CNET Tech Review
We pick up the TabThis week on the CNET Tech Review: Samsung's Galaxy Tab arrives; color comes to the Barnes & Noble Nook; iLife '11 brings big updates; and how could we forget...zombies!
-This week on the CNET Tech Review: Mini Tablets or Mega eReaders. We reviewed the Galaxy Tab and the Nook Color plus counting down the top 5 home theater essentials. What's new in Apple's iLife '11 and Zombies invade your iPhone. It's all coming up right now. Hi everyone. I'm Molly Wood 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. Any new tablet computer that comes on the market has to face comparisons to Apple's ubiquitous iPad. So, how does the new Samsung Galaxy Tab stack up? Donald Bell has the answer. -Hey! I'm Donald Bell and today we're taking a first look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This is an Android-based tablet computer running running Android 2.2, the 7-inch capacity touchscreen. It's available on all major carriers starting mid November with various pricing plans. This version is in from Sprint, which has the Tab for $399 with a 2-year contract, plus a monthly data plan, that's a minimum of $29. As a competitor to the Apple iPad, the Tab isn't cheap, but the Samsung's credit, they didn't skimp on the product. We've already seen cheap 7-inch Android tablets the Archos 7, and they're not great. As the name implies, the Galaxy Tab offers Samsung's Galaxy smart phone experience in a larger tablet form. On the front, you've got a screen, which is covered with this scratch-resistant gorilla glass. The LCD underneath is a crisp 1024 x 600 resolution, which is on par with the iPad. But since the screen is about half the size, the pixel density is much tighter. Above the screen, you have our front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera, which is perfect for video chat; and across the bottom, you have the typical Android style buttons for menu, home, back, and search. There is a standard headphone jack on the top, and volume, and power buttons on the side along with a micro SD card slot. For this model from Sprint, a 16-gigabyte card was included. On the bottom, you've got Samsung's dock connector and a pair of built-in speakers. Flip it over and you'll see a white plastic back and a larger 3-megapixel camera with innovative flash. Overall, the feel is very solid. It's about a half inch thick, same as the iPad, but not as tapered at the edges. It's lighter than the iPad, easier to hold on one hand, and has the huge benefit of actually being able to fit in an average pocket. With that said, compared to the 5-inch Dell Streak, it's large enough to deliver an experience that's closer to the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. The on-screen keyboard is ample and the screen size is large enough that it can share the same page as an e-mail or web page. The keyboard itself isn't quite as accommodating as the iPad, but on the upside, smart phones style thumb typing feels natural and the keyboard response with haptic feedback. Samsung also includes swipe capabilities out of the box allowing you to run your finger over groups of letters that trigger an auto suggestion. The Tab's paperback size is also a natural fit for eBooks and the Amazon Kindle app comes pre-installed. Another big deal here is that the official Google app market is included, front and center, giving you access to all the popular apps: Pandora, TweetDeck, Yelp, Angry Birds, they're all here and they all look great on the big screen. Samsung also throws in a few of their own unique apps such as the Media Hub Store for downloading movies and TV shows. Apps like contacts, calendars, and memo have all been optimized for the larger screen. And because the Tab includes GPS along with 3G and wi-fi, the included navigation app does an excellent job as an in-car navigation device, offering turn-by-turn directions, points of interests, and voice search. Another little advantage the Tab has over the iPad is Adobe Flash 10.1 compatibility, allowing all of the web's flash video content to play natively in the browser. The results are a little choppy in some cases, but it's nice to have the option. So, is the Galaxy Tab better than the iPad? It may be, for some people who really want the portability, the camera, the flash support or the extra carrier options. But, I don't think the iPad is too much to worry about. Honestly, with the Tab about half the size of the iPad, with kind of different products, the iPad is more of a Netbook alternative, while the Tab fits into more of the smart phone and eReader camp. It's a solid device, though. And if the price and the carrier contracts don't scare you off, you should definitely check it out. So, that's the Samsung Galaxy Tab. For cnet.com, I'm Donald Bell. -So okay, the Galaxy Tab isn't quite an iPad killer, but with the Kindle app built in, it does look like a pretty nice color eReader that does a lot of other cool stuff too, but maybe you don't want your eReader to do lots of other stuff. Maybe you just wanna read books, magazines, and newspapers in color. Well then, let me direct your attention to the new Nook Color from Barnes & Noble. -I'm David Carnoy, executive editor with CNET.com, and I'm with the Nook Color launch and I'm here with Theresa Horner who is the vice president of Visual Content with Barnes and Noble, and she is gonna give us a quick demo of the new Nook Color. -So, this is a book and basically what I wanna show is how quick the screen changes. We've got some social features on here, so I can tap and hold and I can share and I can do some immediate sharing with my friends of either I can recommend or I could share a quote or anything like that, so it really bring social to the book. So into my shelf area, I've got my magazines all cued up here, so I'm gonna pull the National Geographic, which is absolutely gorgeous when you see the color. So, this is the single page print. If I turn it like this, I will get a 2-page print and I can page through the magazine just like this. I can also pull up a slider bar here and so I can go back and forth and browse through the magazine as though I'm doing it in paper, which kind of a nice feature. And you can see that the color is just gorgeous on this screen. We know you like this new hard button, so what's nice about it is it's actually very tactile. You can push it and it brings right back to the home page and this home screen basically you can put all you most current reading books right here, so they are all ready right at your access, so I can go right into this kids books. Another nice feature of Nook is this beautiful color books that we've got going and right here we have this again a nice page turning experience. You can page through the book just like this. So, the web browser is kind of a nice feature. We've got a sort of a quick access feature here. I can go to B&N Review and it will pull the B&N Review page. So, the extra page is really great because it shows the beginnings of our app marque place. So, we've got Pandora, we've got contacts, we've crosswords. And the gallery actually shows you-- We've got some video load up in here and it shows video. The really nice features with the social aspect is bring social to reading to easily share books with your friends and quotes with your friends. So, the home screen is great because I could even do things like I can expand it, I can drop them off, and then I can launch products right from there like I showed. So, it's a very nice handy little feature, and there's multiple screens, so if you've a lot going on, you can do it across 3 or 4 screens. -Alright, thank you. -Okay, great, thank you. -I'm David Carnoy and that is a first look at the new Barnes & Noble Nook Color eReader. -So wait, the Nook has books, and video, and music, and web browsing? How is that not a tablet? I guess I better call Donald. Maybe he can help explain the difference. Now, you may have a 30, 40, 50, even a 60-inch HD TV at home, but without access to the right programming, that giant screen won't mean literally. So, that's where your TV accessories come in and Brian Cooley is back to countdown his 5 favorite home theater essentials. -Maybe you waded through my recent Top 5 TVs, which actually was 9 of the damned things. Lots of ties. Well, to reward you for that, I've got the perfect side dish: Top 5 home video gear devices to go with that new TV! And yes, it's actually 5 this time. Let's go. Warming things up at number 5, the brand new Roku XDS streaming player. You wanna join the whole "screw you cable company movement"? This is about the best way to do it for a little bit of money under a hundred bucks. You'll get Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, MLB TV, Hulu Plus for a fee, no iTunes or YouTube support though. This will not raise a vein on your forehead when you're setting it up either. We like the simplicity. And go for this XDS version because it has a USB port for playing your own movies off a thumb drive, rounds out the package nicely. Number 4 is the Slingbox Solo, our favorite placeshifting device. Now, I think the Slingbox is something of a niche device personally. You either don't need one or you absolutely love it. It takes whatever is on your home media system and streams it to just about any computer, smart phone, or other device that can run the sling software. It's great if you have one of those pricey live sports packages and you waste a bunch of it 'coz you're away from the house all the time. You can get one of these guys for as little as $160. Coming in at number 3, the Samsung BD-C6500 Blu-ray deck. It's our favorite straight up Blu-ray player. But even if you're just lukewarm on Blu-ray itself, like yours truly, this box also gets you streaming services like Netflix, Vudu and YouTube. It has 7.1 surround outputs and a gigabyte storage onboard plus built-in Wi-Fi. Oh, and Samsung is pushing their own Apps platform now, So, down the road away, you'll be able to load this thing up with what you want and make it a personalized home media terminal. At number 2, we have the Harmony One do it all and make it easy unified remote. These guys kinda own this space, and the model One is the sweet spot of their line in our opinion. You program tasks like let's say play DVD in 5.1 audio via HDMI input 2. You put all that into a little macro and that's programmed via a web service. It could not be easier. Okay, before we hit the number 1 present you should give your TV, look at how many TVs we own. Good grief. The latest Nielsen numbers show just 17% of households are scraping by with one television, 28% of us have two, and 55% of our households have 3 or more! In fact, the average now is 3 TV sets in the home. Okay, let's reveal the number 1 best piece of home video gear to hook up to at least one of those TVs. It's the Sony PS3 Slim, just about the priciest thing at $350, but still the best value; games, Blu-ray, online streaming from their service as well as others like Netflix; and Sony just gave it a 3D update. So now, you've got some future proofing there with the compatible 3D TV. Full details on all of these products are over at Matt Moskoviak's list on CNET and keep an eye on it if you're in the market because this is a very hot sector and new products are popping up all the time. Just go to CNET, click the Home Video category, then Best Home Video products or just go to our page. It's top5.cnet.com. I'm Brian Cooley. Thanks for watching. -I do have to say my PS3 really does help tie the whole living room together, but it's still nothing like the rooms in our piece. Turning our attention to the world of corporate synergy, for the past several years, our sister company, Showtime, has put together an annual showcase for its original programming. They call it the Showtime House and then all the shows like Dexter and Nurse Jackie are the design inspiration for each of the rooms. So, this year, CNET's editors got to help put some good tech into those rooms. Well, here's Dan Ackerman with a tour of the finished product. -I'm Dan Ackerman from cnet.com. We're here in New York at the Casa Hotel and Residences, home of the 2010 Showtime Showhouse. We're gonna take a look at some of the really cool technology inside, everything from 3D TVs to [unk], so Let's go take a look. -I'm going in. -We're here in the Weeds Office and we've got an HP TouchSmart PC. Touchscreen technology is really probably one of the hottest trends this year and you can actually use this to help design your own wallpaper. -Are you serious? -They call it HP Wallskins. And with that, you design your own wallpaper. HP prints it out and sends it to you then you could put it up on your wall just with water and then later take it off with water so you can change your wallpaper every year. -Great idea. -Now, keeping things cool, we've got a Dyson Air Multiplier. It's really one of the coolest industrial designs in technology this year. It's a blade-less fan. -What? -It is a blade-less fan so you can keep the air flowing and actually just stick your hand right through it like that. Don't worry about hitting your fingers on the blades 'coz they aren't there. -Much simplier. Less destructive. -We're here in Pope Borgia's study. And if you're saying to yourself "hey, I feel like I know a lot about renaissance 15th century Italy", that's probably because you've playing Assassin's Creed 2 from Ubisoft. The game actually takes place in the same era and has a lot of the same characters including the Borgia's. We're watching it right now through this one-way mirror playing on a big Samsung flat-screen TV. -Let's do this thing. -We're here in the Big Sea Lounge and I'm immersing myself in this relaxing 3D nature image and the best part is I don't need the big bulky 3D glasses in order to view it. That's because this magnetic 3D display uses lenticular technology and that lets you see the image with the naked eye. Take it from me, the future 3D is eyeglass free. -So there you go. So we're here in Dexter's refuge and one of the coolest things in here literally is the LG Art Cool. -What is this? -It's a 1200 BTU air conditioner in behind this picture frame. You hit the secret button then the vents open up and keep the room cool without the need for an [unk] -Take me to the head. -Now, in my favorite room, Dexter's gaming room. Back here, I've got a JVC ultrathin LED Backlit TV. It's the thinnest TV you can buy and play on it. You've got Marc Ecko's Dexter game available for the iPhone and iPad. We're at the other end of Dexter's game room and behind me, Sensorium AV has taken this gigantic wall of mirrors attached transfusably to the back and turns into 1 gigantic vibrating speaker. -I liked it even more. -I'm Dan Ackerman from cnet.com. To find out more about the 2010 Showtime Showhouse, you can go to sho.com. -Thanks Dan for a sparing us a visit to the Californication Bedroom. And although we didn't see it, I'm going to have to assume there's a mini fridge somewhere in that Weeds-inspired loft. Speaking of which, here's your chance to go grab some munchies. We'll be right back with more CNET Tech Review after this. And welcome back to the CNET Tech Review, our weekly video digest of all things good and bad we've seen here at CNET TV. Continuing on in the good. Beyond the new MacBook Air and a preview of Apple OS 10 Lion, Steve Jobs and friends spend a lot of their stage time during the Back to the Mac event talking about all the new features in 2011 version of iLife. Well, Josh Lowensohn has a lot to say about it too, but he can do it in a lot less time. -Hi! I'm Josh Lowensohn with cnet.com and I'm going to walk you through some of the new features bundled into iLife '11, Apple's latest update to its consumer media editing and sharing sweet. iLife '11 comes free with every new Mac, but if you've got an older version, it's a $50 upgrade. This year's edition comes nearly two years after the release of iLife '09. And at time since, Apple has updated just three of the five applications that make up this sweet; iPhoto, iMovie, and Garage Band, leaving iDVD and iWeb untouched since the last version. To put iLife on your machine, you'll need a Mac with an Intel processor, 1 gigabyte of RAM, and Mac OS 10.6.3 or higher. You also need about 5 gigabytes of storage free on your hard drive. For us, the upgrade took just a little under 20 minutes and required no restart. One of the biggest changes in this week can be found in iMovie as Apple is out of the option to edit the audio in your clips. Hitting a new button that appears just underneath your project timeline, you can see away form of the clips' audio and make edits to how loud or quiet it is. But it's not just about making body audio more even. Apple has also added some fun special effects tools that let you tweak the audio. These range from the rather mundane of making people sound like they're on a telephone or a short-wave radio to giving them a robot or alien voice. -You can also adjust the pitch up or down, which lends itself well to some video high jinx. Along with audio editing, a new feature in iMovie 11 is Movie Trailers, which lets you create short movie trailers using footage of your friends. Each trailer is set up as a template and you're given a list of characters that you can drag in and drop footage into. To make this process easier, iMovie will scan your footage for people to figure out how many people are in a shot and how close they are to the camera. We found Trailer Maker to be easy to use, quite a bit of fun, and highly customizable. It's also a very fast process if you've already planned out your shots ahead of time. Besides the additions to iMovie, Apple's photo editing and library management tool, iPhoto, has been given some nice tweaks. First and foremost, you can now do everything in full screen mode, which is especially handy on notebook computers where you're trying to squeeze every bit of usefulness out of a smaller display. Apple has also made sharing a better experience with the option to send an e-mail of your photos from within iPhoto. Previously, you'd have to fire up Apple's mail program. Apple has also enhanced how iPhoto talks to FaceBook, so you post photos not just to FaceBook albums but to your wall and profile picture too. For analog sharing, iPhoto's books are still there and joining them in this year's edition are cards. You can now print flat and folded cards along with letterpress cards; all of which can be customized with your own photos and texts then purchased from within the app. Apple has given the book and card making experience a complete overhaul since last year's version with a new carousel view, which lets you preview what each style looks like before you dig into customizing it. Notably missing from this process are calendars, something Apple says is coming in a future software update. In the meantime, you're limited to making books and cards. Rounding out the list, the last application to get an update is GarageBand, Apple's music training and editing software. This year's version improves on the lessons program with the new system that will actually listen to when you play a song with a practice track and highlight all of your mistakes. You can then go back to those parts and replay and retry until you get it right. Along the way, GarageBand keeps track of your progress and can give you a virtual report card of how you've improved since you first started. Besides lessons, Apple has added two new ways to adjust instrumental tracks you've recorded. The first is called Flex Time, which lets you tweak the timing of a recorded note. If something is in the wrong place or slightly off, you can drag it in GarageBand's Timeline. This is incredibly easy to use and can make a tract with just a few mistakes into something that sounds like you've nailed it on the first take. But if a lot of things are wrong, Apple has included something called Groove Matching, which lets you pick a single recorded track as the one you want the other tracks to sync up to. This is a one click affair and will make Flex Time adjustments to all the rest of the tracks automatically. These are just a few of the features you'll find and iLife '11. It may be a little bit late compared to previous versions of the Software Suite, but at $20 less than the last version and with some significant improvements to three of its core apps, we think it's a pretty good deal. For more, be sure to check out our full review. I'm Josh Lowensohn and this has been a first look at Apple's iLife '11. -Yeah, that new First Look theme music is really catchy. Also, Josh, you put a tractor on your Christmas cards? I don't know about that dude. Well, let's not dwell on that too much because it's time to move on to the bad. Now, don't give me wrong. I am all about a bargain. So, on paper, this new AV receiver from Onkyo with its 6 HDMI ports should be a good deal, but that's on paper. In person, it's a whole other story. -Hi! I'm Matthew Moskovciak, senior associate editor at cnet.com, and we're here with the Onkyo HT-RC260. This is a midrange AV receiver from Onkyo and it's currently selling for about $320 online, which is much less than many competing receivers we've seen this year. Now, the receiver has a typical Onkyo look with a big, bulky design and an all black finish. There are some additional connectivity on the front panel including an HDMI input in the lower left and an AV input in the lower right. If you turn the unit on, the Onkyo's graphical user interface also has a utilitarian feel. It's a step up from the text-only interfaces available on competing brands and Denon receivers, but it doesn't look quite as nice as what's offered on Yamaha and Pioneer's models. Still, you'll probably only see these menus during the setup, so it's not a huge loss. Around back, you'll find the real strength of the Onkyo, which is connectivity. There are 5 HDMI inputs on the back plus the front panel input, which is 6 HDMI inputs total. That's an outstanding value considering it's selling for about $320. Those HDMI inputs are also all 3D compatible and support audio return channel functionality, but they don't support standby passthrough, which is something that's offered on some competitors. There are also plenty of analog video connections on the back, and the Onkyo is capable of upscaling them to 1080p over its HDMI output. One thing you may notice is that there's no iPod connectivity out of the box. So, you'll have to purchase Onkyo's proprietary iPod dock if you're looking to connect an iPod. Now, while we're generally big fans of the sound of Onkyo's AV receivers, we were under-whelmed by the sound quality of the HT-RC260. We're guessing Onkyo had to make some compromises to hit the lower price point, and we felt that the sound lacked detail, and it was a full step behind competitors like the Pioneer VSX-1020-K and the Denon AVR-1911. So, altogether, the Onkyo HT-RC260 offers an extraordinary value for a receiver with 6 HDMI inputs, but it wouldn't be our first choice for audio files on a budget. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET, and this is the Onkyo HT-RC260. -So if you don't have a ton of money to spend, you could probably do worse than the Onkyo, but it sounds like you could probably do better too. And with that, let's turn our attention to the Bottom Line. Zombies. They're everywhere, not the real ones of course or at least. I hope not, but the un-dead are all over pop culture lately; from TV shows, to movies, to historical fiction. You name it, the Zombie just keep coming back for more. So, in honor of Halloween, this week's Tap That App is all about Zombie games. -Welcome to Tap That App. I'm Jason Parker and this is the show where we cover the hottest apps in the mobile space. With Halloween just around the corner, this week we're showing off our favorite Zombie games for the iPhone. Since just about everyone already knows about the popular Plants vs. Zombies, we're going to look at three other un-dead gaming hits. To get started, dual-stick shooter Alive4Ever has been around for a long time and is great on its own, but its sequel, Alive4Ever Returns, takes un-dead shoot-'em-up action to a whole new level. Start by picking from four different characters, each with different stats, and then set up your weapon load-out. Once you're dropped into the action, fight your way through rescue quests, boss fights, and an endless shambling horde of Zombies. As you play, you'll unlock new weapons, skills, and attribute points to make each of your characters stronger. Once you've mastered blowing away zombies alone, you can work together in local coop multiplayer with 3 other players for team survival action. Both Alive4Ever and Alive4Ever Returns are each $2.99 at the iTunes App Store. We think both are worth every penny. If dual-stick shooters aren't your cup of tea, check out Zombie Highway. This unique and deadly driving game challenges you to drive as far as you can down a long lonesome highway while ferocious zombies try their best to make you crash. To drive for the longest distance, you'll need to tilt your iPhone to steer around wrecked cars, sideswiping them to knock the zombies to the asphalt. As stronger zombies appear, touch the red arrows on screen to control your unseen gun-wielding passenger, another source of damage against the relentless zombie horde. Once you pass certain milestones in the game like driving a specific distance, for example, you'll unlock weapons for your back-seat passenger that you can set up before each run. With your passenger properly equipped and a little luck, you'll stay alive on the Zombie Highway, well, for at least a little while. Zombie Highway is a one-of-a-kind driving game in the App Store and goes for just 99 cents. While our first two zombie game picks will help prepare you for the coming un-dead apocalypse, the last game might be required playing for lasting in a zombie infested world. Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies gives you a graphically intense first-person shooter perspective as you try to defend against an onslaught of slowly approaching un-dead. As you blow away zombies, you'll earn money you can use to buy more powerful weapons you'll find in various locations around each map. You'll also be able to lift barricades to open up other areas of the map granting access to more weapons and more areas to defend. Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies has been out for awhile, but recent updates have added challenging new maps, more weapons, and more un-dead killing mayhem. If the solo game isn't enough action for you, you can also play multiplayer survival games locally or online. In online play, after a quick signup, an effective match making system puts you together with other players so you can cooperate to fight against the horde as a team. Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies plays like a console or desktop game, but will only run you $4.99 at the iTunes App Store. To sum it up, let's face it: We all know the zombie apocalypse is coming. It's just a matter of time. To stay prepared, tap any of these zombie killing apps especially with Halloween fast approaching. That's it for this week's show. If you have any suggestions, send them to Tap That App at cnet.com. I'm Jason Parker and we'll see you next week. -The Bottom Line this week: Ha, ha, ha. Zombies are scary. Can you imagine those games on iPad? Nightmare central! But if you want even more frightening fun on your iPhone or your iPad, there are special Halloween-themed versions of Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, and more on Josh's latest episode of Tap That App. Alright folks, it is time for me to go. Join us next week when we'll have our test drive of the 2011 Chevy Corvette. Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. I'll see you next time and thank you for watching.