Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite items from the past week, including the Dell Studio XPS 7100, 2011 Infiniti M56x, and Samsung Messager Touch.
CNET Reviews staff
Dell Studio XPS 7100
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Dell Studio XPS 7100
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: Best value among midrange PCs for its features and gaming performance; Blu-ray drive; wireless networking card.
The bad: Limited upgrade path; clunky hard drive configuration; relatively slow application performance.
The bottom line: Dell configured the all-AMD Studio XPS 7100 squarely at gamers, throwing in a powerful 3D card to offset the slow six-core AMD CPU. The result is a fast gaming PC with well-rounded features for an affordable price thanks to a two-month-long special offer. Get it while you can and enjoy fast PC gaming at a great price.
The good: With unique features such as Forest Air and Distance Control Assistance, Infiniti keeps its 2011 M56x on the cutting edge of automotive technology. Its blind spot detection and lane keeping assistance are useful driver aids. Also, its audio, navigation, and Bluetooth phone systems are all first rate.
The bad: To really compete in the luxury class, Infiniti should give the M56x a more comfortable ride. The M56x's voice-command structure is too complex and if it had paddle shifters, sport driving could be more fun.
The bottom line: The 2011 Infiniti M56x excels in its driver aid features and standard cabin tech, but it falls just a little short of its bigger luxury competitors in stately elegance.
The good: The Nokia E73 Mode features a sleek, sexy design and an excellent QWERTY keyboard. It offers great messaging capabilities and the full range of wireless options. Ovi Maps provides free turn-by-turn navigation.
The bad: User interface is a bit clunky. Smartphone can be sluggish, and onboard memory was an issue. The E73 has a lower-resolution display than others.
The bottom line: The Nokia E73 Mode is an outstanding value, offering T-Mobile customers a sleek and feature-packed messaging smartphone for a very affordable price.
The good: Superior black-level performance and excellent shadow detail; accurate primary colors in THX mode; great color saturation; effective antireflective screen; reproduces 1080p/24 cadence properly; VieraCast provides access to select Internet services and improved customization; solid 3D picture quality; includes 3D glasses.
The bad: Relatively expensive; last year's Panasonic plasmas lost black-level performance over relatively short periods of time; non-adjustable grayscale in THX mode; some artifacts in 1080p/24 mode; fewer streaming services and apps than the competition; uses more power than LCDs and newer plasmas.
The bottom line: With both 2D and 3D sources, Panasonic's flagship TC-PVT20/25 series plasma TV delivers outstanding overall picture quality.
The good: Sleek, living-room-ready aluminum chassis; HDMI video output makes it easy to connect an HDTV; SD card slot; user-accessible RAM; handles Web-based HD video with no trouble; best-in-class case design.
The bad: Puny storage capacity for its price; no Blu-ray hurts in a pricier living room system like this.
The bottom line: Apple's new Mac Mini includes an elegant new design and some long asked-for features, including HDMI output and user-accessible memory. The system still faces a value challenge for its given specs, but Apple has done enough to improve the Mac Mini's appeal for Apple loyalists and design fans looking for a living room computer.
The good: Large 2.5-inch LCD; built-in memory card reader; stylish design; robust software suite; fast output.
The bad: Output speed prone to intermittent lags.
The bottom line: Like Canon's other printers in its Pixma MX-series, the stylish MX870 has versatile features, including a handy scroll wheel and an ample 2.5-inch LCD, to help you get the job done. We recommend the Canon Pixma MX870 as a do-it-all device with an affordable price tag; just be ready to stomach its intermittent print lag.
The good: The Pure Evoke Flow is a classic Wi-Fi radio done right, offering free Internet radio broadcasts, podcasts, local network streaming, and FM radio in an upscale, portable box with good sound quality.
The bad: The elegance of the touch-sensitive interface comes at the cost of usability. Remote and battery pack cost extra. Many popular music services, such as Pandora, Slacker, or Rhapsody, are not supported. The speaker is mono, and the terrestrial radio doesn't pick up AM broadcasts.
The bottom line: The Pure Evoke Flow Wi-Fi radio offers superb construction and relatively full sound, but the music streaming options are stuck in the past.
The good: Sound bar home theater system; very thin design; wireless subwoofer; surprisingly solid sound quality on movies, given its size; three inputs (two optical, one minijack); simple setup; useful "smart volume" control.
The bad: No HDMI connectivity; sounds lackluster with music; faux-surround effects are mild.
The bottom line: The Samsung HW-C450 is an exceedingly thin sound bar home theater system that sounds surprisingly good with movies, but lacks HDMI connectivity.
The good: Network digital media streamer; Netflix, MediaFly, Flickr, MediaFly, and Pandora Radio built-in; Live365 channel; YouTube channel; HDMI out; two USB ports; digital optical audio out; quick, easy-to-use interface; includes composite and component wires.
The bad: No Wi-Fi--separate accessory required.
The bottom line: If you don't already own an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 and are serious about networked streaming, the WD TV Live is probably one of your best choices for getting content to your TV.