Strange New World: Tech Picks of the Week

This week, as we head into the Valentine's-and-President's Day super holiday weekend, we're happy you took some time out from your historic revelry and chocolate-scarfing to log on and read some tech news.

Here are our picks of the week:

Kindle Is Cool, but There Are Other Options

Amazon introduced the new Kindle 2 e-book reader this week. The $359 device weighs 10.3 ounces and measures 8 inches by 5.3 inches by 0.36 inches (height, width, depth), which makes it almost half the thickness of the first Kindle. It's pretty slick and has some cool new features as well, like a five-way joystick that replaces that weird scroll wheel the first one had. They also ditched the large page-turning button on the side of the screen that made it easy to mistakenly turn the page. The new page-turning buttons are much smaller and are on both sides of the device. There is also a new 6-inch, 600-by-800 electronic paper display that shows 16 shades of gray, unlike the first one, which only showed four. All of these advances are cool and all, but let's not forget there is another e-book reader option out there. Sony's PRS-700 debuted in October and also has a lot going for it. It doesn't have a giant online bookseller marketing it or wireless access (although that's in the works), but it does have a touch screen. It feels a bit more intuitive to use your finger to flip pages and it has a backlight. It's only $399, so it may be worth a look before you settle on the Kindle 2.

Google Is in the Smart Grid Business

It looks like Google is going to stick its fingers into another pie. They have announced that they are officially getting into the smart grid business with their new Google PowerMeter. This new widget, which you store on your iGoogle page, talks to 40 million smart power meters around the world, and Google expects to roll out more than twice that many in the coming years. The widget will show consumers how much electricity they are using in real time and gives them tips on how to cut down. They are currently testing the application and will be rolling it out to the public soon. Just in time to see exactly how much power your air conditioner is sucking up this summer.

A $99 iPhone Coming This Summer?

According to reports online, Apple is preparing to release a $99 iPhone this summer. All of these rumors are based on a report from an analyst at RBC Capital Markets named Mike Abramsky. In his report, Abramsky says the phone will arrive in June or July and will have 8 GB of memory and a less-than 2 megapixel camera. It will also have a "light" data plan, unlike the current unlimited plan that comes with the iPhone. No one is really sure where he got his information, but a $99 iPhone is likely to instantly become the best-selling phone on the market.

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