The good: The iPhone 3G S finally adds common cell phone features like multimedia messaging, video recording, and voice dialing. It runs faster; its promised battery life is longer; and the multimedia quality continues to shine.
The bad: The iPhone 3G S' call quality shows no improvements and the 3G signal reception remains uneven. We still don't get Flash Lite, USB transfer and storage, or multitasking.
The bottom line: The iPhone 3G S doesn't make the same grand leap that the iPhone 3G made from the first-generation model, but the latest Apple handset is still a compelling upgrade for some users. The iPhone 3G S is faster and we appreciate the new features and extended battery life, but call quality and 3G reception still need improvement.
The good: Great gaming performance for the price; size and weight much lighter than comparable gaming laptops
The bad: Built-in Turbo overclocking had no real impact on gameplay; Dolby 4.1 speakers a little underwhelming.
The bottom line: For a price below that of ultra hard-core machines, the MSI GT725-212us provides considerable gaming power, a 1080p 17-inch screen, and Blu-ray in a package that's relatively portable.
Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive w/ Protection Suite (500GB, ruby red)
Iomega eGo portable hard drive
Editors' rating: 4
The good: Inexpensive; faster throughput than the competition; rugged enclosure protects drops up to 51 inches; lightweight; three-year warranty.
The bad: Power cord not included.
The bottom line: The eGo Portable continues Iomega's tradition of slim, feature-rich external hard drives, this time sporting a sleek new design and an extended warranty. The bundle also includes a suite of three different software solutions that back up your data and protects your computer, and at an affordable 30 cents per gigabyte, we're happy to endorse the Iomega eGo Portable once again.
The good: The new blind-spot warning system on the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S550 advises when lanes to the side are occupied. Adaptive cruise control and night vision are two very high-tech features. Massage seats add greatly to comfort, while the Airmatic suspension smoothes out the road.
The bad: iPod integration doesn't show the music library on the car's LCD. Live traffic reporting doesn't warn of impending traffic jams. Poor fuel economy means a gas guzzler tax.
The bottom line: If you can pay for the gas, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz S550 has many features to recommend it, and offers an incredibly comfortable ride, but don't expect it to play well with your personal electronics.
The good: Outstanding sound quality for the price; four HDMI inputs; can connect an iPod/iPhone directly to its USB port and browse music using onscreen graphical user interface; analog video upconversion to 1080p, with acceptable image quality; onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding; Sirius-ready; automatic speaker calibration.
The bad: Advanced controls can be difficult to set up; confusing manual.
The bottom line: The Pioneer VSX-1019AH-K delivers an excellent feature set and outstanding sound quality for its price, making it our top midrange AV receiver pick so far.
The good: The 2010 Mazda Mazda3 s Grand Touring 5-door features aggressive styling, strong performance, and a solid fit and finish. High-end features such as adaptive headlamps, Bluetooth audio streaming, and keyless entry/start contribute to a more refined driver experience.
The bad: The 4.3-inch display is much smaller than most OEM navigation offerings. Entering destinations with the steering wheel-mounted rocker switch can be tedious. Dealer-installed iPod integration seems tacked on.
The bottom line: The 2010 Mazda Mazda3 s Grand Touring 5-door's cabin tech package is good, but not the best in the business. However, its performance and utility sit well above that of your average economy car.
The good: The 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible's design hasn't worn thin, even after almost a decade. The handling is excellent while fuel economy is high. Mini makes some good cabin tech available, such as Bluetooth and iPod integration.
The bad: Acceleration is anemic with the 1.6-liter engine and automatic transmission. Options bring the Mini's price up quickly.
The bottom line: A good city car and an economical cruiser, 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible's soft top makes it a fun open-air ride, but use the money you would have spent on the automatic transmission option for manual transmission lessons.