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Plug it in, plug it in: CNET Tech Review

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CNET Tech Review: Plug it in, plug it in

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This week on the CNET Tech Review: Toyota's plug-in Prius is poised to give the hybrid market a jolt; hands-on with Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play in Barcelona; and Samsung's Galaxy Tab gets supersized.

-This week on the CNET Tech Review [unk] tablet. Find out in our coverage from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Get a look at the long rumored Play Station Phone and a whole lot more plus get charged up for Toyota's Plug-In Prius and a big TV from Vizio which has just a few small problems like its picture. It's all coming up right now. -Hi every everyone, I'm Molly Wood and welcome to the CNET Tech Review where we collect our hottest videos of the week and tell what's good and what's bad in the world of tech plus offer our unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. Let's get started with the good. The 2011 Mobile World Congress kicked off this week in Barcelona and as usual our team of mobile editors received a courtesy trip to Spain on the company's dime and I did not. Anyway, in between [unk] and flamingo dancing lesions, our team did manage to ge a little work done. Take a look at the selection of new phones heading your way and I seriously hope you didn't just buy a new Verizon iPhone - Hi. I'm Kent German, senior editor at cnet.com. I'm here at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona. I wanna show you the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. Now, we know this device is coming for a long time. There have been a lot of rumors about it. There have been a lot of leaks, and of course, there was that Super Bowl commercial with the Android with the grafted on thumbs. I know that freaked a lot of people out, but you understand why the thumbs are needed for this device, but first, we'll look at it from a phone point of view. It does look like a normal smartphone. It is running Gingerbread. See you have a bunch-- you have multiple home screens of course. Here in the side, we have a 3.5-mm headset jack. Over here, we have the micro USB port. There's a volume rack right here and then you see these 2 shoulder buttons. I bet you know what those are for. Once you slide up the phone, there you have those PlayStation controls. Now, it's gonna look a lot like a normal PlayStation controller. So, you have the directional arrows right here. And in the middle, you have 2 touchpads. Now, for the joysticks, you couldn't really fit a joystick on a phone like this, so these touchpads. They have an online store for downloading games, so they have lots of titles there. They'll add titles as they go along. It was really impressed by the graphics. Sony Ericsson does a good job with their displays. It does feel pretty comfortable especially when I cradle my thumb around the back. The phone does slide up and down easy, also is pretty thin, I think, for its-- for what it offers for packing in that game controller. It does have a 5-megapixel camera. It has a lot of normal android features. So here it is finally, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. -Hey everyone I'm Bonnie Cha, Senior Editor at CNET.com and we're here at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona Spain with the first look at the Samsung Galaxy S2. This is the next generation galaxy smartphone and some of the designed features that are new, it has the 4.27-inch super AMOLED touch screen that's gorgeous as usual and its really super thin as you can see here. It is running Android 2.3 along with TouchWiz 4.0. So, Samsung's user interface is on here. Some of the new features of that are these 4 hubs up here that includes the gaming hub, music, readers hub, and the social hub. With these 3 new hubs here, you should be able to get new gaming content as well as music and books. They have redone some of the widgets, so it is has Flickr interface here. Some of the new specs, it is running NVIDIA's Tegra 2 chipset. So, it is dual-core processor phone. It also got an 8-mega pixel camera here on the back along with the flash, as well as the 2-mega pixel camera on front for video calls, so that's very nice. As far as availability, they're just thinking the global announcement today. No word yet on US availability or pricing, but I suspect that it probably will make its way to the US carrier sometime this year. I'm Bonnie Cha, and this has been your first look at the Samsung Galaxy S2. Hi! I'm Kent German, senior editor at cnet.com. I'm here at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, Spain and I wanna show you LG's new Optimus 3D. Here it is finally. It is built on the previous Optimus 2X and Optimus Black that we saw at CES, but it does have a very nice design. It's thin. It's very solid. It has a good feeling in the hands. It is a 4.3-inch display, so it's really bright and colorful. There are multiple screens of course that you can cycle through and you get widgets and music player. You can add widgets, short folders, shortcuts, everything that you'd expect in a phone. Right now this particular phone is on trial, but when the phone really comes out, it will run on Gingerbread, so that's important to know. So Gingerbread is really making some traction here which is nice. Down below, you have 4-touch controls. On the side, there is a microUSB port and a HDMI port and on the back, you'll see it has 2 cameras. Now, why 2 cameras? That's for shooting 3D video. This phone will actually show 3D video. You don't need glasses for that. Kind of see that the icon is flying towards you, so for 3D effect. You know, it's probably not like watching a full 3D movie of course, but it is a bit of a different effect and that is actually something you can see. I was so skeptical about 3D on the phone about how's gonna work, but this actually does in some ways. In the interior menus, you do have a simple icon based design. If you go to the messaging, you can see that there is a virtual keyboard, so you don't have a physical keyboard with this phone. So, here we're gonna see some 3D video. Like I said, it might not work-- it might not show up well on this camera, but you can see that you are getting a little bit of an effect. So, I think it works pretty well actually. All in all, it does look pretty cool. I guess at a 3D video I was pretty skeptical about but it seems like it works well. I'm Kent German from Mobile World Congress and this is the LG Optimus 3D. -That's a pretty big file of buyers regret, no. Of course there's a lot more going on at the mobile world congress than phone as scores of new tablets flood the market place. Bonnie Cha had her hands full with these new models. -Hey everyone, I'm Bonnie Cha, Senior Editor at CNET.com, and we're here in Barcelona, Spain, for Mobile World Congress, and we've got a special first look here of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This is their second tablet and it's gonna exist along with the 7-inch Galaxy Tab. But, as you can see, this one has a 10.1-inch display here--really gorgeous. It's one of the thinnest and lightest 10-inch tablets available. It's 11 millimeters thin and weighs about 21 ounces, so, very nice here. On the back, they've also added a texture here, so, it's not as slick as the first Galaxy Tab, which is nice; also got this little indentations, so, it fits nicely with the hand. Feature-wise, it's running Android Honeycomb and it's a Google Experience device, so that means, no custom UI, no TouchWiz on here, which I'm sure some of you will be very happy to hear. It's got a 2-megapixel camera on the front for video calls, as well as an 8-megapixel camera on back, and it does 1080p HD video recording. It also has a dual-core processor. It's using NVIDIA's Tegra 2 chipset, so, you should see faster performance as well as browsing on here and other benefits. It is an HSPA-Plus device. They're only announcing the global announcement here at Mobile World Congress. We do know Vodafone will be one of the carriers to offer it. No word yet on US availability or carrier support, but hopefully, that'll be something that will be added into the future because it looks like a very cool device. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your first look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Hey everyone, I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at cnet.com, here in Mobile world congress in Barcelona, Spain, and we've got your first look at the T-Mobile G-Slate. This was actually announced at CES 2011, but we didn't get the chance to look at it, but now I do, and it is a gorgeous piece of hardware. It's got a 9-inch screen with resolution of 1280 x 768, really gorgeous and very responsive care. As you can see it, it's pretty thin. What's special about this device is it has a 3D camcorder, so you can shoot 3D videos and then watch them on the G-Slate. This is a honeycomb tablet, so it's running Android OS 3.0. It will be 4G device and T-Mobile will preload this tablet with some other extras to kind of differentiate it from the other tablets out there. Another feature that the G-Slate has is camera on front so you can make video call and also has Google Books here, so as you can see, you can actually turn the pages like an actual book. This is just one of the many tablets coming out this year, but I'm actually impressed by-- especially with the hardware and the 3D camcorder. No availability date yet, but it will be T-Mobile and again it will be a 4G device. They only have one model 32G and just make it simple for everyone, but hopefully, we'll get a review unit soon and get a full out for you. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your first look at the T-Mobile G-Slate. - Hey, everyone. I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at CNET.com and we're here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, where HTC just unveiled their first tablet, the HTC Flyer, and we've got Nathan here from HTC who's gonna give us a quick rundown of the features. -So this is Flyer. On the front here, you can see we've got a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera. If I flip it around, we also see we've got a 5-megapixel camera on the back and an aluminum unibody design, 3.5-mm jack for your headphones, and then just at the bottom here, we've got our connector for HDMI and charging all in one, so keep the body nice and slim. Here I'm gonna show our updated Sense User Experience, so just very quickly I can show you. If I tilt the screen, even our widgets animate in 3D, really come out of the screen. And it really comes to life using our Notes application, so, when I'm creating a new note, you can see that I can actually associate the note to a particular calendar appointment and then anything that I record or take down will be associated with that calendar invite so I can record and then I can write on the screen, and you can see down here that I have this little pinup and it's in green, that means I can interface with that and here I can change the color, I can change the style of the pen, and I can change the size, and I can draw on the screen here using a fountain pen style, tap on the screen and I can type some text. I can also capture an image then this is where the buttons on the pen come into play so using our Scribe technology, I can press and hold this top button here and I can start to erase what I've written. The bottom one here, I press and hold and I can actually select text within the note itself. Once I'm happy, stop recording and then this will automatically upload to the web so I can refer to it at a later date. I can even go into my calendar and find that it will be attached to the calendar event itself. -So when can we expect the HTC Flyer to hit the streets? -The Flyer is gonna be hitting the markets in Q2 this year. -Okay. Will that include the US? -I can't tell you right now. -Oh. Alright. Well, it looks like a very cool tablet. We're excited to look at it. Again, that's the HTC Flyer. Thank you, Nathan. Thank you. -And I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your first look at the HTC Flyer. -Thanks, Nathan, I mean, Bonnie. I supposed with all the work she's been doing this week, it is fair to let someone else take over for a while. Now, all the attendees in Barcelona got to see some actual new products this week. Here at home, some people were preoccupied by speculation about new iPad models. In this week's Apple Byte Brian Tong takes a look at what we could be seeing not only in the iPad 2, but in the iPad 3. Plus, a little something for his lucky Valentine's. - What's up? I'm Brian Tong and welcome to The Apple Byte for all the good and bad inside the world of Apple. I guess you'd call our Valentine's Day edition because love is in the air or not. Now, let's get to the show. We've talked about the iPad 2 being spotted in the wild last week and the Wall Street Journal is reporting a lot of what we covered. They said the new iPad is in production with a thinner and lighter design at least 1 camera that is front-facing, the resolution will be the same 1024 x 768 with more memory and a more powerful graphics processor, but guess what? That might not be the only iPad release this year. [unk] in a rumor that is speaking up more and more steam, the Daring Fireball blog is that HP's recently announced TouchPad is said to come out this summer, which looks great, might I add, might bump up against the release of wait for it, the iPad 3 then TechCrunch said their sources claimed there will be a fall surprise and it's related to the iPad 3. Now, I've checked with my own specific Apple component suppliers who said based on their knowledge, hitting that timeframe would be very, very tight and they do not see it happening, but iPad 3 talked, before the iPad 2 has even been released, yeah, it's getting that bad. Now this might bring us some all of Apple TV Owners. Engadget reports that the latest IOS 4.3 beta hints at the Apple TV supporting online gaming. There are references to ATV games and ATV thunder that showed connection of controller and some sort of game standings. We all have been waiting for apps on the platform and this could indicate something is happening in the near future. Now the Verizon iPhone is out in stores and a whopping 10 people braved the 20-degree weather in New York City. Those guys are troopers, but sites like iLaunch still wanna prove to us that Antennagate exist with the death grip on the Verizon iPhone. Yes, we know it exists and it's a way overblown, but in their Wi-Fi demo, who really clutches their phone with both hands and squeezes it until their knuckles turn white. No one except you guys iLaunch. Alright, let's take a break with our iPhone app of the week. This week's app is the Google Translate App for the iPhone. It's free and it accepts voice inputs for 15 languages. Why don't you play with my pet draggin? And then translates your word or phrase into 1 of more than 50 languages. You can also listen to your translation spoken out loud in 1 of 23 languages -[unk] spielen -But I'm more concerned if it translates the universal language of love. Hey, Jamie, check this out. Anata ga sareru watashi no barentain. -Wow, that's Japanese. I'm Chinese and I speak English. -No, no, no, it's all good baby. You know, I just thought you wanna a little Asian [unk] you know [unk] work things all good. -See guys? Works like a charm. Now, we've got a bonus app of the week for you and it's called the Sex Personal Trainer app. It measures your length, strength, and intensity. I did a demo of my own, so let's just roll the tape. -Brain, I don't think I'm gonna roll the tape. -What do you mean, not? You're supposed to roll the tape. Do your job, dude. -You don't want me to roll the tape. -No, no, no. Roll-- roll the tape. Roll the tape. -Brian, it takes only about 8 seconds long. -Yeah, I know, we don't, we don't wanna show that okay and finally, you guys show us a lot of love, so we've got to give it right back, big props to our Apple Bite buddies, Edward, Caleb, Steven, and Derek from the Association Of Computing Machinery at UC Riverside, and Kelsey, if you're still watching, Caleb still loves you and that melts in my heart like sweat marshmallows. Alright, that's gonna do it for this week's show. Send us your e-mails to the applebyte@cnet.com. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching and we will see you guys next week for another bite of the apple. -Oh, he's not just the tech expert, he's a match maker, too. So cute. While we wait to hear how things work out between Kelsey and Caleb, let's take a quick break, but we'll be right 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 have seen here at CNET TV. Continuing on, in the good. There's kinda nothing good about tax season, I guess unless it's you being totally organized managing your finances on the go like a tax ninja, enter mint.com for mobile. -Welcome to Tap that App, I'm Jasmine France and this is the show where we cover the hottest apps in the mobile space. I know financial software isn't exactly the most titillating subject, but with the tax season fast approaching, this week show is the perfect opportunity to get you all thinking about money. So we're going to take a closer look at my favorite app for handling all sorts of financial needs. It's called Mint, and it's available for both the iPhone and Android devices. Like many of my favorite apps, Mint offers an online component, which you can access at Mint.com. That means you can take advantage of this service from any mobile device with Web capability--and multi-platform compatibility is always a big plus in my book, especially when it comes to financial software. But let's talk about what the Mint app can do for you. Of course, the basic premise is that it lets you access your financial info on the go, and I mean ALL of it. So that means if you have a checking account at Bank of America, savings at ING, an auto loan at your local credit union, and a 401K with Smith-Barney, you can get an at-a-glance overview of each and every one just by firing up Mint and logging in. Further, Mint presents your overall cash flow in one nicely laid-out screen by compiling your income, debt, and investments on the back end, so you can easily view your financial health. The app will also break down exactly what types of expenses you're incurring and then let you set and monitor budgets for each type. Oh, and for those of you who prefer apps with some visual flair, you'll be happy to note that everything in Mint is color coded, which aside from being nice to look at, also makes it easy to quickly grasp items like your budget and the type of transaction on the screen in front of you. Finally, it's worth mentioning that Mint recently teamed up with TurboTax to simplify deduction recording and maximize your refund. And while attempting to file taxes entirely from a mobile device is far too tedious to consider, we certainly appreciate Mint for helping us get our finances organized ahead of time. That's it for this week's show, if you have any suggestions, send them to tapthatapp@cnet.com. I'm Jasmine France and we'll see you next week. -Right? I'm just saying. How bad can budgeting be if it's color coded? Okay, it's about that time. Let's see what we have going on this week in the bad. Besides the lack of material available in 3D these days, one of the big reasons people are shying away from 3D TV is those clunky, heavy expensive glasses. And yes, Vizio tackles that problem with its new 65-inch LED TV, but how do they explain some of the other problems with this set? -Hi there, I'm David Katzmaier from CNET. I'm sitting next to Vizio 65-inch XVT3D650SV. This monster is the first 3D TV to ship in United States that feature passive 3D TV technology. We'll get to that in a little bit, but first I wanna note that this is the only model of its kind right now. Vizio only makes this in 65 inch size. A little bit later in the years, there's gonna be a lot of other smaller Vizios that use passive 3D, but for now, this guys is it. So, as I mentioned it has passive 3D, it actually comes with 4 pairs of these passive 3D glasses. Between passive and active 3D is that the glasses are a lot cheaper and they don't have any sort of electronics inside them, so these passive glasses look a lot just like standard sunglasses and of course they fit over a standard pair of glasses, so, at the same kind you can find in the most theaters that use 3D TV technology in the US. The active glasses on the other hand are a lot more expensive and you gotta buy of course a pair for each family member, so you can add up. The design of the Vizio is relatively generic. It's got this glossy black around the edge. If you look at it from the side, you can tell its an LED-based LCD TV, its only about 2.2 inches thin, which makes it pretty light, a good thing on a TV this big. Vizio's apps platform on this TV offers Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, and Vudu, the latter actually has 3D TV streaming. So you can actually rent some 3D videos; of course the selection right now is pretty slim. There's also a good selection of audio streaming apps including Rhapsody, RadioTime, and Pandora. So, all total of the streaming apps selection on this TV is very good. There is also a few nice streaming apps including Facebook and a new app from Fandango that allows you to go on and choose movie screening times in your areas, so, we kinda like that a little addition. One of the nice things about Vizio's apps platform is it is well integrated. It even includes TV settings apps that has all the options for adjusting the set. Not as many options is found on many other high-end TVs and the 3D options are particularly slim, but at least it's all nicely integrated in the main menu. A round back because of the slim TV, the input bay looks kinda squashed. It does have 5 HDMI; however, in addition of a PC input and a component video input, the analog selection is pretty sparse, but at least there are plenty of digital inputs. Another standout feature on the Vizio is its well-equipped remote control. You can slide it open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard that allows you to interact with apps like Facebook and Twitter a lot easier than using a virtual keyboard on your TV screen. Remote is a little bit chunky, however and a little bit less responsive than most smartphone keyboard, so keep that in mind. We also like that the remote has Bluetooth capabilities so you can operate it without having line of site for the television. Picture quality in this Vizio is actually little bit disappointing in 2D mode. We have noticed it had relatively light black levels. The picture uniformity wasn't that great. We blame that on the edge LED backlighting. TV also has an artifact that looks a little bit like smearing when there is fast motion. For example in faces, they kinda tend to blur a little bit more than a lot of the other LCD TVs we've seen and that's actually a little surprising given its 120 Hz model. This big TV also has a relatively glossy screen, so, it does catch a lot of ambient light in bright rooms. On the flip side, we did appreciate that the Vizio had accurate color, but that really doesn't offset all the other picture quality issues we saw on 2D. One of the downsides of the Vizio's 3D performance is that it has half the resolution of active 3D. That means that when you're looking at 3D on the set, it does appear a little bit softer than we're used to on active 3D models. There are also a few more artifacts; for example, there is some jagged edges and diagonal lines that showed up on the passive TV and not on the active models. On the flip side, the Vizio was a little bit brighter over all than the active TVs. Of course if you have a relatively controlled viewing environment that's not a big deal. But if you're viewing in a bright room, the active brighter 3D image might be a nice thing. In terms of comfort, we did appreciate the Vizio's lighter glasses, but we didn't really see any difference in terms of headaches or that sort of thing induced by the active TV versus the passive. In general, we feel like headaches and those sorts of viewer comfort issues are more results of the content, not the implementation of 3D, but we'll keep looking and of course passive does offer a nice alternative to active if you are really not a fan of those expensive glasses and still want 3D. That's the quick look at the Vizio XVT3D650SV and I'm David Katzmaier. -Well, boys still make passes at girls with passive glasses? Trust me. It doesn't matter how good the 3D looks or how light the glasses are if the 2D picture looks cruddy. Back to the drawing board Vizio. Alright, let's go ahead and check out this week's Bottom Line. Now as if the Prius didn't already own the market among the super green crowd. They're now doing an electric version, but not the scary kind that runs out of juice, the very reassuring kind that also uses gas. Here's Cooley to break it out all down. - Look, the Prius still dominates the hybrid business trouncing the Insight and the Fusion which are the nearest things to a serious runner up. But in the battle for forward mind share, the Prius has slipped. Let's see if the upcoming Prius Plug-in can recapture the old cache and check the tech. Giving the Prius PR hell these days are the Nissan LEAF electric, the Chevy Volt range extender, and a smattering of other hybrids like the excellent Sonata and Fusion hybrids. Toyota, in its infinite conservativism, chooses to answer a revolution with evolution--a Prius you plug-in to go a little farther on electric power. Now inside a Prius Plug-in, you are gonna feel pretty familiar if you've driven a Prius. This is not dramatically redone inside. This is based on a third gen Prius. You push the button here to wake things up and, with that in mind, you're gonna get this big eyebrow dashboard that wakes up. Let's take a tour from left to right. First of all, see that light on the left? That means I'm in EV mode. Just to the right of that is my gas gauge then you got your speedometer. You've got an instantaneous MPG gauge. Your gear indicator next to that (we'll get to the gear indicator in a minute), and then comes the good stuff--the main display for the hybrid drive system for hybrid synergy drive. You've got several modes. This is the one that I think is the most useful--the hybrid system indicator overall. That battery indicator shows I've got almost a full battery. Then, I've got this sort of bar that goes left to right. The EV icon you see right now says I'm running in EV mode. When you see the small little ramp on the left lit up, that's when I'm regenerating power into the battery. When you see the little bar on the far right lit up, that's when I'm tapping power strongly out of the electric motor and anything in the middle is a blend of electric and gas. Here's your shifter. Pulling it over here and back gets you into drive. Pulling it over here and back after that gets you into B. B is a high regeneration drive. It has a lot more drag or diesel where it's really engaging the electric motor in generator mode more often. Now, of course, you've got two energy doors on this car. Here is the one when electricity goes. The one down yonder is for gasoline. When you open that up, you get the standard SAE power port--that's that multi-pin guy right in there. In there goes what is now becoming a very common and off-scene charging handle on electric or plug-in vehicles; that goes there. The other end of this cable has part of the charging apparatus on it. This brick right here which you would probably typically hang on a wall if you had one sitting at home. Nothing much happens here. This light lights up and it moderates with the car's internal charging rig--the pulsing of electricity to charge the batteries. Let's go look at those. Now back here-- there we are-- is where the batteries live. The additional batteries in this guy are the storing. This whole panel here conceals a large number of them. These are lithium ion by the way which your current Prius doesn't have. It's still running nickel-metal hydride technology. Lithium ion is the new stuff--better energy density, lighter I believe, and can be shaped and packaged better. What's in this car actually are 3 batteries; 2 that will do electric-only drive--2 really big ones--and a third one that's only used to be hybridized with the gas engine, so they compartmentalize this to manage and keep charge available for different modes at all times. I don't think it's Toyota's plan but the more I drove this car, the more I thought it should clear the decks and replace the hybrid Prius, not via a somewhat different flavor of it. You see, this and the standard hybrid Prius look real different on paper but in everyday use, they felt like they might start to split hairs. Okay pricing and availability, a little early. This guy is not gonna hit showrooms until q2 of 2012--a little more than a year from our shoot today-- and even then, only in the green 14. The states where you'd expect hybrids to sell. A year later, you'll get the 50-state rollout of this vehicle. Pricing? Also a guess. $3000 to $5000 more is kind of the speculation over the price of a standard Prius hybrid today but that could change a lot with lithium ion battery development that'll happen in the next year. But if you see one of these today, it's because it's part of a fleet of just 150 that are currently in testing here in the U.S. Going forward, I think the biggest challenge of this vehicle is the segmentation of the electric car market. There's an awful lot for consumers to digest here and fitting this particular one into that array, I think, is a bit of a chore. Toyota and other auto makers have their work cut out for them. -The Bottom Line this week, that car is kind of confusing. I mean, I'm sure once you're driving it, it will all just seem normal but like V mode, really? Is this what the future looks like? The car doesn't even fly. And that's it for this week everyone. But don't fret, we'll be back next week with a brand new CNET Tech Review, and until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. See you next time and thank you for watching.
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