I'd call this week the calm before the brewing Motorola/iPhone/rumored smaller iPad/Kindle update/Surface storm, but in truth, fall gadget winds are already whipping up. This week's Microsoft Release to Manufacturing of Windows 8 signals the company's final few weeks before a hurricane of Windows 8 machines blow into the market.
Storm metaphor too heavy-handed? I'll just cut to the chase: Seth Rosenblatt took a very close look at this final version of Windows (it's the code that ships to partners installing the OS on new computers) and made a call: It's a good deal, rated four stars. For $40 for the upgrade, you'll get a faster, more secure OS that makes some risky changes to restart Microsoft's reputation -- risky changes that almost deliver a complete OS renaissance, but it's not a five-star OS yet. And here's a grain of salt: Windows 8 is quite different from past OSes, so you'll have to relearn your computing ways if you take the upgrade leap come public availability on October 26.
Speaking of change, have you noticed that CNET once again reviews software with the full, in-depth, high-touch review treatment that we give hardware? We still link prominently to CNET Download.com to make sure you can get software if it's available for download, but we think that reviewing important apps and software titles right here in CNET Reviews will give you the chance to benefit from fellow readers' comments and from the many large photos, screenshots, and the classic First Look videos that CNET.com provides. Have comments about the change? Read our Windows 8 review (or Pinterest for Android or RealPlayer or Google Translate) and chime in with your feedback, please.
We didn't stop at software this week, though. CNET editors saw plenty of gadgets that caught our eye and earned at least four stars, including the interesting Parrot Zik wireless Bluetooth headphones, a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones that David Carnoy calls "the fanciest and most high-tech Bluetooth headphones you can buy these days" and a Bluetooth keyboard that Microsoft intends for Windows 8 devices. Scott Stein actually thinks the Wedge Mobile Keyboard works just as well as (or better than) Apple's ubiquitous wireless keyboard. Truth.
There's more, too. Dive into the slideshow for gadgets like the LaCie RuggedKey, a pretty pricey but tough-as-nails and USB 3.0-supporting key-chain storage drive, and the Dell Inspiron 17R SE, which surprised us with it's really-not-bad-ness. Not in our weekly slideshow, but worth mentioning even with its three and a half stars, is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, the slightly more grown-up version of Samsung's full-size tablet, which reviewer Eric Franklin says is Samsung's best tablet yet. And yes, it includes a stylus.