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Episode 21: Unboxing Google's Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 10 tablet

Always On is back for the holidays with an unboxing extravaganza: Nexus 4, Nexus 10, Lumia 920, HTC 8X ... phew. Oh, and we find out if the Surface is as tough as Microsoft says.

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We're back, and just in time for the holiday shopping season! Welcome to the pre-Black Friday episode of Always On: the unboxing extravaganza.

This episode alone features Google's two new pure-Android Nexus devices -- the LG Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10 tablet. I so wanted to love the Nexus 4, since I'm definitely in the market for a pure-Android device, but I'm skeptical (as is our CNET reviewer, Lynn La) about the lack of 4G LTE in the unlocked model. Then again, I don't have to sit around worrying about it since the phone sold out almost immediately and is still impossible to find at the Google Play store. Clearly, pure Android is a strong selling point, and so is the $300 unlocked price tag.

The Nexus 10, on the other hand, I have virtually no qualms about at all. It's a good-looking tablet with all the power and usability of Jelly Bean, support for multiple users (say, if your kid has a tendency to hog your tablet), and lightweight, good-looking hardware that's also cheaper than an iPad.

Unboxing the Nexus 10 tablet ... which I like!
Unboxing the Nexus 10 tablet ... which I like! CNET

In phones, we're branching out to Windows Phone with a look at the Nokia Lumia 920, which is almost hilariously brawny, but which I kind of love -- especially at $99 with a new contract (less on Amazon). I think anyone in the market for a smartphone should be looking seriously at Windows Phone. It's usable, attractive, and so far, the actual hardware choices are pretty interesting.

For example, if the big Humvee style of the Lumia 920 isn't doing it for you, the HTC Windows Phone 8X has sleekness and style to spare. I unboxed the blue version, and it's definitely hot hardware. Personally, if I were experimenting with Windows Phone, I'd probably go for the $99 Lumia 920, but the 8X makes a very compelling argument.

Also in this week's episode, Jeff Cannata is really growing into a master of the torture test. He takes on the Microsoft Surface RT tablet we unboxed a few weeks back, and yes, he skateboards on it. There's also something with an egg that I just really, really don't want to spoil.

We'll have four more episodes through the end of the year, with a heavy focus on unboxing and product advice, given the season. So hang with me and keep the feedback coming, because, as always, the Mailbag is my favorite part of the show. Oh, and um, sorry in advance about the Santa thing.