Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Altec Lansing Octiv 650 speaker
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: The Altec Lansing Octiv 650 sounds very good for an iPod/iPhone speaker dock and works as a full-featured alarm clock after you add Altec's free Alarm Rock app. The component/composite video output on the back also allows you to play iPod/iPhone video on your TV with an optional cable and a remote is included.
The bad: The cloth grille attracts dust and there's no Bluetooth or AirPlay wireless connectivity.
The bottom line: The Altec Lansing Octiv 650 is one of best-sounding iPod/iPhone speaker docks in its price class, with a distinct, stylish look and component video output to boot.
The good: The attractive Digital Storm Ode Level 3 offers fast gaming performance and a strong feature set for an aggressive price.
The bad: Some sloppy external wiring mars an otherwise polished system design.
The bottom line: The fixed-configuration Digital Storm Ode Level 3 earns top marks in an increasingly competitive gaming PC market thanks to a smartly chosen set of components and an enticingly low price tag.
The good: The Kobo eReader Touch Edition is a compact, lightweight, and affordable e-ink e-reader with touch-screen navigation, built-in Wi-Fi, an expansion slot for additional memory, and good battery life (over one month with wireless off). Also, the Kobo e-book store is integrated into the device, and you get a basic Web browser.
The bad: The Kobo's user interface isn't as slick as that of the Nook Touch, and its performance and overall smoothness could be improved. It lacks audio support (no MP3, no audiobooks) and the ability to lend out titles to friends. The magazine and newspaper selection is lackluster.
The bottom line: Though the Kobo eReader Touch Edition doesn't quite measure up to the Nook Touch or the Kindle, it's a respectable and affordable touch-screen e-reader with a lot of pluses.
The good: The LG LW5600 series evinced excellent color in bright and dark areas, along with relatively deep black levels and even screen uniformity for an edge-lit LED-based LCD TV. Its matte screen works well in bright rooms. The Smart TV Internet portal is well-designed with a solid selection of streaming services, and LG includes a Wi-Fi dongle. The secondary motion-sensitive remote provides a cool, easy-to-use control option. Passive 3D on this TV has minimal crosstalk, is brighter than active, and LG includes four pairs of lightweight, nonpowered glasses.
The bad: This LG LED TV is relatively expensive. Its edge-lit local dimming LED scheme produces some artifacts and blooming; highlights were somewhat muted in dark scenes; and even from off-angle the picture loses contrast worse than most such TVs. The LW5600's Smart TV lacks Pandora, and its search is next to useless. Passive 3D shows a softer image with more artifacts and worse overall quality than active.
The bottom line: While passive 3D has its flaws, the LG LW5600's 2D picture quality is very good for an edge-lit LED-based LCD TV, especially in bright rooms.
The good: The LG LSB316 is a stylish sound bar with a wireless subwoofer. It has built-in Bluetooth, enabling you to stream music from smartphones and other portable devices--it's basically like AirPlay without being locked into Apple devices. There are also two optical inputs and an analog audio input, plus a USB port for digital music playback.
The bad: The sound quality is underwhelming, especially if you like bass. We also would have liked more inputs. And while the USB port is nice, it's not usable for anything more than occasional use.
The bottom line: The LG LSB316 is a sleek sound bar and its Bluetooth support enables AirPlay-like streaming, but its sound quality is only so-so.
The good: The Motorola XPRT has both a touch screen and a keyboard in an attractive and usable form factor. Features include enterprise-level security, mobile hot-spot capability, 3G speeds, and a dual-mode CDMA/GSM chipset for world roaming.
The bad: The Motorola XPRT's display doesn't match up to its competition, and the picture quality could be better.
The bottom line: Despite a few shortcomings, the Motorola XPRT is a great alternative to the BlackBerry due to its enterprise-level features and globe-trotting capabilities.