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CNET Tech Review
Man vs. Droid vs. DroidThis week on the CNET Tech Review, Motorola's Droid X dukes it out with HTC's Droid Incredible; CNET's Top 5 back-to-school product picks; Apple works its TrackPad magic; and how to reverse the iOS 4 curse.
-This week on the CNET Tech Review: The Buzz Report goes to Comic-Con. Apple works its magic again. HTC and Motorola face off in a Droid-on-Droid Price Fight. And I countdown our top 5 back-to-school tech picks. It's all coming up right now. Hello folks and welcome to the CNET Tech Review. Rounding up our hottest videos of the week and telling you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech and offering up some tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. I'm Brian Cooley, in from Molly Wood. Let's start off with the good stuff. Last week while I was filling in on this show for Molly, she was off galavanting around the San Diego Convention Center covering Comic-Con for the Buzz Report. And once you see the required outfit, I think you'll be glad that she went instead of me. Hi, I'm Molly Wood. Welcome to the Buzz Report, special report from Comic-Con. Comic-Con is about so much more than comics, as you know. There's video games, TV, movies. Speaking of video games, how about a little Red Faction Armageddon. And then of course Comic-Con is all about promoting movies. There's movies that are coming out, like "Battlefield LA," "Green Hornet," kind of owns this show. Then, there's movies that are just cool and geeky like Transformers. You've got people getting in and out of pods for aliens because it's coming out on Blu-ray, and there's this nice big booth for Tron, featuring the Light Cycle, which I think I'm totally gonna steal because it looks Hella Fast. Can you turn that off real quick? TV, big deal here at Comic-Con. "Lost" was pretty much made here. "True Blood" is huge. CBS is premiering its new show, "Hawaii Five-O" here. And then AMC has this new show called "Walking Dead." I want to go now. Can we go now? Are we done? Also, "Big Bang Theory," huge at Comic-Con. Who knew? -Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait. The Earth began to cool, the autotrophs began to drool, Neanderthals developed tools, We built a wall---- -Another huge trend at Comic-Con, toys, figurines and collectibles. For example, collectibles for the very serious collector. What are you guys in line for? -The Hasbro booth here, Hasbro's toy shop. You needed a ticket all weekend, but right now there's no ticket needed. So, no fight. -Are there actually---- are there new toys being released that you're excited about? -Yes, it's a pre-release, right? -Umm, yeah, they're debuting a lot of the---- some special edition toys and pre-releases on the new Sgt. Slaughter figure from GI Joe. They're debuting here, and then I guess they're gonna be available on Hasbro's web site, or that's what they've done every other year, so. -I see. So, normally you've had to get a ticket---- how? -You actually---- I went through this yesterday. You have to go upstairs, wait in line for about two hours to get a ticket to wait in line for another five hours to get a ticket. So, it's really not worth it, unless you want to go put it on eBay and make money. But I just want Sgt. Slaughter, so I'm good. -Also turns out Comic-Con is kind of hot, as in porny. Holy Buttcheeks, Batman, it's Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse boobies. Buttcheeks. Although it may not seem like it anymore, Comic-Con is in fact still about comics-- actually, super serious comics. We are currently in the presence of greatness. In Wonder Woman greatness alone, they have in this glass case the first appearance of Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman's first cover, and the first issue of "Wonder Woman." Plus, in this case, there's like the first Superman, which is going to go on auction, the first Batman---- it's unbelievable. And I'm not going to touch anything, because most of this costs as much as my house. -Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman. All the world's waiting for you. -The other thing everybody will tell you about Comic-Con is that it is all about the unbelievable costumes. Thank you. Man. You know, yesterday I got my picture taken a lot as Molly Wood, hosted the Buzz Report and Buzz Out Loud. But then I put this costume on and everyone wants to take my picture as Wonder Woman. Okay. -All the world's waiting for you. -Okay, alright. Thank you, have a good time. Have I mentioned how much I love it here? Okay, so you've got your movies, your TV, your comic books, your costumes. And then there's just everything else. And that's it for the Buzz Report. I'm Molly Wood, thanks for watching. Just leave me here. I'm with my people. -Down with [unk]. -Off with their head. -Wonder Woman. -I like it. -Yes, Jack Sparrow, we get it; we like her too, and we'll be glad when she's back in her on the CNET Tech Review next week. Earlier this week, Apple announced to who's to have upgrade to their iMac, Mac Pro, and Cinema Display Lines. That's all well and good. And if you wanna see those reviews, head over to cnettv.com. Now, they weren't any real earthshaking-Apple developments, but there was one little peripheral that really piqued my interest: Take a look! -Hi, I'm Scott Stein, Senior Associate Editor at cnet.com. And this is the new Apple magic track pad. Now Apple's made a lot of multi-touch devices recently: the iPod, the iPhone, their MacBook and MacBook Pro Lines with their tremendous multi-touch touchpads that are also clickable. The people who are left out? Desktop Mac users. But not anymore. Apple has made this device to essentially take that multi-touch clickpad that's on a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Remove it and make it a Bluetooth device for your desktop. And that's pretty much exactly what it is. For 69 dollars it's not exactly cheap but it does offer some great feel. If you're used to using a MacBook or MacBook Pro it feels exactly like that but even bigger and it has inertial scrolling which is a new feature on MacBook touchpads. In addition, it has click zones, it has touch tab, it has as three finger and forefinger, even multi-touch, so all that stuff that you're used to in the MacBook and MacBook Pro experience. One thing is really nice about the design is it lies completely flush with the Bluetooth keyboard that comes with IMAX, so it really feels like a one- piece-type design: you could put it right next to it or split it apart. I think it actually looks nicer even with that keyboard them without. And that's pretty much at it. It accepts AA batteries or rechargeable batteries. In fact, Apple has released a battery charger. Addressing the fact you're gonna be having a lot of Bluetooth devices between a keyboard, a trackpad, and a mouse. Now, all of these magic trackpad is meant to be used on Macs and you're gonna get all that multi-touch support on Macs. Apple does say that it works with windows devices. You have to play a run and see how it works for yourself. You'll also need a software update, which should be available now, which enables all of the trackpads configuration elements. You will need that in order to enable touch the tab, or click zones, or any additional configurations that you want to like you have on your MacBook and MacBook Pro. So, for those of you who have never used a MacBook or MacBook Pro large trackpad, what you're looking at here---- this entire surface is in multi-touch trackpad. But also, it's all clickable. The bottom part and even the top part is clickable---- thanks to the way this has ceded. Just to let you know so you can move across this, but you can also click on it anywhere. Now is this meant to replace the mouse? Not exactly; although it could for many people certainly, all the multi-touch and clicking can be used to the capacity that you were to use a mouse. We really do like announced for a lot of its accuracy and we've enjoyed Apple's mice recently quite a bit. It's gonna be up to the user to decide. Certainly, they're aiming for this to become a mouse replacement potential in the future. We've wondered at CNET, will the mouse ever really die, or maybe this is another step towards it. I'm Scott Stein and this is Apple's view magic trackpad. -Goofy name aside, I like the magic trackpad. In fact, it works with my iPod and my Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard, I'm gonna cobble together a next generation laptop, sort of. Here is something else I probably won't be doing this year: running out to buy an electric car. But that doesn't mean they're not worth-looking at, maybe just a little further down the road. Check out my test drive now in the Mitsubishi's i-MiEV. It's chick's look full of acorns, it's belly full of lithium, and it's on track to hit you at showrooms late in 2011. This Mitsubishi is more proof than electric cars are here or finally back depending how bitter you are about GM's EV1. Anyway, let's get in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and check the tech. Let's walk the architecture of our chubby, chick little friend and it all starts back here in the engine room. That's where pretty much everything lives on this car. Underneath this cover, we find the guts of what makes an EV run. First, we have an ECU, an electronic control unit, that runs all kinds of things from power output to the use of power for heater or air-conditioner, regeneration of power when you're coasting or breaking, very important box. You've also got an inverter, takes the DC power that comes out of a battery, turns it into the AC power that the motor needs. That motor, by the way, is underneath here, a 330-volt motor rated at 63 horsepower and about 130 foot-pounds of torque. It's hooked up to a transmission but it doesn't change gears. It's a one-speed. It's a reduction box really. Now, where are the batteries? Those live around the side. Actually, the batteries are kind of invisible, part of the relative genius of Mitsubishi's packaging. What they have done is they've stuck them underneath the floor in the passenger compartment, so you don't see them and that's good. Now, how do you charge those batteries? Here's one way. This is the fast way. This is the quick charge port that would require a special quick charge device. That's gonna give you an 80% charge in just 30 minutes. But more likely, you're gonna charge on this side of the car where we have the lower voltage port. In here, you've got a hook-up for this charging gun that just clicks right into place and it goes to either a 110 connection or you can take off the adapter here and you've got a 220 plug. Here is the problem. You gotta pack a lunch using either of these: 14 hours for a full charge on 110, 7 on 220, but at least, you'll find them in a lot of places. Now, even taking this car home to charge up isn't problem-free. I had to try 3 different outlets to find one on a 15 amp circuit that had a light enough load that it wouldn't throw a breaker while the car was charging, and your garden variety, medium-duty extension cord, not a good idea. It only adds to the bottleneck of getting current into this thing. Carry a heavy-duty cord along with this car's fairly short one. Inside to that---- Woo! Okay. That's the first weird thing. This is a right-hand drive car, Japan domestic market products. Another indication this guy is not ready for prime-time in the left hand driving part of the world yet. But inside the car, we have a modest amount of technology. This is not a cabin deck story folks. The radio will tell you that and I mean, radio. That's a good old 1980's era single-DIN AM/FM/CD. That isn't the point, although you can get a double-DIN LCD In-Dash Nav. At least that's what they envision for this car. Now, under the instrument panel, that's where this car gets really interesting. Left gauge, that's your charge, like a gas gauge and your gear indicator. We'll get to the gears in a minute. Now, the gear. In the middle, you've got your speed-o in kilometers in this case. Around it is a mode indicator with the dial. That needle will show when you're charging on the far left here. That's regen, either coasting or braking. Then you've got a little Eco band when you're driving very lightly, the way that it wants you to for best range. And then you got a big, old fat power area when you're really getting into it and tapping the kilowatts. On the right is a multi-function gauge. I usually kept it in the remaining range mode like you see there. Tells you how far you've got to go before you're calling a cab. Now, I have an issue between that and the other gauge which shows "Charge." They don't really agree. The charge gauge right now shows what, about 75% charge, but that range gauge only shows 59 kilometers, which is about 50% of the possible range. So somewhere, these two were working on different algorithms. Now, under that gear lever, pretty common stuff until you get down the bottom of the game so park, reverse, neutral, drive; we all understand that. Then there's Eco. Then there's B. Here's how these work. Drive gives you access to the car's full power and standard regeneration profile when you're coasting or breaking. Eco gives you very limited power and aggressive regeneration. B gives you access to the power of D with the aggressive regen of Eco. It's how it kind of sorts out. Zero to 60? Yes. In about 13 or 14 seconds. Top speed around 80 miles per hour. Range, about 100 miles as they promised but after a full charge overnight, we only saw a max of 80 kilometers on the distance to dead gauge. Okay. Let's go ahead and drive one of these guys. Well, the first thing you notice is the quiet and not just the quiet, but the overall lack of sound. You don't have the engine revving and running and vibrating. You don't have gearbox with its vibration and harshness. You also don't have the gear changes that are constantly giving you inputs as phases of the engine's operation change. All those things add up and you don't realize how distracting and how noisy in the broad sense a combustion car is. When that all goes away, the electric vehicle like this one feels very nimble, very speedy and very effortless. On the down side, I find them always second-guessing the way I'm using the car because I'm concerned about remaining state of charge. So, you drive in a very, shall we say, previous owner kind of way, which means you're doing good things for your range but not necessarily good things for traffic flow, you know. I also was driving earlier today. It was kind of cold but I didn't turn the heater on 'cause I know that takes electricity to heat the fluid that goes into the heater radiator. I said, "no, don't wanna risk it." You make friends everywhere you go in this i-MiEV I find partly because the car is cute. That chubby chipmunk look in the front is kind of a heart-melter. At the same time, people do think it's awfully small even though I don't think it's that small. It's a hell of a lot bigger than a Smart Fortwo, but it does print very sort of petite and it prints very narrow too. And generally speaking, aside from the power trade and the way that you behave to accommodate it, it's like driving, what, a Honda Fit. It feels like a very similar kind of car. Okay, let's price this little Mitsu i-MiEV as well as we can. I love right-hand drive. Born to be a male carrier. Okay. About $30,000 is the word, very roughly for arrival in maybe Q4 of 2011, a full year after. Let's see the Nissan Leaf. But if that is the price and if the $7500 tax credit from the Feds is still in place, we have a low $20,000 car here that is simply fun to drive and gets a great public reaction. Folks think it's really cute, wanna scoop it up and take it home and give it a hot bath and a meal. If this is all true, Mitsubishi might have a hit on their hands. Now if that little electric chipmunk didn't sate your appetite for EV's, keep on eye on cnettv.com for our upcoming video on the Nissan Leaf, which is coming to market soon. It's pretty impressive. Okay, folks, it's time to take a break. But come right back to fight out how take your iPhone 3G back to the way it was: 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. I'm Brian Cooley. Continuing on with the good. The end of summer still aways off, but for some parents, the start of another school year can't come soon enough whether they've got wide-eyed freshman or 70-year seniors, I've got a few tech suggestions for how to start the semester off right. If you can't begin to help your kid pick back-to-school close, please don't! But give me a few minutes and I can probably make you less than useless when it comes to picking back-to-school tech. I'm Brian Cooley with the Top 5 best back-to-school tech products according to out editors here at CNET. Starting with No. 5: Audioengine 5. Yeah. I had a big WTF bubble over head too until I checked out the review. These are great sounding powered speakers. Plus, they have 2 inputs to their booming 50-watt per channel amp. A USB port for charging your portable while it place through one of those inputs. Just overall a great marriage of PC speakers and stereo speakers and also a great marriage of dorms and loud music. No. 4, the Sony PlayStation 3. Now, you may think of these as the ultimate screw-off device, but, well, it is. The console itself is now slimmer. Games are in high def. Blu-ray movies since the GetGo and now adding Netflix streaming often in HD. Approach this guy as reverse psychology. Your kids might get so sick of great entertainment that homework will be a refreshing change. No. 3, the Barnes & Noble Nook. Now, in the time it will take for the iPod to kill off this entire category, we think the Nook can earned off its low price. The Wi-Fi only version is under a 150 bucks has that cool color LCD for navigating, has expandable storage, a changeable battery, generous book loading ability, and it handles PDF's and Epub docs, which at least makes it possible for school materials. No. 2, the iPhone 4 is not our pick. No. We give the editor's choice to the competing HTC Droid Incredible. It's fast in every way on a great network, does a great job with that Android operating system, which is hot as a pistol these days, and has an 8 megapixel camera and a bigger screen on than the iPhone, and it doesn't have the cloud of funky antenna issues blooming over its head. Before we get to our No. 1 top tech product for back-to-school, a lot of folks e-mail us here asking how the folks at CNET: Editors and others got our job at CNET. What did we study? What we did is we just draw a poll and here's what we found out: English is number 1. This proving at least for the time being that you can't get a job after that. Tied with that was journalism and communications, then comes a big middle section of marketing degrees, business administration, drama, and musical theater that explains Brian Tong, and art, then you get to computer science butting up against religious studies. Okay, now time to reveal our No. 1 tech product for back-to-school: It's Apple's iPod. Now, first the bad news: Your kid will be late to every class because they'll constantly be stopped by people who wanna look at the iPod, touch it and asking them how they like it. It just hasn't lost it mojo yet. Now, the good news is the iPod is a Netbook, an eReader, a gaming device, a photo frame, and a large screen iPod, music and video all at once. Team that up with Apple's slick Bluetooth keyboard and you can really get some serious work down on it, that's the good news. For the full details on these topnotch tech products for back-to-school, go to backtoschool.cnet.com. I'm Brian Cooley. Thanks for joining us for this Top 5. Also, be sure check out Brian Tong's favorite back-to-school Smart Phone apps on his latest episode of, "Tap That Up." That's up right now at cnettv.com. Now, let's move on to the bad. When Apple announced the iPhone 4 and its new operating system, iOS 4, the company was very upfront about the fact that this new operating system wouldn't give iPhone 3G users all the same benefits of users of the later models. Naturally, that didn't stop many 3G users from installing the upgrade, anyway and quickly regretting it. That's where BT comes to the rescue and shows you how to go back to the way it was. -A lot of you iPhone 3G owners may have upgraded from the latest iOS 4, but if you aren't really happy because your phone seems more sluggish or you aren't getting the benefit of Multitasking in anyways, you probably wish you could go back. I'm Brian Tong from cnet.com and I'll show you how to downgrade your iPhone 3G back to iPhone OS 3.1.3. Now, big thanks to Lifehacker for showing me how to complete the downgrade process. This method has worked consistently for iPhone 3G users, but is always proceed with caution. Now, to get started, we'll need to have a few things in place. First up, get the Restore file for iPhone OS 3.1.3. Now, it still might be on your computer's hard drive from previous updates, so on a Mac, look for it here. And for Window users, you can find it at this location on your hard drive. If you can't find it, head on over to this iClarified's website where all the software updates have been archived and look for this specific file. You'll need one more piece of software called RecBoot, it's Mac and Windows compatible and you can download it from this location. It's a utility that will help us finish the downgrade process. Alright, let's get to it. The first thing you wanna to do is connect your phone to your computer and then power it down by holding the "Power/Sleep button" and sliding to "Power Off." Once its off, hold the power button and the home button together for 10 seconds, then remove---- jest your finger from the power button and remain holding down just the "home button" for 10 more seconds. This will put the phone into Device Firmware Update mode. Now, I you did it correctly, iTunes will show a prompt that it sees a phone in recovery mode and you can press "OK." You'll see your phone in the devices sidebar in iTunes and make sure you click on it. Then to initiate the downgrade process on a Mac, hold the "Option key" on your keyboard and press the restore button with your mouse. For Windows users, hold down the "Shift button" while you click "Restore." Now you'll have to locate the iPhone OS 3.1.3 firmware file and select it as the one you want to restore your phone with. The restore process will start and it takes about 10 minutes. Once it's done, you'll probably see an error message like this one, and your phone will show a "Connect to iTunes Screen," but don't worry guys this is totally normal. Now, open up the RecBoot app we downloaded and click "Exit Recovery Mode." You're gonna wanna wait a few seconds and your phone will get out of "Recovery Mode," and will now be ready to sync with iTunes with the previous iPhone OS 3.1.3 installed. Now, I wanna emphasize this is specifically for the iPhone 3G, this does not involve any Jailbreaking, and you might have different results, but this worked for us. But that's how you downgrade your iPhone 3G from iOS 4 to OS 3.1.3. Use it wisely! -Okay, all and all, not a terribly hard fix, but it's a shame folks have to do it at all. Maybe Apply can just some install some kind of master undo button on iTunes. And now it's time for this week's bottom line. With so many different flavors of Droid phones out there now, picking the right one can be a vexing proposition. So let's make it even worse. Let's fit 2 Droid phones against one another in the price fight ring to see which one is the winner. Now, the Droid Incredible has a one-and-one price record so far, and BT is back to show us how it's taxed up against its cocky new cousin, the Droid X. -What's up Price Fight fans? I'm Brian Tong and we have another blockbuster battle for you. It's a price fight phone show between the HTC Droid Incredible and the Motorola Droid X. Our judges for this fight, our Senior Editor Bonnie Boom-Boom Cha, Senior Associate Editor Nicole Ice-Cold Lee, and you know who, all-night-long Tong. We'll take all 3 judges' blind scores and average them out to the nearest tens in each round. The final Price Fight score would be an average of all rounds using the same decimal system. Get ready for some Droid-on-Droid action. First round is Sexiness and Durability. The Droid Incredible has a compact and slender profile that fits in your hand. Its rubberized surface can take a beating and even if the ladies like the topographic design, I'm still not a fan of the triple-layer bootie. Now, the Droid X has a whopping 4.3-inch screen for its main attraction, but this phone is large. It's not comfortable to hold and it's even taller and less pocket-friendly than another Price Fight favorite, the Evil 4G. Translation: This thing is huge. The Incredible takes this round with a 4.3 and the Droid X gets a 3.7. Next round is Controls and User Interface. The Incredible features HTC's Sense UI and it's hands-down our favorite flavor of Android with its elegance and customizations and really makes Android less intimidating to newbies even with its learning curve. Nicole and Bonnie didn't like the optical joystick, but it doesn't take away from the device for me. The Droid X did get some love here for its raw physical navigation buttons and the super hot swipe keyboard option built-in. But the MotoBlur interface isn't as polished as the Sense UI, and why did they decide to swap the home and menu buttons that are pretty much the same on all flagship Android phones? This one is close, but the Incredible just gets the edge with a 4 and the Droid X gets a 3.7. So, after averaging the 2 rounds, the Incredible leads by half a point, but there's plenty of fight left. Round 3 is Features. These phones are almost identical under the hood with 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. They bring all of Android's goodies like voice search (batting cages), GPS' turn-by-turn directions, and voice-to-text. -What's shakin' bacon? -But the Droid X is the new kid on the block and being able to use it as a mobile hotspot and hook it up to a TV with its HCMI out, put it on top. The Droid X takes its first round with a 4.7 and the Incredible gets a 4. Next round is Web Browsing and Multimedia. When it comes to web browsing and multimedia, these guys are almost carbon copy clones of each other. Browsing is pretty smooth on both phones and they feature multiple windows and bookmark previews. Now, the Incredible features HTC's Sense UI media player which is elegant and cleaner compared to the Droid X's standard player, which really needs some help. But forget about all of that. The Droid X's 4.3-inch screen enhances every experience by making web surfing, looking at photos, and watching movies that much better. X marks the spot and the Droid X gets a perfect 5 and the Incredible gets 4. So, after averaging 4 rounds, the Droid X has gained control, leading by two-tenths of a point, but this is still anyone's fight. The final round that decides it all is "Call Quality and Performance." We've tested these phones in different environments from New York City to the Northern California suburbs and San Francisco. The Incredible's call quality was mixed when Nicole and I experienced more clicks and buzz compared to the Droid X. Bonnie had a signal with no flaws and it was pristine in the NYC, but I've heard better phones from Verizon. Now, we were also able to squeeze out a solid 5 and a half hours of battery use when talking over 3G and that is impressive. Now, the Droid X was equally as good in New York for Bonnie with excellent call quality, but Nicole and I still heard a few pops and breaks over here. Our labs were able to pump out 7 and a half hours of talk time on the Droid X, and that's even more impressive. Performance is king and in the final round, the Droid X gets a 4.7 and the Incredible gets a 4. So let's average out all 5 rounds and in a Price Fight where the Incredible took the early lead, the Droid X kept chipping away and takes this battle 4.4 to 4.1 and is your Price Fight winner. Both of these phones are great picks for Verizon, but in this case, size and features matter. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching. We'll catch you guys next time on another Price Fight. -I'll get you some ice for that hand, BT. The bottom line this week, this time, bigger is better: bigger screen, bigger battery, bigger bang for your buck. Of course, you may have to go to your teller and get some bigger pockets sewn on to your clothes. Well, that's our show for this week everybody. Molly is back next week with an all-new Tech Review. Until then. Fresh video comes out of the oven every day at cnettv.com. Go taste it. See you next time. Thanks for watching.