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CNET Tech Review: Fresh new phones for fall

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CNET Tech Review: Fresh new phones for fall

23:37 /

This week on the CNET Tech Review: Samsung debuts Focus S and Focus Flash; Beats audio built into the HTC Rezound; how to improve your iPhone's battery life; and what we're still waiting for in the iPhone 5.

-This week on the CNET Tech Review, our wish list for the iPhone 5, hot new phones from HTC and Samsung, hook up your iPhone's puny battery life, and the Kobo Vox takes aim at the Kindle Fire. 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 our own unique wisdom in the form of the bottom line. Let's start things off with the good. Good news for those of you who have been waiting for all the cool windows phone phones to come out. They are starting arrive. Samsung announced 2 new windows phones this week and one of them is even 4G. Have a look at the Focus S and the Focus Flash. -Hi, I'm Bridget Carey with CNET, and we're here with 2 new windows phones from AT&T, the Samsung Focus S and the Samsung Flash. Now, there are sister phones, but the Focus S has a bigger screen. It's 4.3 inches and it has a better camera on the back 8-megapixel. The Focus Flash is your lower end one. It's a little on the cheaper side smaller screen 3.7 inches and a 5-megapixel camera in the back. Now, as sister phones, they both have a lot in common. They are both Mango, so that's Window 7.5. They have an internal 1.4 gigahertz process and I'm told they both have the same amount of memory as well, and they are both on the AT&T HSPA Plus 4G network. The Focus S is gonna be about $200 worth of contract and the Focus Flash is gonna be about $200 with the contract and the focus flash is gonna about $50, so definitely for a more affordable phone, it's gonna get a little bit of in a smaller package, but internally it's about the same. Now, taking just a look at the Focus S. This is a very thin phone. It has a plastic bag, but it has a nice texture to it. So, it doesn't feel too slippery. You have a dedicated camera button on the top here, and you also have that in the lower end focus flash. Both have a front facing camera. This one is 1.3-megapixels. Design-wise, there are just small differences. As you can see in the focus flash, there's a little bit of a button design on the windows home button and you don't see that on the focus. So, there you have it. If you're looking for a windows phone, this the latest and greatest from AT&T on the windows side and you have 2 different options to go with the plan on your budget. For CNET TV, I'm Bridget Carey. -Bridget Carey was on serious New York phone duty this week because Samsung wasn't the only company dropped a new phone. HTC has another new android option and this one is all about Beats. -Hi, I'm Bridget Carey with CNET TV here at the launch event for the HTC Rezound on Verizon. Now, this is a pretty powerful phone. It's gonna be top of the line. You're gonna have 1.5 gigahertz processor. Inside, you're also gonna get 16 gigs of internal memory and an SD card that has another 16 gigs attached to it, but let's talk about the screen. This is a 4.3-inch high definition 720p screen. The first time you're gonna see that of HTC. So, the camera is 8-megapixel with a flash and it records at 1080p HD, and the camera itself has a few extra little features in it like being able to take action for shots will be faster, playback your video and slow motion, and the camera is designed to really intake a lot of light more so than other cameras. So, supposedly, you should be able to take some really good shots in little lighting. It takes a lot of hench from the HTC incredible in terms o design, kind of a curved back, kind of this soft textured finish on the back with some red highlights and beat here is for Beats audio. That's the big standout feature on this because they integrated audio technology, so your music is gonna sound little better and it comes with Beats audio headphones. You're also gonna notice HTC Sense 3.5, which has unique new features like having your customizable icons on the lock screens like a take it, and just kind of drag it right into there, so it will immediately open up my messages, mail, whatever wanna put in there. Also, when you go into leap view, you will able to customize the order of each of these screens or just drag one and delete it right from here. Overall, I could tell it's a very smooth experience. I only had a few minutes with it, but just by looking at some of the videos, very sharp and bright imagery. So, we'll just take it back to our labs to get a really longer look at it, but initially, it's pretty sweet. It comes Ice Cream Sandwich ready, so it's gonna have Gingerbread to start, but expect an update on Ice Cream Sandwich, say maybe at the beginning of next year, and it's gonna be available on November 14th from Verizon at $299.99. For CNET, I'm Bridget Carey. -So, it's got good sound, video and photo editing on the phone and a low light sensor for better pictures in the dark. Party phone people, you heard it here from us, but for some of you none of these new amazing phones can fill the hole that was left when Apple announced the 4S and not the iPhone 5, I know it hurts. So, in this week's top 5 in addition to counting down the features, we're still waiting for when 5 does arrive, Brian Cooley also offers a lesson in the classic stages of group. -You know, it's funny. The release of iPhone 4S was sort of like a Kubler-Ross experience. There was denial, "No, I don't mind that it's not an iPhone 5;" anger, "Wait! It's not an iPhone 5;" bargaining, "Come on, Apple, please, just one more thing; depression, "Whatever, I guess I'll get a Droid;" and then acceptance, "Hey, the iPhone 4S rocks." Well, now we're through that neurosis, we can move on to what the iPhone 4S immediately makes us think of. What we want in the iPhone 5. I'm Brian Cooley here with the top 5 things in that category leaving out the silly stuff like removable batteries, expandable storage, or Flash support that Apple never gonna do and taking right to the realm of reality. We're gonna ranked these by how likely it is we'll get each feature. Here we go. Number 5, NFC, that's Near Field Communications. This is that swipe-to-pay-with-your-phone technology that all the banks and merchants and payment networks are cranking up in 2012 and which most consumers think is some kind of voodoo that will siphon their bank account, expose their ID or both. That notwithstanding, it's pretty likely. Apple is gonna build NFC into the 5 because they have a huge stake in the payment space to the iTunes. Chances here about 40%. Number 4 is better battery life. The 4S pretty just did a lateral on this front, so now Apple is really on the hook to make the 5 go longer on a charge especially since the MacBook Air goes all day on a one it's a laptop and the iPad goes all month on a charge that makes the iPhone the one Apple mobile product that doesn't really have a stand out battery life story to tell. New CPUs and GPUs we expect in the 5 will help out here and the odds on this one about 50/50. Number 3 is actually the number 1 thing CNET users like you tell us you want. That is a screen bigger than a postage stamp. The longstanding 3.5-inch iPhone display is just plain dinky these days. You really feel it when watching video or if you use the phone as a navigation device. Yet, we still rank bigger screen at maybe 50% likelihood due of the battery hit that a bigger display might mean, see number 4, and the fact that same users who want a bigger screen also say they don't want a bigger phone. That can be tough. Number 2 4G, if the iPhone 5 doesn't have 4G, I will officially whistle Apple's Golden Era dead. You 4G phones and networks are a little green right now but, buy the time, the iPhone 5 time comes out 4G phones are gonna be it and the 3Gs are gonna be moving fast into the bargain category. Also, 4G bandwidth is gonna do wonders for iCloud which might dovetail nicely with an expansion of that service to finally work with video for the first time, adds here, a solid 80%. Okay, before we hit number 1, remember another reason for a lot of the anticipations that will be built around 5 are the reports that it was the last product Steve Jobs really focused on, reportedly allocating the limited time he knew he had left to this product. It makes sense. It's far and away Apple's biggest thing in their entire lineup and therefore may be the last physical evidence we ever get of Jobs vision. Okay, the number 1 thing we think we'll see and wanna see. The new iPhone 5 is gonna be a whole new design. Now, we don't know what the new look might be, thinner, more sculpted, wider, longer, curvier, who knows. Those are all in play as well as a bunch of crazy ones that I won't even bore you with, but we know this, in the handheld phone space, you have to change up your design once in a while to keep the coals burning under the hype machine. Also, consider patents we've seen that suggests backside multi touches coming. This isn't that thing you try to get away within a strip club. It's a technology where you control the screen from behind the device or perhaps, we'll get a completely button free phone. Both of those ideas would create a more spacious screen experience, which answers your number 1 request. Whatever it is, a new design is 99% likely with just 1 percent reserved in case Tim Cook drinks a whole lot more than we know. If you're intrigued by this short list and want to see the full one, including the stuff that everyone wants and then Apple will never give you, check out David Carnoy's full 15 items slide show on things we want see in the next in iPhone 5. You can find a link to that and a lot more Top 5s like this at Top5. CNET.com. I'm Brian Cooley, thanks for watching. Since Apple has not admitted that iOS 5 is causing battery problems on the iPhone 4S, I won't be surprised to see that issue rise in the top 5 ranking. Apple said a fix is on the way, but if you don't wanna wait that long, Sharon Vaknin has some tips to prolong your battery life right now. -Hey everyone, I'm Sharon Vaknin for CNET.com here to help improve the terrible battery life that came with iOS 5 especially on the iPhone 4S. The issue is so bad that Apple is investigating the problem and might release a fix, but until then I have a few solutions you can try right now. Grab your phone and head to settings to get started. One tip many people swear by is resetting your network's settings. First, go to general, reset and select reset network settings. Enter pass code if you have one and your phone will restart. This won't erase any data, but you will have to reenter your Wi-Fi passwords. Now, go to location services and turn off any location services you don't need. These services drain a ton of batteries since they force your phone to constantly find your location. The biggest defender in this list probably reminders because if you setup a location based reminder, you iPhone will always Monitor your location as it waits to activate your reminder. So, you can either disable it here or hold off on using location based reminders until this battery is fixed. Once you turned off these services, head down to systems service and disable location based I adds and setting time zone, which you can turn again when you travel across time zones. Alright, we're done with location services and the next step is to turn off diagnostic reports your phone maybe sending to apple periodically. So, now head to general about diagnostics and usage and select don't send. This next thing is Siri related an only applies to the iPhone 4S. Go to general, Siri, and turn off raise to speak. This is a handy feature, but it consistently drains your battery by monitoring your iPhone's light sensor to activate Siri. It's not fair that we have to disable useful features for better battery life, but until Apple releases a fix, this could be the best solution. If you did all of the above and you're still seeing crappy battery life, some uses in the Apple community forms say you should condition your battery. So, let your battery die, which shouldn't take long, then completely recharge it by using AC adaptor. In general, you should do this at least once a month. With these settings in place, you should see your battery life improve, but this doesn't mean Apple is off the hook for this issue. If you have any battery saving tips, let me know on Twitter or my Facebook page and I'll repost them on howto.cnet.com. For CNET, I'm Sharon Vaknin. -Even if you find that your new 4S can make it through the day with plenty of charge to spare, these tips can also help if you know you're going to be away from a charger over the weekend or in a remote area, or you could just turn off your phone and enjoy the scenery. The concludes the cellphone portion of our show for today and now is as good to me as I need for a break. We'll be back with 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. Continuing on in the good, the 2011 Dodge Charger is more likely to turn heads for its exterior styling, but as Wayne Cunningham shows us the Charger is equally impressive on the inside. -Hi, I'm Wayne Cunningham with CNET taking a close look Dodge's new Infotainment Center here in the 2011 Charger. Now, the first thing you will notice about the system, it's got a massive screen. This is 8.4 inches and there's on plastic buttons around the outside. Dodge filled the function buttons in a menu across the bottom here. Now, if I push the navigation button, I get a really familiar screen. This is actually Garmin navigation software that Dodge integrated into the new Infotainment Center. Now, this is pretty good stuff. It's got really good guidance. If I switch to this plus button here, that gives me SIRIUS travel link. From the SIRIUS travel link, I get movie listings, sports scores, gas prices and weather, and that stuff is integrated with the navigation system. So, by finding the gas price that I like, I can actually just hit that button and will send me address to that gas station to the navigation system. Now, if I go to the stereo, I hit this player icon here and I get a lot of digital audio sources. I get Bluetooth streaming audio. I get USB drive. I got iPod integration and even SD card. Now I've got USB drive actually plugged into the car right now. And this system used the integrated Gracenote database [unk] the MP3 tracks that I go on there and now I can browse that tracks on that drive by album, genre, artist, all the normal things you find in an MP3 player. With the phone system there, I can get an on screen keypad and I can actually just manually enter a number or the system also copy the phone book from my third phone to the system and I can search through and find any name on there. I can also use voice command to call a number just by getting the steering wheel button and saying, call Wayne Cunningham. -Which phone for Wayne Cunningham would like to call? -So the system actually found 3 numbers associated with my name in the content list and asked me which one of those I wanna call. So, this system brings the Dodge up-to-date and includes all the modern features you'd expect in car Infotainment Center with a nice big screen. This has been a close look at Dodge's new Infotainment Center on here on the 2011 Charger. I'm Wayne Cunningham for CNET. -So, that's a look at the Infotainment Center in the charger. To see how the rest of the car fairs, you can find Brian Cooley's video in the car tech section at CNET.com, and now might be a good time to do that if you're an LG employee because the time has come for the bad. There are a lot of amazing TVs out there and prices just keep getting better, which makes it even more disappointing that LG kind of blow it with this one. -Hi, I'm CNET senior editor David Katzmaier and this is the LG 42LK450. This is a 42-inch LCD TV. There's also a 32- and 37-inch member of the series. This review will apply to all 3. This is one of LGs least expensive TVs for 2011. It uses a CCFL backlight, which means that it's not the LEDs found on a lot of the higher end LCD TVs this year. Seeing it from the side, you can tell it's not an LED TV. It's a little bit thicker, but still pretty thin. The set's design is really not all that inspiring. Around the bottom, you will the sort of sandy strip, sort of set it off against the glossy black. I told we find the look a little bit uninspiring, but then again it's an entry level TV. Unlike some TVs at this level, the LG does have a swivel stand, however. Feature set on the LK450 is pretty bare bones. It's the 60 hertz refresh rate, which means that it doesn't have a 120 hertz found on some higher end TVs, not a big loss in our book. The TV doesn't the DNLA streaming found on some Samsung models, but it does allow you to plug in the USB port to the side and look at videos, photos, and music, so that's one little extra. One area where LG didn't scamp was the picture settings. There's a slower picture presets in addition to a 10-point gray scale and full color management system. So, if you tweak in this TV, you will find all the controls found on many higher end televisions. It's a real plus at this level. Around back, you will find 2 HDMI, 2 component video, a PC input and a 3rd HDMI as well as a headphone jack around the side. So, I told it's one of the better equipped entry level TVs in terms of connectivity. When we took the LG into the lab we were little bit disappointed by its picture quality compared to some of its peers. The real weakness is its very light black levels when you look at this TV in the dark, you can see the blacks are relatively gray and they don't have that punch that a lot of the TVs at its price level from Sony and Samsung for example can deliver. On the flip side, we did appreciate the accurate color, again helped by those extensive picture adjustments. The TV does miraculously handle 1080p/24 cadence correctly despite being a 60 hertz TV, so that's kind of a bonus to leave you Blu-ray players at 1024. We also appreciate of the matte screen, but I told thank to those pretty weak black levels, this TV is one of the worst performance at this price point. That's a quick look at the LG LK450 and I'm David Katzmaier. -It sounded pretty promising right up until the very end. You can tell your friends from LG to come back into the room now as we move along to this week's bottom line. The kindle is the undisputed king of e-Readers right now and then Nook is trying to be the prince. So, is there any room for an upstart? Kobo is hoping that the answer is yes. Hi, I'm David Carnoy from CNET. I'm here with Matthew Welch from Kobo and we are here with the new Kobo Vox e-Reader Tablet. This is a $199 tablet that is powered by android. It is android 2.3 and Matthew can tell us a little bit about the device and its highlights. -Yeah, you can see from the beginning here that the device with home screen, which is very book centric. Beyond that, you have all with the other things you would expect in an open android platform that's completely customizable. -It weighs 14.2 ounces and it comes with 8 gigabytes of memory. -8 gigs and expandable to 32. So, I think it will hold the, you know, out normal Kobo attached will hold a thousand books. This will hold 800 books and if you wanna expand with 32, it can hold, you know, with 30,000 books. So, it's quite a large library. -800 megahertz processor, very similar to the Barnes and Noble Nook color. Some of the other feature it has, you talk about the screen earlier, what makes the screen special compared to other screen? -Obviously, people love our e-ink screens because you can read them in bright sunlight. When you go to color reading device, we look around and we found that the FFS plus screen. I don't know what FFS plus stands for, but I think it stands for you can read it outside. -Yeah. -Because effectively, we look around and we found that the type of screen technology used in cockpits or fighter planes is this technology. -There is no android market on the device. It is your own store, your own android store and it just has free apps. -Exactly, we have 15,000 apps and you can also get, you know, our whole philosophy is read freely. So, you can basically get apps from anywhere else, side load them on here. The whole device is filter and freed up, so it's an open android platform. You could customize the look and feel it as you like. In fact the product itself comes in 4 different colors. You're free to use whatever browser you want. You're free when you buy books from Kobo to use them on the other device, or if you bought back books from other device to bring them onto a Kobo. -And so we're looking at pretty similar battery life to the Nook color at around 7 hours. -Yeah. -It has the quilted back. The signature Kobo quilted back. We have a great new social feature called Pulse, and with pulse, you can, for the first time kind of books come to life again. So, you get all of the things you wold get in virtual book club now integrated into an underlay within the book itself. So, if you want to say that you like a page that you started reading a book. You wanna make a comment in the book. You wanna see the comments that other people make on the book. All of that can then show up direct in the Facebook ticker. -So, obviously, some of the potential revenue stream is in doing paid apps for android. You guys are just going free apps is that conscious decision that you can actually buy paid apps from any store? -Yeah, it's the way it is right now. It certainly not a great strategic position there, but extend to which people want free things, we give them free things, right. We don't have a lot of people clamoring please take my money for us. -Let's talk about adding even more funds, is that new feature -Yeah -in this? Was that part of your app strategy as well? -In our initial version, we had, you know, a certain range of font sizes. When we went to touchscreen, we went up to 17 font sizes. Now with this, we're up to 42 font sizes and it turns that, people appreciate if they have bifocals or trifocals being able to put their glasses down and just read a book the hold fashion way. Alright, thanks Matthew for all that. That is the new Kobo Vox tablet e-Reader and I'm David Carnoy and thanks for watching. -The bottom line this week, enjoy third place Kobo. Since the Kindle Fire and the newest nook are due to go on sale in the next week or 2, the future of the Kobo Box looks a little bleak, although there is something king of tempting about all that openness and the jet fighter glass that is cool. That gonna do it for this time, but come next week for an all new CNET Tech Review. Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. See you next time and thanks for watching.
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