Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite items from the past week, including the HP Envy 15, Nikon Coolpix S8200, and the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx.
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
Editors' rating: 4.5 out of 5
The good: Despite a beefed-up battery, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx is crafted in a very slim and attractive design that's built to withstand the occasional drop, scratch, and liquid spill. It has the same gorgeous 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and fast Verizon 4G/LTE data as its predecessor while retaining powerful multimedia chops and tight security features.
The bad: For such an advanced smartphone, the vague promise of a future Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is disappointing. Also, while having a bigger, stronger battery is great, it's still not user-removable. Small hands will also find it hard to wrap around the phone's wide frame, and the onboard 8-megapixel camera is not impressive.
The bottom line: The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx proves that a powerful Android superphone can remain thin yet still promise marathon-worthy battery life. If you can live without Ice Cream Sandwich and have big hands, the Maxx is extremely compelling.
The good: The JBL OnBeat Xtreme offers excellent performance for an iPhone/iPad speaker dock, with detailed sound and good, tight bass that can fill a fairly large room. It also has built-in Bluetooth for wireless streaming, speakerphone capabilities, a video output, an RF remote (with 30-foot range), and a pass-through USB connection for computers that allows you to sync a docked iPod/iPhone/iPad with iTunes on your computer.
The bad: At $500, it costs as much as an iPad. The eye-catching design may not appeal to some people.
The bottom line: While it's on the expensive side, JBL's OnBeat Xtreme is one of the best-sounding iPhone/iPad docks we've heard--and it has built-in Bluetooth and speakerphone capabilities.
The good: Yamaha's first budget sound bar delivers solid sound quality for TV and movies. The Yamaha YAS-101's built-in subwoofer will appeal to minimalists who don't want a separate sub, plus it has an innovative feature that passes through remote signals if the TV's sensor is blocked.
The bad: If you like tons of bass or really high volume, the YAS-101 isn't for you. It's also light on features, lacking HDMI inputs, analog audio inputs, and any kind of wireless audio streaming.
The bottom line: Yamaha's YAS-101 is a great budget sound bar, with an excellent design and a helpful feature for dealing with remote signals, although it's light on connectivity.
The good: A well-designed camera that's enjoyable to shoot, partly thanks to a great viewfinder, the fixed-mirror Sony Alpha SLT-A77V bests the competition with features like a cleverly articulated display, built-in GPS for geotagging, and very good 1080/60p video.
The bad: There are some annoying omissions in the A77V's feature set, including odd limitations for raw and video shooting, plus battery life is subpar.
The bottom line: The Sony Alpha SLT-A77V is an excellent, well-designed camera for deep-pocketed amateurs; it nevertheless has a few limitations that may make it impractical for professionals.
The good: Being powered by the Android OS means that the Parrot Asteroid can download and run apps. Parrot's hands-free calling system is one of the best in the business. Digital media on USB-connected mass storage devices, iPods, and SD cards can be voice-controlled. A ton of functionality is crammed into a single-DIN form factor.
The bad: Getting the Asteroid connected to the Internet requires a USB wireless 3G dongle, not provided. Only Parrot-approved apps are supported and many of the launch apps, particularly Maps, are not very compelling or useful.
The bottom line: The Parrot Asteroid falls a bit short on delivering the Internet and a rich app experience in the car, but it's still a solid receiver for users looking to add great digital audio connectivity and a top-tier hands-free calling experience to any vehicle.
The good: For a compact, portable Bluetooth speaker, the Geneva Sound System Model XS sounds very good and plays loud. It has a user-replaceable, built-in, rechargeable battery, folds up into its own case, and has a built-in FM radio and alarm clock features.
The bad: The Model XS is fairly pricey, has no speakerphone capabilities, and charges via a separate AC adapter, not USB.
The bottom line: While it's not cheap, the Geneva Sound System Model XS has a great design and is one of the better ultracompact Bluetooth speakers on the market, outperforming the Jawbone Jambox.
The good: The Huawei Mercury has Android 2.3 Gingerbread, an 8-megapixel camera, a front-facing camera, a 1.4GHz processor, and good call quality.
The bad: Battery life doesn't live up to expectations on the Mercury, you have to remove the battery each time you access the microSD card slot, and data speeds are pokey. The glossy plastic material is a smudge magnet.
The bottom line: With its dual cameras, strong processor, and attention to camera detail, the Huawei Mercury tops Cricket's charts for a non-Muve Music smartphone, but insatiable Web surfers may still want to shop around.