I have a friend who is insisting that the pinyin letter e (as in "Wo3 hen3 hao3") is pronounced like the e in "hen," however I felt given the information I was getting in books and videos and CDs that it is pronounced like the u in "fun," or like the phonetic symbol ə. He is saying that he has spoken to a professor of Chinese as well as several people from Beijing who say that the way I'm doing it is wrong and that saying it the way I have been skews the meaning, however most of my materials seem to reinforce the way I'm doing it.
So I want to ask you: is this a regional or dialectic difference between Beijing and the rest of the Chinese speaking areas? The possibility exists that most of my learning materials were created by people who were not from Beijing, and that this is creating disagreement among people who are from Beijing. I want to determine if this is the case because I am royally confused by all this. Also this is putting a huge roadblock into further studying of the language, as I don't want to develop bad speaking habits.
I don't know where else to ask this question; there do not seem to be any active Livejournal communities or Yahoo groups which deal with this subject at all.
Thanks in advance for any help.
EDIT: I'm going to crosspost this to a few other communities.