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Vendors get ready for holiday buying season

As the autumn wind arrives so do vendors' preparations for the Christmas buying season.rn

Toronto — As the autumn wind arrives so do vendors’ preparations for the Christmas buying season.

Microsoft Canada for the third year in a row has come out in full force with hardware products such as keyboards and mice as well as Smart Watches and a portable media centre.

In the past,

the Microsoft Media Centre was only OEMed to vendors such as Hewlett-Packard and system builders such as Supercom and Comtronic. With the portable Media Center, Microsoft has teamed up with Creative Labs, Samsung and IRiver to create a handheld device that can display your photos, play your MP3 music files and TV and DVD videos similar to the original media center.

“”You can take it with you and it has a familiar interface. For those with an MP3 player this device plays more than 1,000 songs and can have more than 80 hours of video and 10,000 photos,”” said Hersh Forman, Microsoft’s marketing manager for the portable media center. The device is priced at $749.

Security will be a prominent theme in this season’s Microsoft offerings. The company’s hardware division has built biometrics into its keyboards and mice. Kim McWhinnie, marketing manager for Microsoft Canada, said users have too many passwords today. Some of them may be complex or hard to remember. With the biometric mouse a person’s finger-print is all it takes to access the PC or a private Web site with login requirements.

Besides biometrics, there are three other trends McWhinnie said in this round of holiday product releases from Microsoft. Design such as the new mouse from Phillippe Stark, ergonomics on new keyboards that will cut down mouse activity, and wireless with a new Bluetooth-enabled notebook mouse.

Microsoft also will be offering an expanded Encarta edition for kids six to 12 and up. Also part of the software offering is Picture It version 10.

Microsoft is not the only company getting an early start to the holiday buying season. Kensington, a vendor better known for its laptop cases, has come out with laptop accessories. The company wants to target the tech-minded individual as well as students and travellers.

Kensington’s Flylamps are for peopl e who want to work while travelling, while the company’s Noise Cancelling headphones help travellers block out airplane noise when working on a notebook.

Another accessory that can even be used with the portable Media Center are Kensington’s PocketSpeakers. The PocketSpeakers are portable digital laptop speakers that eliminate power cords and batteries, Kensington said.