HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx

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HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx

Editors' rating: 4 out of 5

The good: Stylish design and thin body; fast Core i5 performance; strong battery life.

The bad: Lacks dedicated graphics; similarly priced laptops include Blu-ray.

The bottom line: HP's slick and powerful Pavilion dm4-1065dx offers great core performance, long battery life, and an eye-catching design at a very competitive price, making it a very attractive back-to-school laptop.

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Price range: $799.99

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

Toshiba Portege R705-P25

Toshiba Portege R705-P25

Editors' rating: 4 out of 5

The good: Slim, upscale design; excellent keyboard and touch pad; includes Intel Wireless Display; solid value.

The bad: Missing dedicated graphics; battery life merely average.

The bottom line: Toshiba's Portege R series has always impressed, and the new 13-inch Portege R705 is close to a perfect balance of design, price, and performance.

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Price range: $799.99

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 (black)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 (black)

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Lots of features to experiment with; manual, semimanual controls; 25mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 12x zoom.

The bad: Disappointing low-light photos.

The bottom line: If you just want a decent compact megazoom, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 is one of the better options thanks to a well-rounded feature set and very good photo quality at lower ISOs.

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Price range: $228.89 - $299.97

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

2011 Ford Shelby GT500

2011 Ford Shelby GT500

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Massive power from its supercharged V-8 is the hallmark of the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500, and the SVT package makes it handle well. Sync integrates MP3 players and phones with the car. Only the most jaded won't be wowed by its impressive exterior styling.

The bad: It is difficult to get anything close to the EPA fuel economy. The cabin is noisy and the ride rough with the SVT package. The audio system distorts at volume.

The bottom line: Although excellent for showing off to friends and attending track days, it will be tough to live with the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 on a daily basis because of ride quality and gas costs.

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Price range: $48,645.00

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Sony Alpha DSLR-A500 (with 18-55mm lens)

Sony Alpha DSLR-A500 (with 18-55mm lens)

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Generally above-average performance and solid raw high ISO sensitivity performance for its class; large, tilting LCD; fast Live View autofocus; wireless flash.

The bad: Awkward aspects to the design; no video.

The bottom line: Cheaper and with better photo quality than its sibling, the Sony Alpha DSLR-A500's quirky design is the only real flaw in an otherwise solid entry-level model with fast Live View shooting and a useful tilting LCD.

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Price range: $589.00-$894.00

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

LG 50PK950

LG 50PK950

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Produces relatively deep black levels; accurate color overall; correctly handles 1080p/24 sources; plenty of streaming and interactive features; extensive picture controls; sleek styling with single-plane design and 2-inch-deep panel; Magic Wand remote works well.

The bad: Near-black areas tinged bluish; less-accurate yellow and cyan; fewer apps and services than many other interactive models have; exhibits some temporary image retention; inefficient power use; Magic Wand remote feels like a gimmick.

The bottom line: LG's PK950 series plasma TV competes well against the picture quality of flagship models from other manufacturers.

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Price range: $1,473.00 - $1,699.98

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Motorola H17txt MotoSpeak Bluetooth headset - black

Motorola H17txt MotoSpeak Bluetooth headset - black

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: The Motorola H17txt is a small and compact headset with a flip-switch boom mic, a decent fit, and good call quality. It also has multipoint technology and it only needs a 15-minute charge for 2 hours of talk time. MotoSpeak compatibility helps users to effectively manage incoming text messages while driving.

The bad: The Motorola H17txt has tiny volume controls. A2DP audio streaming is less than ideal given the device's single-speaker design.

The bottom line: The Motorola H17txt is a simple headset with good sound quality for most everyday situations.

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Price range: $99.00

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx

HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Nice looking; backlit keyboard; full Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010, Webroot AV software included.

The bad: Value of included software is questionable; no discrete media controls or quick-launch keys; touch pad a little jumpy.

The bottom line: The HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx is respectable mainstream laptop, but it's only a good deal if you need Microsoft Office and antivirus software.

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Price range: $799.99

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Built-in Ethernet for streaming files from a networked PC or accessing Internet services; supports Netflix streaming and other online media access; HD output up to 1080p; integrated slot for FreeAgent GoFlex storage drive; compact, stylish design; you can connect up to two mass USB storage devices--including a camera--at one time; HDMI and component video connectivity; plays Flip camcorder video files.

The bad: No built-in Wi-Fi (wireless option costs an extra $50); Blu-ray players with similar features are available for not much more money; the drive sticks out when installed; Seagate's 1TB GoFlex drive doesn't fit inside the device; no Pandora streaming.

The bottom line: The inclusion of Netflix and other online-streaming options make the FreeAgent GoFlex TV a compelling option for file hoarders who also want access to cloud-based media.

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Price range: $99.86-129.99

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell Studio XPS sx8100-1408NBC

Dell Studio XPS sx8100-1408NBC

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Well-rounded configuration includes discrete midrange 3D card and Wi-Fi; strong single threaded and multitasking performance.

The bad: Native quad- and six-core AMD-based PCs provide faster multithreaded application performance than this Dell.

The bottom line: The Dell Studio XPS SX8100-1408NBC will satisfy most mainstream consumers with its capability to handle typical computing tasks from photo editing to modest PC gaming. While other PCs in this price range may perform better with apps that target multicore CPUs, this Dell offers everything we expect in a desktop for day-to-day use.

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Price range: $899.99

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

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