer shell.

Active Desktop

Active desktop was a feature that allowed a webpage to be set as a desktop background, with clickable hyperlinks.

If explorer crashed whilst active desktop was enabled, an active desktop recovery page was displayed instead which gave the user the option to re-enable the active desktop, this was to prevent explorer from crashing repeatedly should the webpage be the source of crashing.

Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer was updated to be remodeled giving folders a web like view which was meant to be more visually appealing to the end user. In practice this made the explorer shell more sluggish and buggy, taking longer for the computer to rendered the explorer page. This could be toned down to a basic interface view, but the explorer shell would still be rendered in Internet Explore.

Internet Channels

Channels could be opened within a web browser such as Internet Explorer. These acted as an earlier method of RSS where website updates are pushed to the user, rather than having the user checking the website manually.

DVD Player

This build features a standalone DVD player application, however this requires a dedicated MPEG2 hardware decoder since CPUs of the time could not decode in real-time. Some video cards also featured partial MPEG2 acceleration and would feature their own DVD player software such as Cyberlink PowerDVD

No hardware MPEG2 decoder detected

Pressing F1 bring up the Windows help, which provides an HTML based help interface. Third party programs can also use this help system.

My Computer, with the channel sidebar enabled.

When Windows explorer crashes whilst active desktop is enabled, the recovery screen is enabled in the event of the web page being the source of the issues. The user can then manually restore the active desktop.

PCem Specs

Motherboard: Intel Advanced/ZP

Processor: Intel OverDrive MMX 200Mhz

Video: ATI Video Xpression (Mach64 VT2)

3D Accelerator: 3DFX Voodoo Graphics 3D Accelerator

Sound: Aztech Sound Galaxy Pro 16 AB

Mouse: Intellimouse PS/2 (Allows scroll wheel to be used)

Network: Realtek RTL8029AS

ntl CR2 EPG (2001 – Bromley)

Bromley areas (former Cable&Wireless) were running this guide up until 2002, where it was replaced by Bromley CR3

Not all customers in Bromley were running this version of software, ex-Videotron customers were stuck on CR1 software due to the poor network conditions that meant the area could not support two way communication, meaning no interactive or broadband support. They received a rebranded version of CR1 but without the Liberate browser.

Now and Next bar, surprisingly its transparent

Viewing program information

Main TV Guide home screen

Main TV guide EPG, channels can be filtered according to their genre, and programmes can be filtered by the day and time slot.

Subject search, similar to the A-Z listings, allows you to find a program based on its genre

Ordering PPV events

The settings area, where favourite channels can be managed, and the picture output preferences can be changed

Interactive home screen, since this was a web page loaded from the server, it could be updated independently from the EPG. Interactive services were non functional in ex-Videotron areas (parts of London)

BBCi home screen, looks similar to the Kingston version

TV Email, each customer could have a selected amount of email address to use, and could be accessed from the TV service.

TV Internet, was the main interactive portal for other services hosted on the ntl platform

See more interactive

Vs Telewest

Telewest software looks to be an earlier build from Dec 2000, whilst the ntl is a later build from Jun 2001. notable differences is the support of subtitles

Vs Cable & Wireless

Windows 2000 (Build 1671)

NT 5 was to be known as Windows 2000, the successor and replacement for Windows NT4. Designed to be an enterprise focused operating system with the consumer counterpart being Windows 98, and later Windows ME. Both of which use an updated Windows Explorer shell with a webpage like interface.

Install

The first stage of the install is where you select the volume to install NT5 on, and you are given a choice of which peripherals your computer will use. The install disk is bootable so providing your BIOS supports CD booting, you don’t need a boot floppy disk

Second Stage Install

The second stage of the install details with personalization and uses a graphical interface which appears different in the final release. Windows will ask for both the User and the company/organization name. From here you can specify any additional components that need to be installed.

The login screen, very similar to NT4

Windows NT5 BSOD

BSOD already and we haven’t got to the desktop yet. This is typically a bad sign and searching online didn’t yield much. Still we can boot in safe VGA mode without any issues.

Windows NT5 Desktop

I first tried to remedy this by removing any additional devices from PCem, the sound and network card was removed, along with the 3DFX Voodoo card. This still resulted in a BSOD

Epox P55-VA BIOS

Eventually I found somewhat of a resolution, which was to disable the motherboards onboard USB controller, which isn’t much use within PCem. Early motherboard that came with USB onboard were very primitive, and sometimes completely buggy. This combined with a beta operating system can spell trouble so its best to disable this. Funnily enough there is support for USB and 1394 devices in this build.

Windows NT 5 Desktop

The actual desktop which enabled active desktop by default. Everything has a webpage like interface with folders and buttons being links, by default you only need to click a folder one to select it.

This build did pickup and install a few device drivers by itself, but did not pickup the soundcard since I had disabled it on the account of the BSOD earlier.

This is an early form of device manager that is used to display a list of hardware devices that interact with your computer. There are a few quirks in this build, with some random error dialog boxes popping up that seems to relate to the management console.

Windows NT5 My Computer

The My Computer window, with an early sidebar design. Also note the navigation bar design and spacing

Installing the drivers

3DFX

This isn’t part of the operating system, but I figured I could show part of the 3DFX interface since I had intended to try running glide games on an old NT based operating system. Despite running the 3DFX install utility, games would refuse to detect the accelerator card, and looking in device manager indicated it had a problem loading the driver for the device.

Hardware Instillation

Trying to add a soundcard, and failing. A new wizard like user interface is supposed to make device hardware instillation more easier but it seems to be buggy in this build.

Disk Management

Trying to format and mount a zip disk. At first I couldn’t get Windows to mount the disk image I already had until I released these old builds of NT lack FAT32 support of which the drive was formatted as.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 4 is bundled with the operating system and is a major component providing the functionality of Windows Explorer. Like Windows 98 it has support for active desktop and channels.

Windows NT5 Outlook Express

Outlook Express 4 that is bundled with the operating system

Private Character Editor

Not sure what this is supposed to be, some sort of character map editor? Seems to crash a lot.

Printers

Windows NT5 Printers

The printer interface has been slightly altered, using the updated Windows Explorer engine

Power Management

Windows NT5 Crash

The result of trying to change the background wallpaper when you have active desktop enabled, Windows explorer crashed

Add Program Wizard

Looks like Microsoft had also intended to simplify the program install process, like the hardware wizard this takes you through a set of questions to install new software.

Removable Devices

Windows NT5 Device Removal

Windows features a device removal option that would allow you to stop a device, ready for it to be removed. That was probably intended for USB devices

Conclusion

Whilst I had intended to do more with this operating system, I found it too be too unstable and unfinished for general use and with lack of the ability to install 3D graphics and sound drivers limited what would be installed.

PCem Specifications

Motherboard: Epox P55-VA

Processor: IDT Winchip 2A/300

Video: Phoenix S3 Trio64

Sound: SoundBlaster AWE32

Network: NE2000

3D Accelerator: 3DFX Voodoo2

Telewest – 2002

Telewest redesigned their digital TV service in 2002, which saw the TV Guide software undergo a complete rewrite and redesign of the user interface, similar to what ntl undertook with their Bromley TV service.

Like ntl the TV guide was written entirely in Liberate TV middleware, and the entire interface is rendered using the Liberate browser. In contrast, the previous Telewest software used an EPG system developed by Pace, with the Liberate browser being added as a separate component what had to be loaded.

This meant the customer had to wait for the Liberate browser to load before they could access the interactive service, and on screen interactive prompt were not possible since the interactive stack was not running whilst the customer was watching TV.

Viewing TV on Demand listings

The Liberate middleware was upgraded to 1.2, which featured several programme and feature upgrades to the HTML browser used, one of which was the ability to use a mosaic style screen with different video feeds .As mentioned earlier, the Liberate intake now runs constantly, allowing for ‘press Red’ functionality to be used on TV channels, this was essential since Sky and ITVDigital had implemented similar interactive prompt features. These would also be instrumental for the upcoming Big Brother and Wimbledon 2002 interactive services, where customers could choose from different angles and feeds through the use of interactive, of which was not possible with Liberate 1.1 (The mosaic feature mentioned earlier)

A reminder alert for an upcoming program

Also new addition was the mini TV guide feature, where a small screen of the channel the customer was currently watching is displayed whilst the customer browses the TV guide or interactive. The exception to this is when they are browsing the On demand TV section, where the box changed to a Front Row preview channel, the reason being this was to allow the box to get up to date PPV listings rather than rely on cached data, and to do so it was necessary for the box to tune into a specific frequency that carried this data, preventing the use of mini TV.

A weird design decision since Telewest already had a functioning return path due to the internal DOCSIS modem inside the Pace box, why not use that to retrieve the PPV listings?

Adding Favourite channels

Viewing Favourite channels

Pressing reveals information on the selected program, and any program broadcast within the next 24 hours

View of the search and scan banner, known here as the Mini Guide like Sky you can view what’s on other channels

In 2003, a slight update was made to the interface layout, the Telewest Broadband branding is now in effect, and the layout is more square compared to the previous design.