Amped up for the Chevy Volt: CNET Tech Review
CNET Tech Review: Amped up for the Chevy Volt26:22 /
This week on the CNET Tech Review: the 2011 Chevy Volt recharges our interest in hybrids; protect your computer from creepy keyloggers; seven handy apps for making your own ringtones; and drinking and tweeting don't mix.
-This week on the CNET Tech Review: avoid the gas station for weeks with the 2011 Chevy Volt; Samsung's new edge-lit 3D TVs are no joke; turn your favorite tunes into ringtones; plus our Top 5 personal digital disasters and how to avoid them. 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, plus offer unique tech wisdom in the form of The Bottom Line. Let's get started with the good. The Chevy Volt was first introduced as a concept car way back in 2007 and it quickly became one of the most anticipated cars in years. Now, as the Volt makes its way to showrooms, Brian Cooley takes it for a spin. -This is the most anticipated car in your life (no pressure there). Let's find out about it as we drive the 2011 Chevy Volt and check the tech. The 1970 Z-Car, the '76 Accord, the '86 Taurus--all watershed introductions and all pale in the glare of the hype around this guy: the 2011 Chevy Volt. It's being asked to save the environment, your fuel budget, and GM's reputation in one stroke. I don't envy it. Now, inside the Volt, the first thing you notice is look what made it into production--this white stuff. This was in all the concepts and I thought, "Oh, that's interesting. They're trying to do like, what, an iPod Classic meets, you know, Imperial Stormtrooper," but, no, there it is. More notable than that, though, are these touch-sensitive buttons. Almost every button here is a touch contact, kind of like on current MyFord and MyLincoln Touch, which I have not been a big fan of that part of touch. Now if you're looking around, you may have already noticed something else really cutting edge on this car--no dials, no gauges, all screens. You've got one in the center. That we've seen before. This is all new--a complete LCD square instrument panel. It's basically like a 7-inch tablet just sitting in front of you all the time. You've got a huge array of media options on this car. They aren't the main story but let me just run you through them. You've got your usual radio categories as well as XM radio on this guy. You've got the hard drive, disc, AUX button right here. Again, touch cycle through it. Thirty gigabytes of hard drive space to rip to, and of course AUX, USB. You do have Bluetooth streaming and of course Bluetooth handsfree. Another indication that the Volt is being moved as a mid- to high-end car is the fact that it has navigation standard on it as you might imagine. Aside from in the driver's seat, you can also run your Volt from your phone. OnStar Mobile lets you lock and unlock the doors, start the Volt, prep the cabin climate, check your charge state, tell the car when and how to charge, even blow the horn to find the thing. Okay, here's where GM has been spending all their time and their bajillions of dollars--developing the Voltec powertrain. Here's what makes this car interesting. It's an electric car but it has a gas engine. There's a 1.4-liter inline 4, super lean burn gas engine here that does nothing but turn a generator. That generator puts juice into a big old T-shaped power cell that's in the middle of the car, and that powers an electric motor that drives the front wheels through a one-speed gear reduction transmission. Bottom line, 150 horsepower, 273 foot-pounds of torque. Huge delta there because it's all electric power. 0 to 60 about 8-1/2 seconds, not bad. You're gonna get about 35-40 MPG. But there's also a number called MPGe or equivalent, that's 93. And your EV range--before the car starts to burn any gas to replenish its batteries-- is around 25 to 40 miles. There's a lot going on here. Now, a word about charging: you can plug this guy into a 120 or a 240 outlet. Here's your charging apparatus right here. This guy lives on this kind of windup thing in the back. And you see you got a regular plug on there. That can plug into whatever outlet you've got, and then this will go into the little door here. See that guy on the side of the car? That's this new universal thing that all the electric cars are using. That plugs in there. So, yes, there's nothing wrong with charging this car. It works really well. You do get a bunch of electric-only range, a nice amount that might even handle your entire commute. I just think there's an awful lot of hassle that goes around with it if you're not really committed, and for most folks, just putting gas in it and getting like around 60 MPG is pretty good and all the hassle of charging may not be worth that 93 MPGe. Interesting trivia about this guy: you can go potentially a year without burning gas if you've got a short commute and you plug in every night and only commute in this car. So what happens to that gasoline sitting in your tank? Gas does go bad, you know. It jellifies. It gets real nasty. Well, they have a pressurized gas tank on this car. Also, sensors that will run the engine and burn off some gas about every couple weeks, I understand it, if you never use gas otherwise. Okay, so you decided the Volt's for you. Here are the numbers: $41,000 with destination. Now, there's a little bit of, I don't know, I think it's a little misleading on the Chevy Volt website that shows the price of this in great, big, bold numbers with a $7500 tax credit already minus'd out of it. But that's a tax credit, that's not a rebate as of today's taping, though the Obama Administration is trying to convert it to a rebate. That'll be different. Right now, it's a credit. It's a $7500 deduction, if you will, off any federal tax that you owe in the tax year you buy this car. If you don't owe any federal tax, you don't get any benefit, and even if you do get a benefit, it can never turn into a refund. All it can do is reduce your tax to zero. So in other words, you've gotta owe at least $7500 federal tax to get the full $7500 tax credit from buying one of these cars. It's not as simple as getting a check from the government. If the Obama Administration does change the laws they're trying to, you will actually get a $7500 rebate at deal time at the showroom. That will be different. -Brian had a lot more to say about this car and we don't have time to show it all to you. So, head over to CNET TV and search for 2011 Chevy Volt for the full review. You will not be sorry. Now, yes, a lot of us scoffed at 3D TVs when they first started showing up, but some of the new sets, like this one from Samsung, are winning over our AV crew. Just don't make 3D performance your main priority. -David Katzmaier from CNET and I'm here with the Samsung UND6400. This is an LED-based LCD TV with edge-lit configuration, which means it's mighty thin and Samsung's actually made this TV even more compact than in previous years. It has this really thin bezel around the edge here, not quite as thin as the step up models, but still pretty darn thin. It's less than an inch from the edge of the picture to the edge of the panel, and there's a transparent frame around the extreme edge that makes it look even slimmer. So, all told, this is one very compact-looking TV. It's also Samsung's least expensive LCD to include 3D technology. The company is throwing in 2 pairs of active shutter glasses and additional pairs cost about $50 a piece. That's a pricing improvement for sure compared to last year. The TV also has Samsung's Smart Hub Internet technology. This is the first one we've reviewed with that Smart Hub Suite. That just means that all the Internet apps, the streaming services, are all grouped into one big home screen here. It's actually a little bit jumbled in our experience, but Samsung did add the ability to search video services. Unfortunately, that search is pretty crippled. It doesn't hit Netflix or any of the other major service, although it does get Vudu. Another issue with Smart Hub is it's missing Amazon Instant, which is the streaming services from Amazon, although the other content is pretty darn strong. Smart Hub also offers a limited recommendation engine for its video services, as well as access to Samsung's extensive app store. So, you can go on to the app store and download games, and Google Maps, ESPN, even some additional widgets, although the company did drop Yahoo! Widgets. Overall, Samsung's Smart Hub is very complete although, again, the interface is a little bit cluttered and people who are getting at it for the first time might be a bit intimidated. The TV is very well featured otherwise. You can find plenty of adjustments in the menu, including a 10-point color temperature system, as well as a color management system that really did a pretty good job of improving the color in our experience. The TV also has the full ability to adjust the de-judder processing, so you can go and play around with things like judder and blur reduction to your heart's content. When we took the Samsung UND6400 into the lab, we were pretty impressed by its picture quality for an edge-lit LED. The black levels are pretty darn good and color accuracy, at least the bright areas, is excellent, although we did see some blue creep into the darker areas of the picture. We also appreciated the excellent video processing, which handled 1080p/24 well, and as an added bonus, this TV does 3D a lot better than it did last year. We're not sure if that's the glasses, or the new panel itself, or some combination, but it has less crosstalk and, overall, better 3D picture quality than its predecessors. The back panel in the Samsung has 4 HDMI inputs, which is pretty good, but the analog connectivity is pretty sparse. There's only 1 component video and 1 standard video input, and they require breakout cables to work. Samsung also throws in a PC input and 3 USB ports. That's a quick look at the Samsung UND6400 Series, and I'm David Katzmaier. -I gotta say, for my money, I think I'd rather have the apps than the 3D. I'm just saying. Moving on, custom ringtones are a great way to tell who's calling you before you look at the caller ID. But what if you can't find the right tune to sum up your relationship with that person? Jessica Dolcourt has a handful of handy options for creating your own ringtone in the week's Tap That App. -Hey guys and girl, Jessica Dolcourt here with CNET. This Tap That App is all about making your own ring tones. Good news is there are dozens of good, free programs out there for Android and iPhone. Ringdroid is one of my Android favorites and it was also one of the first. You pick from all the songs in your music library. Then, drag the arrows on the waveform to set the start and end times. You can zoom in for more precision or manually enter times into the open fields. Then, just save the ringtone. Ringdroid also records sounds to create new tones. LuckyStar's MP3 Ringtone Maker is almost identical in look and feel, except that it adds a fade setting, which is nice, but has ads, which you can just ignore. Sharetones is another fantastic freebie because it's a shared database of ringtone timings for songs that you already own. So, if someone else has edited the ringtone just so, you can quickly apply those settings to your songs to make a ringtone identical to theirs. Finally, there's Mongo Ringtone, but strangely, you have to search for it as Top Ringtone Maker Pro in the Android Market. This app pairs an online ringtone store with a voice recorder and with a ringtone editor for your own songs. Now unfortunately, making iPhone ringtones is harder since you can't save the file directly to the device like you can on Android phones, but all my picks offer step-by-step instructions. Ringtone Maker comes with a fade option, a recorder, and an easy song picker. Ringtone Star Light features a timeline and a fade tool, as does Ringtones, which also looks much more polished. Ringtone Ring Mix is probably my favorite of the bunch. It's a looker. It includes album art when available and it has a button to automatically carve out a ringtone selection. There's no fade option though, but you can choose to escalate the ringtone's volume as it plays. But, I'd stay away from that one if I were you. All these iPhone apps are free, but have inexpensive upgrades that cut the ads and unlock advanced features, such as changing a song's speed or pitch. So, there you have it. Now there are 7 ways to make ringtones on your iPhone or Android device. Well? Get crackin'! And if you have more suggestions for great apps you want to see on this show, email email@example.com. I'm Jessica Dolcourt and keep on tapping. -Wow! "Sex On Fire" all over that video. I don't really think that I have anyone in my contact list who warrants that one right now. I like the "Baby Monkey" song. And with that little TMI, let's take a break but come right back for 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. Continuing on in the good, last week, it was reported that some Samsung laptops were being shipped with keylogging programs installed on them. Now, it turns out those reports were false, but it does bring up a valid concern. What if you suspect that someone's trying to spy on you and what you're doing on your computer? Well, here's Seth Rosenblatt to show you how to protect yourself from those prying eyes. -Samsung does not install keyloggers on its laptops. I repeat. Samsung does not install keyloggers on its laptops. But that doesn't mean you won't encounter a keylogger in the future. Hi, I'm Seth Rosenblatt, and today I'm going to show you how to detect and remove keyloggers-- those programs that surreptitiously record every tap of the keyboard for parents or your boss to pore over. However, if you're not already familiar with mucking about in your computers registry and system directories, you really ought to get some help with this. Keyloggers are hard to uninstall because they intentionally hide themselves from the start menu and it's unlikely that you'll know the name of the program. So, if you suspect you're being tracked with one, start off by grabbing Security Task Manager from download.com. Once installed, it will tell you information about each running process and it will specify if they're dangerous or not. Note that it may not have rated all processes that are running, so you may have to research each one online to make sure they're safe. If a dangerous process is detected, you can end the process from within Security Task Manager. Now, do not restart your computer, otherwise, the keylogger will start again. The next step is to run a full scan from your antivirus program. Most AVs like AVG, Avast, or Avira will detect keyloggers and quarantine them for you. Make sure it's up to date, of course. If your AV doesn't detect it and you're absolutely positive you've been tracked by a keylogger, there are some more invasive techniques we can use, although they require knowing the name of the logger. First, look for its registry key which is used to load it when Windows is started. Open a command prompt and type "run regedit." Go to the menu bar, select Edit, then Find, and the name of your keylogger. The search should turn up a registry key like this one. Delete all the keys that turn up from the search. Next, we have to make sure that the keylogger's executable files are removed. Go to Windows Explorer and hit the Alt key to bring up the menu bar. Go to Tools, Folder Options, and View. Under Advanced Settings, you'll see an option for hidden files and folders. Make sure that Show is checked and then search for the name of the keylogger. This could be as easy as searching for its name, although some keyloggers, like StarLogger, abbreviate its folder name to just the initials SL. Next, you want to unregister the keylogger's DLL file. Open a command prompt and navigate to the folder containing the DLL. Then type "regsvr32 /u" and then the file name of the DLL, without the quotes and brackets, and you should see a popup window telling you that the file has been successfully unregistered. At this point, you may have to check the registry again to ensure that the registry key was deleted. Restart your computer and, once more, check the registry and your Windows system folder to make sure that the keylogger is gone. Finally, you ought to have a clean bill of health. Actually, the double check after rebooting is the second-to-last thing you have to do. The final step is to figure out who put the keylogger on your computer. Good luck with that. For CNET, I'm Seth Rosenblatt. -If I were you, I would hold off on trying to dig too deep into the registries of a company-issued computer. I mean, if your IT department went to the trouble of installing a keylogger on your machine, they won't take too kindly to you monkeying around in there because they're probably kind of mean. Speaking of mean, let's see what we've got going on in the bad. Sometimes when products don't compare favorably to their competitors, it's hard to call them bad per se. So, maybe for this week, we'll just call this section, "would not recommend". Here's a look at an all-in-one printer and a 7-inch tablet that are clearly worthy of that distinction. -Hi, I'm Justin Yu with CNET.com. This is your first look at the Dell P513w Multifunction Printer. So, we actually have mixed reviews about this device. It performed well and it output professional-quality text prints, and we do like the handy Eco Mode that will save you money and helps the environment. But those features don't really offset a lot of the snags we ran into during testing. But before we get into those critiques, let's check out the printer itself. The white P513w sizes up about average for other printers, and it's a multifunction printer, which means you can print, scan, and copy all directly on the machine. The scanner sits on top of it and can handle up to 1200 X 2400 resolution images, but we're remiss to see that Dell omits an auto-document feeder on the top. Now, that would normally be really useful for businesses because it lets you scan or copy a stack of documents hands free. Unfortunately though, you do not get that on this device, which is a little strange for a $150 printer. Another issue we take is with the multiple paper jams that came about because of this 25-sheet paper output tray. Now, most printers can hold double that amount, so if you're printing a high volume of documents, this definitely is not the printer for you. Like all modern printers, you do get an 802.11b/g print server built right in that lets you ditch the cord and hook it up to your computer wirelessly. Again though, we ran into a speed bump here trying to configure the network settings, although that problem did eventually fix itself. And finally, we're not particularly satisfied with the output performance either. Qualitatively, our test sheet of full black text looked presentable from far away, but upon closer inspection, we did notice several jagged lines at the corners of some characters, particularly in italicized text. And even at its highest quality setting, we wouldn't recommend using this printer for professional documents either. The graphics quality just doesn't stand up to competitive printers from HP, Canon, and Epson that sell for the same price or less. And you can read the full review including alternative printer recommendations, but that's gonna do it for me. I'm Justin Yu. You just took a first look at the Dell P513w Multifunction Printer. -Hey, I'm Donald Bell, and today we're taking a first look at the Archos 70. This is a 7-inch Android tablet priced at around $275 for an 8-gigabyte model. There's also a 250-gigabyte model for an extra $50. Normally, when I see tablets at this price, they're pretty horrible, but the Archos 70 has a lot going for it. The touchscreen is relatively responsive, there's a VGA camera on the front for photos and video, and on the side here, you have a micro SD memory expansion slot, an HDMI output that will mirror the screen on to an HD TV and crank out 720p video. On the downside, the construction quality feels pretty cheap, although you have to admire how thin they've been able to make this. It's running Android 2.2, which is somewhat antique at this point, and there's no support for Google's suite of mobile apps including maps, GMail, and most importantly, Android Market. Archos has their own app store on here but the selection is pretty thin. There's a kickstand on the back which is cool, except that it's really flimsy and the screen's viewing angles are decent but not great. There's tons of video format support but unless you're running it out to a TV, you're stuck watching it on the screen's 800 X 480 resolution. If you're the tinkering type, there's a community of Android and Archos fans out there that will help you tweak and customize this thing, but there's nothing that will magically turn it into a dual-core Honeycomb tablet. Still, the price is right, and if your expectations are humble, you can have a lot of fun with this thing. So that's the Archos 70 Android Tablet. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell. -See what I mean? They're not completely terrible. I'm sure someone out there could find some use for them, but they could be better. All right, let's go ahead and check out this week's Bottom Line. This week, Brian Cooley is counting down his Top 5 digital disasters. Not like a Y2K outage or Skynet taking over the world, you know, more like personal screw-ups that can feel like disasters if they happen to you. See how many of these you've fallen victim to yourself. -You know, it's easier than ever for your life to go down the tubes these days with just one errant message, post, or call. Hey, thanks, technology. I'm Brian Cooley with Top 5 personal digital disasters and some ways to keep them from happening. We're gonna rank these roughly by their potential payload for catastrophe. Let's get to it. Number 5: misposting across your social media. It's a mouthful, but I can't help the stupid stuff you post and tweet. This is about the things on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn that shouldn't co-mingle (but sometimes they do) with disastrous consequences like this recent debacle. As you can imagine, that was not supposed to show up as an official tweet from Chrysler. The guy who posted it and the ad agency he once worked for no longer handle Chrysler's social media. If you're using one of those cross-platform social tools like TweetDeck (as he was), ask yourself first, "Is the cross-contamination risk really worth the modest convenience of rolling up all your accounts into one interface while you're just one toggle away from disaster?" Number 4: reply all. Yeah, it's old school but still a beauty. The inadvertent reply all has made more bowels turn to water than any other screw-up on this list. In fact, a former head of HR here at CNET had her intelligence critiqued by a former employee of mine and, yes, she was on the reply thread. So, instead of CCing the person you're dissing, remove the reply all button from the toolbar on Outlook. It's not hard to do. You can still reply all with Ctrl-Shift-R. Now, on Gmail and Yahoo!, they're a little better in this respect since reply all is a drop down instead of a straight click as it is for reply, so a different behavior. But if you use Gmail's keyboard shortcuts, that can get dicey. So, check out Molly's How To video on customizing those, and then you can make the reply all keystroke something you'd never mistake for the reply keystroke and, therefore, enjoy the continued benefits of employment. Number 3: butt dialing. Now, with the advent of capacitive touchscreens which require an actual finger press, it's not really butt dialing anymore but errant touch dialing. Nonetheless, I could raise your hair with a few stories I know along these lines. Most smartphones today are all screen. You can hardly pick one up without activating something. Auto lock doesn't always save you due to lock delays and such. On Android phones, there are apps like Not Call Log or Do Not Call that are basically crude roadblocks. But hey, if it avoids this, it's worth it. Number 2 (this one's kind of new and fresh): checking in when you're checked out. If you tell the office you're sick, and then they see you check in at the ball game, or the beach, or the bar, you've gone buler. So, before setting out on a great day of hookie, remember to drop the Foursquare and Facebook check in habit. Stick a Post-it note on your phone if you have to. You gotta go dark and don't forget to turn off the background locators like Google Latitude or you'll be chatting up the dude from the Chrysler thing in the unemployment line. Okay, our number 1 personal digital disaster: just about anything while drunk--e-mail, text, calls, tweets, updates. After a bender, have you ever really not cringed at those the next morning? And let's not forget the Facebook pictures that result. Pictures of you vomiting, touching yourself, wearing a Nazi outfit--all tagged with your identity for easy searching and career ending. A lot of folks forget you can untag yourself from Facebook photos. Just click the little Untag link next to your name. Doesn't mean somebody won't go in and tag you there again, but, you know, you're not really that popular. For more Top 5s like this, go to top5.cnet.com. I'm Brian Cooley. Thanks for watching. -The Bottom Line this week? 5 out of 5, I win. Yes, I admit I have done all of these things at least once, but nothing too bad ever happened, I don't think. I mean, I'm sure I have some enemies out there somewhere, but I do still have a job. All right, folks. That's our show. We'll be back next week with a brand, spanking, new CNET Tech Review. Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. I'll see you next time and thank you for watching.