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CNET Tech Review: You've got the touch!

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CNET Tech Review: You've got the touch!

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This week on the CNET Tech Review: new touch-screen Nook coming soon; how to make the switch from iPhone to Android; robots get busy at Maker Faire; and we count down the Top 5 iTunes alternatives for Android.

-This week on the CNET Tech review, get touch feel with the new Nook E-Reader, how to make the switch from iPhone to Android, home inventors show up at Maker Faire, and the Droid X2 and Xperia Play leave us wanting more. It's also coming up right now. Hey, everyone, 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, and we also offer some unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. I'm Brian Tong filling in for Molly Wood who's on very special assignment this week, but as usual, let's start things off with the good. First up, there were a couple of announcements in the windows phone and E-Reader worlds this week. Here're Bonnie Cha and David Carnoy to tell you all about them. - Hey, everyone. I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at CNET.com and we are here in New York where Microsoft just previewed their new Windows Phone Mango update. There are actually over 500 features coming with the update, but they're concentrating on 3 key areas and that's communications, the browser and apps. Some of the highlights of the update include a group contacts now and as well as linked inboxes, so you can now link your personal inboxes which is something we've been looking forward to. With the internet browser, you now get IE 9.0 with support for HTML5. And as for apps, you get third party multitasking and they give a demo here and it looks pretty easy so that's a big feature we've been looking for. A couple other highlights include Twitter and link in integration into your people tab as well as dynamic live tiles for your apps, so you can see what's happening right on your start screen. All these features will be coming with the Mango update due out this fall. They're not talking about handsets yet but we do think we will hear more about it in late summer or fall, so we look forward to some more hardware and Mango update. I'm Bonnie Cha. This has been your preview of the Windows Phone Mango update. - Hi, I'm David Carnoy and I'm here with the new Nook. This is being branded as the Simple Touch Reader. It has a touch screen that has Neonode infrared technology, that's the technology that's in the Sony Reader and also the new Kobo Touch Edition. This device comes with 2 gigabytes of internal memory as well as an expansion slot, a micro SD expansion slot, so you can add up to 32 gigs on a card and that allows you to store literally thousands of books. One of the big deals here is the battery life. Barnes and Noble is saying you can go up to 2 months on a single charge and that means that's about twice as long as the Kindle right now. As you can see, there are very few buttons on this device. There's one main Nook button and there is a power button and that's really it. You navigate everything through the touch screen. There's a home screen, shopping, all the things that you would expect from the old Nook but it is on a touchscreen device. This runs on Android 2.1. It weighs 7.5 ounces. That's just a shade heavier than the Kobo Touch Edition but this is a very light device. Barnes and Noble has had sort of this soft touch paint to the back so it's got a little bit of rubberized feel to it. There's also some buttons on the side of the screen that will allow you to do things like go fast forward through a book. In terms of font sizes, you get 7 different font sizes and there are 6 different styles of fonts. It reads PDF files but does not read Word files and there are no Nook apps available for the device. This is really a strictly an e-reading device. It has a Pearl E Ink screen that's readable in direct sunlight. That's the same E Ink screen that's in the Kindle as well as the new Kobo Reader and Sony Readers. One of the big issues with E Ink is that you get sort of a ghosting effect but Barnes and Noble has really taken a lot of care into making sure those flashing has been reduced. This is really a pretty quick device. It has an 800 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor in it. This is a Wi-Fi-only device. There is no 3G. It is $139. That's the same price as the Kindle Wi-Fi. However, there's $25 more in the Kindle with special offers. Barnes and Noble is making a big deal about the social networking features in this device. There's something called Nook Friends that allows you to share what you're reading, what's in your library with friends. One of the nice things about having the touchscreen is you can do the dictionary lookup. You can actually tap and hold on a word and that word will come up and it will automatically look up the word. So there you have it, the new Nook, the Simple Touch Reader. We'll soon find out whether it is a Kindle killer. It is a smaller device than the Kindle and the touchscreen certainly adds a navigational element that the Kindle does not have right now. It will be interesting to see what Amazon's response to it is. I'm David Carnoy and that's the new Nook, the Simple Touch Reader. Thanks for watching. -The new touchscreen is pretty nice, but the Nook isn't the only E-Reader that has one. As David mentioned, you also got to look at the new Kobo Touch, and you can see more of it over at cnettv.com. Now, turning you from touchscreens to touch pads. Next up, Scott Stein bring a look at the latest in the Think Pad EDGE series from Lenovo, though not as slim or as light as some of its competitors, this new EDGE does feature a new touch pad design plus many other features think pad fans have come to expect from a business laptop. -Hey, I'm Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET.com and this is the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s. Now, what good is a laptop if it's not portable, and sometimes it's nicer for a laptop to be even more portable. Now, this ThinkPad Edge 220s kind of falls into that ultraportable category. What does that mean? Well, it's a little bigger than a netbook, it's a little smaller than a full-size laptop. It's kind of that strange middle ground. With a 12.5-inch screen and these dimensions, it means that it's gonna feel more compact in your bag and it's not gonna feel quite as heavy. It's about 3.2 pounds, which is a nice weight to carry around, and it's under an inch thick and really what the 12.5-inch screen amounts to is it kinda compresses the edges here making for that smaller size and allowing the keyboard to fill the space and it is a full-size keyboard which is nice. Going into that, why do you get a ThinkPad? Well, you get it for its business features and its business software but also a lot of people like its ergonomics. The ThinkPad Edge keyboard is a new raised keyboard. We saw this on the ThinkPad Edge design last year. It's also on the ThinkPad X1 that we just reviewed. It's great. It's a really nice raised keyboard, got concave keys. We won't go too much more into it but if you're a keyboard nut, you're gonna like it. Also, there's a trackpad on here that's a ClickPad. There are no more buttons on the bottom here. This is a dual click zone area. There are buttons up here but what those are for is for these red nubbin that is known as the TrackPoint. This is on most ThinkPads and it's-- some people like it because on a plane, they won't have to move their finger around as much. Anyway, there's not as much cramping here because those buttons have been removed so there's more finger space. There are a couple of upscale features on this Edge 220s, too, that put it a little bit above the standard ThinkPad line. Infinity glass, glossy display, Dolby sound in its speakers. There's also a neat little light that comes up that lights up your keyboard. We've seen that on other ThinkPads before but it's a nice feature to have, and it comes complete with your basic ports, 3 USB 2.0, it's got HDMI. It also has full laptop specs inside. I'm talking about 4 gigs of RAM in this one, a 320-gigabyte hard drive. It's got a Core i5 processor that's second-gen Intel Core i5, although it is low voltage which means it runs at a slower speed. It's actually the same processor that we saw on the Samsung Series 9, really thin laptop that we reviewed earlier this year. The starting price on the Edge 220s is $749. That's a lot cheaper than the $1600 of the Samsung Series 9. Now, this is not as thin a laptop and the battery life is not as good, but when you can get a laptop like this at that price, that's really nice and it's a lot more affordable than the ThinkPad X1, the super high-end 13-inch laptop that we reviewed recently that's about as thin. In a nutshell, this is a ThinkPad we'd carry around with us. I really love the IdeaPad U260 which came out earlier in the year. Almost the same design but was on the IdeaPad side of things, had a really nice, slick look, but had last year's Core i5 processor, and worse battery life. The battery life improvements on this are nice, gets it over 4 hours, plus it's got a faster processor. You probably like that total package, and, at under $800 for 2 gigs of RAM in that configuration, it's hard to complain. I'm Scott Stein and this is a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s. -So looks like Lenovo has redeemed itself after that nasty beating of the ThinkPad X1 suffered in last week's tech review. Now, I'm just glad molly was the one who said it and not me. Now, you might know I host a show called Apple Byte and we're not gonna make this an Apple versus android battle, but there are plenty of reasons why you might wanna switch from Apple to android, drop calls. Yeah, so here's Sharon Vaknin with some of the tips to make the process less painful. Hey, current iPhone users, I'm Sharon Vaknin. Since you've probably already decided to switch to Android, I'm not gonna tell you all the benefits of doing it. You already know that you're getting a highly customizable interface, and then you can choose from a huge selection of phones. I also don't need to tell you that you're probably getting a faster processor and a better camera along with free turn-by-turn navigation. You know these things and more. So, now it's time to figure out how to get all your iPhone data to your shining new Android phone. Alright. Get your iPhone, Android and computer out in front of you. The least you need to do before following these steps is add your Google account to your new phone by going to Menu, Settings, Account & sync, Add Account, Google, and then following the steps on the screen. If you don't have a Google account, there's also an option to create one. Let's start by transferring your contacts. Connect your iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes. Click on your phone's name, then go to the Info tab. Check sync contact with Google contacts, and now enter the same Gmail account associated with your phone. Then apply the changes. Your contacts are now being transferred from your iPhone to Gmail and from Gmail to your Android. Calendars and Notes are also easy to transfer. On your iPhone, go to Settings, and then Mail, Contacts and Calendars. If the Gmail account you're using with your Android isn't here, add it. Then go back to Mail Settings, tap the account and turn Syncing on for Calendars, Notes. Now your calendar will transfer to your new phone and your notes will be filed under a label in Gmail called Notes. You can't sync notes back to your Android, but they're safe in Gmail and searchable if you ever need to find them. Now, it's time for some bad news. There's really no easy syncing for Android like there was for your iPhone through iTunes. Everything is done with manual dragging and dropping, mostly for photos, videos, and music. Let's start with photos and videos. We first need to get them off your iPhone and on to your computer. Mac users, just connect your iPhone to your computer and lounge image capture. Put the photos in a new folder on your desktop and hit Download All. If you're on Windows, plug-in your phone and open My Computer. You will see the phone show up as an imaging device, right click it and hit Explore. Then drag and drop all the photos and videos into a new folder on your desktop. Now, connect your Android phone to your Windows or Mac computer. Mount the phone and you'll see it show up on your desktop. Open it and find the pictures folder. Sometimes it's called DCIN, but if you don't see one, just create it. You can name it photos. Then, just drag and drop the files from your hard drive onto the Android pictures folder and let it transfer. Once it's done, the photos will show up in the gallery app on your phone, and of course, you can also add other photos and videos from your hard drive using the same drag and drop method. The same method applies to putting music on your Android. You might be thinking about your text messages and voicemail. Right now, there's no simple way to export these items from your iPhone. It's possible but the process itself really deserves its own how to. If there are specific text messages you want to keep, you can forward them to your email account by going to messages, opening the conversation, hit at it, and then tap the messages you want to forward. Hit Forward and send it to your email address. That's really the only easy option. With your contacts, calendars, photos, music, and videos on your Android, what are we gonna do with your old iPhone? Well, you can keep it and basically use it as an iPad or you can sell it somewhere online like Gazelle or you can make your mom happy and give her a nice gift. For CNET, I'm Sharon Vaknin, and I'll see you on the interwebs. -See guys, that's just too complicated. You will be much happier if you just stay with your iPhone, trust me. I promise. Thank you. Essentially though, if you do decide to make the switch and you transferred all your music to you new phone or to the cloud, you probably find the standard android music app a little bit lacking. Luckily, we've compiled the top 5 Android music players that you can use instead. -If you recently bought an Android phone and about half of All smartphone buyers lately did exactly that, you know, it's a Swiss army knife of a thing. But how are you with the music player? Meh, right? I'm Brian Cooley with the Top 5 Android music players that'll make you forget how to even spell iPod, courtesy of CNET's Josh Goldman. #5 is the Amazon Cloud Player: This freebie is hot new stuff. Buy, store and play the music from the cloud. That's the internet or you can download the files if you like. So quaint! 5GB of space is provided to you for free from Amazon, 20G if you buy just one MP3 album from them. It's not that well developed as a player in terms of managing music just yet, but it's a healthy taste of where things are going. #4 is MixZing: This guy has something akin to the Genius technology from in iTunes, so it's king of spooky how it can suggest music based on just a song or two you feed it. It'll make and tune playlists that keep getting more and more like you the more you use it. It also has built in artist information, a direct link out to YouTube videos of their music videos and also a graphic EQ and it's free, but if you pay $5 the ads go away. #3 is TuneWiki. Now, in view, people are either music people or they're lyric people. This app is for the latter. It will show timed, paced lyric subtitles while is playing, also getting the album art up there along with the player controls. You can drive it by voice as well for the Android layer, and you can use it to map the locations of other TuneWiki users nearby so that whole spooky obsession with lyrics thing that you've got going on can wig out someone other than just your former friends. Oh, and it's free. #2 is Power AMP. Now, in spite of the title, it doesn't just play death metal. It's totally about quality sound, with a 10 band EQ that sweetens just about every audio format and plays just about all of them. You can even set EQ per song, which given the variable quality of most MP3's is a welcome feature. Bottom line, Power AMP just sounds great. It's 5 bucks, but there is with a free 15-day trial. Before I get to #1, don't think there are just 5 great audio players for Android. Check out Josh Goldman's full 10 app slideshow on CNET.com, and by the way if you have questions about using your Android phone as you in car audio player, check out the Android Atlas podcast. That's at 2 o'clock on Thursday. That's 2 o'clock pacific at cnet.com/live. There you will find my car tech colleague, Antuan Goodwin, and he knows how to connect all the dots between cars and Android. OK, the #1 music player we love for Android is called Player Pro. The features, what doesn't I have? Search, download, and save lyrics; great tag editing; 10-band EQ, social network integration, and I love this, lots of really usable home-screen widgets and different two lock-screen widgets with customizable control options so your phone really works and feels like a true iPod. This is the do all player for Android. It costs an odd $4.51 but there's a free, five-day trial. You're gonna love it and wanna pay for it. Great music players for Android, just one more reason the smartphone will eventually eat the entire tech industry. For more like this, go to top5.cnet.com. I'm Brian Cooley, thanks for watching. -Wow, those are some pretty good apps. You know, I wish, iTunes did all of that, fine. Well, guys, it looks like it's time to take a break. We'll be 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. Now, we've already seen some of the good stuff, so you know what, it must be time for that bad. This week we've got a couple more android phones for your consideration. Now, our editors had high hopes for these handsets when they were announced, but it turns out they really couldn't live up to the height. - The Motorola Droid X was one of Verizon's most popular phones last year but the tech world moves fast and it's time for a new model to step in. Hey, everyone, I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at CNET.com and I'm here with your First Look at the Motorola Droid X2, the successor to the Droid X, though you really wouldn't know it just by looking at it. The two phones pretty much have identical designs. The X2 is the same size and weight as the original model so you're looking at a good chunk of hardware here, but I wouldn't say it's any worse than the other 4.3-inch touchscreen models out there. If anything, the bump on the back adds just a little extra bulk. While the phone looks the same, Motorola did upgrade the display on the X2 from a WVGA screen to a higher resolution qHD display. It's a very good looking screen but not quite as sharp or as smooth as the iPhone's Retina Display or Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus screen. Still, you're not gonna have any problems reading what's on screen and the extra space makes it great for viewing websites and videos. One other quick difference about the X2's design is that Motorola removed the dedicated camera button on the right side so now you have to use the touchscreen, which we're not too happy about. Aside from the display, the biggest improvement that the X2 offers is the addition of a dual-core processor. The benefit of this is that the smartphone offers snappier performance, particularly when it comes to browsing and gaming. I was able to play 3D games with no problem and it handled most websites with no problem. The unfortunate thing is that the Droid X2 isn't 4G capable so you'll have to browse on 3G speeds, which isn't horrible, but it would have been a nice addition for this upgraded phone. Because of the lack of 4G, obviously, the Droid X2 is gonna turn some people off and, to be honest, I was disappointed, too, and if you fall into that camp, I'd say take a look at the HTC Thunderbolt or Samsung Droid Charge, maybe wait for the Droid Bionic, but if you're okay with just 3G, I think there's a lot to like about the X2. It's got fast performance, good call quality, and battery life, so you're getting a very solid performer here. The Motorola Droid X2 is available now for $199.99 with a 2-year contract. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your First Look at the Motorola Droid X2. I'm Nicole Lee, senior associate editor for CNET.com, and this is a first look at the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. This is essentially Sony's answer to the much-touted and much-hyped PlayStation Phone. This phone does indeed have a slideout gaming pad. As you can see here, the game pad looks very similar to Sony's PlayStation Dual Shock. You get the D-pad on the one side here the usual PlayStation face buttons on the other side. You also get the same select and start buttons on the bottom right here. In the middle, instead of 2 analog joysticks , you get 2 touch-sensitive circles. These circles essentially act as the analog controls. You will use these analog controls to control things like movement and camera viewing angles. As you might expect, the Xperia Play comes a few games with it. It comes with Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Asphalt 6, a racing game, as well as an old PlayStation classic, Crash Bandicoot. If you wish to get more games for the Xperia Play, you can select the little button down here and that will lead you to a featured list of Xperia Play games on the V Cast app store. As far as the game play experience goes, we do think these physical controls offer a richer game play experience over the usual touchscreen over the usual touchscreen controls of most phones. However, we thought the analog joystick controls just were not as responsive as we would like. We ended up just using these physical controls for the most part. However, not all games are configured to use these game play controls, so make sure you find the games that are meant for the Xperia Play. On the whole, we found the game play experience very immersive using these physical controls. It's definitely much more a richer game play than just using the touchscreen controls. Also, on the side of the phone here are the left and right shoulder buttons. The Xperia Play ships with the latest version of Android, Gingerbread 2.3. They did not clutter the phone with any fancy interface. On the front of the Xperia Play is a very bright and colorful 4-inch capacitive touch display. You get up to 5 customizable home screens. You also get all the usual Gingerbread features. Above the display is a front-facing VGA camera, and on the back is a 5-megapixel camera lens and LED flash. So is the Sony Ericsson Xperia for you? If you're a serious mobile gamer that wants to take your gaming to the next level, then this does offer a richer game play experience, does offer a richer game play experience, but there are a few faults. The phone doesn't have 4G LTE and the analog joysticks are wanting. We do think it's a better game play experience than most other touchscreen smartphones, but we don't think it's enough for you to give up your PSP or Nintendo DS just yet. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is available for around $200 with a 2-year service agreement with Verizon Wireless. I'm Nicole Lee and this has been the first look at the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. -Alright, so those phones as in total failures, but come on Motorola, no 4G seriously and like Nicole said, I'll pass on the Xperia Play and stick with my PSP. Now, let's wrap things up with this week's bottom line. Each year Maker Faire events across the country give home inventors and artist the opportunity to show up their creations to the public. Now, last weekend, the crew from the Crave Podcast took a tour of the Bay Area edition of the Maker Faire, and here's what they found. -Hey, I'm Donald Bell -and I'm Eric Franklin and were at the 2011 Maker Faire in San Mateo, California. -As the celebration of inventors and their inventions, craftiness, all kinds of cool stuff, and there's always some cool tech to see. So, let's go inside and check it out. -this was originally started as kind of a goofy Halloween costume project as a shareware program, and the models are available from Google SketchUp. There's a Halo Costuming Wiki. -What is this exactly? -This is a kinetic sculpture. Kinetic artist who do a different sort of a wide range kinetic work. There's a button here that you can push and hold and when you do that, the ices will bubble up and down. -Beautiful as they should be. -Here to show up awesome robot sculpture. -Well the term we use is kinetic sculpture. My particular approach is to use only things that I can find. -Keyhole covers [unk]. The hole head is a voltage meter that's been flipped upside down and got it out. -This one's name is doubtful because that's the center line reading on this gauge here. -I know there's a story behind how you've actually come to create this. -This is simple typewriters exclusively and I reassembled them into human figures and animals. I don't saw it, I don't glue, I don't weld, I don't wire things together. I just use the existing parts of typewriters and reassemble everything. -This is the plasma drive of the Reagan got the rocketchip, which is a forty foot tall retro style rocketchip -In San Francisco, right? -which is currently installed on the pier San Francisco -The science back is this is a platform for studying a high voltage phenomenon called dielectric-barrier discharge -As it turns these crackles with high voltage electricity -And you're gonna do that for us right now -No. Unfortunately, we can't turn on the high voltage here -I think that's probably the way to go. -It requires darkness and it's something of an intimate affair, but there're some great videos of it on my web page, almost scientific.com. It's kind of fun. I've never done anything vaguely artistic in my life, but this is a send out of the typical truck over an urban sprawl. The chassis is a 2-inch water pipe. It runs at about a good jogging speed. -It's something, right? -It's something. -If you don't want the flamingos to blow out. -so, this is the [unk] -All the different routines are stored in the Android phone and sending that information out to another micro controller. -This are [unk] Multi sensors and the controller to the motors. -Alright, come on, give the hug, I'm ready, okay. -What are you showing here at Maker Faire today? So, we're showing fire jam, which is a rock experience using rock band, which is a video game. -Basically the way it works is we have my friend John over here playing the guitar [unk] guitar, you plug in the computer. It sends data to the Adreno -Uh huh. -which is a little micro controller that basically controls anything you want to. It's completely open source. You can throw down anything on. Takes that 5 volts that you got from Adreno -Uh huh. -and puts in on and send it to relay, which makes the 5 volts 120. -Right. -So, the 120 volts goes in to one of these solenoids and the solenoids make it open up when they get electricity and the [unk] flows right through and at that top. The bottom line this week, I want a robot hug, but that's it though. You know guys, I won't let this thing get passed first base. That would be just weird or not. Okay folks, that's gonna be our show, but we'll be back next week with a brand 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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