Will Wal-Mart sell $398 notebooks, desktops?

Wal-Mart and Hewlett-Packard will likely celebrate this Thanksgiving season by attempting to crush their competitors with low-price desktops and notebooks, according to a Web site that tracks bargains.

Black Friday 2005, which posts information about retail deals, posted scans of what appear to be future Wal-Mart newspaper inserts featuring a $398 laptop and a $398 desktop with an LCD monitor from HP. The notebook deal, if consummated, would represent a new low in price for mainstream Windows laptops. (more)

michael castellon

Nano scratches leave Apple fending off class-action suit

From Red Herring:

Consumers angry about what they say is the iPod nano screen’s tendency to scratch easily have filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple Computer, saying they want their money back plus a share of the company’s profits on the music player’s sales.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California in San Jose on Wednesday, essentially brings complaints about the ultra-slim device that have been festering on blogs and message boards into the courts.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of nano owner Jason Tomczak and others who have purchased the device. The lawsuit alleges Mr. Tomczak rubbed a paper towel on his nano’s face and “that alone left significant scratches.” (more)

Apple was previously sued by iPod owners due to battery failure and performance.
michael castellon

Apple signs podcasting deal with Stanford U.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required):

Stanford University unveiled an arrangement with Apple Computer on Thursday that makes hundreds of Stanford podcasts available free to anyone through the company’s popular iTunes Music Store. The podcasts include lectures by the university’s professors, music from its students, and play-by-play descriptions of its football games.

Though several professors at other institutions have posted individual lectures to iTunes’ directory of podcasts over the past few months, Stanford is the first university to make an institutional commitment to offering podcasts through the Apple music hub. Apple officials say they are also working with other colleges that want to use iTunes as a repository for both academic and extracurricular materials.

“We’ve used the iTunes store as a service to distribute their intellectual content,” said John Couch, Apple’s vice president for education.

Apple essentially gave Stanford its own section of the iTunes store, which anyone with the free iTunes software can visit by pointing a Web browser to http://itunes.stanford.edu

So far about 400 audio files are available on the service, called Stanford on iTunes. Examples include a lecture on speech disorders that was given as part of a series on public health, a talk on “Sex, Lies, and the Theatre: Shakespeare for Today” given last year during the university’s reunion, and a talk about technology given as part of the Stanford Aurora Forum. Stanford officials said they planned to add more material regularly.

It’s surprising that universities have been so slow to adopt this new form of channeling information and messages to their communities. Stanford is sending a clear and positive message here in regards to podcasting.

Happy 100M, Mozilla

From Newsfactor:

The Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox browser has reached 100 million downloads only five months after hitting the 50 million mark and just a few weeks prior to the one-year anniversary of its formal release.

While the browser has seen download rates spike over the past year, the adoption of the browser mainly has been a steady growth path, the foundation noted. At this point, between 200,000 and 300,000 downloads occur per day.

I have been using Firefox for about a year and a half, and I’ve never looked back.

Things you should know about Video iPod

Before you dash to your nearest Apple Store, consider these facts about the fifth-generation video-capable iPod:

  • The black model’s face is made of the same polycarbonate as the iPod nano, making it obscenely susceptible to scratches. To say that the black model is a scratch magnet is an understatement.
  • This model does not come with a power adapter, and does not support Firewire syncing. Apple has dropped Firewire for USB 2.0, but previous iPods would still transfer over Firewire even though the cable was not included with the unit. The video-capable iPod, however, will only sync over USB 2.0. The unit will have to be charged through your computer’s USB ports, unless you seperately purchase a USB iPod power adapter.
  • The unit does not include a power adapter. Video iPod will ship only with a usb cable, a case, and the typically sub-par Apple earbuds.
  • The battery is only good for up to 3 hours worth of video playback.
  • While you will be able to encode your own videos to sync to the iPod, keep in mind that encoding to iPod-friendly mpeg-4 format is painstakingly slow.
  • Content available through iTunes is lacking at best. How many time do you need to watch Desperate Housewives?
  • Finally, how many times have you absolutely had to have portable video on demand?
  • Video-capable iPod is still hard-drive based. The iPod nano utilized fixed flash memory, making the nano less susceptible to skipping. Hard drive-based iPods are susceptible to drive damage due to more moving parts.