Consumer Electronics and Computer News Briefs

A stack of newspapers
Here are a few interesting consumer electronics and computer technology news that caught our attention this morning:

Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 8 today
As of noon today, Microsoft latest Web browser will be available for free download from the Net. As Washington Post columnist Rob Pegorano notes, Internet Explorer 8 is “better” than previous versions of IE—which is the default browser for many PC users. And it has a few new features—which Web-savvy surfers have already become with from other browsers such as Firefox, Opera, Goggle Chrome and Apple’s Safari.
The take away: If you’re still using an old version (say, version 6) of Internet Explorer on your Windows PC, it’s worth downloading MSIE 8 (or any of the other major Web browsers) just to upgrade your defenses against viruses and other online threats. (Be warned though: IE 8 might not work well with some Web sites—such as—and the browser will switch "compatibility modes." Or, just uninstall IE8 and try some other browser.)

Sony and Google come together for e-books
Owners of the Sony Digital Reader device will soon have access to Google’s digital library of 500,000 classic book titles. And while the Sony-Google agreement is limited to just public domain titles (books with expired copyrights), the New York Times quotes Sony’s desires to “working with Google to see how we can get more content for Reader owners.” (Remember, Google has digitized some seven million books from universities and libraries so far.)
The take away: Sony's Readers have long come bundled with free downloads of many classic titles. The deal between Sony and Google gives the Sony devices access to a bigger library of some 600,000 titles—more than double Amazon’s library for the Kindle. But the Kindle catalog of 250,000 titles contains mostly best-sellers and other current content, not out-of-print works or other “classics.” We'll take closer look at how the Kindle and Sony stack up, for content and other considerations, when we get the latest Sony Readers into our labs for testing. In the meantime, could this first deal between Sony and Google lead to bigger things? What do you think?

Cisco buys Flip Video

Reuters is reporting
that Cisco Systems is buying the digital video camera maker as a way to delve deeper into the consumer market. (“Cisco” is a brand name more familiar among corporate IT managers and computer network professionals. Average consumers and home network geeks might recognize the name as the company that owns Linksys, one of the more popular brands of home network and wireless WiFi gear.)
The take away: Flip Video is best known for inexpensive and simple to use video cameras. We’ve tested a few of its cameras such as the $180 Flip Mino and $150 Flip Video F160B and our bottom line assessment is that consumers would be better off buying a low-end digital camcorder. So, what could come from Cisco's acquisition of Flip Video? A cheap, ease-to-set-up Web video camera for YouTube and Facebook pages? Your thoughts?