Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: BMW packs a lot of tech into the 2010 BMW Z4 sDrive35i, with a twin clutch transmission, twin turbo six cylinder engine, and three mode suspension, resulting in spectacular performance. Cabin tech includes a stellar premium audio system, iPod integration, and HD radio. The navigation system has very good-looking maps and route guidance that avoids traffic jams.
The bad: The iDrive interface, although improved from earlier versions, is still not the most intuitive. Trunk space is compromised by the convertible hard top.
The bottom line: The 2010 BMW Z4 sDrive35i delivers incredible driving performance while incorporating practical cabin gadgets to inform and entertain.
The good: The Motorola Karma QA1 has a great keyboard and a wide array of features like 3G speeds, a full HTML browser with Flash Lite support, GPS, stereo Bluetooth, and more. We also like the 3.5-millimeter headset jack, the quick access to Facebook and other social networks, and the excellent call quality.
The bad: The Motorola Karma QA1's photo quality could be improved and we weren't pleased with the streaming video quality.
The bottom line: The Motorola Karma QA1 belies its cute appearance with high-end features that put it above just an ordinary messaging phone.
The good: Outstanding performance in day-to-day software as well as 3D games; affordable.
The bad: Motherboard and power supply don't accommodate upgrades as well as other midrange gaming PCs; large case not for everyone; phone support hours and online support in general need help.
The bottom line: Asus crafted the Essentio CG5290-BP007 to serve as a no-frills gaming desktop for just more than $1,000. And while the boutique PC vendors have a bit more polish for not too much more money, Asus can at least claim that this PC is one of the fastest on the retail shelves. You might have a hard time arguing the necessity of such a fast gaming box for back-to-school, but we can at least recommend this system as a speedy bargain.
The good: Rugged design with rubber cover; touch-screen option.
The bad: Tiny keyboard; big and heavy for a Netbook.
The bottom line: Aimed primarily at school kids, the Dell Latitude 2100 is an interesting new take on the Netbook. It's worth a look if the unique features--including an especially rugged design and a touch screen--are important to you.
The good: Nearly day-long battery life; compact design; includes small Media Center remote control; imprint finish helps it stand out from the laptop crowd.
The bad: Massive 9-cell battery is awkward and uncomfortable; lacks 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet; glossy touch pad is uncomfortable.
The bottom line: Its massive battery extends awkwardly from the bottom of the laptop, but the HP Pavilion dv3-2155mx is an otherwise compact thin-and-light laptop that should get students to class and back on a single charge.
The good: The JayBird Endorphin Rush Earphones offer a durable cable design with a thick cord, a reinforced L-plug, and a slider to prevent tangles. The package includes a hard-sided case, a cable manager, various eartips, and removable earclips that make for a supersecure fit. The earphones offer deep bass.
The bad: The earpieces of the Jaybird Endorphin Earphones are large and may not fit all users comfortably, and some music comes across sounding hollow and lacking in warmth.
The bottom line: The JayBird Endorphin Rush earphones are a good choice for active people who want secure fitting earbuds without sacrificing bass or overall sound quality.
The good: 7.1 home theater system with tall-boy front speakers; built-in Blu-ray player; very good sound quality for an HTIB; excellent image quality on Blu-rays and DVDs; iPod dock built into AV receiver; Amazon Video On-Demand and YouTube streaming.
The bad: No Netflix or Pandora streaming; auto setup mic is too short; no video inputs; lacks Wi-Fi.
The bottom line: Panasonic's SC-BT300 is a 7.1 home theater system with built-in Blu-ray and its tall-boy speakers help deliver very good sound quality, but it doesn't have the Netflix streaming found on some of its similarly priced competitors.
The good: The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520 features a responsive optical trackpad and dedicated media controls. The smartphone also offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera, and good call quality.
The bad: Lacks 3G support and GPS. You can only save downloaded apps to the phone's main memory.
The bottom line: The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520 is a sleek entry-level smartphone that delivers some nice design enhancements and great performance. While available directly from T-Mobile, Wal-Mart offers the better value on the smartphone.