Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite items from the past week, including the Samsung Nexus S, Cobra iRadar radar detector, and Toshiba Satellite A665-S6058 laptop.
CNET Reviews staff
Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: The Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem offers a very fast Internet connection for a single computer and comes with an unlimited 4G data plan. The modem has a nice design with built-in software and can work with both 3G and 4G networks.
The bad: The Clear 4G+ doesn't allow for text messaging. Its download speed fluctuates and the modem runs rather hot when used for an extended period of time.
The bottom line: The Clear 4G+ Mobile Series S USB modem makes a great Internet connection for anyone who lives in an area where Clear's 4G coverage is available.
The good: Verizon's LG VL600 LTE USB Modem offers a superfast connection to the Internet for a single computer. It also enables sending and receiving text messages.
The bad: The VL600 is bulky, doesn't have built-in storage for its setup software, and only works with one computer at a time. Verizon's data plans are pricey and come with a data cap. The device only works with Windows.
The bottom line: Verizon's LG VL600 LTE USB Modem offers arguably the fastest mobile Internet access solution for those who can afford Verizon's data plans.
The good: Quality construction; dual input/output audio ports for communal listening; thumping bass; ear cushions can be removed and replaced.
The bad: May not be comfortable for everyone; weight is a little on the heavy side; some songs can sound harsh; travel case doesn't match up to the professional packaging of its predecessors.
The bottom line: The Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Pro Headphones deliver a sturdy design and top-notch sound quality for those who enjoy skull-shattering bass. If you're a casual listener and can afford them, they're a worthy investment, but if you're an audio purist then you may want to comparison shop.
The good: The Samsung Nexus S has a sleek design with a brilliant display. It offers a number of usability improvements from the Gingerbread OS, and its straight Google experience will appeal to Android purists. It's a good performer, too.
The bad: The Samsung Nexus S feels rather fragile, and it lacks a memory card slot, HSPA+ support, and LED notifications. Also, we were hoping for more new features over the Nexus One.
The bottom line: The Samsung Nexus S gets points for its slick design, satisfying performance, and authentic Android user interface. But outside of the new Gingerbread OS and a faster processor, it doesn't offer as many new features as we had hoped.
The good: The Cobra iRadar works with or without a connected iPhone or iPod Touch. Its car charger has a powered USB port for keeping the paired iPhone charged. A free iPhone app allows users to fine-tune the iRadar's sensitivity and discern between actual alerts and false positives, as well as monitor for traffic cameras and speed traps.
The bad: You will have to bring your own iPhone cradle or car mount to effectively use the app, as the iRadar kit does not include one.
The bottom line: The Cobra iRadar is essentially a basic, albeit good, radar/laser detector. However, when paired with an iPhone running the iRadar app, it becomes a much more flexible and useful speed management tool.
Digital Storm Special Ops 690 II Advanced Level 3 desktop PC
Digital Storm Special Ops 690 II Advanced Level 3: Best - Core i7 950 3.06GHz
Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5
The good: Strong selection of features for its price; stable overclocked Core i7 chip; motherboard offers room for third 3D card (but configure a higher-end power supply first).
The bad: Sloppy hard-drive cable design; CPU overclocking not as aggressive as the competition's.
The bottom line: It's often hard to distinguish one vendor from another in the crowded custom builder market. If you find that Digital Storm has a sale, or a certain component you have your eye on, we can say from this Special Ops 690 II Advanced build that its prices are fair and it's mostly on top of its PC-building game.
The good: Speaker dock supports iPad along with iPhone/iPod; works with iHome's iOS app to deliver a rich alarm clock feature set, including weather updates and Twitter/Facebook messaging; built-in speakerphone and Bluetooth audio streaming capabilities.
The bad: Sound could be better for the money; lacks support for landscape/horizontal viewing mode found on competing Altec Lansing model.
The bottom line: Though we wished it sounded a little better for the money, the iHome iA100 is a full-featured tabletop stereo system with a built-in Bluetooth speakerphone functionality and iPad charging/docking.
The good: Harman Kardon speakers deliver outstanding audio output; Core i5 CPU turns in competitive performance; solid construction; great keyboard.
The bad: Poor battery life; no Blu-ray drive; flimsy mouse buttons.
The bottom line: Upgraded graphics are a highlight of the Toshiba Satellite A665-S6058, a mainstream 16-inch laptop that can pull double duty as a mobile gaming system thanks to its Nvidia Optimus graphics and outstanding audio.
The good: The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 delivers Android 2.2 on a 7-inch screen, with a powerful processor and rear- and front- facing cameras.
The bad: The ViewPad 7 is a doppelganger for the Samsung Galaxy Tab and shares many of its shortcomings, including a frustrating keyboard and awkward size. Lacks camera flash. Bring your own memory card.
The bottom line: The ViewPad 7 offers a solid platform for Android 2.2, but it comes off as an oversize, overpriced smartphone--not a Netbook alternative.