The good: Aggressive overclocking leads to record-setting application and games performance; tri-SLI 3D cards give you lots of headroom for games down the road; fast solid-state boot drive and plenty of secondary storage space; expertly assembled.
The bad: Most expensive desktop we've reviewed; service and support not quite as comprehensive as its boutique PC competition.
The bottom line: Maingear's Ephex is the fastest PC we've reviewed, and also the most expensive. You can find better service policies from other boutique PC vendors, but the Ephex's overall speed and build quality are enough for us to recommend it to those in the market for the best desktop they can find.
The good: The Blackbox C18 Noise Cancellation Earphones feature a unique design that offers a secure and comfortable fit, and they boast excellent noise-hushing capabilities. The overall sound quality is impressive.
The bad: The Blackbox C18 Earphones' noise cancellation module is heavy and adds bulk to the design; the earphones occasionally suffer from low-end distortion, and they may not fit users with large ears.
The bottom line: The Blackbox C18 Noise Cancellation Earphones are a great option for travel hounds who want superior noise-hushing capability and good sound quality in a reasonably compact package.
The good: The Griffin TuneFlex Aux with SmartClick includes an in-car iPod charger, auxiliary audio-output cable, and a magnetic iPod remote control that mounts onto your car's steering wheel.
The bad: For an in-car iPod dock without an FM transmitter, the TuneFlex Aux with SmartClick is too expensive and requires a car stereo with an auxiliary audio input or the purchase of a cassette adapter.
The bottom line: The Griffin TuneFlex Aux with SmartClick is one of the best in-car iPod docks we've seen, but someone needs to let the air out of Griffin's price.
The good: Interface tweaks make commonly used features more accessible. Flashy, eye-catching presentations are even easier to make. iWork apps play well together with added interoperability across the suite.
The bad: Still no business-grade e-mail client. iWork.com Web component doesn't allow for true collaboration. The lack of an auto save feature is a particularly problematic omission we hope to see in future releases.
The bottom line: Intuitive interface design and easy access to useful features make iWork the best office suite choice on the Mac. Though it lacks some of Microsoft Office's advanced options, iWork '09 is an emerging powerhouse in its own right.
The good: The Nokia N85 features a sleeker design and more solid construction than the N96 and N95. The smartphone also offers full wireless options as well as a 5-megapixel camera, a decent music player, and gaming support.
The bad: The N85's can be sluggish at times, particularly when viewing photos. Some navigation controls are stiff and difficult to use. The smartphone is also expensive and the Nokia Music Store hasn't fully launched in the United States.
The bottom line: The Nokia N85 may not offer as much memory as the N95 or N96, but it offers just as many features and a sleeker design, making it a better value in our book.
The good: Three HDMI inputs; onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding; Sirius and XM-ready; upconverts analog signals to 1080p over HDMI output with decent quality; automatic speaker calibration; control iPod onscreen using USB port.
The bad: Competition offers more HDMI inputs for less money; cluttered remote; old-fashioned text-only onscreen user interface.
The bottom line: The Pioneer VSX-1018AH's solid sound and generous feature package make it a great value in the midrange AV receiver class.
The good: The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 offers a sleeker and more solidly constructed design as well as a brilliant display. The smartphone features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS and brings new productivity tools, a full HTML Web browser, and a 3.2-megapixel camera.
The bad: The Curve 8900 lacks 3G support, and the smartphone can occasionally be sluggish.
The bottom line: We're disappointed by the lack of 3G, but the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 is a solid update to the Curve series, bringing a better design, improved features, and faster performance and is one of T-Mobile's top smartphone offerings.