Here are a few of CNET Reviews' favorite items from the past week, including the Alienware M11X laptop, a pair of Audioengine 5 speakers, and yes, the Apple iPad.
CNET Reviews staff
Here's our weekly roundup of the new products CNET reviewers liked best.
Editors' rating: 4 out of 5
The good: Solid gaming performance in a very compact form; switchable graphics for longer battery life; great keyboard.
The bad: ULV processor isn't as fast as most gaming laptops; no optical drive.
The bottom line: With its fusion of a low-voltage processor and high-end graphics, the 11.6-inch Alienware M11x is a unique and extremely compact hybrid gaming laptop with a few compromises for its size.
The good: In an act of aggressive tech convergence, Apple has consolidated your Netbook, e-reader, gaming device, photo frame, and iPod into an elegant, affordable supergadget. Features such as Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi, movie rentals, 10 hours of battery life, optional 3G wireless, and the most-celebrated App Store on the planet have us pretty worked up.
The bad: The iPad's large size is as much a hindrance as it is an advantage. As a jack-of-all-trades and a master of few, the iPad can't entirely mimic many of the specialized products it seeks to replace. The iPad's limited multitasking capabilities and lack of integrated video camera, Flash support, and HD video output already have us pining for next year's model.
The bottom line: The Apple iPad is the first affordable tablet computer worth owning, but it won't (yet) replace your laptop.
The good: The powered Audioengine 5 speakers deliver phenomenal sound and offer simple, attractive styling. They feature two audio inputs and two integrated charging options (one USB port, one AC plug). Speaker wire connections mean that you can optimize stereo separation.
The bad: The speakers aren't cheap, and many will find them to be too large and bulky compared with PC speakers. There's no remote control, and no way to toggle between inputs.
The bottom line: You'd be hard-pressed to find a pair of powered stereo speakers at this price point that sound better--and offer more flexibility--than the Audioengine 5s.
The good: Produces among the deepest shades of black of any TV; superb shadow detail; exceedingly accurate color; better off-angle viewing than many LCDs; controls local dimming "blooming" well; plenty of streaming and interactive features; extensive picture controls; sleek styling with single pane design and 1.4-inch-deep panel; energy efficient.
The bad: Expensive; uneven backlight uniformity; adjustable dejudder doesn't work well; subpar bright-room performance; benefits of 240Hz difficult to discern; some stray illumination and uniformity issues.
The bottom line: With the excellent picture quality of the local-dimming LE8500, LG challenges other LCD makers for videophile appeal.
The good: Outstanding gaming and application performance for considerably less than competing desktops; features Nvidia's fast new GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards.
The bad: New 3D cards run superhot and consume a massive amount of power.
The bottom line: As much as we're impressed by the price-performance of Velocity's high-end Edge Z55 and its pair of GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards, these cards run so hot that we're concerned about their health, as well as their impact on the system itself. Take a risk, and you'll enjoy a fast gaming desktop for significantly less than you'll find from other vendors.