Technology briefs

Published: Friday | August 28, 2009


Sony plans Kindle rival with wireless downloads

Sony plans to offer an e-book reader with the ability to wirelessly download books. That adopts a key feature of the Kindle from Amazon.com and enhances the competition in a small but fast-growing market.

The US$399 Reader Daily Edition will be on the market by December, Sony executives said Tuesday at an event at the New York Public Library.

The device, which has a seven-inch (17.5-centimetre) touch screen, will be able to get books, daily newspapers and other reading material over AT&T Inc's cellular network.

Sony has produced e-book reading devices with "electronic ink" displays for the US market since 2006, but has seen most of the attention stolen by Amazon.com Inc, which launched the Kindle in 2007.

The latest version of the Kindle - which is not controlled by touching the screen - costs US$299 and uses Sprint Nextel Corp's wireless network for downloads.

Sony recently announced a 'Pocket Edition' e-book reader that retails for US$199, but it doesn't have wireless capabilities.

It has to be connected to a computer to acquire books.

Wikipedia testing new way to curb false info

Wikipedia says it is testing a new method for curbing false information on pages devoted to individual people.

The online encyclopedia, which anyone can edit, has posted test pages that require changes to be approved by an experienced Wiki-pedia editor before they show up.

If the site's users respond well to the test run, the new restrictions will apply to all entries for living people.

That's according to Jay Walsh, a spokesman for Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the site.

The idea is to block the kind of high-profile vandalism that has marred the pages of some famous people.

Wikipedia doesn't want to discourage legitimate editing, though. The criteria for "experienced editor" status is low. Walsh says users who are registered for a few days can give changes the OK.

Apple's Snow Leopard no dramatic upgrade

While Microsoft Corp prepares to release the next incarnation of Windows on October 22, Apple Inc is cutting ahead, launching a new version of its operating system for Mac computers on Friday.

Apple's new Snow Leopard software isn't as big of a step forward from its predecessor as Windows 7 will be from Windows Vista.

The most important changes in the Apple operating system are under the hood, allowing software developers to rewrite their programmes to run much faster.

Snow Leopard is a relatively cheap upgrade, costing US$29 for an individual user who has Leopard, the previous operating system. A 'family pack' for five users costs US$49.

For Mac owners using the older Tiger operating system, switching to Snow Leopard costs US$169, or US$229 for a family pack.

That 'box set' includes the latest iLife and iWork software for such tasks as movie editing, photo organising and word processing. Buying the DVD is the only upgrade option for consumers - you can't download the software.

What's the catch? Well, part of the reason Snow Leopard can promise faster, better applications is that it's designed for Macs with Intel chips, which Apple started using in early 2006.

It won't run on older Macs with the previous PowerPC family of chips.

The launch of the new operating system is a hint to get a new computer.

Apple is making it easier to tap into what can be the most powerful computing engine in a desktop PC: the graphics chip. While the central processing unit does most of the heavy lifting, the graphics chip is mostly called upon to generate screen images.

Developers will now be able to expand the uses of the graphics chip, which could make for smarter enemies in video games and more realistic simulations of real-life objects.

Apple's share of the US personal-computer market nearly tripled from 2004 to 2008 but hasn't gone up significantly since then, and now stands at around 8.5 per cent, according to IDC.

So Apple could use a fresh reason for buyers to get excited about Macs.

- AP reports