The NY Times has a lengthy review of Leapfrog's Fly Pentop edutainment gadget, which is appearing on all of those "hot toys for Christmas lists" that gets parents in a tizzy. Aimed at the hard-to-please tween set, the loquacious Pentop reads text aloud from special paper (only sold by Leapfrog, natch) and uses program modules that are — you guessed it — sold separately at $25-$35 a pop. Unless I'm misunderstanding the article, Leapfrog spent $100 designing the little bugger so I guess it's okay to fleece parents with impunity, if only because it really does seem to make learning fun for the kids who use it. [NY Times]
If you prick call center operators, do they not bleed? More and more American customers are going ballistic on the guys and gals who field customer service calls, which, as you ve probably noticed, are increasingly being outsourced to other countries. Unfortunately, many of these heated (one-sided) discussions get very, very ugly these days as customers are pelting the poor souls with cruel racial insults and profanity that would make a Ku Klux Klan member cringe. Chill out everyone! [San Francisco Chronicle]
Thanks to slick manufacturing wizardry, Texas Instruments, Intel, and other semiconductor companies have managed to shoehorn most of the main functions of a cellphone onto a single chip, paving the way for cheaper phones. [WSJ (reg)]
Sony and NEC ink a deal to co-manufacture their DVD and CD drives. One big problem they need to work out: Sony's the leader of the Blu-Ray gang and NEC's allegiances are with HD-DVD. [Chicago Tribune].
WebTV lives! But Microsoft is calling the sequel MSN TV2 Internet & Media Player (ugh-they should've stuck with the old name; at least Microsoft kept the WebTV.com domain) and despite some major upgrades, still only appears to be fit for tech-phobic senior citizens looking for a simple way to email their loved ones that they've fallen and can't get up. [Baltimore Sun].