CNET Tech Review
iPhone done whiteThis week on the CNET Tech Review: the white iPhone 4 has arrived; our Top 5 tech gifts for Mother's Day; a pair of pretty good point-and-shoot cameras; and the MacBook Air vs. the Samsung Series 9 in this week's Prizefight.
-This week on the CNET Tech Review, the white iPhone 4 is here, finally; Samsung infuses the 4G smartphone market with style; it's the battle of the ultraportables in an all-new Prizefight; and Molly's top gift picks for Mother's Day. It's all coming up right now. Hi, everyone, I'm Brian Tong and welcome to the CNET Tech Review, where we collect our hottest videos of the week and tell you what's Good and what's Bad in the world of tech, and offer some unique tech wisdom in the form of the Bottom Line. Let's start with the Good. If you're a good son like me, well you already knew that this Sunday is Mother's Day. Now, I do realize that it's only a couple of days away but there's still time to find a great gift, especially if your momma likes tech. Now, Molly may be on vacation but she took some time out to run down her favorite gifts for moms before she left. -Mother's Day this year is May 8th, everyone. Don't miss it and don't go with the same old collection of flowers and candy you send every year. I'm Molly Wood in for Brian Cooley with the CNET Top 5, the top 5 tech gifts for mom. Coming in at number five, it's the Amazon Kindle. If she doesn't have a Kindle yet, people, now is the time. I mean, the ad-supported model is only $114. Just make sure you pair it with an Amazon gift card for book buying and some sort of certificate for several hours of alone time for reading, preferably by a pool somewhere. In at number four, get her a smartphone. We have a lot of favorites in this category from the obvious iPhone 4 to the HTC Thunberbolt to the Shift 4G on Sprint. The main goal, though, is getting mom a gift that will help her take pictures, get on Facebook, text with you when you don't have time to talk, get her e-mail, and play games on the go. If she doesn't have a smartphone yet, this is the year to make it happen. Coming in at number three, the Microsoft Xbox Kinect. Every mom I know right now is loving the Kinect for one reason, Dance Central. It is an awesomely fun workout and the kids love it, too. If you don't have an Xbox, it's a great bundle and if you do, the Kinect add-on makes it less of a boy's toy and more of a family console. Of course, if your mom is anything like me, you can get her a Kinect and the new Mortal Kombat game. I'm not trying to stereotype here...much. At a very strong number two, the iPad 2. I got my mom an iPad and we've never been better Facebook friends. It's the perfect e-mail, web, and video watching device for mom, especially if the dude in her life hogs the remote. Plus, hello, Angry Birds Rio, and I can tell you from personal experience, the iPad is the best kid entertainment and education tool you will ever own. Kid, airplane, iPad. She will thank you. And, finally, my number one tech gift idea for mom this year is my number one tech gift idea always--a Roku streaming media box. The Roku is the perfect gift. It's as cheap as $59 now with no monthly fee, plus it's dead simple to set up and you'll be watching streaming movies, internet video, and don't forget that every episode of Mad Men is coming to Netflix Instant Streaming, and if there's one constant in the universe, it's this: we ladies love to watch Don Draper. Okay, now, I'm stereotyping, but don't try to pretend that it's not true, 'cause it is true. And that's it for this edition of CNET Top 5. I'm Molly Wood and you can find all the rest of our Top 5 videos over at cnettv.com. -Of course, if you're watching this after May 8th, there's never really a bad time to tell your mama how much you love her, so don't be afraid to hook her up with any of these great gift ideas anytime of the year. For example, the Samsung Infuse 4G for AT&T won't be out until later this month, but I'll bet your mom will let it slide for a couple weeks if this is the smartphone you picked out for her. -Hey, everyone. I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at CNET.com and I'm here bringing you a first look at the Samsung Infuse 4G. Samsung and AT&T have finally announced a release date for this phone. It's gonna be available starting May 15. We actually saw this a little while ago but wanted to give you a refresher 'cause it has been a while. First, looking at the design, you can see that it's kinda big and that's due to the 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display. It's really gorgeous, though. It offers more clarity and better outdoor visibility than their Super AMOLED screens and I just compared it to the Captivate and you can tell the difference. The colors are really vibrant and pop off the screen and watching videos and pictures on here looked really great. So, it is big but it is thin as well. It's 8.9-mm thin and Samsung is saying it's the thinnest smartphone available in the US. It's also got this little texturized back on here which I really like because I've complained before that Samsung's phones have been kind of plasticky, so this does a nice job of adding a little bit more of a premium feel to it. Feature-wise, it's offering a 1.2 GHz processor. It's also got an 8-megapixel camera as well as a front-facing camera. It is a 4G device and running Android 2.2.1. Couple of special things, it's shipping with a 2-gigabyte Micro SD card with a couple of movie trailers on here, and a special edition of Angry Birds where there's a golden egg and if you get through the levels, you can go to website and get some Samsung prices, so a little motivation to play Angry Birds here, if you need it. AT&T is still finalizing pricing for the phone but you can check our blog post at CNET.com for more information and more first impressions. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your First Look at the Samsung Infuse 4G. -And while we're on the subject of Mother's Day, what mom doesn't enjoy taking snapshots of her adorable children, like me. Here's Josh Goldman with a pair of point-and-shoot cameras that take great photos while keeping things simple. -Hey, I'm Josh Goldman, senior editor with CNET, and this is a look at the Sony Cyber-shot W570. Now, the W570 replaces the Cyber-shot W350 which was a popular camera with our readers and one of my favorite ultra-compacts from 2010. On the up side, nothing much changes from that model to this. There's a resolution bump from 14 to 16 megapixels, and the lens is a little brighter, wider, and longer, but the body remains very small. What you should know is that the increased resolution doesn't improve photo quality so it doesn't really add anything and the increase seems to be slowing down shooting speed, at least from shot to shot. And while the lens specs are nice, the edges and corners of photos appear soft so unless your subjects are in the center of your shot, they might not be all that sharp. Still, for its size and price, it takes very good photos and movie clips, too, for that matter, in 720p HD. The camera is easy to use and Sony's embedded a full user manual if you need help along the way. Plus, it has Sony's sweet panorama feature for quick ultra-wide shots. So, even though it's not a huge jump forward from the W350, it's worth checking out if you're looking for a good camera that you won't hesitate to take with you. I'm Josh Goldman and that's the Sony Cyber-shot W570. -Hi there. I'm Josh Goldman, senior editor with CNET and this is a look at the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS. This is the top of Canon's A series lineup for 2011, also known as its "easy and fun" cameras. For the most part, that just means that Canon did its best to make the camera simple enough for anyone to pick up and use, and it is. Really, if you never wanna leave its smart auto mode, you're pretty much in good shape to shoot a wide variety of subjects without touching a thing. The controls and menus are straightforward, too, so no problems there. Well, almost no problems anyway. The buttons are flat and flush with the body, making them a little difficult to press, but otherwise, the design is fine and as the top model in the line, it's still less than $180, by the way. You get some better-than-basic features that includes optical image stabilization for the 5X zoom wide angle lens, a nice 3-inch LCD on the back, and 720p HD movie capture. No use of the optical zoom while recording though, and if you wanna do a little experimenting with your photos, Canon includes its new Live View Control Mode and that let's you play with brightness, color, and tone and gives you some sliders so it's really easy to do, and there's also creative filters like toy camera, poster effect, and super vivid. Photo and video quality are quite good for the money and, really, other than the flat buttons, the only issue I had with it is it's shot-to-shot speed which is close to 4 seconds and 5 seconds with the flash. But, if that doesn't bother you, this is a fine choice for an ultra compact camera. I'm Josh Goldman and that's the Canon A3300 IS. -Now, if your mom likes her gadgets to look a little more girly, the Canon PowerShot is also available in other colors, including pink and red. Otherwise, both are also available in stylish silver or basic black. Okay, guys, it's time to take a quick break but we'll be right back with more Tech Review right after this. Welcome back to the CNET Tech Review, our weekly video digest of all things good and bad we've seen here at CNET TV. Now, continuing on in the Good. The time has come for more of what you've all been waiting for, more of me. That's right, it's time for this week's Prizefight and this one's a doozie. In this battle of ultraportables, the new Samsung 9 Series takes on the reigning champ, the MacBook Air. Which one will come out on top? Oh, there's only one way to find out. -What's up, Prizefight fans? I'm Brian Tong and this is a blockbuster battle between two of the thinnest 13-inch laptops. It's a Prizefight throw-down showdown between Samsung's 9 Series and Apple's MacBook Air. Our judges for this fight are senior editor Dan "I think I Can" Ackerman, senior associate editor Scott "The Bottom Line" Stein, and Brian "Can't Go Wrong" Tong. Now, we'll take all three judges' blind scores and average them out to the nearest tenth each round. The final Prizefight score will be an average of all rounds using the same decimal system. This is going to be a classic so who's "Thin It" to win it? Round one is design. Samsung's 9 Series looks like a piece of modern art with its gorgeous wrap sheet metal design. Its plastic bezel is a fingerprint magnet but its thinnest point is 0.2 inches thinner than the Air's thickest point, for those of you that care and, come on, we know who you are. Now, there's still nothing on this planet that can match the superior design of Apple's Unibody MacBook Air. Its blade design is super thin, lightweight, and sturdy. This is just another iconic stud in Apple's stable. Both laptops are amazing and should be praised for raising the bar in ultra-thin design, but Apple is still a cut above the rest, it gets a perfect 5, and the 9 Series gets a 4.3. Next round is features. Samsung's 9 Series just brings it when it comes to features with a Core i5 processor, double the RAM at 4 gigs, and a backlit keyboard. Yes. It maxes out with a 128-gig solid state drive and there's flip-out ports for an Ethernet dongle, HDMI out, two USBs, audio out, and a Micro SD card slot. Now, the MacBook Air improves from its predecessor with 2 USB ports and an SD card slot. There's also a mini DisplayPort for video out and audio out on the other side but its Ethernet dongle takes up a USB port when used. A differentiator is its multitouch trackpad with gestures, but you'll have no backlit keyboard. The biggest option is the ability to double the storage to 256 gigs but that's more of an option and not a feature. The 9 Series takes this round with a 4 and the MacBook Air gets a 3. So after averaging 2 rounds, Samsung leads by two-tenths of a point with plenty of fight left. Round three is performance. These two laptops are surprisingly evenly matched. You might think Samsung's 1.4 GHz Core i5 would destroy the Air but its low-voltage processor has similar performance with the Air's 1.8 Core 2 Duo. Now here's some of our benchmark tests where Apple did score faster in two of the three tests but neither of this "thinnies" were able to separate themselves in graphic performance. Apple's wake up from sleep is almost an instant on but this one is too close to call and we're calling this round even at 4 points apiece. Next round is battery life. With ultraportables, the amount of juice you have to go the distance is key. Samsung was able to squeeze out 5 hours and 22 minutes of life from our battery drain test while Apple's MacBook Air was just under 5 at 4 hours and 58 minutes. The 9 Series was almost 30 minutes better and that's top-of-the-class for this laptop category. It takes this round with a 4.3 and Apple gets a 4. So after averaging four rounds, Samsung still holds on to its two-tenths of a point lead but anything can happen here, the final round that decides is all is value. These are ultraportables, not netbooks, but a premium class of laptops using solid state drives with a premium price to match. Samsung's 9 Series will cost you, get ready for this one, $1649 which makes Apple's pricing look like a bargain. It will scare consumers initially but there's more to it. Now, I purchased a coverage plan for all my laptops and the Samsung price includes 3 years of warranty. Now, Apple's MacBook Air, at $1299, isn't the cheapest for a 13-inch but, again, that's not why you're paying attention to this. You can double the hard drive to 256 gigs and you'll still be cheaper than the 9 Series at $1599, but the Air only comes with a one-year warranty and it's $249 to get Apple Care's 3-year coverage. That puts these two in the same ballpark but $1649 still scares people. Apple takes this final round with a 4 and Samsung gets a 3. So let's average out all five rounds, and in a Prizefight that was neck and neck, without any room to budge, Apple takes the final round, pushing it just over the top, 4.0 to 3.9, and is your Prizefight winner. This is a Prizefight where you really can't go wrong but in the end, the MacBook Air prevails. I'm Brian Tong, thanks for watching, and we'll catch you guys next time on another Prizefight. -Though some might just call the 9 Series a MacBook rip-off, there's no denying that it has a lot going for it beyond the super-slim design, but for my money, you can't go wrong with a MacBook Air and, hey, I host the Apple Byte. What else do you expect me to say? All right, let's take a look at what we've got in the Bad this week. Earlier in the show, we saw the new Infuse smartphone and Bonnie Cha couldn't say enough good things about it. That's hardly the case with the Nokia E7. Take a look. -Hey, everyone. I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at CNET.com and I'm here to bring you a First Look at the Nokia E7. This is the latest flagship device in their E series of business smartphones and it's available now, unlocked, but it costs a pretty penny, $650 to be exact. So, is it worth it? Let's take a look. The phone actually resembles the Nokia N8 in a lot of ways which isn't bad because the N8 had a pretty great design. What I like about it is the high quality construction and it has an aluminum casing and glass display, so it feels like a premium device and not plasticky like a lot of the other devices out there. Slightly bigger and heavier than the N8 but it's really not that bulky, especially when you consider that Nokia packs in a full keyboard. You can exit by pushing the screen to the right or up, depending on how you're holding it. The sliding mechanism is smooth and the hinge feels strong and I also like that it props the screen at a slight angle so it's easier to read while you're typing. The keyboard is one of the highlights of the phone. The buttons are a good size and there's a nice amount of spacing between them. Plus, the layout is really roomy so it felt very comfortable to use and I could type pretty quickly on it without too many missed presses. Unfortunately, that's about where my lovefest for the E7 ends. The device has a good number of features for business users including Exchange ActiveSync support, the Quickoffice suite, and security features, plus it's got a pretty great 8-megapixel camera and HDMI port but, like the N8, the Symbian operating system just brings the device down. It's running Symbian 3 so at least you get some improvements like the simple one-touch user interface and better multimedia option, but it's still clunky and lacks some functionality compared to other platforms like iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. With a 680-MHz processor, it also feels pretty underpowered and the smartphone actually froze on me once while I was trying to play a video. So, with all these performance and software issues, it's really hard for me to recommend this phone, especially with its $650 price tag. If you really love Symbian, it might be worth it, but otherwise I'd say if you want a business smartphone with QWERTY keyboard, go with something like the T-Mobile G2 or HTC Arrive. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your First Look at the Nokia E7. -So, basically, if you're thinking of a smartphone for your mom this weekend and you had your eye on the Nokia E7, here's my advice: Don't. Not if you expect your mom to ever do your laundry for you ever again, not that she does it for me. Okay, there's nothing left to do but dive right into this week's Bottom Line. It's been almost a year now since the iPhone 4 was announced, and after a series of delays, the white version finally started shipping just this week, so was it worth the wait? Let's check in with Kent German to see what he thinks. -Hi, I'm Kent German, section editor for CNET.com, and it's a big day here in the studio because we actually have the white iPhone. Yes, it's the white iPhone 4. We've waited so long for it, months and months and months and, well, you probably waited so long that you might not even care at this point but we're gonna show it to you now just because it has been so talked about and we still don't know why it took Apple so long to produce this device. We've heard that it could have been the proximity sensor. We also heard, remember on the 3GS there were some discoloration on the white iPhones so, we never know, but this device is finally here, we're gonna show it to you. Of course, it is exactly the same. We are showing a Verizon phone here and AT&T and Verizon will both offer the white iPhone and, of course, the only differences will be what network it runs on. Features are exactly the same on the black iPhone 4 so it's gonna have the camera, it's gonna have iTunes connectivity, it's gonna have the iPod player, it's gonna have the browser, everything that you'd expect on that phone is gonna be there, and there are no cosmetic differences except for the white color. You will notice a line up here and actually when I first saw that, I thought that maybe, oh, this is something new. It's actually not. The black iPhone actually has that as well, you just can't see it because like the skin of the phone, it's also black. You have to hold it up to the light to really see that line but that's the only thing that's different. This is the Verizon iPhone so, of course, there is that extra line here in the antenna but, again, that's the only differences you're gonna see. Starting with the earlier iPhones, I've never been such a fan of the white models but I know a lot of people have been so it's great that you can now have the option to buy it. Of course, it doesn't have a unicorn horn on it. You might be waiting for that 'cause a lot of people called this a tech unicorn, but it does, just doesn't have that unicorn horn. On the back, I thought the back looked a little cheaper than the black iPhone. It's just a real subjective thing that I saw. You may not agree but just didn't like the skin quite as much. The upside, though, is the back won't show fingerprints as easily as the black iPhone gets smudgy really quickly and you're not gonna see that here. Now, there's been a lot of controversy over whether the white iPhone is actually thicker than the black model. Some blogs have posted photos, they do see a difference even though it's maybe 0.2 millimeters which is hardly anything. Another blogs and news reports have said there's no difference. Check the video where we actually take the phone down to a place in San Francisco that can measure things really, really accurately, down to even smaller than a millimeter so we'll see if that's actually true. But right now, I don't see any difference. We also heard that the white iPhone doesn't accommodate the standard cases or bumpers that Apple has actually put out. Well, Apple was good enough to send us a white bumper. Of course, you can use any bumper you'd like, and, you know, when I snapped it on, I didn't think it went on any more difficult than on the black iPhone. I also didn't see a difference when I tried using this other case that I currently use on a black iPhone 4. It snapped on just as easily as well, so, I think even if it is a little bit bigger, I don't think it's a big deal and, to be honest with you, I'm sure that when you make a bunch of products like that, sometimes there are very, very slight differences that come out of the production line, but overall, the white iPhone, exactly the same as I said, may not be your cup of tea but it's finally, finally here and if you don't care and I'm sure there's a lot of you out there that don't, well, it's here anyway for you. I'm Kent German and this is the white iPhone 4. -The Bottom Line this week, yep, it's white. I mean, what else can I say? It's still the same phone which is great and now you're really cool now. Look, you've got the white iPhone. No one else has it. Okay, I admit, it is kind of great. Okay, folks, that's our show but Molly will be back next week with a brand-new CNET Tech Review. Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. See you next time and thanks for watching.