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Episode 23: We got a Wii U!This week, Molly Wood has more unboxings for the holidays! The Wii U, Amazon 8.9 tablet, the Nook HD, and the LG Optimus G. Plus, she checks out a futuristic glove that can help you get in shape.
-Great what in God's name. This week on Always On, more unboxings for the holidays--the Wii U, the Amazon Kindle Fire 8.9 tablet, and more--plus a checkout of futuristic glove that can help you get in shape like big time. It's the best thing I've ever done. Always On is on. Welcome to Always On. I'm Molly Wood and this is the show where we take a look at the tech that's part of your life and your future. In your near future is the holidays and I'm sure you're still shopping. So, I am still unboxing all kinds of gadgets to see if you might wanna buy them. This first one is not that helpful because it's sold out everywhere. Nevertheless, here we go. It has been sold out everywhere, but inside this big box, I have a Wii U. We actually had to get our reviews team in New York to overnight us one of the three that they got because I could not buy this thing anywhere. Let's check it out. -Okay. It's pretty heavy. - Wooh. Wii U. Okay, so the set does come with the actual console and then, of course, the big headline, the game controller. The big difference between the Deluxe and the Basic models is $50 for one, but mainly console storage, the Deluxe has 32 gigs of onboard storage whereas the Basic only has 8. And then you get a couple of stands for your consoles and things like that, so tighter overall. I gotta say for 50 bucks, it's probably worth the upgrade. Let's get this out of here. Good job packing it back up guys. Let's see if there's anything new. No. Okay. Ooh. So the first thing I'm gonna get out here is the GamePad controller. You get like your own little tablet. It's already been well loved by the guys in New York. Let's see and then the actual console is here. Pretty small and tidy, I have to say. Not a bad addition to your home theater cabinet there. Definitely. Well, some of the super slim models now of the PlayStation are very small, but just a good size. There we go. Let's see what we have in the box. Now, the guys in New York did warn me that there is one cable missing from this box, the HDMI cable. That's a pretty important one, but it is good to know that the Wii U ships with an HDMI cable, which it should 'cause that is one-- in addition to the GamePad. One of the big headlines about the Wii U is that the Wii finally gets HD, catches up with the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation. All right, so, inside the box, we have our power cable here. Nice, good-sized brick. All right, and then, of course, the motion center bar that goes on top of your TV or somewhere else, so that they can see you moving around. And then it looks like it comes with a couple of games, maybe just one, Nintendo Land, to get you used to using the controller with things. And that is pretty much it for the box. All right, let's find out some of the specs. Let's start with the actual console. Nintendo is not saying much about what processor is powering the Wii U, so we'll move straight to connectivity. We know there are four USB 2.0 ports, two in the front and two in the back. It has component video output and also composite, S-Video, and one HDMI output. It has built-in Wi-Fi and there's an SD card slot on the front for loading in media. Now, let's move on to the GamePad Controller. This has a 6.2-inch 16 x 9 touchscreen display. The resolution is not great. This is definitely not meant to be a media viewing tablet, 854 x 480 pixels. The pad itself weighs about a pound and it is 10.2 inches wide. It has a front-facing camera, a headphone jack, an IR port for controlling the TVs and the cable boxes and the Wii, and it even has an NFC chip, although I don't know what you do with it at this stage of the game. There's no question the Nintendo Wii U is an innovative game system. I like the idea of integrating some sort of a tablet, a little bit of second screen action happening here. In terms of the units, I don't know why you wouldn't spend the 50 bucks and get the Deluxe model so that you have just a few more accessories, and of course, more storage. Now, that said, our reviews have found that the GamePad is clunky. It's a little bit hard to use and it's a little confusing to figure out why you'd want to. Plus, even though, this, finally, let's the Wii catch up to the Xbox in terms of all those media streaming connections, Nintendo's TVE streaming system didn't ship at launch, and in fact, it was delayed until after people had already bought the unit. My initial sense is that this console is a little bit of a mess. I might hold off to see whether some of those features start to roll in. Once they do, it's probably a pretty good buy. Nintendo has great brand affinity, so it's not like people aren't gonna buy it. It's great for the kids. $300 for the basic model or $350 for the one you probably wanna buy. If you do wanna buy it, make sure you read our full CNET review first. Now, at the time of this taping, the Wii U is still pretty hard to find, but that's basically standard for Nintendo. Keep trying. Next up, a hot gift idea if you are into tablets, but don't wanna spend as much money. Inside this box, we have the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 because the Kindle line just keeps expanding and the screens just keep getting bigger. So, this is for the Kindle and Amazon fan who kind of wants an iPad, but doesn't wanna spend that much and just really loves Kindle stuff. Let's check it out. I do love Amazon's packaging. That's how easy it is. Like, this is the box that it came in. I love it, although I miss my box cutter. All right, here we go. Now, this is kind of an interesting-sized tablet, 8.9 sits right between the 7.9-inch iPad Mini and then, maybe, a 10-inch iPad or Nexus 10. It's all dusty. Let's check it out. So easy. Just so easy to open. Okay, get out of there. Very, very similar to the Kindle Fire HD in design, of course, and actually, almost seems similar in size. It's just a little bit bigger and obviously very rectangularly oriented. I'm sure that's the word. All right, let's see what else we have in the box here. Amazon continuing to leave out the power brick with its chargers. Now, there's some controversy about this and I've come down on both sides of the fence to be honest, but I kinda feel like everybody at this point probably does have some sort of a brick or a computer, so I appreciate at least the lack of waste. I also appreciate the fact that this is a nice, long charging cable. I'll never gonna get over that obsession. All right, that is basically it. Some instructions here, getting to know your kindle. No waste. Love it. All right, let's fire this up. My biggest complaint about these kindles is that I can never figure out where the power is. Don't laugh. You're gonna do this too. Let's see. Is that it? Oh, that's it. It's the little button at the top next to the volume marker. While we wait for this to fire up, I'm gonna go through setup and all of that, so you don't have to be here for it. Let's go through the specs. The Kindle Fire has, as I mentioned, an 8.9-inch HD display. It's extremely beautiful this display, 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution. The tablet weighs 1.25 pounds and performance is pretty good at 1.5-gigahertz dual-core processor with 1 gig of onboard RAM. Memory starts at 16 gigs and that price is just $299. It does go up from there, and for 32 gigs with LTE, you'll pay for $499. Now, compared to an iPad, that's a good price. It runs the Amazon version of Android, which means you won't get all the apps available in the Android app store, but you'll get plenty. Battery life is pretty good according to Amazon, 10 hours of continuous use. In terms of ports, you get micro-USB and micro-HDMI. It also has a front-facing camera for video conferencing or taking pictures. The Kindle Fire HD has dual stereo speakers that sound pretty good and you can watch shows in high-def up to 1080p. So, if you're in the market for a full-sized tablet, right now, the options are obviously iPad or 800-pound Gorilla, the new Google Nexus 10, or something like the Kindle Fire HD. Now, what this tablet has going for it is price. Like I said, it starts at $299 for all of that Amazon goodness. So, if you're already a fan of Kindle books, if you have a prime subscription, you like the streaming video, this is a pretty easy choice. And for the price of an iPad, you'll get 4G LTE and that's just an extra $50 a year. So, it's a pretty good value as a tablet. I have to say my only complaint about it is that the ecosystem is a little bit limited. Because it's not full Android, you won't get all of the apps. You really are just living in the Amazon world. Like I said, if that's where you live already and you don't wanna spend a ton of money, this is a great option. I have to say, though, for me, on this table, the best value? Still the Nexus 10. Sorry Amazon. Moving on, this is also the time of year when you're probably starting to think about getting in shape after this time of year is over. So, this week in future tech, the future of exercise lies in staying cool. Remember when I ran that 13-mile half marathon last summer? -Molly. -I could have actually doubled my performance capacity all with the help of this funny looking glove. I recently visited Stanford where researchers are developing tech that can make exercise way more efficient, no steroids necessary. -We have freshman women doing over 900 push-ups in 45 minutes. What we've shown is we can get equivalent increases in training response and performance responses without using steroids. -Yeah. -And the nice thing about it is it leaves no residue. -For extra nipples or whatever else I want. -It works by letting cooled water flow into a vacuum around the palm of your hand. Then, it helps draw that cooled blood back into the rest of your body. The result? A faster recovery and better performance. Okay. So what I'm feeling is almost like a blood pressure cuff-- -Yeah. -like a little bit of constriction. -Right. So you put your hand out. You can see your hand is still warm. -Right. It's so fascinating how this part is warm and this part is cool. -Yup. -Warm, cool, warm, cool. -What we found is that the [unk] is a major contributor to fatigue onset. -Yeah. -And so if we can keep the temperature from rising so fast, people can exercise longer. -Great what in God's name. So, of course, in the name of Science, I had to put this cooling glove to the test. This is-- All right. I didn't even know when it was gonna start off, completely horrific, although I have to do it. -Always going to stick a [unk] 2 feet up your nose. -This is the most terrified I've ever been and then I lean my head back a little? -[unk] -Oh dear God. -When you find a little hole, it goes down. -Yeah. -There you go. Now, it's going into your mouth-- -Uh huh. -and swallow. All right. Just keep swallowing. You like the taste of it, huh? -Yeah. Wonderful. This is the best thing I've ever done. -Wow. -Oh, that was awful. Okay. So, it'll uphill from here, right? -Better than just about anybody I've ever seen do this. -Really? -You did on your first pass just right through. -Okay, I will. Thank you. It's good to know. Super attractive too, I bet. Then, it was time to get me into the ultra hot exercise chamber. So, I have a temperature probe way deep down in my nose and esophagus. I'm in a room that's about 101 degrees Fahrenheit and I'm gonna walk up a 10% slope for 20 or 30 minutes and just get all heated up and sweaty and snotty. -There you go. -Okay. -So you've come up about almost a degree now. So, your temperature is climbing pretty quick now. -All right. I feel it. -What we'll do is take your core temperature up to about 38 and then put the cooling device on one hand and see if we can change the trajectory as the core temperature is up. Okay, it's time to cool you down now. So, let's see what happens here. -Let's see. -So, are you feeling anything? -My hand feels cooler. After about 10 more minutes, I was bent. -Let me see. -All right. I can't believe how hard that was, like I ran 13 miles two months ago and I thought that might kill me. -So, what we're doing is just watching your temperature go up here. -And then glove seemed to have worked. My core temperature went down, and more importantly, my good mood came back. The glove is proven so effective that Stanford is even using it to train their own athletes, and sometimes, on the field too. -All right. -What we'll do is when we're training, especially in the summer and the heat, we'll have it readily available, and if somebody is struggling, they need a little bit of recovery, somebody might be cramping, hydration issues, anything will put them on the unit. -As it's kind of in the meantime until it goes mainstream. Is it kind of a little unfair advantage that you guys-- -It sounds like our little secret we've presented to the Pac-12 and there's a lot of interest within other teams, but again, they're still skeptical about it. -Uh huh. -So, we like to keep it our little secret, I guess, until it really goes mainstream. -I can't believe how fainty I feel actually. I'm not ready for the football team, but my results were impressive. -And then, at this point, we put on the cooling device and you can see we have changed the trajectory as your core temperature rise. -Right. Without the glove, I would have run out of steam at 15 minutes. With the glove, I would have conked out at more like 30 minutes, a doubling of my performance. And is that pretty consistent across everybody who tries that? I mean, do you find that-- -Yeah, we always see an improvement in performance and a lot of it has to do with what the fitness level of the individuals are. -The Stanford teams says their research into temperature control has all kinds of medical potential from helping patients with multiple sclerosis be more active to getting obese people off the couch for longer periods. -Individuals with multiple sclerosis, you can actually give them a degree of freedom to be able to go out and walk twice as far as they normally would be able to. -Uh huh. -That to me is very dramatic. -Yeah. -You know, if you're talking about exercise performance, having guys doing 600 pull-ups and 1000 push-ups is-- -Right. -pretty dramatic too, isn't it? -For my part, I'm probably not gonna get to 600 pull-ups, but I am ready to give this glove thing a try in the real world as long as I never have to do that nose tubes again. Watch [unk] -Right. -That Stanford team has been working on this tech for 10 years now, and unfortunately, they just keep banging their heads against the establishment in both sports and regular medicine. I, for one, am hoping we see our cooling gloves pretty soon. It is time for us to take a break now, but before that, I want to announce a torture test giveaway extravaganza. We're gonna be giving away the iPod Touch, one of the ones that the kids jumped on and spilled juice on, but it's fine; the Kindle Fire HD 7 that I spilled a soda on and then hosed down, which is also still fine; and that think ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook, which is kind of fine-- kind of fine. Check out our blog cnet.com/always-on for details on all those giveaways. And coming up next, I will unbox the LG Optimus G. Very exciting. And also the Barnes & Noble Nook HD. Now, this is an exciting little box. I recently unboxed the Nexus 4. In here, I have the LG Optimus G. This is basically the phone that has the guts of the Nexus 4, but the friendly partnership with the carriers which means one major thing, LTE. There are some other significant differences too. Let's open it up and check it out. Hey, I've been getting so many of these little expensive boxes lately. Hey. We got the international unlocked version, so we do have a useful power adapter here. And then here we go, LG Optimus G. We have the AT&T model, the GSM model, which works on AT&T. Now, there are significant differences even between the models that you get on different carriers in the US. We'll go through those a little bit later, but I just want you to know this is the AT&T model, and since it is, texting and driving, it can wait. I shouldn't make that plenty of works 'cause it can wait. I took the plunge. Let's see what else we have in here. Before I take the stickers off, we have our LG Optimus information packet, an ad for UVerse, thanks they get enough of those in the mail and some other stuff, our micro-USB charging cable, and power brick. Okay. Let's go up and follow me. All right. Here is our phone. Now, it's a little different shape than the Nexus 4. You may recall that one. Hope we can get these stickers off here. Damn it. Not cool. The sticker, no, it cut my nail, and now, I can't get those stickers off. We're gonna do specs. I'm gonna get help and a band-aid. The LG Optimus G comes in black or white. It has a smokin' fast Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core CPU with an LTE chip. Now, that's a big difference between this and the Nexus 4. That LTE capability plus a fast processor, that's a pretty hot phone. One big drawback, though, it is only running Android 4.0.4, otherwise, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, not Jelly Bean, and there is no word on when this phone might get the upgrade to the latest operating system. The AT&T model weighs about 5 ounces and the size and weight are slightly different on AT&T and Sprint. Also, the AT&T model has expandable memory. It comes with 32 gigs total, but supports up to 64 gigs of expandable memory. Now, on the Sprint version, you only get 32 gigs with no micro-SD card slot. It has a 4.7-inch display, so it's a good-sized phone and the display itself is through HD, 1280 x 768 pixels, and our reviewers say it looks great. I agree. It has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. The AT&T model has an 8-megapixel back camera whereas the Sprint model gets a 13-megapixel camera. In our comparisons, daylight photos look about the same, but the Sprint model does seem to take better photos at night. It is equipped with NFC, bluetooth, and of course, Wi-Fi and the camera can do 1080p recording. It has a mid-sized battery, 2100 milliamps, which they say is good for up to 10 hours. The unlocked model that we have retails for $549. With contract, though, you can get it for $199 or $99 depending on your carrier. Now, the LG Optimus G is a super nice phone. The hardware feels beautiful. It's big and it looks a little bit bulky, not totally sleek and rounded off, but it's not heavy. It's a very nice size and weight and it's sort of a little present for those of you who wanted a Nexus 4, but we're really disappointed that you didn't get 4G. Then, again, the big trade-off is that you don't get Jelly Bean with this phone, and of course it's not a pure Android experience. LG has tweaked the interface a little bit, as you can see. It's interesting because the LG Optimus is a phone that doesn't make very many compromises in terms of processor speed and design. It's a really high-quality phone, but between the Nexus 4, the G on AT&T and the G on Sprint, you're gonna have to make some kind of compromise. So, what's the lesser of two evils here? Or three evils as the case maybe? For me, I think it's probably the Optimus G on AT&T because you get a pretty good selection of features, you get expandable memory, and more importantly, you get that 4G, but you should go to CNET and read our full review on this phone for all the details. Another tablet unboxing and this one is a pretty good gift idea for the reader in your life. It's the new Nook HD tablet. We're unboxing the 7-inch, but they also just released a 9-inch HD tablet and that one is just kind of interesting, $269 for that full-sized tablet that runs Android. If you want to buy that and root it, you'd ever slip a pretty good Android tablet for not very much money. We are looking at the 7-inch model which is a direct competitor, of course, to the Kindle Fire HD. Let's get this guy out of the box. What have we here? Things, [unk], coupons, unbeatable prices on holiday cards, some baby stuff. Oh, that's a little jinky, those coupons. Okay. Now, for the Nook. Here we go. The Nook has a pretty good [unk]. It's proven a pretty decent competitor, but it doesn't have quite the attraction probably because it doesn't have quite the ecosystem. We got the white one, highest resolution ever on a 7-inch tablet ThinkPad or iPad Mini. Oh, I think I opened it upside down. I totally did. I failed. All right, here's our not very attractive black power brick, our little Get Quick Start Guide. One thing people really like about the Nook actually is that you can go to a Barnes and Noble store and they will help you with it right there. Let me tell you, that really worked out for my mom. All right, let's get this guy out. So, it's white on the front, kind of this gray on the back. It's not the sleekest tablet I've ever seen, but it is pretty light. Ooh, the back feels nice. It's got kind of that soft touch back here. Feels not quite as substantial as you might expect. This is definitely a plastic rim and it shows, and then because of this bezel, the screen actually looks a bit small. Let's see if we can fire it up. Hopefully, we've got a little battery here. Nook. We're doing 98%, 99%. Hi, welcome to Nook. While we go through set-up, let's go through the specs. The Nook comes in two models, 8 gigabytes for $199 or 16 gigs for $229. That's actually kind of a worthwhile upgrade. It comes in two colors, which I like to call white and dark gray, but which Barnes and Noble calls snow and smoke. It has a 1.3-gigahertz processor, which doesn't seem as snappy as you might expect. It is running Android, but it's a custom designed version of Ice Cream Sandwich. It weighs 11.1 ounces, and with this 5 inches, that's a little less than the Kindle Fire HD, and in my opinion, makes it a lot easier to hold. The Nook's HD display is 720p, but the resolution is 1440 x 900 and you can see the difference. Battery life is pretty good according to Barnes and Noble, up to 10-1/2 hours of reading and 9 hours of watching video. There is built-in Wi-Fi, but no cellular connection. In terms of ports, you have a universal stereo headphone jack. It does have a proprietary charger, which is kind of a bummer, no micro-USB here, just a 30-pin charging connector that it says is HDMI compatible. There's also a micro-SD slot for expanding your memory. The Nook is a lot lighter and frankly a lot easier to hold than the Kindle Fire HD. This is a true 7-inch tablet and this obviously is quite a bit bigger. Now, I think that the display is beautiful here, but this presentation might be a little bit better. These are about the same price. So, it's really whichever one you prefer and which one you think is gonna offer the more content. For me? This is much nicer in terms of size, weight, and it's very intuitive to use. Of course, both of these are now also in the shadow of the iPad Mini, but since these start at $199 and that starts at $329, that comes down to a wallet decision. For my money? I think I'd pick the Nook. Read our full review, though, and make up your own mind over at CNET.com. That will do it for unboxings this week. I hope we help to make your holiday shopping list just a little bit longer. And now, it is time to look inside the mailbag. Our first e-mail comes from Nicholas who says, "Hello Molly Wood. Just finished watching this week's episode. I thought the drop test on the iPod Touch was very unfair as you practically threw it to the ground. I've had the older generation touch and it doesn't break like the one you had did. The new one would be much stronger. So, I just thought that it was unfair how you did the drop test on the iPod. Thanks. Nicholas." In point of fact, Nicholas, I did hurl it to the ground with quite a bit of force. -Oh no. -It was kind of an accident how much force I used, but to be honest, I'm not convinced that the 5th generation iPod is that much tougher than the previous model mainly because it's so much smaller and lighter. That said, it survived the kids just fine, so I think it's probably tough enough. Just be nicer than I am. That should be your goal with all electronics. All right, moving on, we have an e-mail from Dean who says, "I think your show is great. You mentioned during the Nexus 4 unboxing that Samsung made all of the previous Nexus phones. You forgot that the first Nexus device-- the groundbreaking Nexus 1 was made by HTC. You also mentioned the lack of LTE, meant dealing with the slower network. Your statement isn't necessarily true. In the Metro Detroit area, I find T-Mobile's HSPA+ faster than Verizon's LTE based on the Speed Test app results. Also, battery life seems to be much better with HSPA+, Dean." Dean, you are not the only one who wrote to correct me on that Nexus 1 made by HTC, so apologies Nexus fan boys. And you know what? That's a good point about HSPA+, and in fact, theoretically, 3G is perfectly fast enough for most of your needs compared to 4G, but I still think that 4G LTE is a fair expectation for consumers who are buying the latest and greatest smartphone these days. All right, and finally, Susan in Seattle says, "I'm fascinated by Molly's and Jeff's refrigerators or really freezers. Do they come with cameras aftermarket? How are they installed? -[unk], my friend. -LTS needs more [unk]. Susan in Seattle." I actually can't tell you how many e-mails and tweets I have gotten about the cameras and the freezers. I was gonna joke that we just use like a really small camera guy, but that's not nice. We use GoPro guys. GoPro! They can't go anywhere. Come little buddy. Two hours. See you soon. Okay, Molly, bye, don't forget about me. All right, thank you for the feedback. Police, keep it coming as always. You can send your e-mails on really any topic as it turns out to email@example.com. You can also contact me on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. And keep an eye on CNET.com/always-on where you can find the blog post so that you can enter our big holiday torture test giveaway. You do not wanna miss that gadget palooza. And stay tune for next week, we'll have even more unboxings plus I take the GT500 Shelby Mustang for a test drive and I go to Cape Canaveral for a rocket launch because my life is awesome, but so is the show, so I'll see you then. -Can you swallow? It goes right down to your throat. -Okay. -Just swallow this thing. -Oh, thanks, I'm moving it now. That's the worst thing I've ever seen. -Once you do it a few times, you got a taste for it. -Can I just-- Can I just do the followup or something? -All right, let's try this. I feel virtually certain that this is not gonna work out, but I do kind of wanna try.