Like many other commentators, I greeted last month's SlotMusic announcement from SanDisk with befuddlement . I don't understand why a consumer would pay $14.99, which is almost the same price as a CD, for a tiny MicroSD card preloaded with digitally compressed audio. Yes, the attached USB dongle gives you compatibility with any computer with a USB connector. But still, a CD gives you higher sound quality, compatibility with billions of devices, and much less chance of misplacement between the couch cushions.This Robin Thicke-branded SlotMusic player will cost $34.99 and come preloaded with songs from the artist. The regular players will cost only $19.99.
Today's announcement that SanDisk will also release a SlotMusic player for $19.99 changes my opinion a little bit. If you're just getting into digital music--and new teenagers and ex-Luddites are created every day--and want the cheapest way to take large quantities of music with you anywhere, a SlotMusic player could fit the bill. It's tiny--less than 3 inches along its longest side. Earphones and battery are included. I'm getting a unit to test out, so I'll let you know if the sound's any good.
The idea is that you'd buy a player and one of these preloaded albums, which comes on a 1GB card. Even with a full album of songs, artwork, and a couple videos, you'd have plenty of extra space to fill the card with other MP3s or unprotected WMAs. I'm not sure how many people have a bunch of MP3s and no MP3 player, but I suppose they exist--perhaps your older brother just left for college with his MP3 player and a new laptop, leaving a bunch of music files stranded on the home PC.
There's still a lot of potential for confusion: you'll have to remember which files you burned to which card before you put it in your SlotMusic player. But SanDisk also sells cards up to 16GB in capacity, and I suspect this is the real long-term play for the company. Once users get fed up with buying preloaded cards, they'll just move everything to a bigger card and never swap it out again. Not a great story for the record labels, but fine for SanDisk.
SanDisk also announced today that more than 30 artists from the four major labels are releasing albums on SlotMusic cards, including old faves like Jimi Hendrix and Kiss and new stars like Coldplay and Nickelback, with more artists to come by the end of the year. There will also be artist-branded SlotMusic players from Abba and Robin Thicke for $34.99. All are on sale at Wal-Mart and Best Buy, so mainstream American consumers are going to see these things.
If the format takes off, perhaps we'll begin to see curated collections. For example, maybe a radio station like Seattle's KEXP could sell a SlotMusic card with the top 90.3 songs of the year, instead of simply listing them on its Web site . Or Billboard could issue monthly cards with a selection of hits from its various charts . Rights clearance would be a chore, but not so much harder than putting together a compilation like the Now That's What I Call Music series . Other possibilities include higher-definition uncompressed audio files--imagine the 96kHz/24-bit masters of your favorite albums--or complete collections from single artists--no more bulky box sets.
Finally, one more sure-to-be-useless plea to SanDisk and marketers everywhere: can we please end the creative use of capital and lowercase letters in product names? The actual terms are "slotMusic" and "microSD," but I never remember to type them that way. Product names are proper nouns. Apple gets a pass because the iPod's been so ubiquitous in the media and advertising for the last five years that if I typed "IPod" or "IPhone" it would draw attention to itself, breaking the first rule of clean writing. But apart from Apple, forget it. Sorry.
In these energy-conscious times, oil is usually at the top of mind for most people. But there are many other ways to conserve energy that don't get nearly as much attention. Case in point: the tankless water heater .Topics: Bookmark: Digg Del.icio.us Reddit cnet_news406:http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-6048244-7.html
Yahoo said on Monday that it is buying Right Media, which operates a real-time online ad auction network. The deal is worth about $680 million, in equal parts cash and Yahoo stock, for the 80 percent of Right Media that Yahoo does not already own.
In October , Yahoo led a $45 million Series B financing round in Right Media, which gave Yahoo a 20 percent stake in the company. The move comes about two weeks after Google said it was buying online ad company DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.
Apple faces a new lawsuit filed by shareholders angry over its stock option backdating practices.
Several shareholder suits have already been filed, but the latest one comes from the Boston Retirement Board, according to Andrews Publications over at Findlaw . This group claims to have "confidential information" regarding Apple's stock option backdating obtained through an inquiry via the Santa Clara County Superior Court, according to the article. However, it says it can't publish that information until a judge rules on how to treat the sensitive documents.
Apple acknowledged in late 2006 after an internal investigation that certain stock option grants, including one to CEO Steve Jobs, were improperly backdated to use a more favorable price when setting the options in order to make them more valuable. The company has maintained that while Jobs was aware that the options were backdated, he was not aware of the accounting implications of the practice. Backdating stock options is fine as long as you disclose the practice at the time, which Apple and dozens of other companies--including CNET Networks, publisher of News.com--in the early part of this decade did not do.
The suit, filed last week, charges that executives and directors harmed shareholders by failing to detect and prevent the backdating. A similar suit by the New York City Employees Retirement System was thrown out in November, but others are pending .
Sure, recycled paper is nice, but what about feeding it through a recycled printer?
Not as in refurbished and resold, but a new Deskjet that is composed of 83 percent recycled plastic. Hewlett-Packard is introducing a new green-focused label for some of its peripherals, and one of the first items under that label is the aforementioned D2545 printer.
HP hopes to tempt the environmentally conscious as well as those looking for a bargain with the D2545, which retails for $45. Even the ink cartridges it uses are made of recycled plastic resins .
The printer is one of several products that will fall under the HP Eco Highlights label. So far it also includes three LaserJet printers . HP says the label will list the environmental attributes of the product, and will eventually encompass all products the company offers.
HP recycles tons of dead tech products every year , so it makes sense that it's able to make products from the materials it recycles. So while consumers are becoming much more aware of the environmental impact of the products we use, and even businesses are beginning to see the boon that green policies are to their bottom lines , why not make this standard instead of an outlier ?
HP responded that by 2010,100 percent of its Deskjet printers will contain some recycled materials, and will increase by three times the number of inkjet printers made from recycled materials.
If HP can do this with printers, why not make their PCs and other products from recycled materials too?
They wouldn't be the first to make eco-conscious PC casings. Fujitsu has been experimenting with corn-based resins in some of the laptops it is selling, and for the same price as the non-corn-based models.
CBS Interactive announced Tuesday that its CBSNews.com property has teamed up with social news site Digg for online coverage of the 2008 election.
Through this partnership, the recognizable " Digg buttons " will be featured on CBSNews.com articles and videos that pertain to the election. In return, Digg's election-related headlines will be displayed throughout CBSNews.com.
"This is part of our strategic plan to open CBSNews.com to diverse news, analysis and voices from across the Web," Michael Sims, CBSNews.com's vice president of editorial content, said in a statement from the company. "We are simultaneously exposing our content to the greater Digg community to help encourage more discovery and sharing."
Digg, a hotbed for support of long-shot Republican candidate and Internet darling Ron Paul , already has a " Digg the Candidates" election page .
Expect this partnership with CBS Interactive to quell some of the rumors that Digg would be soon acquired by News Corp., following a partnership with The Wall Street Journal . The Journal , a recent News Corp. acquisition, now features Digg buttons on its online articles.
Google is contributing $350,000 to a joint open-source technology initiative at Oregon State University and Portland State University. The initiative will encourage open-source hardware and software development, develop academic curricula and provide computing infrastructure to open-source projects around the world.
The funding comes after Google spent $2 million for a "Summer of Code" program to select students working on open-source projects. Open-source software is designed to allow others to modify the code and distribute it freely.Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the Associated Press. E-mail Elinor .