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Consumer Confidential: Cheaper Kindle, Toyota recall, iPorn apps

July 29, 2010 | 10:16 am

Here's your you-better-think Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Amazon.com really, really wants you to have an e-reading device. And to help get you there, the company has introduced its cheapest version so far -- $139. The cut-rate Kindle will access the Web via Wi-Fi only, not a cellphone network, which can be a whole lot cheaper for users because that means you can download books while awaiting a latte at Starbucks. Amazon has also unveiled a more souped-up version selling for $189. Analysts I've spoken to say cheaper e-readers are steps in the right direction, but sales probably won't zoom higher until they reach the $100 level.

--Yup, time for another Toyota recall. Now the automaker is recalling about 373,000 Avalon sedans because of a steering problem. Toyota says there's a risk that the steering wheel can lock up, which would be, of course, bad. The company says it will replace a bracket on the steering column, and the repair should take a couple of hours. Toyota has recalled about 9 million vehicles in the last year -- about as many vehicles as sold during the same period by all U.S. manufacturers.

--If you build it, they will ... no, wait, let me start again. The video conference-capable iPhone 4 has turned into a boon for the porn industry. New video-sex chat services have emerged to meet the on-the-go needs of busy iPhone users, who apparently have little desire for good old-fashioned human interaction. Ads have popped up on Craigslist seeking models to perform, um, iSex via iPhone apps. It'll cost about $6 per minute, payable by credit card.

-- David Lazarus

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