Top picks for vacation flicks: CNET Tech Review
CNET Tech Review: Top picks for vacation flicks25:22 /
This week on the CNET Tech Review, how to play Xbox games on your Mac; a minicamcorder Prizefight; and Archos offers Android in tablet form.
>> This week on the CNET Tech Review, the battle of the minicamcorders in a brand new Prizefight. How to play Xbox games on your iMac. Archos delivers an android tablet. And our top five picks for Father's Day gifts. It's all coming up right now. ^M00:00:17 [ Music ] ^M00:00:21 Hey, everyone, I'm Molly Wood. Welcome to the CNET Tech Review, the show where we bring you the good, the bad and the bottom line in tech videos from the week. Let's kick things off with the good. With Memorial Day behind us, it's time to start getting ready for your summer vacation, and, of course, your vacation videos. If you're in the market for a new minicamcorder to take on your trip, let Brian Tong help you pick the right one in this week's Prizefight. ^M00:00:50 [ Music ] ^M00:00:55 >> What's up, Prizefight fans? I'm Brian Tong. And video cameras come in all shapes and sizes. So we're facing off two that fit in your pocket. This is a throwdown showdown between the secondgeneral Flip MinoHD and Kodak Zi8. We're bringing in CNET's finest from the NYC to judge this battle; Executive Editor, David Carnoy; Senior Editor, Joshua Goldman; and yours truly will do the honors. Now, we'll take all three judges' 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. Let's get physical. First round is sexiness. The Flip MinoHD is the most compact camcorder to date. And we like its classy metal finish, smooth lines and its almostbuttonless design. This guy screams sexy. Now, the Kodak Zi8, not so much. It's not ugly, but it's bulkier and not as pocketfriendly. I like its large 2.5inch LCD. The dark color design is nice, but there's plenty of room to improve its form factor. The MinoHD takes this round with a 4.3, and the Zi8 gets a 3.3. Next round is audio and video quality. Audio quality is going to be about the same. And Kodak gives you the option to connect an external mic. But there were differences in the video quality. Both cameras shoot 720p video. But Kodak kicks it up a notch with 1080p and 720p shooting at 60 frames per second for ultrasmooth video. Flip has been the benchmark for video quality. And we found that it had slightly warmer and four colors, and it also performed better adjusting to different light conditions. Both cameras shine in this round, but Kodak just gets the edge with a 4.3, and Flip Video gets a 4. So after averaging two rounds, the MinoHD leads by four tenths of a point. There's plenty more battle to go. Next round is features. Flip's line of cameras are really known for their simplicity and not for their features. The MinoHD has builtin memory. You won't need a cable to charge it since it charges through USB. And all you really need is just the camera. But geeks like me might want a little more. If you want a little extra something, Kodak Zi8 brings unique features, like an expandible memory slot for the storage size of your choice, a macro mode to switch focus on really close objects, and the ability to connect an external mic. Plus, HDMI and composite video outputs. The Zi8 hits hard with a 4.7, and the MinoHD gets a 3. Round four is software. Both cameras come with builtin software to share your videos, but not all things are created equal. Flip brings its FlipShare app that is compatible with both PCs and Macs. It boasts a cleaner interface and more publishing features like creating video greeting cards, your own private Flip channel, and online publishing to Facebook, YouTube and others. I also found editing clips to be a lot easier with FlipShare. Kodak's media impression software is only PC compatible. Plus, you can easily drag and drop files onto the Mac to edit them in a different program. It has basic editing and a movie maker feature, plus publishing options from the expected online services. Flip takes the cake here with a perfect 5, and Kodak gets a 4. So after averaging four rounds, we're tied at 4.1 points apiece. The final round that decides it all is value. The Flip MinoHD is a great pocket camcorder. But for $229 retail price, you would think they could at least throw in an HDMI cable. Well, you won't get one here. And you feel like you might not be getting a bang for every buck. The Kodak Zi8 starts at $179 retail price, and you're getting everything you can think of in this package, with all of its shooting modes, an expandible memory slot for up to 32 gigs, plus an HDMI and composite video cable included. Kodak shines in the final round and gets a 4.7, and Flip gets a 4. So after averaging five rounds out and going into the final round tied, the Kodak Zi8 pulled out of this neckandneck battle, 4.2 to 4.1, and is your Prizefight winner. Both of these are great pocket camcorders. And with a Prizefight this close, the real winner is you. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching. We'll catch you guys next time for another Prizefight. ^M00:05:24 [ Music ] ^M00:05:27 >> Thanks, Brian. I do feel like a winner. So those two cameras are both excellent choices, but if you're looking for something a little more rugged for your summer adventures, take a look at Kodak's Playsport. Here's Prizefight judge, Joshua Goldman, with a first look. >> Hi, I'm Josh Goldman, Senior Editor for CNET Reviews. And this is a look at the Kodak Playsport minicamcorder. The Playsport, also known as the Zx3, captures video resolutions up to 1080p at 30 frames per second. Can do it under water to depths of nearly 10 feet. It's also dustresistant, and slightly more durable than the average pocket video camera. The Playsport also has an LCD glare shield that improves viewing of the small 2inch screen in bright outdoor conditions. In order to keep the body compact and limit opportunities for water damage, this model doesn't have the builtin USB connector that's common to this type of camcorder. Instead, you have to use the included USB cable. Next to the USB port, there's a miniHDMI port for connecting to an HDTV, and an AV jack. Cables for both are included, too. What's not included is memory. There's only 20 megs of internal storage, so you'll need to supply an SDHC card to record to. The shooting features might not be as robust as other models from Kodak, but the Playsport does have four capture modes, including 720p at 30 and 60 frames per second, and electronic image stabilization. The integrated sharing software is simple and works well, too. The 1080p video quality is generally excellent with great color and sharpness for its class. However, if you're doing a lot of panning or you're shooting fastmoving subjects, you'll want to switch to the 60 frame per second 720p setting to avoid a lot of jutter in your clips. The results are softer than 1080p, but much smoother. Pocket video cameras can't compete with a fullfledged HD camcorder, but for its price and size, this is a fine choice. I'm Josh Goldman, and that's the Kodak Playsport. >> See? I just bought a kiddy pool last week, so the Playsport would actually be perfect for my house. Because let me tell you, if you've got a camera around a kid in a pool, it's going to get wet. Turning our attention to AppleI know, big surprisethe Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is just around the corner. And the Apple rumor mill is running full steam ahead. Now, remember, this is the event where we usually hear about new iPhones and other updates. But in this episode of Apple Byte, Brian Tong seems to have other things on his mind. >> So Brian, what you got going there? >> Hey, what's going on? >> Check this out. So I have these magnets, and they're like apps, so I'm arranging the apps the way I'd want them to be on my iPhone. >> Cool, man. Don't you have work to do? >> No, I'm on my lunch break. Now, if I move the app store down here, I have an entire line of blue. So I'll tell you what, why don't you keep working on this. >> Okay. >> I'll be over here talking to some girls. >> All right. Girls? >> What's up? Brian Tong here. And welcome to the Apple Byte for all the good and bad inside the world of Apple. Now, I can promise you I will not be making out with any Apple products this week, so let's get to the show. Apple is officially no longer the underdog. Earlier this week, Apple passed Microsoft in market capitalization for the first time in their storied history. It's been going back and forth now. But at the time of the show, Apple's market cap is around $226 billion, just edging Microsoft, and it also makes them the second largest U.S. company, by market cap, behind Exxon Mobil's $282 billion value. The Big A now is really the Big A. And, unfortunately, they've been acting like it a lot more and more. Now, in iPhone news, according to the Boy Genius Report, AT&T has confirmed to its employees that the next gen iPhone will be available to purchase in June, and they emphasize it will not be late June. So start saving, if you haven't already, because any U.S. customers even thinking of killing their AT&T contract for their 3GS might want to think again after AT&T recently upped their early termination fee from $175 to $325. That hurts daddy. Now, in a recent DIGITIMES article, it claims Apple has been working on multiple versions of the next iPhone. The leaked iPhone we all know about was known as the N90. But according to them, Apple has been working on another product codenamed N91 that more closely resembles the iPhone 3GS in case there were any issues or delays with the new casing, display resolution, digital camera and other modifications. And in another downer for Verizon iPhone hopefuls, because we keep piling them on, DIGITIMES claims Pegatron will build the CDMAbased iPhone, but it will not enter mass production until at least the second half of this year, if not 2011. 2011, add some more, you're talking about 2012. And, yeah, it just keeps getting worse for you guys. All right, let's take a look at the app of the week. Now, the app of the week is the Wired Magazine app for the iPad. I've been hyping this thing up and showing you snippets, but this lives up to the hype. It was delayed and rebuilt in Objective C after Apple banned any flashbased apps or software converters. But the partnership between Wired and Adobe has given us the best digital magazine we've ever seen. Now, there are fully interactive animations. There's also panels that you can change, depending on what you select. And there's multimedia clips integrated into the experience. Now, the best part about this magazine app is that the text is always readable and the page layout rearranges itself if you're reading in Portrait or Landscape mode. Many other magazines on the iPad are PDFbased. And that PDF format is natively different from an iPad, so you'll have to press an option to read the text separately, which takes away from enjoying the article. But not on this one. The Wired Magazine is truly made for the iPad's dimensions. It's $4.99 per issue. And I'll be the first to admit that's really pricey. But Wired says they will offer a subscription option in the fall. And this is really an achievement for digital magazines. And as you can tell, I like it a lot. All right, moving onto some quick bytes. Apple's back to school deal has returned. So if you're looking to get a MacBook, MacBook Pro or an iMac, you can get up to $200 off the computer and an 8gig iPod touch for free when you buy them together. And it's perfect timing with the latest upgrades to the laptop line. Now, we compared VMware and Parallels in a past episode for running Windows on your Mac. And the big knock on VMware was its sluggishness. But they've released an update which claims to give you 35% faster app performance and 3D graphics with five times the speed. And also, if you were curious about those magnets we showed off in the beginning of the show, they're called the app magnets, and you can get them from jailbreakcollective.com. It's a set of 18 for $12.99. And each of these epoxy tiles are reminders of the icons on your phone. And guess what? I have one set to give away. So all you guys have to do is send me an email to the Apple Byte at CNET.com, tell me your favorite ice cream, and I'll pick a winner. And I'm sure there are people trying to find a way to still carry their iPads around with them. Well, it looks like iClothing has a solution for you with the iTee and iDress. Now, these highend models showcase how this will change your life. But in the fashion world, they just call that a very large pocket in the wrong place. And I couldn't even find a bad apple that looked worse than that shirt to throw out here. All right, that's going to do it for this week's show. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching. And we'll see you guys next week for another byte of the apple. >> So I'm going to take this one and I'm going to move it right there. >> Wow, wow. What are you going to do with this one? >> That one? Wouldn't you want to know? I'm going to take this one, slide it down here. >> Oh, yes. >> Do you like that? I know you do. >> Ladies love B Tong. I think it's his animal magnetism. Or it could be the slide. And if you can't get enough of our Apple coverage, be sure to check out our WWDC preview playing right now at CNET TV. And, of course, come back on Monday, June 7th, when we'll be bringing you all the big announcements from the show. Now, while you jot that down in your calendars, let's take a break. But stick around. We'll keep rolling with the good stuff in just a minute. ^M00:14:32 [ Music ] ^M00:14:35 Welcome back, guys, I'm Molly Wood, and this is the CNET Tech Review. And some weeks, there's just more good than bad. So let's keep the happy train rolling. Now, one thing people like about Apple's products is that they tend to work pretty great right out of the box. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement, especially by adding accessories. Here are Nicole Lee and Rich Brown with a couple of nifty addons for your iPhone and iMac. >> I'm Nicole Lee, Associate Editor for CNET.com, and this is a first look at the Sound ID 510 Bluetooth headset. As you can see here, it is a very simple looking Bluetooth headset, very slim and stylist, all Blackberry minimalist appeal. On the front, there is a multifunction button right here. Above it is a small little LED indicator. You don't get a physical volume rocker with the headset, but you do get a touch sensor volume control, and you can adjust the volume by sliding your finger up and down the front of the headset. On the side here is a power toggle. On the back, there is the earpiece with Sound ID's Real Comfort ear loop. The Sound ID 510 comes with an array of different ear loop sizes for a more customized fit. The ear loop can also be adjusted to fit either the left or right ear. One of the most interesting things about the Sound ID 510 is that it is the first Bluetooth headset with its own iPhone app. The iPhone app is called EarPrint, and is available free for a download from the iTunes app store. With the EarPrint iPhone app, you can adjust a variety of things on your Sound ID 510 headset. You can adjust the personal sound level, which means you can adjust the incoming audio quality. You can also find out how loud the surrounding noise is. You can also adjust the noise reduction demo to just find out how much noise you're canceling. There's also an environmental sound level that amplifies the sound around you when the headset is not in use. This is a very handy findmyheadset locator function in the app, so that if you lose your headset somewhere in the house, for example, you can just press this button, and then your headset will continue beeping to let you know where the headset is. You can also find out the battery status of your headset with this app. The Sound ID 510 is around $130. I'm Nicole Lee, and this has been a first look at the Sound ID 510 Bluetooth headset. >> Hi, I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for CNET.com. Today, we're going to take a look at the Connex XD. So in the back of the iMac, you'll find a minidisplay port adapter. You can use that to output video from the iMac to another display. But unique to the 27inch model is it's also an input. Now, out of the box, you can connect say a MacBook Pro to the iMac with a standard minidisplay port cable going both directions. The problem, though, is that it doesn't have the ability to convert an HDMI signal. Technically, it can do that, though, because it's a digital port, and that's where the Connex XD comes in. So this is a pretty straightforward little device. It costs about $150. So you kind of have to be serious about turning your iMac into kind of a home entertainment hub. But it's got an HDMI port here, minidisplay port jack there, little power cable input there. Now, there's no software that comes with it. There's just a little basic order of operations you need to follow in order to make sure the signal goes through. And it's really pretty straightforward. And we've had success with PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, which you'll see here, we'll show you in a minute. We've tried Bluray players, as well as cable boxes and HD camcorders. The only problem we have is with an HDMI switch. We tried a couple devices, and the cable box couldn't reconcile the signal through the switch, through the adapter into the iMac. We think there's probably a signal authentication issue. The other limitation has to do with the iMac's display. It's only encoded to support certain resolutions coming into the system. So it will be 2560 by 1440, which is its native display, which you'll see right here. And then it goes down to 720p and 480p. So that means a couple things. First, it means you need to set your video source to input to 720p. So that means you may need to connect say your game console to another display first in order to drop the resolution setting down so that the iMac can actually display when you connect it. From the standpoint of display quality, it's actually not that big a deal. Games in two signals, for example, both look great, and they don't really look that much different than what you'd see in full 1080p. I won't complain actually with the Bluray quality. It's a little bit muddied, and definitely not as clear as the 1080p signal you might be used to. As we said, getting the Connex XD started is pretty simple. You plug in the HDMI port, then you go to the power, then finally you bring the minidisplay port jack from the device into the iMac. As you can see, the signal switches over automatically. And we've got our Xbox screen up here. And it plays games just fine. Now, there's no actual crosstalk between the iMac and the Xbox, so you can't say, record game play. And that's probably a good idea, as far as copy protection goes. There are a few commands you can do, though, with Mac Keyboard. You can do volume, as well as screen brightness still, and you can hit Command F2 to switch between the different signals. The Connex XD is not the only device that will go from minidisplay port to HDMI into the iMac. There are a couple others out of the market. We know of a few forthcoming, as well. But this is one of the first. And its price is roughly the same as the others. It goes for about 150 bucks. So I'm Rich Brown, and this is the Connex XD. >> There's something about playing my Xbox on my iMac that just seems wrong, and I like it. Although, why couldn't Apple just add an HDMI port? Why? And with that, enough Mrs. Nice Gal. Let's move on to what's bad this week. Now, with the rise of netbooks, tablets, smartphones, standalone MP3 and video players are becoming a thing of the past. So what does media player Archos do? Come out with a tablet of their own. And Donald Bell gives it a first look. >> Hey, I'm Donald Bell for CNET.com, and today we're taking a first look at the Archos 7 Home Tablet. As the name implies, this is a tablet computer with a 7inch screen. It runs Android OS 1.5 and comes with eight gigabytes of internal memory and costs a shockingly low $199. Now, Archos had to make some concessions to get the price down. The resistant touchscreen is sluggish, lacks multitouch and has a bad viewing angle when you tilt it down. The internal memory is meager. There's no Bluetooth or GPS, no camera or compass. And unlike previous Archos tablets, there's no dock connection on the bottom for video output or DVR accessories. Instead, you get a micro USB port for data transfer, a power and hole switch up at the top, a micro SD card slot, a headphone output and a socket for the included power adapter. At full charge, you can expect around 44 hours of music playback or 7 hours of video. There's also a pair of internal speakers on the front and a plastic kickstand on the back. The OS is completely android, including the media players. You can surf the web, check your email, or even read a book. There's also an integrated app store put together by Archos where you can download compatible apps. It's unfortunate that not all apps for android are compatible with the Archos 7 due to the limitations of the hardware. But there's still plenty of apps to play around with. Gripes aside, if you're looking for an android alternative to the iPad or iPod touch, the Archos 7 gets you there on a 7inch screen for only $199. The experience isn't dazzling, but the price is right. So there you go. That's the Archos 7 Home Tablet. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell. >> Oh, poor Archos. I'm not sure if this is just a glorified PVP or a puny tablet wannabe, but either way, I'm going to have to pass. And now the moment you've been waiting for, this week's Bottom Line. Father's Day is still a couple of weeks away, so you've got plenty of time to shop. But put down that Omaha Steaks catalog, because we have the top five tech gifts for dad already picked out for you. >> Welcome to CNET Top 5, where each time we meet, we count down another hot CNET list. I'm Tom Merritt. Father's Day is coming up, and dads like tech. But getting your dad an iPod is kind of like getting him a tie. It's pretty predictable. And a TV is a little out of the budget for most Father's Day giftgivers, unless [inaudible]. But don't worry, we've got the Father's Day presents sure to make your techloving padre smile big. Let's count them down. At number five, the Sonos S5 digital music system. Great sound, no clutter, no cables, and controlled from an app on your iPhone or iPod touch. Perfect for the Appletoting paps. Coming in at number four, the Sony BDPS570. It's not just a highdef Bluray player. It has 3D support, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Slacker music support and builtin WiFi. You may get hugged if you give this. Up to number three, Audioengine 2. Dads still want to impress friends, and one way to impress friends is small things that do impressive stuff. These compact speakers deliver phenomenal sound for their size, perfect for the audio file father. Climbing in at number two, the Amazon Kindle. Dads read. And this helps them impress their annoying neighbors while they do it. You can also fill it up with Tom Clancy, Steven king, or whatever dad loves to read. Before we get to number one, hear are five things you should absolutely not give your techloving dad, especially if you want to preserve your inheritance. All right, let's get to our number one, the top tech gift for dad, at number one, it's the Logitech Harmony One. Let's assume dad already sprung for the highdef TV during the last big TV event, be it Super Bowl or BlizzCon. He needs a universal remote. And this is possibly the best universal remote we've ever tested here at CNET. That inheritance just got bigger. That's it for this edition of CNET Top 5. You can find more great tech gift recommendations like these at our Dads and Grads Gift Guide, dads.cnet.com. And no matter what you give your dad this Father's Day, don't forget to tell him you love him. I'm Tom Merritt. See you next time. >> The Bottom Line this week, it's the thought that counts. But don't even think of buying your dad a tech gift unless you also plan to help him set it up. And that's our show for this week. We'll be back again next week with a whole new batch of videos, including our coverage of WWDC. Will I have a new iPhone in my hands? Come back next week to find out. Until then, you can find more great video at CNETTV.com. See you next time. And thank you for watching, everyone. ^M00:25:18 [ Music ]