CNET Tech Review
Securing your phone and saving moneyThis week on the CNET Tech Review: how to keep your phone from tracking your movements; make your Android screen lock more secure; a bargain-price Asus Ultrabook; and a sub-$100 surround-sound system.
-This week on the CNET Tech Review, Nokia unveils its first windows phone handsets, our favorite high tech cars for drivers on a budget, the Asus ZenBook might make you forget it's not a Mac, and is you smarphone spying on you, Brian Cooley has the answer. 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 you what's good and what's bad in the world of the tech plus offer our own unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. Let's start things off with the good. Nokia announced its first 2 Windows phone handsets on Wednesday, the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710. The Lumia 800 though is the phone that Microsoft and Nokia are calling the first real Windows phone. It's due to hit stores in Europe some time in November, but Nicole Lee has one for you to see right now. -I'm Nicole Lee, senior associate editor for CNET.com and this is a first look at the Nokia Lumia 800, one of Nokia's first Windows phone devices with the latest Windows phone 7.5 Mango Operating system. It's made out of a Unibody polycarbonate material. On the front here is a curve 3.7-inch WVGA AMOLED clear black display and that means it has a full rising filter to make look good under bright sunlight. The display is made out of gorilla glass, so it's scratch resistant and it's also slightly curve to make it easier to swipe between screens. On the front here, underneath the display, you get the widows phone controls like back button, the windows button as well as the search function. On side here, you do get the volume rocker, the power button as well as camera button. On the top here is a headset jack as well as a little micro USB port. On the back here is an 8-megapixel camera lens with an LED flash. The 8-megapixel camera can record a 720 HD video. It also has a Carl Zeiss lens. The Nokia Lumia 800 is powered by 1.4 gigahertz single core processor along with 512 megabytes of processor memory. It has 16 gigabytes internal storage. Because of its Unibody design, it does not have a removable battery, but you can to a Nokia store or a carrier store to have that replaced. It has the usual features like Wi-Fi GPS and more. It is a quad band GSM phone, so it can be used internationally. The Nokia Lumia 800 also comes support with a variety of Nokia services like Nokia Drive, which is Nokia's turn by turn navigation system; Nokia music, which is Nokia's music store; and Nokia Mix Radio, which is Nokia's streaming radio service. The Nokia Lumia 800 will be available in cyan, magenta, and black. It will be available for $585 without a contract. I'm Nicole Lee and this has been the first look at the Nokia Lumia 800. -It's still unclear whether the Lumia 800 will ever make its way to the use, but Nokia plans to offer a whole slew of windows phone phones to America in early 2012, and be sure to check out the step down model, the Lumia 710 over at cnettv.com. Up next, we've got a couple of products that offer big ticket features at par in prices. First, Scott Stein shows us an Ultrabook Laptop that's even cheaper than MacBook Air followed by Matt Moskovciak with the surround sound speaker system for less than 100 bucks. - I'm Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET.com and if you are a Windows user who has been envying the MacBook Air. There is no better time for you than the present because thanks to Intel's term Ultrabook. There are ton laptops that are now coming out that are thin, that are light and look a lot like the MacBook Air. One of the most notable and one of the most MacBook Air-like is the Asus Zenbook. Well, here it is in this nice little padded envelope. This actually comes with the ZenBook. Unlike MacBook Air, it has a little pouch that's kind of attractive and you open it up and sure enough, here is the aluminum ZenBook and it certainly looks like a MacBook Air in terms of its Unibody aluminum design. There's a little bit of a radial design here that eye catching light shimmering effect on the back lid and a little bit of a darker metal, brushed metal on the back. It's a lot of the same feel, a tiny bit thicker and a little bit heavier, but really comfortable and very sturdy to hold. In fact, the Asus ZenBook, the UX31, which is the 13-inch version comes in at a lower price than the MacBook Air, about $200 less for the same internal components. The UX31E-DH52, it's not very Zen-like name, but that's the name of this particular version, is 1099 and comes with a 128 gigabyte SSD drive and 4 gigs of ram and that matches what you're gonna see on the 1299 MacBook Air. So, it's a pretty good value. And into that, this comes with a USB 3.0 port and HDMI, although take note, there is a micro HDMI port. You're going to need a converter cable to be able to plug that into your TV, but it does have VGA dongle and an Ethernet dongle that connects with USB that comes in the box. The Zenbook is named probably to create a sense of Zen composure and simplicity in a laptop. This does have pretty fast boot time and a very fast weak up from sleep, about 2 seconds, which is very competitive with the McBook Air, But we didn't really find that keyboard or that track pad to be very Zen-like. In fact, we found ourselves missing a lot of key types when using this slightly mushy keyboard and the trackpad uses syntelics instead of synaptics, which means in our experience we found the trackpad to be a little more finicky and little hard to pull off multi touch commands with, but it is a very large trackpad and equals the McBook Air in its size and its click ability, but if you're an AB [unk], you will appreciate the fact that this 13-inch screen has a 1600 x 900 resolution that's a lot more resolution for your pixel dollar than the 1366 x 768 that you're gonna see on most 13-inch laptops and the [unk] in design, speaker system and audio in this ZenBook laptop does live up to the height it sounds a lot better than similar ultraslim laptops that's not gonna blow you away like some super high end desktop replacement, but it's great for listening to music and to movies. If you wanna pay more for your ZenBook, you can pay as much as 1449, which is going to give a Core i7 processor and 256 gigabyte of storage that's still less than you would pay for the equivalent MacBook Air at its high end. Now, if you have great sound and nice screen resolution and you can give up a keyboard and trackpad that maybe are little bit disappointing and a battery life that is still okay, but doesn't perform as well as we found the MacBook Air to perform. Give this a try. This is close as you're gonna get to a MacBook Air without it being a MacBook Air. I'm Scott Stein and this is a look at the Asus ZenBook UX31E. -Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET.com and this is the Monoprice 8247. Most people know about Monoprice from the company's excellent line of cheap HDMI cables. Now, the company is branching out to some other home theater products. The Monoprice 8247 is a 5.1 speaker system and the pricing is just incredible with this whole system costing just $84. That's less than $15 per speaker if you include the subwoofer. Now, the system includes 4 small satellite speakers, a center channel and the subwoofer. The cabinets are plastic with the sandy texture, but they have some way to them so they don't feel completely cheap. At this price, we were also shocked to see Monoprice included 4 swivel wall mounts in the package, which is something you don't even find on more expensive speaker systems. Now on the back, you'll see the metal speaker connectors, which are pretty decent, although it won't accept banana plugs and you'll need to use 16-gauge or thinner speaker wire. The 60 watts subwoofer has a down firing 8-inch woofer with a base board on the front and design as a pretty plain boxy look. Now for $84, we were expecting pretty lackluster sound quality, but Monoprice really surprised us. It doesn't sound great for a system of this size. It sounds pretty good. The subwoofer blends nicely with the satellite speakers and they can play pretty loud without getting distorted. Of course like any system in this size, it does fair better with movies rather than music. So if you expect to listen to a lot of 2 channel music, you'll probably wanna consider something else. We also put it head to head with the $400 Energy Take Classic 5.1 system and there is no doubt that the energy sounded better and just about every way possible, but the Energy System is more than 4 times as expensive and we're sure many listeners would be perfectly happy with the Monoprice's sound., so should you buy the Monoprice 8247, that depends on how much you're willing to spend. For $400, you can get much better sound quality from either the Energy Take Classic System or the larger Pioneer SP-PK21BS. But if you can't spend that much, the Monoprice 8247 is the best deal we've seen for under $400 and it really is a perfect starter 5.1 system. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Monoprice 8247. -I got to say I'm loving a world in which quality electronics are also inexpensive. What a concept that also that ZenBook is H-O-T, hot. Continuing on with the budget team, it's time to talk cars. Having a lot of cool tech in a car is great, but not if you can't afford to pay for it. So, here's Brian Cooley with CNET's Top high tech car with low, low prices. -In this economy, when I suggest a 'high tech car,' you probably blanch with the thought of buying something which costs as much as a foreclosed house, but you can actually roll CNET style for a monthly not low enough to swing even after you're laid off. I'm Brian Cooley with Top 5 high tech cars that cost under 20 grand as reviewed and ranked by CNET so far in 2011. Let's hit the road. Number 5 is the Hyundai Accent SE. Now, we love some Hyundai's and Kia's these days, so why the bottom of the list? Well, because you can't even option a navigation head unit on any Accent at any price and it doesn't have a very elaborate voice command system like a Ford SYNC. So, this is all kind of a throwback to a few years ago when car companies positioned their small cars as utilitarian transport that offered less. Now, the accent to nice car, but they kind of missed the boat on this idea of really loading it up closer to the midrange cars, at least optional. Number 4 is the lovable Fiat 500C, the most stylish car on our list though also unnervingly close to Fred Flintstones car in some aspects. Navigation consists of a clip on Tom Tom unit, and the car's powertrain is, shall we say, modest, but it does offer a cousin of Ford Sync called Blue & Me and a very cool power ragtop opens up to la dolce vita all for under 20 grand. Number 3 is the Chevy Cruze Eco. It scored high in CNET's reviews because its wonder of an engine, 1.4 liter turbo 4 cylinder that cranks out 28/42 MPG while being sufficiently powerful and refined on the road as is the whole car. You can't get factory nav on the Cruze either, but it does have OnStar, which can bring in a form of nav and it also supports the new OnStar mobile app, which lets you control various aspects of the car remotely form your smartphone while its sitting still, of course. Number 2 is the newcomer in the bunch: The Little Scion iQ, very small, but not stupidly so like a Smart car. Instead, Scion has a smart strategy of offering an array of high tech head units at good prices, and the iQ has Pandora integrated right out of the box. Its little motor is a 1.3-liter engine. It's best in cities, confidence-killing on the highway, and sounds like its grinding coffee in both situations, but overall it's an affordable car with interesting tech options and a style that stands out. Just don't trip on it. Before I take you to our number 1 cheap tech car, check out this survey: Accoridng to Arbitron and Edison Research, the tech we use the most in our cars is AM/FM Radio, CD player, and cell phone. But when you ask folks what they love to use in their car, its Satellite Radio, iPod, and GPS. And the mainstreaming of all those technologies and more into inexpensive cars like I'm talking about today is a very happy trend. Okay, the number one tech car when you're on a budget is pretty easy. It's the Ford Fiesta. Two things stand out for us. First, Ford's excellent SYNC system, which I almost think is better on a simple display like in this car than on the elaborate LCD. It does a great job of recognizing contact names and music titles when you bark them out by voice, and Fiesta offers a dual clutch manual gearbox. Nobody else does that at this price, not even close. On the other hand the navigation is an OnStar like system, which we found was sort of hit and miss and even then it only works when you have a cell connection, but still, if it's our 20 grand, we're probably gonna buy a Fiesta. By the way, everyone always asks moments like this, what do I drive? Sorry to disappoint you, but my '88 Country Squire doesn't even have airbags. And I want you to be safe. For more Top 5's like this, go to top5.cnet.com. I am Brian Cooley, thanks for watching. -Of course if money is no object, you might wanna check the 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S. I'm saving out for that. You can find our review over in the car tech section on CNET TV right now, but not right now. We've still got a lot more tech review coming up 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. Given the amount of personal data we store in our smartphones these days. If your phone is isn't pass code protected, what are you thinking? Well, iPhones only offered a numeric keypad pin option. Android users have a few other choices. Here Sharon Vaknin with the pros and cons for each one. -Hey everyone, I'm Sharon Vaknin for CNET.com, and today I will show you how to pick the best screen lock for android phone. When Ice Cream Sandwich is released, the android phones will get a super futuristic face on lock option, but until then, I'll show you how to choose the most secure lock setting already available on your phone. Let's start by heading to settings, location and security, and head down to screen lock settings to get started. Tap change screen lock, enter your current unlock code and check out the 3 possible lock options. Pattern is the default and most popular screen lock setting, but it's also the least secure because it can be easily cracked with the smudge that you leave behind each time you unlock your phone. I don't recommend using a pattern lock, but if you insist on using it maybe to impress your iPhone friend, enter the pattern you want to use, enter it again to confirm, then uncheck use visible pattern. This way anyone looking over your shoulder as you unlock the phone will have a hard time seeing the pattern. Now, the next option is the pin lock. Pins are easy to remember and offer decent degree of security depending on your number combination. The majority-- ***CUT DICTATION***