Retail Solutions Briefs: Sony, Toysmart.com, Living.com

Sony's HS-RW drive is no floppy, but costs moreSony has announced the release of a new High Speed Re-Writable (HS-RW) drive which it claims will render the floppy drive obsolete.

Disks for the CRX160 will cost less than $10 each and have capacity equivalent to over 450 floppy disks.

The drive is compatible with standard 650MB/74 min CDs as well as the new 700MB/80 minute versions. In addition to 8x HS-RW, the drive supports traditional CD-RW at up to 4x, CD mastering (CD-R) at up to 12x and fast playback up 32x.

The drive will be offered by Sony as an internal mechanism either bare or as a complete kit with software for Windows. It will also be available in SCSI, PCMCIA and 1394 versions.

Sony will include a coupon with its kits providing a 40-60 per cent discount off Retrospect backup software for Mac & Windows. The IDE CRX160EBK model will cost $699 and will be available September 1, while the SCSI CRX 160SBK will cost $799 and will be available September 30.

Failed e-tailer denied customer data sale A US Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts last week denied a motion by failed e-tailer Toysmart.com to approve a settlement the company reached with the Federal Trade Commission last month to sell its customer data.

Judge Carol Kenner put off a final decision on whether the customer list may be sold in the future and, if so, whether restrictions would be imposed.

Opponents of the sale say it would violate Toysmart.com's stated privacy policy, which pledged that consumer data wouldn't be shared with third parties.

Under the terms of last week's ruling, any specific offer to sell the data will have to go back to the court for approval.

US e-tailing shakeup

The e-tail shake out continues, with two leading Web wine merchants announcing plans to merge and online home furnishings retailer Living.com filing for bankruptcy.wine.com will team up with WineShopper.com as soon as an agreement is hammered out. The consolidated wine seller will use the www.wine.com URL.

Both Wine.com and WineShop- per.com offer reviews, news, and information in addition to selling wine.

The outlook is not nearly as sunny for Living.com, which announced last week that it would file for bankruptcy, and lay off its 275 employees. The company cited the downturn in the capital markets as the major reason for its failure.

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