Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite gadgets from the past week, including the Apple iPad 2, Nintendo 3DS, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2.
Cyborg R.A.T. 9 Gaming Mouse for PC
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Cyborg R.A.T. 9 Gaming Mouse for PC
Editors' rating: 4.5 out of 5
The good: The Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 9 is the most customizable gaming mouse available. Its two battery packs and included recharging station mean no downtime. Its unique looks make a statement, it boasts strong build quality, and it features useful button functions.
The bad: This mouse is expensive at $149. The lateral scroll wheel is positioned awkwardly.
The bottom line: The Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 9 is the most expensive gaming mouse we know of, but its vast customizability, unique features, and strong performance make it a worthwhile expense for demanding PC gamers.
The good: Classic ThinkPad design in a compact package, amazing battery life, and the latest Intel processors make the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 a standout travel laptop.
The bad: The touch-pad-pointing-stick combo remains an awkward compromise, and as with most ThinkPads you're paying a hefty premium for the sturdy case and business-friendly software.
The bottom line: The Lenovo ThinkPad X220 packs in a new Intel Core i5 CPU and can run all day (depending on how you use it). With a 12.5-inch display, it's just a bit smaller than a 13-inch laptop, and it feels like an excellent compromise for frequent travelers.
Plextor PX-256M2S solid-state drive - 256 GB - SATA 6Gbps
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: The Plextor PX-256M2S solid-state drive supports SATA 6Gbps and offers great performance. The drive works in any application where regular SATA 2.5-inch hard drives are used.
The bad: The Plextor PX-256M2S SSD is more expensive than traditional hard drives and even some other SSDs, and its storage capacity caps at only 256GB.
The bottom line: With excellent performance, the Plextor PX-256M2S SSD makes an ideal internal storage drive for laptops, especially those that support the 6Gbps SATA standard. Its price tag is not for the faint of heart, however.
The good: The Brother HL-2270DW lives up to Brother's reputation for reliable, easy-to-use, wireless monochrome laser printers.
The bad: The printer struggles to provide visually acceptable graphic documents.
The bottom line: With improvements to its output speed, the Brother HL-2270DW improves on its legacy model and provides small businesses an efficient output device for high-volume black-and-white prints.
The good: With 128GB, the Lexar Echo MX backup drive is the largest-capacity thumbdrive to date. It offers good performance, comes in a nifty, compact design, supports 128-bit AES encryption, and is bundled with automatic backup software for both Macs and PCs.
The bad: The Lexar Echo MX is expensive and doesn't support USB 3.0. Its plastic casing seems fragile and can be scratched easily.
The bottom line: If you're willing to dig a hole in your wallet, the Lexar Echo MX could be a great option for quick backups and on-the-go storage.
The good: The Nintendo 3DS provides an impressive 3D gaming experience without the need for special glasses. There's a 3D effect slider, it shoots and displays 3D photographs with its dual back-facing cameras, and it has a single front-facing camera. The 3DS comes preinstalled with a bevy of software and StreetPass and SpotPass services, and it comes with a drop and charge dock. The eShop, including GBA Virtual Console, Internet browsing functionality, DSiWare transferring, and Netflix support, is coming in May.
The bad: The launch lineup is lackluster, and the disappointing low-resolution lenses provide grainy photos. The 3D effect can cause headaches for some, and it can "snap out" due to sensitive viewing angles and games that encourage movement. The 3DS has a very short battery life, and most Internet functionality isn't activated at launch. It's also expensive and may not provide enough value and functionality for those looking for an all-in-one device.
The bottom line: Though it's a bit pricey, the Nintendo 3DS successfully offers a glasses-less 3D experience that needs to be seen to be believed. A weaker-than-usual launch lineup and some inactivated online features dampen its launch, but the future certainly looks bright.
The good: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 delivers excellent performance for its class, in a relatively compact, comfortable design with a streamlined, usable touch-screen interface implementation.
The bad: Panasonic's JPEG processing remains subpar for this class of camera, and the GF2's inability to lock the focus area from accidental screen presses--a flaw of all the company's touch-screen ILCs--remains a huge point of frustration. It also has a disappointingly banal feature set, including a lack of manual controls during video capture. Also, an EVF costs extra, and the battery doesn't last very long.
The bottom line: Though we still really like Panasonic's GF series, there are several trade-offs to take into account before you buy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Its raw-format images look extremely good, but JPEG shooters looking for best-possible photo quality may get frustrated by image artifacts. And while lots of photographers will appreciate its relatively compact but functional design and zippy performance--though still not for action shooting--there's nothing special about its feature set, including underpowered video capture.
The good: The Razer Naga Epic wireless gaming mouse features a 12-button thumb-side keypad, a 5,600dpi laser sensor, customizable pinkie-side inserts, and LED backlighting.
The bad: Using those 12 buttons well takes some getting used to, and the mouse doesn't offer quite as much value as competing high-end gaming mice.
The bottom line: It's not the most elegant mouse, nor does it feel worth the $130 price, but Razer's Naga Epic and its built-in, 12-button keypad could help gamers and others gain mastery over MMOs and other applications with complicated control schemes.
The good: The Zvox 430 HSD sound bar delivers big, dynamic sound on movies and offers adjustable controls for treble, bass, and stereo width. Connectivity includes three rear inputs (analog, optical, and coaxial) and a front panel minijack.
The bad: The Zvox 430 HSD has a relatively large and boxy design. Its digital inputs don't get as loud as its analog inputs; all rear audio inputs are always active, so sound gets mixed with devices that are always on, like DVRs; and the remote's button layout is uninspired.
The bottom line: The Zvox 430 HSD is bigger and more expensive than most sound bars, but delivers impressively large sound for movies.