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CNET Tech Review
Must-see Google TVThis week on the CNET Tech Review: the Logitech Revue puts Google on your TV; new phones unveiled at CTIA Fall 2010; and new cars and concepts from the Paris Motor Show.
-This week on the CNET Tech Review, Google TV is ready for prime time, a whole slew of new phones from CTIA, the best and worst from the Paris Motor Show, and Samsung makes the case for adopting 3D TV. It's all coming up right now. Hi, everyone, I'm Brian Tong and welcome to the CNET Tech review where we collect our hottest videos of the week and tell you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech and offer some unique tech wisdom in the form of the Bottom Line. Let's start off with the good. Back in May, Google announced something called Google TV, promising they've combined everything we love about TV and the internet. This week, the Google TV had its premiere via a new settop box called the Logitech Revue and we were on hand for its debut. -So the Logitech Revue with Google TV brings together the very best content from the web, from broadcast, from your apps, from your personal media, it brings all of this content together and presents it in one unified interface on the very best screen in your house. Now, I can bring down that search on top of anything, apps, TV, home screen, it doesn't matter. It's universally available, and I can just search for whatever it is that I wanna watch, so for example I happen to like the show Top Gear, I'm gonna search for that. Now, notice, as I type that in, how we see a range of different results, right? These are just the instant results that happen immediately for us. Notice that the first one is from DVR recording so that's what I have on my dish box. The second one is from YouTube, right, so that's online, that's web content. Then I can do a deep search of all-- like an exhaustive search of all the content that's available everywhere online. I have Top Gear here, it looks like it's coming up on BBC at 6 o'clock today so I can record that if I want to. Let's start with the YouTube link, so I'm gonna click on that. Chrome browser pops up and I'm instantly taken to YouTube, right? I'm now watching this video. I have the full power of the web at my disposal on my TV, right? I can watch it in HD. I can watch it in full screen. This time, let's choose the DVR recordings. I'm instantly taken to my DVR recordings. There they are, so I'm gonna press the dual view mode button and you can see that my DVR or my live content is now on the bottom right and what I have behind that is a browser, so if I search again for Top Gear, look on the results, and let's go to the site so I can find out some more information, and there you have it. We're watching TV and we're finding out more information about the show. Now, of course, Revue comes preloaded with a lot of apps, a lot of great apps that can pull in all kinds of great content for us, so let's take a look at some of these, so we have CNBC. We have the Gallery so we can have pictures not only on our phones, in our PCs, but we can have those shared with our TV as well where they're best viewed. We have Chrome, of course, where we can go to any site online. We have the Help Assistant in case we need a little extra assistance. We have the Media Player and Vid and we're gonna show you both of these in just a second. We have Napster, NBA Game Time, Netflix, Pandora, Amazon, right, and the list goes on. -So, now, with Logitech TV cam that we're introducing today, in Logitech Revue, in Logitech Vid HD, on Google TV, we're able to bring a more comfortable video calling experience to your living room. Let me show you what the experience looks like. -We have amazing picture quality, we can zoom and show you the home. Incredible, it is clear, it is crisp, and the technology couldn't be better, so what I'm hoping to be-- -And you can see I can zoom in, and you can zoom and pan and go through the entire room or get back to our home screen and we also could just play around, I know. It's a fantastic wide angle so you can cover most of the room. -In addition to Logitech, Google has also partnered with Sony to offer TV sets with Google TV built in. Sony has a press event scheduled for early next week so be sure to check out CNET.com for our coverage and reviews. In other product announcement news, cellphone manufacturers gathered at the fall installment of the CTIA Conference here in San Francisco this week to show off some new handsets. Our crack team of reviews editors trekked almost two whole blocks down to Moscone Center to check out these new phones first hand. Here's a sampling of what they found. -Hi, I'm Kent German, senior editor at CNET.com. I'm here at CTIA Fall 2010 in San Francisco. I wanna show you the Motorola Defy. It is one of the very best really rugged Android phones. Motorola actually showed a video where people were throwing it in the pool, they were using it in water, and it kept on ticking so it does have a bit of a sturdy feel, does have a soft touch material on the backside. Does have a little rubber siding so it feels pretty solid. Little lighter than I've experienced from a lot of rugged phones but still think it should stand up to a lot of bumps and bruises. Pretty small, display actually, it's not the biggest phone around, but Motorola says that it's designed for just real usability, functionality. It's kind of a low-end as far as features go. It is Android 2.1. It has a 5-megapixel camera. It has all the usual Android features you're gonna look for so it has the virtual keyboard. There's no physical keyboard. Normal phone dialer so pretty standard as far as features go but it just has that nice rugged design. It does feel a little different. It is gonna be out pretty soon. Again, that's with T-Mobile and we'll hopefully get a review model very quickly so we can take a further look. -Hi, this is Jessica Dolcourt, senior associate editor for CNET.com. I'm here at CTIA Fall 2010 taking a first look at the Samsung Transform for Sprint. This is an Android smartphone running Android 2.1, the operating system. It is a touchscreen phone here, pretty nice touchscreen. It's got a full slideout QWERTY keyboard, front-facing VGA camera, 3.5-megapixel camera on the back with a flash. One of the interesting things about this phone is that it is one of three that will have the new Sprint id sort of theme pack. It's a content package that you can access with different pre-configurations, possibly for e-mail, theme, skins, widgets, things like that. There will be 13 of these content packs launching with the phone. The Transform will be available on October 10th in Sprint retail stores and online. It'll cost $149.99 minus $100 mail-in rebate. I'm Jessica Dolcourt from CNET, this is your first look at the Samsung Transform. -I'm Nicole Lee, senior associate editor for CNET.com and this is the first look at the Motorola Flipout for AT&T. On the front, there is a very small and square, 2.1-inch display, but it flips out, as the name suggests, to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. Underneath that, you do get the very small and tiny little navigation pad right here as well. On the top here is the screen lock key as well as the end key. You also get a 3.5-mm headset jack. On the back is the 3.1-megapixel camera lens. The Motorola Flipout comes with Android 2.1 with MOTOBLUR. That is the new MOTOBLUR with all the Motorola widgets that includes the Facebook widget, other social networking widgets, and so forth. Features of the phone are fairly basic. They include the usual Android WebKit browser. You also get stereo Bluetooth on here, Wi-Fi, GPS, and AT&T's 3G network. Pricing is still unknown but it will be available before the holiday season this year. -I've got the Casio G'zOne Ravine. This is a new phone from Verizon. It is a rugged phone built to military specifications. That means it is shockproof. It's water resistant and it's also dust proof. You can see that it's got a very flat back and kind of like a rubberized feel around it so that you can wear it if you're in an industrial environment wearing gloves. It is a flip phone. It does have 3G capabilities as well. It's got this very spacious keyboard with some spaces between the keys and the keys are domed. They almost have a triangular peak on them so that you can be able to press them pretty easily, again, if you're wearing gloves. What you'll see on this phone, like all the other phones in this line, is support for push-to-talk so it's like a walkie-talkie feature. There is also on this a standard micro USB charging port. On the back, you'll find a 3.2-megapixel camera with a flash and this phone will be available very soon for $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. -Hi, I'm Kent German, senior editor for CNET.com. I'm here at CTIA Fall 2010 in San Francisco and I wanna show you the HTC Desire HD. This is more or less an international version of the HTC Evo 4G so it's gonna be available in Europe and Asia. You can probably get it unlocked here in the US if you like but it's not available with a US carrier. On the whole, though, it does-- you see a little bit of that Evo's design. It's about the same size for it. It's got a 4.3-inch screen. It's got a similar profile. You won't find that kickstand in the back like we saw on that Sprint phone, but you do have the protruding camera lens and then some of the panels are different. You can remove this and the SIM card's there. You can remove this side and the battery pops up. It does have a nice feeling in the hand. Yeah, some people might find the phone a bit big. I don't necessarily mind that 'cause I like that big touchscreen that is very colorful. It's very bright. You get up to seven home screens so you can customize those as you wish with the normal Android fashion. This is running the latest version of HTC Sense, so, that of course is HTC's interface. It's over Android a little bit. It doesn't really interfere with Android too much, it doesn't drill down to the menus and really change how they look but it is a nice way to give a little of a customization to the phone. Overall, the phone does have most of the Android features you'd expect. It's gonna have Bluetooth, it's gonna have productivity features, all the Google applications, GPS. It does have the 8-megapixel camera. Again, there's that camera lens and there's a flash next to it. The Desire HD also runs Froyo, that's the latest version of Android OS so that's Android 2.2. So pretty powerful phone built in. As I said, it's similar to the HTC Evo 4G, but with a few refinements and this phone is primarily available outside the United States. I'm Kent German and this is the HTC Desire HD. -As usual, you can find our complete coverage of these phones and many more at, you guessed it, CNET.com. Next up, we're off to France for the 2010 Paris Motor Show to survey some of the new production models, concept cars, even some electric scooters. Here are some of the headlights-- I mean, highlights. -Not sure there's been a Lamborghini this striking since the original Countach. Now, not so much is it a styling breakthrough as it is an interpretation breakthrough, 'cause this car has a carbon fiber shell, and underneath, a carbon fiber tub which is forged, not laminated as is typical with that material. That technique was developed in concert with Callaway, the golf club folks, and not just for looks, by the way. Lamborghini says the future of supercars is weight control, not really power improvement. This concept weighs just 2200 pounds and would be fitted with the company's existing 570-horsepower V10. That's a power to weight ratio of around 3.8 pounds per horse. For a comparison, a current Murcielago saddles each horse with over 6 pounds, about a 45% difference. Yes, weight reduction could be the next big thing in going faster. -You can stand right next to this car and maybe not know it's a Jag. Wow. It's the C-X-75 Concept, that's Concept with a capital C. This one is way out there. It's conceived as an electric super coupe. 778 horsepower and, get this, 1178 foot pounds of torque, going out to motors that live at each wheel. That's the combined total. It'll get you to 205 miles an hour or 60 in 3-1/2 seconds. What's really fast I think is where the electricity comes from. A pair of turbines, basically little jet engines in the back, but not pushing the car like a plane. Instead, spinning generators at really high RPMs to create a lot of volts. In fact, this car's track mode would power those 4 in-wheel electric motors directly, not via the battery, because those turbines can spin those generators so hard. I just wanna hear what that would sound like. In more sober conditions, Jaguar imagines this car would have an electric driving range of 560 miles. It's a range extender architecture, kinda like a Chevy Volt-- well, sort of. Don't look for this one in showrooms anytime soon but Jag is working on a hybrid that will be for sale. -The new and very Euro Ford Focus coming to the US in early 2011, and among its variants, down the road, will be this hot rod version, the Focus ST. It just debuted at Paris 2010. A 2-liter 4 under the hood but with twin turbos and direct injection. That's Ford's EcoBoost combo giving it 250 horsepower and 266 foot pounds of torque. One gearbox, a six-speed manual. Of course, the suspensions' been hotted up for Ford's RS team. The rear end has all the usual stuff, the wing, the airflow diffuser, center ported exhaust, all part of current tuner thinking. On all four corners, 19-inch wheels. Inside, Recaro seats and a pod of additional gauges for boost, oil temp, and pressure. That completes the story. This guy doesn't hit showrooms 'til early 2012, but finally our Focus will get the guts the rest of the world's been enjoying. -Bit of a counterintuitive trend at the Paris Auto Show was the big presence of electric scooters. First, here's the MINI Scooter E, a concept from MINI that has a smartphone dock which functions as the way you turn it on, the GPS nav, the media center, the handsfree communications rig 'cause smartphones do all that. It will also let you know when other Scooter E drivers are near you, even flash its lights at them when you pass. Three styling versions have been mocked up, all distinctly retro in that MINI way. Expect 50 or 60 miles on a charge that takes maybe 4 hours to do. Over at Smart, they, too, were on the e-scooter bandwagon with this concept. It looks more stylish than funky. Could be branded as the ForOne when it comes out. Get it? Also a concept, though, it's envisioned as doing 62 miles on a charge, but like the MINI, it won't go highway speeds. This is an around-city vehicle. The Smart would have blind spot detection, solar cells for trickle charging, and even an airbag. And if you think these two companies are nuts, know that Renault, Honda, Peugeot are among the other companies that have e-scooters planned as well. -Audi doesn't have a lot of single digit model numbers left after the Paris debut of the A7. Slotted more near the 8 than the 6, it's a big, elegant, four-door coupe hatchback that eschews the rather pudgy look of the Mercedes CLS or Porsche Panamera. It has a tautness more in line with an Aston Rapide, though not quite. We'll see a supercharged V6 version right off the bat and almost certainly a V8-powered S7 version down the road. All-wheel drive will be an option, of course, it's an Audi. Automatic gearbox or a seven-speed dual clutch. Look for the latest in Audi's excellent MMI interface, Bose audio at bass, an egregiously priced B&O audio rig optionally. Possible tech toys in the US could include a head-up display and mobile Wi-Fi. Pricing starts at an equivalent of about $67,000 in Europe but that pricing is still TBD for the US where it doesn't hit 'til mid-2011. -Not all the cars rolled out at Paris could be winners, though. We'll have more of the duds later in the show, but right now, it's time to take a break. We'll be back with more CNET 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 on in the good, if you're not ready to jump on the Google TV bandwagon but still want access to tons of web content on your TV, take a look at this new series of plasma screens from Samsung. -Hi there, David Katzmaier here from CNET.com and this is the Samsung PNC8000 series video review. This is the 50-inch version of the series. There's also a 58- and a 63-inch version and we expect similar picture quality from all sizes so this review will apply to all of them. This is Samsung's flagship plasma TV for 2010. That means it has all the features that the company can offer and that's quite a few but we'll talk about that in a little bit. The styling here is first thing on the menu. You can see the TV is not your standard glossy black. Around the edge of the frame, it's actually a grayer color, relatively light gray with kind of a transparent border around the edge here and equal width on all sides. We really like the look of this TV. It's a very sleek look. There's a little bit of accent provided here by the stainless steel top stand and, of course, it does swivel. That feature set does include 3D compatibility meaning if you connect a 3D compatible device and 3D content and watch through 3D glasses, you can enjoy third-dimension television on this TV. The TV also converts 2D content to 3D which isn't found on all 3D TVs available. It does allow you to play around with a couple of the settings with 3D as well so, all told, the 3D feature set on this TV is as good as it gets, although it does not include a free pair of glasses. Another prominent feature on the Samsung is the App Suite. If you connect the Internet to this TV via wire or an optional dongle for Wi-Fi, you can get access to a whole bunch of apps. Samsung currently has the most apps of any TV provider, that includes Netflix and Hulu Plus in addition to YouTube and a whole bunch of other video streaming apps. There's also a separate Yahoo! widget section that can be a little confusing because there's apps and widgets on this TV. Widgets will include Facebook and there's also a Facebook app so, again, if you want your Facebook, you can get it in two ways on this set. We did like the apps implementation overall, however, and it's nice to see all that content. Samsung does have a 3D streaming video content app, for example, that allows it to show video previews and stuff like that so we look forward to seeing what else the platform can bring. More features include some of the best adjustability we've seen on any TV. That includes a ten-point grayscale adjustment, gamma and color management system. You can also play around with dejudder on this TV. It's the only plasma on the market with dejudder processing. That's not really a good thing in our opinion but if you want to, you can engage the dejudder in a couple of presets and see how smooth the picture looks. If you turn off dejudder, however, you'll find that the Samsung is one of the best performing TVs on the market. We really did appreciate its deep black levels, although they're not quite as deep as some of the other TVs. It does have excellent color and the video processing, very good. You can actually get it to handle 1080p24 content correctly, again, if you turn off dejudder. Another highlight on the Samsung is its excellent bright room capabilities. It will preserve black levels a lot better under the lights than most plasma TVs. It also reduces reflections relatively well, although all things considered, it's not as good as a matte-screened LCD for a bright room. And, of course, like any plasma, it beats LCDs in terms of uniformity and being able to view the picture from off angle. Finally, in terms of 3D performance, the Samsung was one of the best we've seen so far. It had very little crosstalk compared to a lot of the LCD models this year and color accuracy was quite good in the presets and, of course, you can adjust a lot of the picture parameters in 3D which is really nice. There's also four HDMI inputs on the back panel and one component video input. That's a little bit less analog connectivity than most TVs in this price range. There's also a pair of USB inputs on the back. It's nice to have the second one in case you use one for a Wi-Fi dongle. That's a quick look at the Samsung PNC8000 series and I'm David Katzmaier. -Katzmaier actually called the Samsung "the second best TV of the year" and I bet they could have had a shot at being first if they had gone ahead and thrown in a pair of 3D glasses or two, come on Samsung. Now are you guys ready for some more cars? Then get ready to dig into the bad. Let's return to the Paris Motor Show for a handful of cars that really weren't anything to write home about. -If Nissan's Leaf and Cube hooked up for a night, this might be the outcome, the Town Pod Concept Electric Vehicle. It's for the entrepreneur, Nissan says, with a highly configurable interior for whatever kind of entrepreneuring you do. You configure various modules around the car via these rubbery pucks that are molded for different tasks. One could hold your iPhone, another one could be a hook for your bag, a couple of them could support a little desk in the corner. Good luck getting that by federal safety regulators, and Nissan hopes a vibrant aftermarket would arise making such pucks and presumably paying Nissan some sort of license fee. Everybody taking a page from Apple's playbook these days. Of course, those dual touchscreens are envisioned as communicating with the driver's PDA, says Nissan. I hope they meant smartphone, and all that, frankly, sounds a lot like a feature already coming on Ford Sync. -Okay, this one, I'm not sure whether to drive or put it on and lace it up. It's the Kia POP, a city car concept that's one of the big eyeball grabbers of the 2010 Paris Show. It's a three-seater, the sort of thing concept cars can get away with, via one curvy purple bench seat that lives under a very cool glass roof which is also the windshield. It's electric because that's the theme at Paris this year. Has the face of an octopus, maybe that's just me. It's only a tiny bit larger than a Smart ForTwo so you could make room for it in the garage or in a closet. -VW says this new European Passat isn't necessarily our new Passat, but it might be. They're being cagey since reaction to this design has been real lukewarm. It picks up a lot of the styling cues of the newly redone Jetta which has been very heavily mainstream. Interior restyled as well, nice looking, but the big idea for VW in the US going forward is to do battle with Camry and Accord, so they've also released sketches of what could be a different Passat for the US market which they just called the new midsized sedan for now. Whatever becomes the new Passat for the US, it's expected to start closer to $20,000, not around the current $27,000. Engines will include a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder, we know that one; a V6, we know that one; and a 2-liter TDI, we know that one. The coolest piece of tech, easy open trunk, with your arms full of stuff but the key in your pocket, just waggle your foot under the bumper and the trunk pops open. -Way to push the envelope there, VW. The next thing you know, they'll be offering a built-in vase for flowers or something. Oh, yeah, you guys already did that, didn't you? Let's just move along to the Bottom Line. Remember about 20 minutes ago when we had the unveiling of the Logitech Revue box with Google TV? Well, Matt Moskovciak got a sneak peek at the box and here he is with a first look. - Hi, I'm Matthew Moskovciak, senior associate editor at CNET.com and we're here with the Logitech Revue with Google TV. Now this is a settop box that you're gonna put in your home theater system. It costs about $300 and it's coming out in October and the idea is you're gonna bring the functionality of Google into your living room. If you have content that you wanna watch that's on the web or that you have content that's on your DVR, you're gonna be able to bring up the Google Search Bar and find whatever you want to watch. The system consists of a settop box that you put under your TV. It has an HDMI input for connecting, say, a cable or a satellite box and it also has an HDMI output which you connect to your TV. Now, with a system like this, it all comes down to control. There are three different ways that you can control the Logitech Revue. Now it comes with an RF-based keyboard and what you have is you have a full keyboard like you have with your computer so you can search Google but you also have a touchpad for navigating the screen like you would on a browser and you have remote-based controls as if you were controlling a TV so you have pause, play, channel up, channel down, and volume. If the keyboard is too big, there's also a mini controller that's sold separately for $130 and it basically just shrinks down the full-sized keyboard into something more compact. Now, if you have an Android-based smartphone or an iPhone, there's also an app so you can just take out your phone and you won't have to deal with, say, the bulky keyboard and you can do all the same functionality right from your phone. Another cool thing you can do with your smartphone is if, say, you're watching a YouTube clip, you can push it to the TV and watch it on your big screen instead of watching it on your phone. Now the Logitech Revue with Google TV has an extensive set of content that you can access. You're gonna be able to bring up your EPG from your cable box or satellite box and you're gonna be able to access services like Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, and, in the future, you'll even be able to take Android-based apps and look at them on your TV. Now, the big question a lot of people are gonna be asking is will Hulu work on Google TV, and the answer is not right away. That's something that could change in the future, but right now, you're not gonna be able to access some of the free Hulu content that you enjoy on your laptop. Finally, like a lot of other network streaming boxes, it also has the ability to pull content from your PC so if you have music stored on a PC with a DLNA server, you're gonna be able to stream your music collection, your photos, and even video to the Google TV and that's all searchable from that search bar as well. Now, we can access content from a cable or satellite box and it can also control it as the Logitech Revue has built-in IR blasters so it's gonna be able to control other devices just as if you had, say, a Harmony Universal Remote. Altogether, in our quick demo with the Logitech Revue with Google TV, it feels like it has a lot more content than, say, the just recently released Apple TV so, while it does cost more, if you're someone that watches a lot of web video and you just want an all-in-one solution, this is something to look forward to and we're eager to get our hands on a review sample. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET.com and this is the Logitech Revue with Google TV. -The Bottom Line this week, don't cut that cable just yet. Now, even though Google TV brings a lot of content from the internet to your TV, you'll get even more out of it when you use it in conjunction with your cable box and DVR. And if the $300 price tag seems a little steep, hey, at least you get access to CNET videos, and that's gotta be worth something, right? Okay, folks. It's time for me to go but join us next week when we'll have our first look at the long-awaited Windows 7 phone and, of course, the Sony Internet TV with Google TV built in. Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at CNETtv.com. See you next time and thanks for watching.