Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite gadgets from the past week, including the Toshiba Portege R835-P56X, Nikon Coolpix P500, and the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid.
Asus RT-N56U Dual-Band Gigabit Wireless-N Router
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Asus RT-N56U Dual-Band Gigabit Wireless-N Router
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: The stylish and compact Asus RT-N56U Dual-Band Gigabit Wireless-N Router offers stellar 5Ghz performance, long range, and an intuitive Web interface. Its storage feature is well designed; the router is comparatively fast; and it offers a convenient way to access data over the Internet.
The bad: The Asus RT-N56U's Web interface takes a long time to apply changes and the router doesn't support the new three-stream 450Mbps wireless speed.
The bottom line: The Asus RT-N56U is arguably one of the best true dual-band 300Mbps home routers on the market.
The good: The Etymotic MicroPro ER-4PTs are accurate, well-balanced in-ear headphones. Their treble clarity and precision let you hear details in the recording, and they exhibit a richer and more satisfying balance in bass and midrange than the Etymotic HF5s. The ER-4PTs are solidly built, and a protective case and airplane adapters are included.
The bad: The thick plastic around the ER-4PTs' plug may restrict access to some smartphones or audio devices housed in cases. If you like a lot of bass, the ER-4PTs will come up a little short. Complete sonic isolation and some cord-related vibrations can also interfere with on-the-go listening.
The bottom line: While the Etymotic ER-4PTs have less low-end oomph than some competing earphones in this price class, they deliver excellent sound with very accurate tonal balance.
The good: The attractive Lexmark Prevail Pro705 bundles a useful set of features for the office crowd, including wireless connectivity, an autodocument feeder and duplexer, speed text out, and an impressive five-year warranty.
The bad: We don't expect an office-friendly printer to output studio-quality snapshots, but our graphics test document was not without quality flaws.
The bottom line: The Prevail Pro705 is Lexmark's all-purpose office machine and we recommend it for home offices or small workgroups; just don't expect it to print out high-quality graphics or high-resolution photos.
The good: A thin, stylish design, long battery life, excellent screen, and a new second-generation Intel Core i5 CPU make the Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A one of the best ultrathin Windows laptops we've ever seen.
The bad: The Series 9's way-too-high sticker price makes the MacBook Air look downright affordable by comparison; the flexy case design doesn't feel as good as the MacBook Air's, either.
The bottom line: The $1,649 Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A certainly won't be for every wallet, but this light, well-featured, and striking 13-incher is the closest the Windows world will ever come to a MacBook Air. However, its higher-than-the-Air price will be hard to stomach.
The good: A supercharged engine and hybrid system make the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid the most powerful of the Touareg model lineup, without sacrificing fuel economy. The voice command system lets you request music by album and artist name, or dial a phone number by contact name.
The bad: Power becomes difficult to modulate at slow speeds. A fixed suspension limits off-road exploits.
The bottom line: The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg serves as a showcase for advanced power-train and cabin technology, and is the most luxurious of Volkswagen's model lineup.
The good: The Acer Iconia's innovative dual-touch-screen design and virtual keyboard works better than you'd expect, and unlike other dual-screen PCs we've seen, this one has enough CPU power for everyday tasks.
The bad: Speed typists will find the virtual keyboard has a hint of a lag, and its (virtual) touchpad is needlessly small. It's also saddled with last year's Intel CPUs, rather than the latest generation, which might have given it better battery life.
The bottom line: Unlike a lot of other unique proof-of-concept laptops, the Acer Iconia is fun to use and largely works as advertised. But it has a hard time answering the most frequent question we hear about it: why would anyone need a dual-touch-screen laptop?
The good: The BlueAnt S3 is a compact and simple Bluetooth speakerphone that offers A2DP streaming, multipoint connectivity, good call quality, and the announcement of caller names if they're in your phone's contacts list. It also has a vibration sensor that automatically reconnects the phone, like when a car door closes.
The bad: The BlueAnt S3 does not have the voice control features of the S4, which is only marginally pricier. Some people might also be averse to the touch-sensitive controls on the front.
The bottom line: The BlueAnt S3 has good call quality and an affordable price point, but you could upgrade to the more advanced S4 for not much more.
The good: The HP Omni 200 5380qd boasts fast application and gaming performance at a competitive price.
The bad: We don't mind the absent touch screen, but we wish the Omni 200 offered a few more inputs, as well as a larger display.
The bottom line: The HP Omni 200 5380qd lacks some of the flashier features of other all-in-one PCs, but it makes up the difference with surprisingly fast performance, making it easy to recommend to anyone in need of a reasonably priced home desktop.