Best tech: Cheap speakers, hot cameras, and Wi-Fi scales

CNET Reviews Executive Editor John Falcone walks you through the best reviews from the week that was, explaining what matters right now and why.

Memorial Day is considered the traditional start of summer here in the U.S., and we noticed the streets, subways, and elevators getting less and less populated as the week wore on. But it was another full week for the CNET Reviews team, who cranked out more than 20 tech product reviews -- including a few items that are beyond our usual purview.

Hot cameras
We sampled only two cameras this week, but both were four-star winners.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V is camera royalty, of sorts: the compact megazoom model is the successor to 2011's DSC-HX9V, an Editors' Choice that's been the top camera on CNET for months. The HX30V adds a better lens (20x zoom rather than the HX9V's 16x), and it's at least as good as its predecessor. But these father and son cameras remain very evenly matched -- so much so that Senior Editor Josh Goldman followed up with an in-depth analysis putting both Sonys head-to-head.

Sony's HX30V: A worthy successor? Sarah Tew/CNET

The other big camera of the week was the Olympus OM-D EM-5. This hotly anticipated digital update to a film-age classic has been on store shelves for a few weeks, but Senior Editor Lori Grunin needed to double-down on her shooting time before coming to a final conclusion. Suffice it to say, the market for so-called small system/interchangeable lens cameras (smaller than dSLRs, but with the ability to swap in different lenses) is becoming increasingly competitive, and the OM-D is yet another excellent (though not perfect) model that needs to be on your short list.

Cheap speakers
For better or worse -- and many golden-eared audiophiles would certainly argue the latter -- you can get an iPod speaker dock or Bluetooth speaker system these days for well short of $100. But what if you actually care about sound quality, but can't spend a fortune? That's where the Dayton Audio B652 speakers come in. These bookshelf speakers sound great, and they cost a mere $45 on Amazon. Yes, you'll still need a separate amplifier, but we've got you covered there, too: contributor Steve Guttenberg tells you how to connect to the Daytons to a $25 Lepai amplifier for an awesome-sounding desktop stereo that costs less than $70 total. (Prefer a more mainstream speaker brand? The $64 Sony SS-B1000s also sounded good.)

Wi-Fi scales

Tipping the scales, Wi-Fi style Sarah Tew/CNET
First your PC had Wi-Fi. Then your TV. And then the game console and Blu-ray player. Now you can add your bathroom scale to the list of wireless-enabled gadgets. Senior Editor Brian Bennett put the two top competitors in this nascent category to the test: the Withings Wi-Fi Digital Body Scale and the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale (both of which are compatible with the Fitbit Ultra electronic pedometer). Spoiler alert: Brian liked the Aria better. But both products show the interesting progression of tech into the health and workout space -- and the fact that any household product can be made more functional and useful with a smartphone app or two.

Just scratching the surface
If cameras, speakers, and scales don't float your boat, rest easy: we've got half a dozen more reviews that cracked the four-star rating from the past week. Page through our gallery of the week's top products , which also includes a $3,000 gaming PC with one of the coolest cases we've seen to date; one of the first superfast 802.11ac wireless routers; a handy phone/iPad charger; Samsung's latest gaming laptop; a pricey-but-good AirPlay speaker; and one of the new wave of (semi) universal 3D glasses.

Bonus: A Galaxy [review] from far, far away
The most anticipated Android phone so far this year is the Samsung Galaxy S III. It won't be hitting the U.S. until later this year -- at which time we'll have a full review. But if if our hands-on preview isn't enough for you, check out the full review of the U.K. version of the newest Galaxy from our British cousins at CNET UK.

 

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