Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite items from the past week, including the 2009 BMW 750Li, Sony X-Series Walkman, and the Gateway SX2800-01 PC.
CNET Reviews staff
Altec Lansing BackBeat 903
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Altec Lansing BackBeat 903 Bluetooth headset
Editors' rating: 4
The good: The Altec Lansing BackBeat 903 stereo Bluetooth headphones provide an open, detailed sound, excellent call quality, and a flexible, lightweight fit.
The bad: The thick behind-the-neck cable and ear-hugging design may be uncomfortable to some users and the open nature of the earpiece sacrifices some sonic range compared with a sealed design.
The bottom line: The Altec Lansing BackBeat 903 is a ruggedly-constructed, thoughtfully conceived, and sonically impressive stereo Bluetooth headset, but the one-size-fits-all design may disappoint some users.
The good: BMW loads the 2009 750Li with useful driving electronics such as a head-up display, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. The navigation system features lush topographical maps with live traffic. iPod and phone integration are both excellent. The car's suspension and power train can be set for different modes, including sport and comfort.
The bad: Poor fuel economy sticks the 750Li with a gas guzzler tax. Blind-spot warning lights aren't bright enough. The night vision display's placement impinges on the system's usefulness.
The bottom line: The 2009 BMW 750Li delivers impressive tech features on all fronts, helping justify its high price. It offers the best cabin tech package among its competitors.
The good: Excellent black-level performance and shadow detail; accurate color thanks to extensive picture adjustments; matte screen handles bright lighting well; plenty of connectivity with four HDMI and one PC input.
The bad: Relatively expensive; poor off-angle performance; some blooming does not separate antiblur and dejudder processing; benefits of 240Hz difficult to discern; no interactive features; no S-Video inputs.
The bottom line: Deep black levels and accurate color help propel the LED-backlit LG LH90 series into the front row of the LCD picture quality class.
The good: The Sony X-Series Walkman is a solid device with a sleek, utilitarian design and a unique, engaging interface; it's compatible with both Mac and Windows and supports podcasts from iTunes and videos from Amazon Unbox; it offers a plethora of features including an onboard Slacker app, integrated YouTube support, Wi-Fi, an FM tuner, and built-in noise canceling. The included earphones are nicer than average, the sound quality is excellent, and the rated battery life is superb.
The bad: The X-Series is expensive, and it's a fingerprint magnet. The included app does not transcode much video adequately.
The bottom line: The X-Series is a superb choice for audiophiles who want a luxury device with an excellent touch-screen interface and plenty of other bells and whistles.
The good: Getting around 50 mpg on average, the 2010 Toyota Prius is a stellar car for fuel economy, and you can choose accelerator sensitivity. Traffic reports are integrated with the navigation system.
The bad: The Prius isn't designed for handling. There isn't full iPod or USB drive integration for the stereo. The DVD-based navigation system reacts slowly.
The bottom line: The 2010 Toyota Prius is a better car than its predecessor, although there are some areas, especially in the cabin, where we would have liked to see more improvement.
The good: The Garmin Nuvi 205W features a large touch screen and an easy to understand interface. Start-up, destination entry, and trip routing/rerouting times are slightly faster than the competition. "Where am I?" feature is very useful for emergencies.
The bad: The Nuvi 205W's feature set is rather limited. Mounting cradle is bulkier than competing models and not very portable.
The bottom line: As entry-level GPS navigators go, the Garmin Nuvi 205W is still one of the best choices available for users who want speedy performance without breaking the bank.
The good: Sleek, compact design; best all-around performance among budget retail PCs; up-to-date motherboard outputs offer all kinds of connectivity options.
The bad: Memory slot access takes a few more steps than usual.
The bottom line: Gateway's SX2800-01 offers a strong combination of performance and features all wrapped up in a design that fully embraces the merits of a slim tower PC. We recommend this system to anyone looking for a fast, affordable desktop for the home office, the living room, or anywhere in between.