CNET Tech Review
Make room for MangoThis week on the CNET Tech Review: look inside the Windows Phone 7 OS update; how to make the most of Dropbox; counting down our Top 5 Blu-ray players; and shoot your own Super 8 movies on your iPhone.
This week on the CNET Tech Review, Windows phone gets a Mango makeover, summer movie apps coming soon to a touchscreen near you, Blu-ray discs are almost an afterthought for top 5 players, and get down and dirty with Dropbox. It's all coming up right now. Hi everyone, I'm Molly Wood and welcome to the CNET Tech Review where we collect our hottest videos of the week and tell what's good and what's bad in the world of tech plus offer some unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. Let's start with the good. Microsoft, Steve Jobs will your 200 new features in iOS 5 and raise you 500 new features in Windows phone Mango, boom. In fact, there's so much going on with mango, but cellphone editors, Bonnie Cha and Jessica Dolcourt decided to split review duties on this one. Take a look at their 2 part first look. -Back in November, Microsoft launched its new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, and it's about to get a big ol' update. Hey everyone, I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at CNET.com and I'm here to bring you a First Look at some of the new features of Windows Phone Mango which will officially be called Windows Phone 7.5 when it's released this fall. The update will bring more than 500 new features but a lot of it focuses on 3 key areas: communications, apps, and internet. Since there's a lot to cover, I'm going to show off some of the new communications features in this video, while my colleague, Jessica Dolcourt, will take a look at the apps and the internet portion, so be sure to check out her video as well as our full technical preview on CNET.com. So, what are the new communications features? Well, first, in terms of messaging, you can now link multiple e-mail accounts into a single inbox. It's easy to set up and I like that Microsoft gives you the option to pick and choose which accounts to link because I like to keep my work e-mail separate from my personal e-mail. It's also easier to keep track of messages, thanks to new conversation view. E-mail threads are now grouped together and marked for quick identification in your inbox, so you no longer have to scroll through every single message trying to find a response. In the People Hub, you can now create group contacts. Once you've set up a group, you can text or e-mail everyone at once and view the latest updates and photos of just those group members instead of having to sort through your entire contacts feed. Windows Phone 7.5 also makes it easier for you to post to your social networks with an enhanced Live Tile. Currently, the Me Tile only lets you post to Facebook and see what's new in your profile, but with the Mango update, you'll be able to post a message, check into places, see notifications, and set your chat status. And last but not least, Mango is going to add support for Twitter and LinkedIn account in the People Hub. Unfortunately, since we didn't have final software, this feature wasn't activated on our review unit, but we're told that it will act the same way as Facebook does, so you'll see your friends' tweets and LinkedIn updates right in the What's New section. Now, I know none of these features are new to other platforms but what I like about Windows Phone is how they integrated it all. A lot of the time, with competing OSes, to do the same things like checking Facebook, you have to open a separate app, but with Windows Phone, it's integrated with your contacts, the Picture Hub, and other areas of the phone. Relevant content shows up in relevant places, and you don't have to think about it or do extra work. It's a smarter approach and I think it's where Windows Phone really succeeds, but the challenge for Microsoft is to make everyone else understand that. Like I said earlier, there's a lot more to the Windows Phone Mango update and this is just the tip of the iceberg, so be sure to check out our full preview for more. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your First Look at the communication features of Windows Phone Mango update. -Hey everyone! I'm Jessica Dolcourt with CNET. What I've got for you today is a look at some of the new app features coming your way in Windows Phone Mango which will otherwise be known as Windows Phone 7.5. Microsoft has spend a lot of time and energy working on apps with this release, so they may or may not have the most programs in their app store but I do give Microsoft credit for trying to integrate those apps in useful ways. For example, when you search for a movie or a product or a business and being, you're now gonna see suggestions for relevant apps that you can download and then also a list of apps that you already have and the same is gonna go for apps in the music and pictures hubs, as well. You might not see every app in this list that you think you should. That's because the app publisher has to enable apps to connect with the feature in order for that to happen. Another app that has some really neat tools is Bing. There's Local Scout which is sort of like Yelp for restaurants and businesses nearby and there's music ID which is a lot a like Shazam. Music ID essentially matches the sound of recorded music that adheres to the Zune music database and it will of course help you buy those songs as well. Then, there's Bing Vision and this is probably one of the updates of most ambitious apps. It scans, barcodes, and also book in magazine covers, posters, and DVD covers to identify search results online. It can also attempt to scan and translate text into numerous languages that was a little less successful for me. Now, I did have some problems with Bing Vision, not recognizing all the images that I sent its way. So, hopefully Microsoft will be able to improve upon the tool before that the final version is released. Okay, now the last new feature that I want to show you is multitasking. To easily switch from one open app to another, you just press and hold the back arrow under the screen. You'll see the apps shrink into thumbnail sizes and then you can swipe around and see and then select the open pages. Just remember though that this is a technical preview, so Microsoft has more time to refine some of its features before the update officially comes out this fall. Once again, I'm Jessica Dolcourt with CNET. This is Windows Phone Mango and don't forget to check out our hands-on review of the Mango preview on CNET.com. -As Jessica mentioned, they did only have a technical preview, windows phone 7.5 to work with, so look for our full reviews of the new OS and of course new handsets when the final version is released. Next up, we've got the latest editors' choice in the gaming desktop category. The Digital Storm Ode Level 3 combines sleek design elements with blazing performance in just one tiny little cork. -Hi, I'm Rich Brown, senior editor for cnet.com. Today, we're gonna take a look at the editor's choice winning Digital Storm Ode level 3. So, this is a fixed configuration gaming desktop. It cost about 2400 bucks and it's actually one of the best systems we've seen in this price range. It has fast gaming performance and over and overclocked Intel Core i7 CPU and pretty much every feature we expect to find for this price. One of the things we like most about the system is its external design. This white-black case is pretty handsome and it's actually convenient to use. You'll see the front panel here is nice and clean and it's got a Blue-ray DVD combo drive here on top and here on the top of the case there's a couple of ports. You've got 4 USB 2 ports and USB 3 port, fire wire inputs as well as a couple analog audio jacks and this dial here will let you control the fan speed in case you wanna kind of dial down the noise as you're using the system. On the back of the system, you'll see one of our few criticisms. You'll notice this wire coming out from the case and into the USB 3 port here on the back. That actually connects to this USB 3 port to the USB 3 port at the top of the case. As well, we're glad to see USB 3 in the system. This kind of external wiring, it's definitely an amateurish design position. Otherwise, you get all the ports you would like to see in a system like this. There're tiny USB 2 ports in the back of the system as well as 1 free USB 2 slot. There's a PS2 old school mouse and keyboard jack. You get eSATA as well as powered eSATA. There's 7.1 analog audio as well as SPDIF/optical audio out up here. Now, between the 2 graphics cards here, you'll also get a lot of display out options. You got 4 DVI outs and HDMI output on each card as well as a full size display port out on each card. Now for gaming purposes, the system probably is an ideal if you wanna set up multiple high resolution monitors, but if you wanna connect a large TV or couple low-risk screens, the system is definitely up to the test. Now, we mentioned the case is easy to use and by that most that we mean is easy to get inside. There is lashes on the side panel. If pulled down and the door pops up just like that. It's nice and easy. Now, inside the case, it's actually something we haven't seen before. This plastic plate installed on top of the motherboard covers up all the circuitry and the transistors you usually see inside the case and it definitely goes a long way towards netting up the all overall appearance here. Between plate and the wiring that's pretty much invisible in the system. Digital storm has really done a nice job inside the case. Component-wise, it's pretty straight forward stuff for system in this 2500-dollar price range. Up here, you got the liquid cooling hardware going down to an Intel Core i7-2600K CPU and its CPU is overlocked of 4.8 gigahertz, making it superfast and that is how digital storm sells the system. For memory, you get 8 G around with this PC as well as 2 free slots if you wanna upgrade later. You'll see this 2 NVIDIA and GTX 570 graphics cards and there's 2 1x PCI Express slots on the motherboard. They're little bit hard to see. For the hard drive, Digital Storm gives you a 120 gigabytes solid state drive that has windows on it, and for general storage, and you get a terabyte drive down here. Then you can also see from other free drive base here that there's plenty room to expand, but that's said there's no cabling behind the slots, so you have to do that yourself. So, in our lab, we found the Ode Level 3 as one of the fastest if not the fastest gaming PC in this price category. So, between its speed, its features, its great looking case, and its aggressive price, the system is an easy editor's choice winner. So, I'm Rich Brown, this is the Digital Storm Ode level 3. -That's one good looking gaming rig, but seriously there wasn't any other way to power that USB 3 port with that little pigtail taken at the back. I'm gonna guess you could always just unplug it. Just keep the board on top. That's what I would do. Dropbox is probably one of the most widely known cloud storage services around, but it's all so much than just than just that. Sharon Vaknin has a few tips to help make you a Dropbox master. -Hey, everyone, I'm Sharon Vaknin for CNET.com. Dropbox is one of the great cloud storage tools like SugarSync or SkyDrive that lets you sync files with any computer. When you put a file into your drop box, you can access it on any other computer or mobile phone. Lots of people use it for project management as a virtual thumb drive or as a way to share files with friends, but today I have 4 new ways to use Dropbox. On my Facebook page, I asked you guys to give me your best tips and I'm including a couple of these too. To get Dropbox, go to dropbox.com, sign for an account, and download the desktop client. You'll automatically get 2 gigs of storage free and you'll start using it right away. To upload files to you Dropbox, you can upload it through the web client or drag it into the Dropbox folder on your desktop, but a very clever way to get things in your folder by e-mailing it. Go to sendtodropbox.com where you'll get a special e-mail address you can use to e-mail attachments to your Dropbox. So if my friend sends me an e-mail with his new myx and I can't save it on my iPhone because it doesn't do that, I can just forward it to my unique Dropbox e-mail address and it will automatically get uploaded to my Dropbox folder. Another company got creative and built a tool that let's upload target links to your Dropbox. For instance, if a restaurant has a PDF of nutritional facts on their website, you can copy the link, paste it into urldroplet.com, and it will be uploaded to your Dropbox. So, it's nice, you can find the link and upload it that way or e-mail attachments and your files will be waiting for you on another computer or phone whenever you're ready. You can automate things even more with this awesome trick. No matter where you are, you can use drop box to remotely start downloading Torrents. To show you, I'll use new Torrent, but the steps are similar for other BiTorrent clients too. So, what you have to do on a Mac is open uTorrent and go to preferences, then head over to downloads and check automatically open torrent files found in and browse the selector Dropbox folder. On windows, go to preferences, then directories. Check the box next automatically load torrents from and select your Dropbox folder. Since torrent files can be big, serve them to download somewhere else on your hard drive. Just remember that if you use this trick, your home computer needs to stay on and running uTorrent, but now you can start Torrents no matter where you are for whatever legal purposes you like of course. Like I mentioned, lots of people use Dropbox as virtual USB drive and since you really can't forget to take it with you, it's a convenient solution for accessing your documents, but Lifehacker points out that since it's not the default documents folder, you might forget to change the target folder to your Dropbox when you're saving documents, so why not make Dropbox your default documents folder. On Window 7 or Vista, right click your documents folder, select properties, and then on the location tab, you can specify the new file pad. Click move and then select your Dropbox folder. On a Mac, open up terminal and type CD Dropbox, and then type this command, which will create documents folder in your Dropbox that automatically syncs with your desktop and other computers, and on my Facebook page, Jason Wang reminded me that Dropbox will save all versions of your docs for 30 days. Just go to the Dropbox web interface, hover your file, and click the already viewed previous versions of it, and finally, have you ever left a message on my page explaining that you can use Dropbox as you own photostream. With the Android and iPhone apps, you can upload photos from your phone directly to your Dropbox or check photos within the application and view them anywhere and you can even make a public photos folder to share with friends and family. By now though, you might be wondering if 2 gigabytes is enough for all these tricks. 2 gigs is good for most, but if you need more storage, don't forget that Dropbox gives you 250 megabytes for every friend you offer, but don't start making fake e-mail addresses and inviting yourself. Dropbox is a little smarter than that. If you any more tips, let me know on my Facebook page and visit howto.cnet.com for more how tos. For CNET, I'm Sharon Vaknin and I'll see you on the interwebs. -See, there are perfectly legal files that can be easily shared via torrents like Linux distro images and I'm sure there other things too. Well I've tried to think of some more. Let's take a break, but we've still got a more tech review right after this. Welcome back to the CNET Tech Review, our weekly video digest of all things good and bad we've seen here at CNET TV. Continuing in the good, we slowly coming around to the idea that Blu-ray has won and it's time to get a Blu-ray DVD player, but only because they have so many streaming services built in. Cooley is there to count down the top 5 Blu-ray players that you might never use to play discs. Little silver discs may have sort of had their run: CD, DVD and even Blu-ray feeling the heat of streaming delivery and digital download, but that it, when you want the best video quality in your home TV room, you still gonna a pop in a disc. I'm Brian Cooley with the Top 5 Blu-ray players according to CNET review scores and all of them do more than just great high definition. Number 5 is the Samsung BD-D6700. We love its huge array of streaming services. It has dual HDMI outputs. You'd use if you wanna run separate dedicated video and audio feds out of it to different gear. It's got a generous 1 gigabyte of on board memory for features like BD Live and it can be controlled from an app. What can't these days. On the other hand, it's stubbornly pricey at around 270 bucks in a world filled of $175 Blu-ray discs. Number 4 is the Sony BDP-S580. This guy has about the best array of streaming services except is missing MLB.com. It has built-in Wi-Fi as well. It's fast, which is realy important when hopping around all the features and chapters of a data heavy Blu-ray disc. There's also an iPhone and Android control app and they're free. Unlike the Samsung we just talked about, it doesn't do 2D-3D conversion, but we think that's a joke anyway. The biggest drawback on this guy is Sony's custom interface for getting to all the connected stuff. It could be the worst in the business, classic Sony, but the rest is great. Number 3 is the LG BD-670. It's kind of the opposite of the Sony. It has a tremendous, easy to use interface for all the online services, also built-in Wi-Fi, but no on-board memory for accessing BD Live online content, but we seldom find ourselves doing that anyway so who cares, same lack of silly 2D-3D conversion. Look, basically, this guy plays the hits. It does all the important stuff well and leaves off the gimmicks to other ones. The number 2 best Blu-ray player right now is the Panasonic DMP-BDT210, built-in Wi-Fi again, great streaming services including MLB and price in the $180 sweet spot all great but sealing the deal on this guy is that it is the fastest Blu-ray player we've tested, fast at loading and navigating discs. If you haven't tried the Blu-ray disc, you don't realize how important that this. There's also a touch-free disc tray loading technology that's a little bit much, but overall this is our favorite Blu-ray disk player and hold that thought. Before I bring you to number 1, what are you gonna feed your new Blu-ray deck? We just revised our list of Top 40 Blu-ray discs. These are great transfers. The studios really sweated over instead of just shoveling. The kinds of discs that make you remember why you still have a big old bookcase full of DVDs in your TV room, go check it out. Okay, remember I said a minute ago that the number 2 Panasonic BDT210 was our "favorite" Blu-ray player. So, what's above that? The value king that's who, the Sony PS3 Slim, that's our number 1 pick. At just a few bucks more than the number 5 Samsung deck, you'll get a solid Blu-ray player, a high def game console, living room web-browser, A/V streaming machine, and all of that wrapped up in an easy to use interface that we like a lot. Now, you can't play PS2 games on it and only Bluetooth universal remotes work with it, which is weird, but if you're gonna go to get the most for you money, this is the machine for you. To catch the latest CNET reviews of all the Blu-ray players, go to CNET, click on Home Video. They're all in there. And for more Top 5's like this one, go to top5.cnet.com. I'm Brian Cooley, thanks for watching. Yeah, tell me what I'm waiting for in addition to all the streaming services and web integration and fast performance, maybe some cooler names, really the BMP and the BDT and the DBB. I'm not gonna remember any of that standing in the store. PS3 slim though easy to remember. In addition to impossible naming conventions, let's see what else is wrong with the world this week in the bad. As the tablet wars rage on, for every winner like the iPad 2 or the Galaxy Tab, there has to be a loser, and thanks to Donald Bell, we found another one. -Hey, I'm Donald Bell, and today we're taking a first look at the Velocity Micro Cruz T301. This is an android tablet with a 7-inch screen and a low, low street price of $160. It's running a modified version of Android 2.2 and like a lot of the budget tablets we see, Google's official app for G-Mail, maps, and market place and others aren't included. You get a decent e-mail app though and the web browser is also pretty good. And also notice that the apps for Kindle and Facebook right out of the box. You're also able to get Amazon's android app store working here, but popular game download like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja were not compatible. So don't get your hopes up in terms of gaming. In terms of hardware, I've definitely seen worse in this price range. It weighs about a pound and the screen quality isn't great, but the bill quality is actually pretty resilient. The only Achilles heel here is that on the back could be peeled off pretty easily. To you, that might be a feature, but I would think twice before letting kid around this. On the side here, you'll find a nice oversized volume switch. The top has a power button and full size SD card slot, also a mini USB connection. On the bottom, there is a pair of speakers, a headphone jack, and connection for included power adaptor. On the whole is an okay general purpose tablet for the money. If you're buying this as an eReader though, you're probably be disappointed by the weight and the screen quality. If it's something you're picking up for a kid, you kid is probably gonna be disappointed that they can't play Angry Birds on this and I recommend spending the extra $50 on an iPad Touch. So that's the Cruz T301 from Velocity Micro. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell. -Remember, there is a difference between inexpensive and cheap, though supposed the Cruz is technically both. Let's go ahead and wrap things up with this week's bottom line. Summer is officially here and that means the summer blockbuster movie season is already in full swing and thanks to the film [unk] featured in the weeks Tap That App, you can enjoy the movie experience long after the house lights come up. -Welcome to Tap That App, I'm Brian Tong, and this is where we cover the hottest apps in the mobile space. Now, it's the summer blockbuster movie season and we're here to show you some of the sweetest companion apps for your favorite flicks on your iOS devices. Now, first up is Super 8. This J. J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg collaboration is getting hyped up and you can be a part of it with the iPhone and iPod Touch app for 99 cents. Now, you can record a short movie using a variety of gritty filters and effects, create your movie with clips, share them, and if you're lucky, you'll see a frame from Super 8 inside your movie. Get them all and you'll see a clip from the actual movie. Now, if you want something a little more lighthearted, check out the Zookeeper Movie App. It's free for the iPhone and iPad and it includes 3 mini games like grabbing bananas with a monkey or leaves with a draft. It might entertain the kids but, honestly, it's pretty lame, so you're lucky it's free. Now, comic book fans have a lot to look forward to this summer and fans of X-Men: First Class get a free digital magazine for the iPad showcasing how the X-Men have played an important part in historical events including how John F. Kennedy planned to deal with Magneto, because that really happened. Now, not all movies have dedicated apps that work in tandem with the movies, but Green Lantern fans can download the DC Comics Green Lantern App on their iPhone or iPad. It allows you to download free excerpts from the comic book series and bone up on your knowledge with Green Lantern 101 to get you up to speed. And Captain America: First Avenger fans, download the Marvel Comics app on either your iPhone or iPad for free and you'll have access to Captain America: First Vengeance for free. It's the official prequel to the movie in addition to other comics as well. And let's not forget the over-the-top Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie coming out the end of June. Now, there's no official movie app but why not annoy your friends, family, and neighbors with the 99-cent Transformer Soundboard. -Retreat, Decepticons! This battle has been lost! -See what I mean? All right, if you guys have any other apps you think are worthy to be here that we missed, send them to Tap That App at CNET.com. I'm Brian Tong, thanks for watching, and we'll see you guys next time. The bottom line this week, I've got butter on my phone. That Super 8 app is so cool. Here's a little film my producer shot over the weekend. It totally reminds of some of the old home movies my parents had from when they were kids with better haircuts of course, and if you haven't seen Super 8, be sure to stick around for a surprise during the credits. It's almost as good as the movie itself. Alright folks, that's our show, come back next week for all new CNET Tech Review and tell them there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. I'll see you next time and thank you for watching.