Chinese buy more PCs than Americans in second quarter

China has passed an important technological milestone: It became the world’s biggest consumer of PCs in the second quarter, according to new market research by IDC. Computer makers shipped about 18.5 million PCs in China in the second quarter, compared with 17.7 million in the U.S.

The U.S. is still expected to be the world’s largest market for the full year, but it will likely lose that distinction next year.

China’s PC market is growing at a time that the U.S. and European PC markets are contracting, the result of economic anxieties and competition from smartphones and tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad. China already has the world’s largest Internet population, having surpassed the U.S. in 2008.

Airline pilots losing weight — iPads to replace flight manuals

United and Continental airlines are replacing pilots’ paper flight manuals with 11,000 iPads, which the airlines say will reduce weight and save fuel.

United Continental Holdings Inc. said last week that it will also give pilots paperless navigation charts through an iPad application.

The world’s biggest airline company said it began distributing the Apple Inc. handheld wireless devices this month, and all pilots will have one by the end of the year. The company said it would ensure that pilots always have the latest navigation information.

The company said each iPad weighs less than 1.5 pounds and will replace 38 pounds of paper, including operating manuals, navigation charts and logbooks. The airline expects to save 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year with the lighter weight and to reduce the risk of injury to pilots, who tote paper-filled flight bags to and from aircraft.

New BlackBerry Curve models to go on sale in U.S. next month

Research In Motion Ltd. announced three new models in its popular low-end BlackBerry Curve range, featuring its new BlackBerry 7 operating system.

The new Curve models — 9350, 9360 and 9370 — will go on sale in Canada this month and in the rest of the world in September. In the U.S., Sprint Nextel Corp. said it will start selling the 9350 on Sept. 9 for $80 after a $50 mail-in rebate.

RIM says the new BlackBerry 7 OS is much faster, particularly for Web browsing.

Leading magazines sign up to be on Nook Color e-reader

People, Fortune and other leading magazines are coming to the Nook.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. has agreed with Time to make all 21 of its U.S. releases available on its Nook Color e-reader by the end of the year. People, Fortune, Time and Sports Illustrated were added last week to the Nook Newsstand, with InStyle and Entertainment Weekly among those expected over the next few months. The Meredith Corp.’s Fitness and Parents magazines are also available on the Nook.

The Nook’s color reader has become a strong competitor to Apple’s iPad as a favorite touchscreen device for reading magazines online. Sales on the Nook have been especially strong for publications like Women’s Health and Cosmopolitan.

— From news service reports