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Back to School Special 2010Editors Molly Wood and Brian Tong show off CNET's top picks for students heading back to campus this fall.
[ Music ] ^m00:00:06 >> Hello everyone and welcome to CNET's back to school tech guide. I'm Molly Wood, executive editor for CNET.com. >> And I'm Brian Tong, editor for CNET.com as well. And let us be the first to get you guys thinking about back to school. >> Yeah! >> I'm excited too! That's right, summer is... but don't worry we're going to have a lot of fun in the next half hour. School and fun in the same sentence! Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Now we're going to show you some of the best tech ideas to get you ready for this year's school session. And you may even see something that will help you with your homework too. >> That's right. We have some of the hottest technology that we've reviewed here at CNET, and you know CNET is pretty much best in class when it comes to reviewing and recommending consumer electronics products. We're looking at the latest and greatest in laptops, in netbooks, cameras, eReaders, smartphones, stuff that can really get you or your student ready to get edu-micated with the best of them. >> Is that a word? >> Yeah! Alright I think we are ready to start counting down the products. I'm not going to lie, this is exciting. It's been a while since I went back to school. >> I'm here to school you Molly. >> Yeah, not a long time. >> This is what I do, not too long ago. OK, so check this out. We've got the desktops here, and these are on our back to school list. This one first is the Gateway ZX69000 01e. And thank you for that name. Now what makes this desktop special, it is an all in 1 machine, it's 999 dollars. You notice here it has a 23 inch screen, but what makes it great is it's not only a keyboard and mouse desktop, you can also interact and use this like a touchscreen. Another cool features is Blu-ray is also in this machine so you're really getting a full on student machine, as well as a great entertainment center. Now we switch over here. This is the 3.06 gigahertz Apple iMac, and the first thing that sticks out to you is it's stunning gorgeous display. It's huge. One drawback though is with a display like that you would think it has Blu-ray. The Gateway does, but this Apple iMac doesn't. It also comes with some really cool accessories like a wireless keyboard, Apple's tricky kind of multitouch magic mouse. But overall the software here are packed in for photos, movies, videos, and music. And the way it integrates together, as well as with your iPhone and your iPod Touch. This makes it a great desktop computer for a student. And this model is priced at 1,999 and that's a pretty hefty chunk of change, so if you don't want to go for the all in 1 desktop set up you might want to check out the Dell Studio XPS 7100. Now this will take care of all your word processing and student needs, but this desktop is really geared for the gamer. I know a lot of you guys think you study at college, but really you play a lot of games. Now this desktop is 1,149 but really this is our best recommendation for a midrange desktop. And there you have it, all your computers, desktop style, for a college student. >> Not bad. I'm liking that XPS. I think Assassin's Creed 2... I mean PowerPoint. >> Studying hard... those Excel spreadsheets. >> Really good on there, yeah. But what are some things you need to think about if you're looking for a PC? And maybe you don't want 1 of these 3. ^m00:02:50 >> There's a lot of things to consider, but if you're shopping for a PC for school you definitely want to check out an all in 1, especially if you're really just headed off to college because there's not much space inside your dorm. They're compact and good. If you're more into homework and web surfing, and less into... some people really like to hack into their machines and add hard drives and things like that. So there is a trade off between the price and power in desktops. If you've got to shop around you can find a perfectly good PC tower for around 5 or 600 bucks. These all in 1's are more about like 1,000 dollars and higher. So just look around and find what works for you. Also, other than the iMac you don't want to accept a PC without a Blu-ray drive. They have a lot more storage, and this is really kind of where things are moving, so you want to have that. >> Yeah, exactly. It's such a shame you've got that screen and no Blu-ray. But... you have that screen. >> Yeah. Great. >> So if you're headed off to college, or you're still in high school, you want to capture those memories. You know, the clothes you're going to laugh at or maybe still be wearing in 10 years, the hairstyles that you wish never happened in 20 years... the keg stands that this guy's doing over here. There's no better way to capture those memories than with these CNET top rated cameras. Now for school it's really nice to have a pocket snapshooter like this guy. There's just more compact, easy to carry around. We like the Panasonic LUMIX DM-CTS2. For 1 thing it does double duty. It also shoots high def video, but it's shock proof and it's water resistant. So it's a really good choice if you're going to be throwing it into your backpack, or taking it to parties. Then again, these days, it's all about video. That's why we love the sexy little Flip Ultra HD. This also shoots high def video, and it lets you upload straight to You Tube with the little USB stick right there. These things are just very popular and they're inexpensive, about 150 to 200 dollars. But now if you really want to impress the ladies or the guys, go a step up with the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1. Now I love this camera because it's beautiful, it's old school looking, and it's compact; but it has interchangeable lenses. So it takes really good photos, like a DSLR, and you can put a wide angle on here, maybe a zoom lens if you want to spy on co-eds. >> I would never do such a thing. >> He would definitely do that. Plus this camera is under 900 dollars, which is actually a really good price for something like a DSLR. ^m00:05:04 Now it's possible that these cameras might not be perfect for you, but here are some tips for better camera shopping. Resolution, megapixels... doesn't matter. Every camera has plenty these days. Your real question is whether you want a small portable snapshooter, or a big DSLR with those interchangeable lenses. After that read the reviews to make sure the camera's shutter speed is nice and fast, because it is so annoying to miss a shot while you're waiting for the click. Also look for controls that aren't too hard to use, plus a nice good feel in your hand. You should be able to get a descent snapshot camera for anywhere from 150 to 300 dollars. That's just right for back to school. >> Alright Molly, now if I had to look at these guys I like the yellow. >> Yeah, that's a good one. >> This is going to help me score with the ladies. >> And that's the most important of all. >> And it fits in my pocket too. Alright let's keep the recommendations rolling. Now what is the 1 thing that every junior high, high school, or college student needs? >> Skinny jeans! >> No, they want a smartphone. Now here are some of CNET's top picks for back to school. And first up a very popular one. This is the HTC EVO 4G. This runs on Sprint's network. What makes this a beauty is it is a larger phone, but it's a 4.3 inch screen. It also uses HTC's sensUI, which is really pretty. It flows nicely, you have some cool little visual effects, but this is a great phone. >> And it's an Android phone, and it's the first 4G phone right? >> First 4G phone here in the U. S. We're planning to see a lot more roll out, but this is the first of it's kind. So this makes this one really special. >> Yeah, if you actually have that Sprint 4G service where you live, you want to get this guy. Then it's like the perfect phone. >> Now if you guys are looking for an iPhone, maybe the iPhone 4, the first thing we just can't really fully recommend it right now because of it's antenna issues. Maybe those will get resolved, but until then we still are behind the iPhone 3GS; really a snappy processor. It's still just as stable as a phone. You have a lot of the cool features like multitasking. Visually the videos and photos look great on this. And the fact that it integrates with a lot of people's iTunes collection with their movies and photos, this makes this a great phone. But if AT and T service isn't really that hot in your area, we might tend to recommend against this phone. >> Yeah, if you've got really good AT and T service it might not be a problem for you, but I don't know right now. >> Now we're covered a Sprint phone. We've also covered an AT and T phone, but we wanted to show Verizon some love, and this is our favorite Verizon phone. This is the incredible, this is an Android phone. The screen is great. It also has a camera on the back like many of these phones do. It's an 8 megapixel dual LED flash, but the Android system, it basically does a lot of the features the EVO 4G does, but it's not a 4G based phone. We just love this guy, and if you're on Verizon this is 1 to take a look at. >> It is incredible, and those Android phones, they're full fledged smartphones in case you're not familiar with that operating system. You can download apps, you can do the web, you can do the email. They're really, you know... >> They're the most feature rich phones that are out there really. Alright, we're going to be taking a break but we'll be back with tips on how to meet girls with tech, and we'll share with you some of the CNET laptops and netbooks, and explain the difference between the 2, plus some of the tech cool kids aren't leaving home without. That and more when we come back. ^m00:08:11 [ Music ] ^m00:08:22 >> Hello and welcome to CNET's back to school tech guide. Once again I'm Molly Wood. >> And once again I'm Brian Tong. Now so far we've gone over the best desktops, cameras, and smartphones to kick off the new school year. And all of these are featured on our website at CNET.com. >> That's right, and 1 thing we know is that tablets and eReaders have been all the rage this year. Can you say iPad? >> I can say iPad. >> Actually as long as we're talking iPad... let's have a look. There is no denying that as a school device this thing is great. You can read books on it, it's great for taking notes, you can surf the web. >> Play games? >> But I think... you could maybe play a little angry bird once class is over. But I think you're going to find that if you're trying to read on here, textbooks or books, it does give you a little bit of eye strain. It's like looking at computer screen. And so you might want to still consider an iPad, plus an eReader. So we have the most popular eReaders here. The first one of course, the Amazon Kindle. Pretty much the original eReader. And this is now down to 189.00. And of course you get that big Amazon book store, which is kind of a nice bonus. The other most popular eReader, let's be honest there's really only 2... is probably the Barnes and Noble Nook which starts at 149.00. This one has the Barnes and Noble store, and also has kind of a little color touchscreen down here at the bottom. >> And interface to interact with a little differently. ^m00:09:39 >> Yeah, a little more fun and a little lower price. And any of these really, I find that an iPad plus and eReader is actually a pretty good way to roll. >> And these are kind of really 2 different classes of devices. You have the iPad which does a lot of everything, but really if you're talking about eReading you want to do it on either the Nook or the Kindle. >> Definitely, and we did a comparison of these 2 right? The Nook versus the Kindle, because you've got to wonder now. They're similar prices, what's the difference there? >> Well really we liked the Amazon Kindle's innerface a little bit because actually that touchscreen on the Nook can be a little laggy. And also the abundance of books available on the Kindle bookstore makes it compelling. But then you have the Nook here which I kind of like the Nook's design a little better. I think it's a little cleaner, and it's Wi-Fi feature to share and sharing books, and things like that, makes it an interesting offering. But right now I'm still leaning towards the Kindle. >> Yeah it's pretty nice, and 189 versus the 199 for the 3G Nook is still a pretty good price. Now something you're seeing less of in a classroom these days... pens and paper. They've been replaced by laptops, which are perfect for students to take notes, write papers, and email professors about why they're running late to class. Some of CNET's favorite laptops for back to school include this Samsung NPR 580 JSB1US. Or as I like to call it, the red one. It's gorgeous, as you can see, plus it's actually a really good value. It's less than 900.00 for a ton of speed, and a built in Blu-ray player. We also like this slightly smaller Lenovo ThinkPad X201. This is kind of the business student's laptop. It's super fast, it has much better battery life than the Samsung, and of course these ThinkPads last forever. >> Now if we're talking about laptops, we cannot ignore Apple's MacBook. This is basically the quintessential student laptop. Now this is the 999 entry level model. What we love about it is it's multitouch trackpad which is really one of the best with it's responsiveness, also has these cool gestures, and it also comes with Apple's suite of photos and movie software that we've talked about before. Now if you're not really looking for a full size laptop, Netbooks are still here, and this is the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE netbook. Now obviously you can tell this is a lot smaller in form factor. Price also makes these guys special. Typically they're under 400.00 and this model specifically, we chose it because it has an 8 hour battery life... and that's a lot. Yeah, on a netbook too. So this is great stuff. >> Dude, that's a lot of juice. And if you are trying to buy a laptop for school, it's kind of like choosing a PC. You're looking for the power for the buck. You can get a lot of power in a laptop for under 1,000.00 these days, down to 5 or 600.00. But if you want something small, light, and powerful you're going to pay for it. Thin and lights are still over 1,000.00 so if you really want something portable consider a netbook. And when you're looking at reviews make sure you look for good battery life, like that 8 hours on that ASUS. That is key. And once again, you want the built in Blu-ray. >> Now my ADD is kind of kicking in right now, so we're going to take another break. But when we come back we'll bring you tech on a budget. >> And Brian will tell you exactly how to tap that app for school. Back in a moment. ^m00:12:41 [ Music ] ^m00:12:50 >> Welcome back to the CNET back to school tech guide, and if you're on a budget these days, and aren't we all - that's OK. You can still have some cool tech with you. >> That's right. In fact we have some good bang for your buck technology, even in this room. Now that the Kindle is down to 189.00 it's a pretty good priced eReader. And you can look for a refurbished one. You can get those for about 100.00. Like I said, you want to get a computer with a built in Blu-ray player, and then you might not even need a TV. You could use Hulu.com to watch shows and get a Netflix subscription, and you're pretty much ready to roll. If you don't want to spend a ton on a laptop or a new computer, consider a netbook. Some of them are as cheap as 200 or 300 dollars, and for a lot of students they can do the trick just fine. Plus look for deals. There are always big sales around back to school time. Apple always offers an education discount, and this year they're even throwing in a free iPod Touch with one of those new discounted backs. And look at coupon sites. Some of my favorites are Slick Deals.net, Deal News.com, and Deal Coupon.com. That one actually has coupons for almost every online retailer. I do not buy anything before I check that site for a spare coupon. Also don't forget to compare electronics prices. Use CNET Shopper.com and make sure you're not paying too much. I hate paying too much. >> I don't like paying at all. >> No, it's no good. >> I like free stuff. >> So we've gone down the CNET list of hardware - your laptops, your cameras, smartphones, and desktops; all of which you can find more reviews on, plus where to buy information at CNET.com. But now it's time for Brian to tell you what apps to tap. >> Well I know a lot about that Molly, let me tell you. Now really at CNET TV we cover the hottest apps in the most space for your smartphone, so I'm going to share with you some of the best school apps that we could find and that you'll actually use, and a few of those that you might want for homework breaks. But first up you're going to always want to have a dictionary handy, so check out the dictionary.com app. It's free and it's available on both the iPhone and Android platforms. It includes a Thesaurus and audio samples as well, so this is one of the best. And again I say, it is free. Now I also know how big a pain it is making flashcards to study for that bio exam. My hand is still really sore. But check out No Cards for 1.99 on the iPhone, where you can trade your own set of flashcards on the phone, and then you also have Study Droid on the Android platform, which is free and allows you to not only create, but you can download flashcard packs that others have already made. Now your school schedule is going to be packed, so to keep track of it all try out iHomework for the iPhone for 1.99, or Course Pro for Android phones for 2.99. These apps let you add all your classes and assignments. It'll be 1 of your best friends this school year. And you know, during those homework breaks you've got to check out Doodle Jump. That's on both phones. And we talked about Angry Birds as well; that kind of helped me get through my 6 years of college. OK, 7. >> 7 huh? Well you know I have to admit. I've been trying to get 3 stars on every single level in Angry Birds. That can take a while >> Impossible. >> Alright we are almost ready for the new school year, but we do seem to be missing 1 thing. Could it be a gaming console? >> Hello? >> Now what does that have to do with back to school you ask? Well you'll be surprised at the answer when we come back, so put that remote down. ^m00:15:59 [ Music ] ^m00:16:13 >> Welcome back, we know you weren't going anywhere, to the CNET back to school tech guide. >> That's right. Now I know a console, a gaming console, might be a kind of hard sell to parents. >> No, come on. That's easy. >> Come back to school time, you think? >> No. >> Well actually these things can be really educational. There are a lot of educational games, I think, for the XBox 360 such as Years of War. >> What do you learn from that? >> It's got historical war, information about history. >> Chill Zone teaches you about the human body and how it can be torn into many, many different parts on the PS3. >> There you go. Yep, Mass Effect 2 back on XBox. I think that one, it's like a little cartography lesson because the maps are so hard to figure out... >> There's many planets and space exploration. I think that's a... >> I needed like a PHP to figure out how to reload my gun. >> And also God of War franchise on PS3, teaches you about Greek mythology... not really. >> Let's be honest. These things do have a little bit of value. Mainly people need to figure out how to let off some steam. The PS3 and the XBox 360 are great for that. Plus they're network connected, so you could actually use one of these and it could be your DVD player. Then you could stream some on demand video from Netflix or Amazon on demand. You don't need cable in your dorm room. And for students we actually like the XBox 360 the best, just barely because these are really close. But that's got slightly better networking features, and a much bigger game selection, and it's frankly not quite hardcore so you won't get sucked in and taken away from your studies. >> Well also it has Facebook and Twitter integration, so if you need to keep on top of your homework assignments and really socialize with fellow students, that's imporant. >> That is important. Alright we've gone down the best of the best in all the categories of stuff you need for back to school. We've given you the bang for your buck technology, and the best apps and accessories to glam up your hardware. But if you truly want to be the coolest kid in school, here is our ultimate cool list. First you start with the HTC EVO 4G. This is the hottest phone going right now, especially because it's got that Wi-Fi hotspot action. Next up we're going to go ahead and give our student a Flip Ultra HD camera so she can get all the good party video. >> High definition video, you want to see the mistakes your friends made. >> Exactly, your friends made, not you, no. And when it comes to computers I think we're going to give our student a MacBook. I think it is a... >> The ultimate laptop. >> It's the ultimate student laptop, yeah. And of course your MacBook would not be complete without a companion iPad. >> Of course, she doesn't even need this thing but everyone wants one, so we're going to give it to her anyways. >> That's right. It's our ultimate list. We can do what we want. And finally, as long as we're talking ultimate list, I think our student has got to have an XBox 360. >> Yeah, I would put that in her arms, and if we could also squeeze in a PS3, we've got to be equal opportunity here. We could carry it all. And we are out of time, but before we leave don't forget to log onto CNET.com for more ideas from the CNET back to school tech guide. I'm Brian Tong. >> And I am Molly Wood with CNET.com. Thank you for watching, and we will see you soon online! ^m00:19:11 [ Music ] ^m00:19:30 >> The CNET back to school tech guide is a special presentation of the CBS television stations. ^m00:19:37 [ Music ]