Flip This, Tune That

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Consider me armed and dangerous. My weapon of choice? The new Flip video camera from Pure Digital Technologies. And pure it is. Very few features, but extremely easy to use. It's pocket-sized and USB-friendly. For a full review, you can read New York Times gadget guy David Pogue's take here. (For the record, I ordered mine before his review ran in the paper. And I have the receipt to prove it!) I plan to shoot sci-tech, environment or space events in and around New York, but also take it with me whenever I head out on the road (which happens a lot). Think of it as part video blog, part bonus material, and mostly candid.

In other news, the Justice Department has said it will not stand in the way of a proposed Sirius Radio's buyout of rival XM. The FCC is expected to rule soon, and if it doesn't express any misgivings, it seems the deal might actually go through. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. I don't have a subscription to either company, though every time I rent a car while traveling I'm thrilled when satellite radio is present since I tend to drive long distances and the signal remains clear throughout the trip.

The choice of content is also great (though occasionally overwhelming), and I guess this all comes down to choice for the consumer. Certainly both companies see a merger as a way to stop any fiscal losses, and make it easier since right now I think people get buyer paralysis. For example, there are some sports leagues just on one service (NHL is only on XM), or some personalities only on another (Howard Stern on Sirius). I must say if this deal goes ahead, I'd probably become a satellite radio subscriber -- though without owning a car in Manhattan I have less of a need than those who drive to and from work every day.

In any case, so long as the price doesn't go up (most important), and the equipment transition is seamless for existing customers (current receivers are intentionally incompatible with the opposing service), it seems like a positive move. However, I know there are consumer groups concerned about whether this would turn the new entity into a monopoly, and land-based radio stations aren't happy about the union either, since they see a potential loss in listeners and revenue as a result. And who can blame them? But at the end of the dial, I think simplicity, variety and access will win out. Stay tuned.

P.S. If I could vote for a name for the joint company, in my opinion even though Sirius is the bigger player, XM is a far better moniker.