Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite items from the past week, including the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20, TDK WR700 headphones, and the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet.
CNET Reviews staff
Samsung Focus (AT&T)
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Samsung Focus (AT&T)
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: The Samsung Focus features a brilliant 4-inch Super AMOLED touch screen. The smartphone has good quality, and the camera takes excellent photos and video. Windows Phone 7 brings a fresh and friendly user interface, great multimedia capabilities, and an improved browser.
The bad: No copy and paste yet. Limited support for landscape mode. Xbox Live games slow to load. The phone feels a bit plasticky. No direct syncing for non-Exchange Outlook accounts; must go through the cloud.
The bottom line: For those looking for an alternative to the iPhone and want better multimedia features and a more organized user interface than Android offers, the Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7 offers all that plus solid performance and a sleek design.
The good: One of the fastest budget PCs we've tested; wireless networking and HDMI port make it perfect for the living room; room to upgrade via free expansion card slot.
The bad: Only USB 2.0 for data connections; had to manually correct overscanning when we connected it to an HDTV.
The bottom line: The latest in Gateway's line of versatile slim towers, the SX2850-33 stays current with a fast Intel Core i3 CPU, and more importantly adds Wi-Fi to improve its suitability as a living-room desktop. It might cost more than a Nettop or a dedicated video-streaming device, but for its overall speed and flexibility, we'd pick this system as a budget PC or an online living-room content center.
The good: The HTC Surround features surround-sound speakers and a kickstand. The smartphone has a 1GHz processor, full wireless options, and a 5-megapixel camera. Windows Phone 7 brings a fresh and friendly user interface, great multimedia capabilities, and an improved browser.
The bad: Speakerphone volume is low. Phone is hefty and lacks expandable memory. No copy and paste yet. Limited support for landscape mode. Xbox Live games slow to load. No direct syncing for non-Exchange Outlook accounts; must go through the cloud.
The bottom line: The HTC Surround features the high-quality design that we've come to expect from HTC, but the only thing its built-in speakers really add to the phone is weight. Unless you're set on the speakers, the Samsung Focus is a sleeker Windows Phone 7 device for AT&T with slightly better performance and options.
The good: The adaptive cruise control system in the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet can bring the car to a complete stop and is also integral to its collision mitigation system. Sound quality is very detailed from the Harman Kardon audio system. The navigation system dynamically routes around traffic.
The bad: The convertible top affects trunk space. The big V-8 turns in mediocre mileage.
The bottom line: The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet brings a solid cabin tech package to open-top cruising, but the big engine means it will be expensive to run.
The good: Superb black-level performance; accurate primary colors in THX mode; great color saturation; effective antireflective screen; uses less power than previous 1080p plasmas; VieraCast provides access to select Internet services and improved customization; includes 2D to 3D conversion.
The bad: Cannot properly handle 1080p/24 sources; loses some black-level performance over time; introduces artifacts in 3D mode; fewer streaming services and apps than the competition; uses more power than LCDs; does not include 3D glasses.
The bottom line: Although it does deliver excellent 2D picture quality, the 3D-compatible Panasonic TC-PGT25 series can't match the overall performance of the competition's best plasmas.
The good: Wireless headphones with Kleer technology; good sound quality, especially for wireless headphones; easy connection; compatible with all audio devices using a 3.5mm headphone port; adapter for AV receivers; cloth carrying case included.
The bad: Requires using the included receiver dongle, which is somewhat bulky; transmitter and headphones each require two pairs of AAA batteries; headphones could be slightly more comfortable.
The bottom line: Despite a few shortcomings, TDK's WR700 wireless headphones--which use Kleer wireless technology instead of Bluetooth--deliver good sound for a reasonable price.
The good: The Western Digital My Book Live NAS server is easy to use, fast, and affordable. It also comes with mobile applications to share photos on the go.
The bad: The WD My Book Live's hard drive can't be serviced by users, and there's no USB port to add more storage. The device lacks common features found in many NAS servers, and its MioNet remote access solution is nearly useless.
The bottom line: The Western Digital MyBook World Edition is a fast, plug-and-play, simple-to-use home NAS server that unfortunately lacks features and has a subpar remote-access solution.