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CNET Tech Review: Fat laptops that fail to impress

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CNET Tech Review: Fat laptops that fail to impress

26:34 /

This week on the CNET Tech Review, the Casio Tryx camera makes its post-CES debut, and is as cool as we remembered. Plus, a Honeycomb tablet shootout, two pudgy laptops, and a pretty cool mouse. Yes, mouse.

-This week on the CNET Tech Review, a crazy gymnast of a camera, carry every coupon you could ever want all on your phone, Windows on a superpowerful tablet and a Honeycomb hoedown of a prize fight. It's all coming up right now. Hi, everyone, I'm Molly Wood and welcome to the CNET Tech Review where we collect our hottest videos of the week and tell you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech plus offer some unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. Let's start with the good. Now, every year, we go to the consumer electronic show and we see some neat little thing that we really wanna try and it's always kind of craft shoot to see if it will actually make it market. Well, one of those new little thing was the Casio TRYX and good news it's real and it's still kind of neat. - Hey, I'm Josh Goldman, senior editor with CNET, and this is a look at the Casio TRYX. Now the TRYX is definitely a unique camera. For starters, it looks more like a smartphone than a typical point-and-shoot. It's designed for casual snap shooters so you won't find manual controls or even an optical zoom lens. What you get instead is a fixed ultra-wide angled lens and a bunch of automatic shooting options. For example, its high speed sensor and processors will rapidly shoot a bunch of photos and combine them into 1 shot, improving things like dynamic range, blur from handshake, and low light scenes. You also get a full HD and slow motion movie capture, 360-degree panoramas, and for those that wanna get experimental, there's an HDR, that's high dynamic range. HDR are option that will bump up the contrast and level of color saturation to add some interest to what might otherwise be a boring shot. Of course, it's got regular Auto modes too, and its photo quality is descent. Photos can be soft, but they're better than what you'd get with the smartphone. However, the camera features come second to the design. That lens that I mentioned earlier, it rotates 360 degrees inside its frame, while the TRYX's 3-inch touchscreen can swivel 270 degrees. It even rates the image when you flip the camera over so you can shoot with it in your left or right hand. You can rotate the screen around and use the frame as a tripod, or hang in on something. It's got a cool pull down timer too for self portrait. You just drag it down the screen and it counts out the seconds. It's also got a motion activated shutter release. That came in handy when I was shooting my daughter 'cause every time she moved, it set off the timer again for another candid photo. Basically, if you're after a series of point-and-shoot with excellent photos, it's probably isn't the best choice. But if you can see the value in the stuff I've mentioned, and your photos and movies are being shared online or in small prints, it's definitely a neat little pocket camera. I'm Josh Goldman, and that's the Casio TRYX. -Okay, I love that fold down timer thing and the countdown reset. So, yeah, pretty much the target market for everything he described there. Moving on in the good, deal sites and coupons are the new block in the tech world right now, but you never seemed to have a coupon on hand when you need it, unless of course you're using your phone to serve an instant coupons everywhere you are. [unk] that's the ticket. -What's up people? I'm Jaymar Cabebe, and welcome to Tap That App - the show where we cover the hottest apps for your mobile device. This week, we're showing off one of my faves: a find-a-deal app called Scoutmob. Now there are a couple of things that set Scoutmob apart from some of its other daily-deal competition. First, it's got a major focus on smaller, local spots. No big-box retailers. Scoutmob's creators even say that they hope to encourage local exploration and discovery of some hidden gems. That said, expect to find mostly restaurant and bar deals on tap, with a few other types of retailers sprinkled in. Second, Scoutmob doesn't sport one of those annoying countdown timers. It doesn't pressure you to 'purchase this coupon by midnight.' In fact, Scoutmob doesn't pressure you to purchase anything at all. It just hands you some great deals (usually 50% off), and from there, you can take advantage of whatever you want, Whenever you want. So here's how it works. Fire up Scoutmob, and watch it magically pull up all the deals in your area. Shuffle through the results to find a coupon you like. Here, I'm sorting by distance. Then--this is important--BEFORE tapping 'USE THE DEAL,' make sure you're already standing near the deal location. Because if you're too far away from that store or restaurant, then the app will refuse to serve up your delicious coupon, and that will effectively ruin your whole Scoutmob experience. Got it? OK, so once you're there, and you've clicked 'USE THE DEAL,' just flash your screen to the cashier, or maybe the server at the restaurant, then proceed to put approximately half your cash back into your wallet... unless, of course, you decide to then buy double the food. I mean, the choice is yours, but double the food might be kind of excessive. I'm just saying. And just a note- coupons can only be used once, BUT you can always check the 'Return Perks,' to find different deals, specifically for repeat customers. It's that simple, folks. No printing and no paying for anything upfront. Scoutmob is available on iOS and Android. And if you don't live in a major metro area, you might want to check to see if it covers you before downloading. That's it for this week. If you have any other apps you'd like us to tap, send them along to tapthatapp@cnet.com. I'm Jaymar Cabebe. Thanks for watching, and I will see you all next time. -I cannot believe that cute little Jaymar insinuating that might buy twice the foot, I might though. Now, it's often that we spotlight a mouse here on the tech review much less a mouse in the good section of the tech review. That's because most mice are kind of all the same except this one is just a little bit different. - Hi. I'm Rich Brown, senior editor for cnet.com. Today, we're gonna take a look at the HP Wi-Fi mobile mouse. This is a brand-new mouse from HP. It is actually pretty interesting. This is the first mouse that we've seen that relies on your Wi-Fi receiver to make the connection with your PC. It's not based on bluetooth. It doesn't use a USB receiver. Instead, you simply install the drivers on your Windows 7 pc. And with a brief pairing process, it will recognize the mouse pretty much instantly over your wireless receiver. Now we think this mouse makes a lot of sense for travelers, particularly those who have a small laptop with few USB ports. If using this mouse frees up one extra USB port, you can use that port instead for a data key, syncing a wireless device, or some other peripheral that you couldn't normally use. Now, aside from it's connectivity, this mouse isn't actually all that interesting. It has a basic 5-button design with buttons on each side as well as 2 main buttons and the scroll wheel down the middle. The scroll wheel also works for 4-way scroll so you can go up, and down, and left, and right, which is nice if you're working on a spreadsheet. It's a laser-based sensor and you can customize laser with kind of a clunky process that involves clicking all the buttons at once and waiting for this light to light up and tell you that you've cycled through the next setting. It's a little bit awkward. The mouse also runs on 2 basic double A batteries. They're not rechargeable, but HP says they last for up to 9 months, which is actually twice as long as Bluetooth. I'm Rich Brown. This is the HP Wi-Fi mobile mouse. -I mean, I guess I don't why you need Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth other than the battery light thing, but I kind of like it anyway. Good job mouse, and good job ASUS for sticking with that whole windows on a tablet thing. The Slate AP121 is just about the only tablet you'd wanna have windows on for basically one reason, processor. Check it out. -I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here with the Asus EP121. That is something that's pretty rare these days. It's a Windows 7 tablet. We first saw this guy back at CES 2011. We've done a few bouncing around Europe. They're actually pretty hard to find in the US right now. It's a little bit different from most of the other Windows tablet that we've seen in some very good ways. First of all, instead of being super underpowered, it actually got an Intel Core i5 CPU in it. Now, it's not the current, what they call a Sandy Bridge version with a better built-in graphics and really high in performance, it's last year's ultra low voltage version, but it's still a huge step-up from most of the tablets that we've seen. They run Windows that usually acts like an Intel Atom in them that make them virtually unusable. This also has a bigger screen than a lot of tablets. A lot of the tablets are 7 inches, 9 inches. This is a 12-inch display. It's got this cool edge-to-edge glass [unk] that's very nice, thus pick up fingerprints pretty easily; however, you know all that anti-fingerprint stuff they have on like the iPad screen. Well, there's none of that here. That said, it's a good size for watching movies and it is a pretty descent size for working on for longer periods, almost like a 13-inch laptop, which is probably the smallest size screen we consider, you know, for all day use. Now, along with the touchscreen tablet, you also get a bundled Bluetooth keyboard that matches up very nicely design-wise and, of course, it connects wirelessly through Bluetooth, and you can use this keyboard or of course it's got the standard Windows on-screen keyboard right here, which is not the best on-screen keyboard in the world, but it's one that pretty much every Windows touchscreen tablet has. Your mileage with it may vary. The EP121 feels a lot zippier than pretty much every other Windows tablet we've used. Thanks to that Core i5, and in fact, you can even go into a web browser and do a finger scrolling like this, something that you can't do in a lot of Windows-based tablets. We only got this to working Internet Explorer. It wouldn't work in Chrome for us. And then there's some art programs built-in. You could do some sketching in here if you feel like it, and, you know, obviously, you could stream Google through it pretty easily. It's not gonna get too stuttery because of that powerful CPU. Connection-wise, you've got a couple of USB ports over here on the sides. They're under these little covers right here. You've also got HDMI and an SD card slot and there's a volume rocker here on the side, and if you tilt it, it should reorient itself. There's a little lock switch you can put on to it, it won't do that. If you don't want it to, obviously, it doesn't flip as fast as a non-Windows tablets do. As far as Windows tablets go, it's actually one of the cooler looking ones we've seen. Thanks to the edge-to-edge glass, the metal front bezel, and the back is plastic, but still looks pretty good. It's also a lot lighter than you'd think, especially considering it's a lot of glass and metal on the front side of it. Now, the EP121 is not gonna come cheap. It starts at about 1000 bucks. I think you could trade up to a more expensive version that has a bigger solid state hard-drive. The basic version has a 32-gig drive. And as far as Windows tablets go right now, if price is the object, I'd say this is currently the one to beat. I'm Dan Ackerman, and that is the Asus EP121. -Woo, a thousand bucks. See, I guess I'm not so sure about that after all, but at least it comes with a keyboard and while I ponder the merits of that tablet over a really fancy windows laptop, let's take a brake. We'll right back for more tech review right after this. Welcome back to the CNET Tech Review our weekly video digest of all things good and bad we've seen here at CNET TV. Let's jump right on into the bad, shall we. Now, let's be honest. Most LED based LCD TVs do look pretty good, but when one falls a little bit short, we got to call it out. - Hi, I'm David Katzmaier and, oh, my, this is a Sharp Quattron LED-based LCD TV. This is the LC-LE830U. It's Sharp's midrange model, it's a step below their 3D TVs so this is a 2D-only television, but the real claim to fame here is the extra yellow pixel. Sharp puts a fourth subpixel into these TVs which means that in addition to the red, green, and blue subpixels that make up color, there's also a fourth yellow one. Sharp says that does improve color fidelity. We'll get to that in a little bit but first let's check out the styling on this television. It's an LED-based LCD which means it's really thin. Around the edge of the picture, it's also got a really thin bezel so, all told, it's a very compact model. It's also got a nifty swivel stand but in general, we found it looks a little bit generic. It's pretty much just glossy black with a couple of rounded corners. Sharp includes a full suite of internet activities on this television. There's the Aquos Net which is their name for widgets which includes things like weather, sports, and news. There's also your standard suite of the streaming video services including Netflix and VUDU video. There's also a whole VUDU apps suite which makes three total interfaces--yes, we counted them--for all the extra stuff you can get including Wikipedia. There's a second Twitter app on there and a bunch of other VUDU apps, so, all told, there's plenty of content on this TV, it's just not as well organized as we'd like to see. We did appreciate the remote control's additional three extra programmable favorites buttons which allow you to tap directly into Netflix or VUDU or whatever streaming app you want to. The TV also has a built-in Wi-Fi which makes all of that internet content a lot easier to get so we really did appreciate having a Wi-Fi built in without having to buy an extra dongle. Around back on this TV, you'll find four HDMI inputs, two USB inputs, as well as a component video input and a PC input so plenty of connectivity for all your home theater gear. Sharp also adds a full suite of picture adjustments including color temperature at 2 points but also a superb color management system that allowed us to adjust away the inaccuracies of that extra yellow pixel. When we took the Quattron in the lab, we were impressed by its color accuracy, at least in the bright areas. Once we got our calibration done, we really didn't have any detriment or any bonus with those yellow pixels so, in general, it does look as accurate as a lot of the other TVs on the market. In the darker areas, however, it was tinged relatively blue so we weren't huge fans of that. The TV also has relatively light black levels as well as uneven uniformity so, all told, it's one of the more mediocre performers among LED-based LCD TVs this year. That's a quick look at the Sharp LC-LE830U series and I'm David Katzmaier. -Now, I kind of want Twitter on my TV, but I think I would much prefer for the TV picture to look good. Because sometimes, you just wanna do the one thing and do it well, you know. Next up, a laptop that almost gets there. This HP has a good price and decent stocks but like Lisa Simpson says M-E-H, meh. - Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET.com and this is the HP ProBook 6360b. Now, every once in a while, we find a small business or business laptop that's cool enough that we recommend that it could even be used for consumers. This is not that one. No, no, no. This is a laptop that looks like a business laptop. It is really fuddy-duddy looking, no offense to HP, but they put some effort to give this a nice clean look but it's thick. This is a 13-inch laptop that's extremely thick, especially since we just reviewed laptops like Toshiba Portege that are very thin and at the same price range. At about $800 starting price, this is not really a bargain per se. It does have up-to-date second-generation Core i series processors inside. We had a Core i5 in ours. That's great. It's got an anti-glare screen so that's nice, too, some people appreciate that, and the keyboard feels really good, but frankly, look, it's not a laptop you're gonna wanna be caught with in a coffee shop and, hey, that's what matters, right? If we're gonna be paying this type of money for the design because under the hood, a lot of these processors now are the same. Bottom line, the features in this are really meant for business deployment, the software, the security and hardware, et cetera, and the ports, you got DisplayPort instead of HDMI. Save yourself the trouble, this is a business laptop, this is not a consumer laptop, but, hey, if you get-- given this by your IT department, it's not a bad laptop at all. It's got a good battery life. I'm Scott Stein and this is the HP ProBook 6360b with a screen lock hinge. -Okay, no, no, no, no. You IT guys, don't even think about bringing that ugly hunk on my way. No. Then again sometimes even when business laptops try to be sexy. There's still more business than sexy. Here's Scott again - I'm Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET.com and this is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1. Now, thin is getting back in laptops. We're starting to see it in the MacBook Air, the Samsung Series 9. It's no doubt due to Android tablets and iPads bringing a thin cool form factor back into computers. Enter the X1. It is thin, but not that thin; it's light, but it's not that light; and it's cool, but it's not that cool. It's basically a ThinkPad. It looks like a ThinkPad and that's the problem, or, if you're a ThinkPad fan, that's a great thing. It's a redesign of sorts to what you normally see in the old, staid ThinkPad lineup. It looks a lot like the ThinkPad Edge laptops that we saw last year and are seeing this year. It's got a kind of a cooler raised keyboard design--cool by ThinkPad standards, mind you--and sort of a sleeker touch to it. Little bit cleaner lines but, hey, you still see the red dot here and these red buttons, it's gonna scream ThinkPad from a mile away, and it is designed for business laptop users. I mean, it's got the security features and ThinkVantage suite that people like and it's also got an HD webcam in addition to some pretty good noise-cancelling microphone technology here for conducting web conferencing. Now, all of this adds up to a price that's probably a lot higher than you'd like to pay. It's $1399 for our Core i5 configuration using a second-gen Core 2 Duo processor, but you can also get a slice battery that attaches to the bottom and add some thickness for about a little over $1500. Now, that's more than you'd pay for a MacBook Air, maybe a little less than you'd pay for the Samsung Series 9. What you're getting here is a full-fledged laptop processor. You're getting a full standard voltage CPU so it operates a lot faster than a Samsung Series 9 or a MacBook Air. On the other hand, the battery life wasn't as good in our tests, although if you slap that thicker battery on, you're gonna do better than that. What else can we say? It's got a backlit keyboard which is cool. It's got some spill resistance to the keyboard as well. It's got a very solid roll cage design so it should be able to be pretty sturdy even under some light drop conditions, although we wouldn't test it for that. It also comes with a bevy of modern ports. It's got USB 3.0, it's got HDMI, it's got eSATA, it's got Mini DisplayPort, and it's also got SIM card connection for optional 3G broadband through Gobi Wireless. That's a really solid package of ports. It does not have an optical drive, however, which you might want, and, when you carry it around, how thin and light are we talking? Okay, it's 3.8 pounds. That's more heavy than a MacBook Air and you'll feel that, but it's lighter than a normal laptop, but it's pretty wide. I mean, it's not going to look like an ultra-slim laptop to many people, especially with that thickness even if it is under an inch. While there's a nice, smooth finish on the front and on the inside, you'll see that it actually does begin to pick up some smudges after a little bit. It's a really nice ThinkPad but it is a ThinkPad. If you're in the market for a ThinkPad, you'll be really happy, but if you're in the market for a slim laptop, there are a lot of others out there that may not look quite so...well, ThinkPad-y. I'm Scott Stein and this is the look at the Lenovo ThinkPad X1. -Now, I know it is going to be controversial to include the think pad in the bat, because the people who love think pads love them a lot, but I don't care. Have seen the Samsung Series 9 plus that ThinkPad is 1400 bucks, no thank you. Okay, okay, before the ThinkPad guys storm in here with their pitchfork, let's move along and check out this week's bottom line. Thank the tech gods, we finally have an embarrassment of Android tablet riches and some of them are even running Honeycomb. The top of the hip tablets come from Acer and Asus right now, let's turn in over to Brian Tong and his editorial cohorts for a Honeycomb show down. - What's up Prizefight fans? I'm Brian Tong and this is a match-up between two Honeycomb tablets that won't break the bank. It's a Prizefight punch-out between the Acer Iconia Tab and the Azus Eee Pad Transformer. Now, our judges for this fight are senior Donald Taco Bell, senior associate editor, Eric "Shake and Bake" Franklin, and myself, Ring-A-Ling-A-Ding Tong. We'll take all three judges' blind scores and average them out to the nearest tenth each round. The final Prizefight score will be an average of all rounds using the same decimal system. We're putting in 6 rounds of work for this fight. Round 1 is design. The Acer Iconia Tab has a smooth body with a real nice metal finish and edges, but pick it up, this thing is the heaviest tablet on the market, weighing in at 1.69 pounds and trust me, you'll feel it. Now the Asus Transformer has a nice weight to it and a classy design. There's more screen and less vessel and that's always a good thing, plus I like it's textured booty, that I could run my fingers on all day. Asus takes the first round with 3.7 and Acer needs to hit the treadmill with a 3.3. Next round is controls and user interface. Both tablets are running Honeycomb so the look and feel is very similar. The Acer Iconia Tab brings a physical rotation lock switch so you don't have to go into the software settings, plus including Dolby Mobile to tweak the audio settings is a nice addition. Now, the transformer has no lock switch but it was a volume rocker placed on the side which is perfect for a tablet primarily used in landscape mode. It also has a built-in screen shot function so you won't need to download any third-party app and they've changed the navigation icons. Now, I'm not really a fan of the virtual keyboard because including numbers makes it feel more crimped but it doesn't hurt it here. Asus takes another round this time with a 4 and Acer gets a 3.7. So after averaging two rounds, the Transformer now leads by 4/10 of a point. Next round is features. These two tablets have 16 gigs of storage, WiFi, and Bluetooth, and you won't find 3G or 4G on either of them. But Acer brings the most connections you can find with HTMI and audio out, a microSD card slot on top, plus a mini USB, and a standard USB port. The Transformer is lacking when it comes to ports. You'll find audio out, a microSD card slot, the less common mini HTMI, and that's it. But there's a port on the bottom that gives it its best feature. The ability to dock it to laptop keyboard. It's a great option for an additional $150 and you'll get two USB ports, but we're still comparing these guys as tablets. The Acer Iconia Tab takes round 3 with a 4, and the Transformer gets a 3.3. Next round is web browsing and multimedia. Both tablets are using the same browser support flash and have the same multimedia experience, which is a good thing. HD video looked great on both of them, but what sets them apart is their cameras. The Aconia Tab has a 2-megapixel front facing camera and a 5-megapixel rare camera with flash that takes richer and more detailed pictures, but it's a little pickier with multimedia formats. The Transformer offers a 1.2-megapixel front facing camera, and a 5-megapixel camera with no flash on the back, but taking advantage of the keyboard dock feature gives it a real advantage when web browsing. We're calling this round tie at 3.7 points a piece. So after averaging 4 rounds with just 2 left to go, we're locked in dead heat. Next round is performance. These two tablets are snappy performers when you're navigating through Honeycomb and it feels like an identical experience when it comes to speed. The Acer Iconia Tab was able to pump out 7.8 hours of juice in our test, and the Transformer squeezed 7.3 hours of juice, which is still respectable. Now, neither of them were able to get close to Apple's 10-hour iPad battery life, but you'll be more than happy with these solid performers. We've got another tie in this round, and the judges called it even at 4 with just one more round left to go. The final round that decides it all is value. Acers Iconia Tab has specs that go neck and neck with the more expensive Motorola Xoom, but it's price point is a whole different story, $450. It's $50 less than an entry level iPad 2 and is an excellent price for a Honeycomb tablet, but then there's the Asus Transformer that cuts the fat and brings a $400 Honeycomb tablet experience with a solid 4 factor; bottom line, this a price point that will make consumers think twice. The Transformer brings a big bang for the buck and gets a 4.7, and the Iconia Tab gets a 3.7. So let's average out all 6 rounds and in a throw down, that was dead-even until the final round, the Asus Transformer takes this battle 3.9 to 3.7 and is your Prizefight winner. Both of these tabs are Honeycomb experiences that do the platform proud, but it's the Asus Eee Pad Transformer's price that puts it over the top. I'm Brian Tong, thanks for watching. We'll catch you guys next time on another Prizefight. -The bottom line this week choice is good. I almost don't care who wins. I'm just happy to see that at long last, we finally have more than just the iPad to choose from in the tablet category. Because yes, I do wanted SD cards out people on just cookie like that. Alright folks, that's our show for this week. We'll back next week with a brand new CNET Tech Review and until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. I'll see you next time and thank you for watching.
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