Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite items from the past week, including the Apple iPhone 4S, the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker, and the Samsung Galaxy S II.
Apple iPhone 4S
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Apple iPhone 4S
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: Apple's iPhone 4S has a faster processor and an upgraded camera, all the benefits of iOS 5, and a useful and immensely fun voice assistant. Call quality on the Sprint model is admirable, and the data speeds, while certainly not 4G, get the job done.
The bad: It's about time we get a larger screen.
The bottom line: The iPhone 4S isn't the king of cell phones, but it's part of the royal family nonetheless. Even without 4G and a giant screen, this phone's smart(ass) voice assistant, Siri, the benefits of iOS 5, and its spectacular camera make it a top choice for anyone ready to upgrade.
The good: For such a small, portable Bluetooth speaker, the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile sounds great and plays impressively loud without distorting. It also has a built-in rechargeable battery, an auxiliary input, a rugged design, and the option to swap out protective covers (one of which is included).
The bad: The speaker is pricey and has no speakerphone capabilities.
The bottom line: If you're willing to pay a premium, the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker is the best portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.
The good: The Epson WorkForce 845 excels in print speeds and output quality, with hardware working overtime in autoduplexing, wireless networking, and mobile printing support by way of Epson's suite of Connect mobile printing services.
The bad: Photo print speeds are slightly lower than for the average inkjet, and the packaging doesn't include the USB and Ethernet cables required for a tethered connection.
The bottom line: Though it's slightly more expensive than competing inkjet workhorses, we recommend the Epson WorkForce 845 for its refined design and Epson's Connect cloud-printing portfolio.
The good: The WD TV Live features industry-leading format support and built-in Wi-Fi. Its broad selection of streaming services includes Spotify, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Pandora, among many others. The interface is friendly, and video and sound quality are as good as you'd expect.
The bad: The best streaming channels require paid subscriptions or pay-per-view fees. There's no support for Amazon Instant or Vudu. The remote buttons are rubbery, and the onscreen keyboard is a pain to use. DLNA support is spotty, there isn't yet a smartphone app, and the software still has a few bugs to iron out.
The bottom line: The WD TV Live (2011) offers a solid combination of must-have streaming services and excellent USB and network file support, making it one of the best devices of its kind available for under $100.
The good: A solid upgrade to one of our favorite laptops, the new HP Pavilion dm1z adds Beats Audio, a better touch pad, and an updated AMD processor.
The bad: Benchmark scores and battery life are about the same as those of the previous dm1z, and a promised Intel Core i3 version is still MIA.
The bottom line: There have been plenty of 11-inch AMD-powered ultraportables this year, but HP's Pavilion dm1z was the first, and this updated version puts it back in the lead in this crowded category.
The good: The LG Marquee has a svelte and ultralight design that complements its stunning Nova display. It ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and has a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi. Call quality is fantastic.
The bad: We have mixed feelings about the LG Marquee's oddball Sprint ID customization feature, and the Marquee is not the phone for you if you want 4G.
The bottom line: With its fashionable good looks and affordable price, the LG Marquee is one of our top choices among Android phones for Sprint if you don't need 4G.
The good: The Motorola Electrify boasts a dual-core processor, a 4.3-inch qHD display, and world-roaming capabilities. The Android Gingerbread handset also has an 8-megapixel camera, HDMI port, and built-in kickstand.
The bad: Motorola's custom user interface isn't for everyone. The handset is on the larger side. Camera quality wasn't that great.
The bottom line: The Motorola Electrify is a great Android device for U.S. Cellular customers seeking power and the latest and greatest in smartphone technology.
The good: With a broad feature set aimed at enthusiasts, tilting LCD, nicely implemented filters, good performance, and excellent raw photo quality, plus a price that's less burdensome than the E-P3's, there's a lot to appreciate about the Olympus PEN E-PL3.
The bad: The PEN E-PL3's video disappoints, and the camera's lack of a grip may prove annoying for some shooters.
The bottom line: While it's not the best in any particular aspect, and you probably don't want to use it for video, the Olympus PEN E-PL3 offers an excellent balance of size, features, performance, and photo quality for the money.
The good: The Samsung Galaxy S II supports T-Mobile's faster HSPA+ network and has a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and an NFC chip. The Android Gingerbread smartphone also has a spacious and vibrant Super AMOLED Plus touch screen, 16GB of internal memory, and great camera performance.
The bad: The smartphone is high-priced and on the larger side, and you can't remove bloatware.
The bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S II ranks as one of T-Mobile's most powerful and feature-rich Android smartphones, but it's somewhat pricey.
The good: The Samsung PND7000 series has outstanding overall picture quality, with excellent black-level performance and extremely accurate color. The screen can handle bright rooms well and exhibits the nearly perfect screen uniformity of plasma. Key features include built-in Wi-Fi and a comprehensive set of picture controls, and the Smart Hub Internet portal boasts more apps and streaming services than the competition. The PND7000's design is one the most attractive of any plasma we've seen.
The bad: The relatively expensive PND7000 cannot produce full shadow detail or proper 1080p/24 cadence without sacrificing some black-level performance. Smart Hub lacks Amazon Instant, its search is next to useless, and its interface can be cluttered and confusing.
The bottom line: With picture quality on par with the best TVs we've ever tested, the Samsung PND7000 plasma represents an excellent value for videophiles who don't demand to own the top of the line.