Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Editors' rating: 4
The good: Apple iLife '09 sees several improvements over iLife '08: iPhoto now has face recognition, geotagging, and social network integration; iMovie regains a few advanced tools; and music lessons come to GarageBand.
The bad: iPhoto's face detection isn't perfect and the social network integration needs some work; iMovie's great for simple editing, but advanced users might find it lacking.
The bottom line: Apple iLife '09 is a great application suite for simple media organizing and editing, and the addition of features like face recognition, geotagging, and music lessons makes it worth the update.
The good: TurboTax 2008's ability to import W2 and investment income details dramatically saves time and typing; free federal e-file for up to five returns is a new perk.
The bad: Already pricier than rivals, TurboTax 2008's extra services can add up quickly. It offers no free live tax advice, and printing the state return takes more effort than it should.
The bottom line: TurboTax 2008 is the most expensive tax app on the market, but it's also fast, complete, and straightforward. If finishing quickly is your goal, the extra cost is worth it. If you anticipate wanting live help support, look into TaxCut.
The good: Sleek 40-inch-wide sound bar speaker complements flat screen displays; contains left, center, and right two-way speakers; sounds good even on music; wall-mount bracket included; can be used without a subwoofer.
The bad: You still need to buy an AV receiver; strictly left-, center-, right-channel sound; not even a hint of room-filling surround.
The bottom line: Canton's unique three-channel CD 90 SB sound bar combines good looks with above-average sound quality for music and movies.
The good: The Helio Ocean 2 has a spacious QWERTY keyboard and number keypad and an innovative optical sensor touch pad that allows for easier navigation. It has plenty of features like EV-DO, GPS, a full HTML browser with tabbed browsing, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, quick access to several popular social networks, and more.
The bad: The Helio Ocean 2 is bulky, plus it lacks external music keys, an LED flash for the camera, and a self-portrait mirror. The microSD card slot is inconveniently located behind the battery.
The bottom line: If you can get over its size, the Helio Ocean 2 is a great feature-rich handheld with enough Web-friendly goodies to please both tech-savvy hipsters and mobile professionals.
The good: The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible's big LS3 engine gives supercar acceleration while providing useful torque in everyday driving, and delivers better fuel economy compared with other cars in its class. A magnetic suspension system contributes to handling, while the Corvette's look is distinct.
The bad: The Bluetooth system lacks advanced features, such as phonebook downloading, and the Bose audio produces muddy sound.
The bottom line: In this touring configuration, the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible is an easy car to drive in almost any situation, with monstrous power on tap, but the cabin tech feels like a mishmash of components.
The good: Space-saving design; includes unique extras such as HDMI video, digital audio output, large external hard drive, and external eSATA.
The bad: Competition offers faster performance; a cramped interior limits expansion.
The bottom line: The Acer X1700-U3700A is slightly slower than the competition, but it gives you almost every component you need in either a basic desktop or a light-duty home theater PC. If you prefer functionality to performance, we recommend this model out of the three systems in the current lineup.
H&R Block TaxCut Premium Federal + State + E-file 2008
Editors' rating: 3.5
The good: As part of H&R Block, TaxCut 2008 offers more avenues to one-on-one assistance, some useful convenience tools, and a new, free online version for simple federal returns.
The bad: TaxCut doesn't import W-2 and investment income information, resulting in a longer tax-prep process. Some wording remains confusing.
The bottom line: TaxCut 2008 is missing TurboTax's advanced importing engines and sophisticated tax tools, and it takes longer than TurboTax to fill out. However, its free session of live tax advice and free live audit support will win over taxpayers who value personalized customer service.