| ||September 9, 2003 |
| ||Think Gateway has only plasma TVs up its electronics sleeve? Hardly. The big PC maker has begun rolling out a slew of new gear--from DVD players to digital cameras to MP3 players--and you want to know if it lives up to the hype. |
| || || || || ||Gateway |
When Gateway came out with the first product in its new electronics line last year, a 42-inch plasma TV, we were pretty excited to see the hardware heavyweight getting into the electronics biz. But this year, these guys are diving even deeper into the fray. First, Gateway released two bigger plasma TVs in 46-inch and 50-inch varieties and a wireless Connected DVD Player to complete that home-theater setup. But it also stepped out to the portable side with a plug-and-play MP3 player and a line of low-priced digital cameras. That's what I call diversifying! So how well does this PC maker do electronics? So far, our editors have said that the plasmas are passable for the price, and the same goes for the MP3 player. But they loved the DVD player, a package that offers progressive-scan video on top of wireless access to digital music, photos, and video from your PC for $250. As for the cameras, the jury is still out, but already, we're impressed by their budget prices. Find out if those prices equal value or just plain cheap when we review these digicams over the next few weeks.
| || || || || ||MuVo |
Last week, readers were curious about the new crop of potential iPod-killer MP3 players, and since then, we've covered the very latest hopefuls to fulfill iPod dreams: the new Creative MuVo²s. The players come in a 512MB X-Trainer version and a 1.5GB hard drive version. The most intriguing is definitely the hard drive player, since it includes the new ultraskinny 1-inch-thick hard drive. This drive can also be found in the new Rio's Nitrus, but the MuVo will run you about $70 less. The player has impressive sound-quality specs and a removable lithium-ion cell that lets you switch to a fully charged spare on long trips. The only fault we could find is that it's a bit heavier than the Nitrus: 3.2 ounces instead of 2 ounces. We also have some concerns about the battery life, but all this will come out when we issue our full reviews of both MuVo²s.
| || || || || ||Music downloads |
This week, the RIAA finally unleashed its fury on file swappers by filing 261 lawsuits against the most "egregious" copyright infringers. If you're a digital music junkie looking for a new way to get your fix of online tunes, now may be the time to investigate more-legitimate options. Judging from the searches for music services such as iTunes and BuyMusic, I'd say many of you already are. Our top pick is still Apple's iTunes Music Store, but it's an alternative only if you're a Mac user. For the rest of us doing the PC thing, our current fave is Rhapsody, which offers good selection and ease of use. Too bad you can't save your downloaded songs to a portable player they way you can with Apple. We're still evaluating BuyMusic, the new service that gives PC users much the same experience as iTunes. While it does offer more song portability, word on the street has been that users have had lots of problems. The company is apparently still working out the kinks, so perhaps our review won't be as harsh as our First Take was skeptical.
| || || || || ||Direct Connect |
Until recently, Nextel was the reigning king of push to talk (PTT), a feature known to Nextel users as Direct Connect, which lets you use your mobile like a walkie-talkie. If you've been pining for PTT, you just got a new option. Verizon has entered the game with the Motorola V60p (a new version of the popular V60 with an extra button on the side of the phone). Our Cell Phone Diva Joni Blecher is waiting to get her hands on this new ringer, but she's already doubtful about how useful it will be. Turns out the V60p will work only with other V60p mobiles with the feature, and it uses voice-over-IP technology. Keep your eyes on Joni's cell phone coverage for more on Verizon's and other carriers' PTT and PTT-like offerings.
| || || || || ||Zodiac |
Sometimes, a search term comes up in our analysis that just baffles us; then, we look back through CNET's News.com headlines to find that you have something pretty unusual and potentially hip on your radars that we didn't. This week, Tapwave's handheld gaming device, called the Zodiac, is piquing your interest. Back in July, News.com reported that the Zodiac will use Palm version 5.2 and will be able to sync with a PC and have PDA-like functions. But it's built to be mainly a portable gaming device, complete with a built-in joystick, a color screen, and built-in Bluetooth wireless for multiplayer gaming. In the story and on the company's site, preorders are said to begin in mid-September; find out when exactly by keeping an eye on the company's Zodiac site. We know we will be.