The good: The updated 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i shows off new connected-car features with integrated Google search and reading of e-mails from paired BlackBerry devices. The turbocharged six-cylinder engine churns out ready power, and the transmission's eight gears help optimize efficiency.
The bad: Active suspension technologies do not completely counteract the car's high center of gravity in turns. The interface for searching for points of interest or music is needlessly complicated.
The bottom line: The 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i shows off the automaker's innovative performance and cabin technology in a luxury SUV, lacking only some advanced driver assistance features.
The good: The Seagate Barracuda XT hard drive supports SATA 6Gbps and offers fast performance and a capacity of up to 3TB. The drive is quiet and affordable and its 3TB version supports Windows XP well.
The bad: The Seagate Barracuda runs rather hot.
The bottom line: Storage-hungry users, especially tech-savvy ones, will find the Seagate Barracuda XT a great balance of storage space, backward compatibility, and speedy performance.
The good: The HP TouchSmart 610q's benefits include fast performance, competitive pricing, and innovations to its case design and video inputs.
The bad: We have few complaints about this system, although it would have been nice if HP had included a video output port.
The bottom line: We recommend the HP TouchSmart 610q with few reservations thanks to its speed, its competitive pricing, and an innovative tilting case design that makes this a best-in-breed touch-based all-in-one.
The good: A Blu-ray drive and excellent speakers make the Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X worth considering for those looking for a reasonably priced 15-inch multimedia laptop.
The bad: Uninspiring design, a middle-of-the-pack battery, and a bulky feel keep it from being a standout.
The bottom line: While the $799 Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X is an affordably priced Blu-ray laptop with a next-gen Intel Core i3 processor, there are other options out there that offer better design or performance for the same money.
The good: The Kyocera Echo has a one-of-kind design that offers two screens and the ability to use two applications at once. Call quality is acceptable and the smartphone is quick and responsive.
The bad: The Kyocera Echo's design entails some usability quirks, and we're concerned about long-term durability. The feature set is pretty average, it lacks 4G, and you'll have to wait for an upgrade beyond Froyo.
The bottom line: The Kyocera Echo's design offers some unique advantages, but its appeal is hampered by usability quirks and a lackluster feature set.
The good: The Puma Phone offers a user-friendly interface, an attractive design, and a nice selection of sports-themed apps. Call-quality is decent, and the solar panel can deliver an emergency charge.
The bad: The Puma Phone's GSM and 3G bands are optimized for the North American market. Call volume was rather low, and the touch screen is small and occasionally inaccurate.
The bottom line: We'd change a few things about the Puma Phone, but it delivers a fun user experience that no phone can match. Just make sure your area has the proper coverage and enough sun.