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CNET Tech Review
Dyson Hot: Central heating killer?This week on the CNET Tech Review: Dyson's new heater is a beauty; highlights from the 2011 Frankfurt auto show; make your own iPad stylus; and see the winner of our Honeycomb tablet Prizefight.
-This week on the CNET Tech Review, highlights from the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, how to make your own iPad stylus, Dyson's new gadget is full of hot air, and step away from this Bluray player. It's all coming up right now. -Hi, everyone I'm Brian Tong, and welcome to the CNET Tech Review where we collect our hottest videos of the week and tell you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech and offer our own unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottomline. Let's start off with the good. Molly maybe on vacation right now, but Brian Cooley has been hard at work sending back reports from the Frankfurt Auto Show. Here's a look at some of the highlights including new concept from Land Rover and a Mercedes that works with your iPad. -What's ironic, the Land Rover's Defender isn't sold in the U.S. these days because it doesn't meet U.S. crash standards, kinda strange for a vehicle that's always been so tough and ragged. It's like a little vault on wheels. They're ready to bring it back. This is one of the DC100 concepts. The idea here is to bring this forward in 2 different ways. One is kind of sporty cabriolet-like; the other one more traditional defender like this. Among the high-tech features, I'm looking at one right here, supposedly self- cleaning paint. I wanna see that work after you go through a big old muddy gully full of rocks, right? Now, technologies in the front of a car that look forward interestingly have 2 things: one is called terrain eye. Get it? Terrain eye? It's a scanning technology that builds a 3D virtual map of what the terrain is in front of you and the car can say, "You know what? You're coming up on a lump or a gully that I can't deal with. Why don't you go this way or that way?" And there's one called Wade Aid technology that will figure out how deep the water is you think you're about to fall without conking the car and tell you if you can actually do that. They said the car can get through 750 mm of depth. That's what-- that's about 6-1/2 long cigarettes, whatever that comes out to. What is that, about a yard? Here's one right at the 007. There's apparently a button inside the car that they envision as extending the spikes on the tires. I mean they're not spikes to kill people, but just to get some grip. Inside, all kinds of interesting technology. Check out this pop-up display. We've seen this in cars even in production right now. But if this goes into production, this would actually snap out. It's like a tablet you'd carry with you to do navigation on foot to continue your journey after you run into something you can't drive over anymore. 8-speed automatic transmission right here, part of an efficiency message. I don't wanna put any big old horsey V8 or even V6 in these cars anymore. We're talking about 2-liter hybrid motors, even plug-in hybrids. And the driveline on this vehicle would physically disconnect when you're not using all-wheel drive to further cut losses. No place to put a key on this car that I see and even if it went to production, there wouldn't be 'cause they envisioned an RFID Adventure key, which would obviously be a lot better to have in your pocket when you're out in the mud and the wet than one of those actual physical electronic keys. Now this is a vision from maybe 2015. It's not gonna be in your Land Rover showroom anytime soon, but it does bring back the Defender brand, which they love to have on the showroom floor in the U.S. as well as around the world. -Oh, if you're a Volkswagen, you won't just lay there like a dumb ass and let Fiat get all the headlines with the 500. You answer it with this, the Volkswagen Up. Now, this is a car. It's been roughly the same class size-wise. It's below a golf by a significant margin in terms of overall footprint as well as in price. We'll get to that in a minute. Now, right now, it's only slotted for European introduction, but you can just about bank on it coming to the US sooner than later. Now, under the hood here, you've got a pretty scrawny 3-cylinder 1-liter engine. I'm not sure that would come to the US. When and if this car ever does, they might operate that for the American market, get it close to 100 horsepower. Right now, it's a 60 or a 75 horsepower mill, give or take, with really good efficiency, really clean, low emissions. This car will come stuck with a city collision technology, one that will look forward with ultrasonic or radar, whatever they use to keep the car from rear-ending someone at low speeds. That's usually the kind of technology that was only reserved for much more expensive cars wherever they came from, but now we're seeing a lot of the small cars offer that as a differentiator. Okay, so here I am, 6, 2 plus and this little guy, and as it's always the paradox with little cars, they are some of the roomiest inside because they have very thin door panels, not a lot of filigree and built-up consoles that make your car seem tight. This car is entirely spacious for everyday driving. It's not something you're gonna take on a 3000-mile trip and lay back in. Very simple instrument panel. You've got-- what do we got here? A little tiny tach on the left. That's interesting. A fuel gauge on the right, big speedometer; finally, that makes some sense. Too many cars were giving too much real estate to tachometers. I love gauges as much as anybody, but you know what, the tach, it's time for it to go. It doesn't make a lot of sense anymore. All thing you'll find color key dash panels here that go with the car body that's very Fiat 500, not necessarily copy them, but that's kind of the style right now. Here is the most interesting thing. Navigon makes a snap-off portable infotainment unit. I'm pretty sure it won't snap off here. Oh, look it will with trusting people, our Volkswagen friends are, and here are your choices, information about the car, again, because it's connected to the car's data bus, when you dock it. You can't do that with a stand-alone P and D. Here's your media player, pictures, CD player control because this, again, connects to your optical disc and car radio control. Again, something your stand-alone won't do. Your Bluetooth phone controls and technology are in here and of course your navigation and map. All that in a nice slim unit that is actually a portable electronic, sort of a band that you get when you buy this car. We're starting to see a lot of car makers go this way. Now, the pre-orders begin shortly in Europe for this car, in Germany in particular. And by top at 2012, these are gonna be out, but again, in the European market where they're pricing it at below 10,000 Euros. I've been on this business too long to say, "Oh, just convert that to dollars. It never works that way. Currency conversion aside, but it's a cheap little car. It's bringing up the bottom of the VW line and it's going to answer one big question. Why don't they bring the Polo to the US? With slots down below the golf, I'm gonna do this one instead. -Well, that's a big old gull-wing door, isn't it? This is one of the belles of the ball here at Frankfurt 2011, the Mercedes F-125! Concept. By the way, the end of the name has an exclamation mark on it, and for pretty good reason, there's an awful lot of tech going on here. First of all, the power train. There's an electric motor out at each wheel, one at each corner. That's not too exotic, totals 313 horsepower but the torque, of course, would be right now. But it's a hydrogen fuel cell car, so you can go a thousand kilometers, that's like 600 and something miles on a belly of hydrogen except it wouldn't be a belly of hydrogen; it would be a body of hydrogen. You see, they're going to store the hydrogen compressed in cavities around the body. I don't think I've heard of that before in any of the various hydrogen concepts that are out there. Now, let's talk about some of the technology that's more consumer electronics. You see these doors as they go up and down, those are gesture control. So you walk up to the door and just go [unk], and the door goes up and then the door goes down. You've also got gesture control on that nice big display for the passenger. If they wanna go to the next track on a DVD or a CD, they just do this kind of thing, Menu, all this sort of thing is very much like Connect for example. The display to the right of the driver and the central tunnel, it's a curved display, totally in focus, done by some interesting new rear projection with sort of an arch algorithm to make sure that all stays in focus from one projector beam. That's amazing. And then look at that display in front of the driver, that's actually 3D. You can't see that in our 2D stream of course. Now, what's behind all those systems? One of the most interesting things to me is 100% internet-streamed infotainment. So anything from the media to the weather to the news, all these sources coming in, they're thinking 100% streaming at this point. Oh, let me show you an interesting way to configure it. So what Mercedes says is its cars get so complex and so rich with their infotainment and settings and configurability. You need a way to do all that when you're not just sitting in the car. That's one place, but other times, you've got more time to sit down and think, "How do I wanna set my car up not sitting here in the driveway like some dork?" So they give you this very rich app that they've envisioned for the F-125. Let's just go to one part of this, the entertainment block. Here I have a whole variety of sources, information and entertainment, news, weather, music. The music, for example, I can take and drag down to this timeline which roughly matched to my route in navigation. So these things are going to happen in order of the trip. What's in the music? This is all Napster-powered right now. They could have any number of partners though. This is again part of that all streaming entertainment system. Here are playlists. If I go over here, here are Napster channels. I think you could imagine anybody being in this. It could be also Pandora. It could be Spotify, anyone-- a software is software. This stuff gets really interesting. You just start to go to that level. I can bring a weather report down here. Whatever I want along my route or directly access it in here and, of course, there are many other settings and configurability options in here to set up a car that now has arguably maybe a thousand different configurations. No 2 cars will be the same. It's-- as they say, it's like a smartphone you can sit in and no 2 smartphones are the same. So it's hard to see how we connect the dots here. I need a different interface. Oh, one more thing I wanna show you. If it's a smartphone you can sit in, I do wanna sit in it. Check out the rear seat lounge. That's like a corner group. I haven't seen anything that cool since like the '68 Eldorado. I'm in. -Hopefully, that iPad control will trickle down into some more accessible Mercedes models. It looks like the perfect way to design a road trip playlist. Or maybe the folks at Mercedes will expand their technology to other tablet models. If so, they couldn't go wrong with either the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Sony's Tablet S, but if you're trying to pick which one to go with yourself, hopefully this Price Five will help you decide. -What's up Price Five fans? I'm Brian Tong, and we're bringing you a nasty blood bath into a 2 Dual-Core top contending tablets. It's a Price Five punch out with Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Wi-Fi versus Sony's Tablet S. Now, our judges for this fight, our Senior Editor, Donald, Tablet Tinker, Bell; Senior Editor, Eric, Take It To The Back, Franklin; and myself, Brian Tong. Now, we'll take all 3 judges' blink scores and add them out to the nearest tenth each round. The final Price Five score will be an average of all rounds using the same decimal system. It's 6 rounds to the finish. Round 1 is Design. Samsung brings the cookie-cutter tablet design we're used to see. It has an amazing screen that pops, and if you want one of the thinnest tablets on the market, you'll be a happy camper here. Now, Sony's Tablet S is a bold design that strays from convention with its rolled back magazine design, and it works. Although, we wish it was thinner, it's light, easy to hold, and stands out from the crowd. Sony's Tablet S takes round 1 with a 4 and the Galaxy 10.1 gets a 3.3. Next round is Controls and User Interface. Samsung brings the TouchWiz interface here and it adds some cool new features like a Spring-Capture button directly accessible on-screen redesigned for Android services and quick access to a few utility apps, but its bright and bubbly feel takes away from the elegance, and TouchWiz feels a little cartoonish at times. Now, Sony brings a few customizations of their own on Android with a Favorites dropdown to quickly access content you can customize. Moving apps to the top for quick access creates more space and it brings a more sleek grown-up design to a honeycomb. Sony takes round 2 with a 4 and Samsung gets a 3.3. So, after 2 rounds, Sony leads by 7 tenths of a point. Round 3 is Features. Both tablets have front-facing and rear cameras, but the Galaxy Tab is so thin that there's not much room for anything else. There's additional adaptors for HDMI out and media cards, but its screen is arguably, it's the best hardware feature. The Sony Tablet S has a thicker design and you'll get a full-sized SD card slot and a USB port, but its killer feature is its built-in universal remote functionality and its DLNA compatibility for media streaming. Sony takes another round with 3.7 and the Tab gets a 2.7. Next round is Web Browsing and Multimedia. Samsung's larger 10.1-inch screen really enhances the overall web and multimedia experience, and you also have access to their media host for music, movies and TV shows, plus it's rear camera is 8 megapixels and it takes excellent quality images. Now, Sony's 9.4 screen is still draped. It has a 5-megapixel rear camera and it brings innovation to the web browser with its quick view option for faster page rendering. It has a Clever Keyboard of its own, plus Sony Suite of media apps for TV shows, movies, and music, and gaming with their PlayStation brand brings content that will support the platform. So, guess, who takes round 4? Yup. It's Sony again with a 4 and Samsung gets a 3.7. So, after averaging 4 rounds, Sony still has a solid lead. Next round is Performance. Both tablets are snappy performers running 1 gigaHertz Dual-Core, ARM Cortex-A9 processors and you won't feel a speed advantage between one or the other. The Galaxy Tab brings its vibrant screen and the battery life around 9 hours compared to Sony's solid screen with about an 8-hour battery life. The differences aren't huge here, but Samsung finally takes this round with a 4 and Sony gets a 3.7. Now, we have 1 round left, and the final round that decides it all is Value. These 2 tablets start with 16-gig models at $499, and we all think these are sold devices, but that price tag just doesn't make sense in the current market if they wanna gain an attraction. Samsung has proven their commitment to the Android platform, so you'll get support from them. Sony is the underdog but their killer remote control feature and PlayStation port shows they're more serious to user content muscle if they wanna keep this platform alive. $499 is still a hard pill to swallow, but Sony just gets the edge in value with a 3.7 and Samsung gets a 3.3. So let's average out all the 6 rounds. And this was a battle where Sony just kept getting the edge over Samsung in 5 of the 6 rounds, taking this Price Five 3.9 to 3.4, and is your Price Five Winner. You're a little surprised, so were we, but Sony's innovation showed in its design interface and unique features that is bringing to the tablet war. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching. I'll catch you guys next time on another Price Five. -Like I said, I was a little surprised to see the Tablet S take the win, but with so many Android tablets out there, Sony clearly found some ways to distinguish theirs from the rest of the pack. -Next stop is Arts and Crafts time here at the Tech Review. Donald Bell has a handy DIY project. For all of you who would prefer a way to control your iPad, that's a little more precise than just using this. -Touchscreens offer an awesome and simple way to navigate and interact with your tablet or smartphone except when they don't. When it comes to detail control, something like drawing or writing, it can be really useful to have a pen, but not just any pen will work since this is not a matter of pressure but an issue of electric conduction. You can buy a compatible stylus for as little as $5, but what if you need something right now. Well, in this CNET How-To, I'm gonna show you how to make a touchscreen pen that's essentially free assuming that your boss will look the other way if you raid the supply closet. So, here's what you'll need. You'll need a pen, a paperclip, and a sponge. Now, make sure that the pen is one of those that you can pull apart. You also need 3 tools, pliers, scissors and a drill. First step, pull the pen apart and remove the ink cartridge. Keep it around though, you'll need it later. Next, slice a little rectangular wedge off of the sponge. You can be squeezing a chunk of this through the barrel of the pen, so make sure it's small enough to get in but thick enough to stay put. Any sponge should do as long as it has a little moisture in it and you can always test it out by using it directly on your screen. Next step, drill a hole into the pen barrel. The hole needs to be big enough for the paperclip to get through. Now, shell the sponge to the barrel so that it pokes out of the tip. Then, put the pen back together, and finally, flatten out that paperclip and poke one end of it into the hole that you made just so that it's jabbing the sponge and then wrap the rest around the barrel. So long as your hand is in contact with the metal, it will carry an electric charge through the sponge and to the screen. Now, it won't work if the sponge has completely dried out though, but a few drops of water should get you back in business. So there you go, a DIY capacity stylus you can use at any tablet or smartphone. It's not pretty, but the price is right. It's easy to customize and you can make one in just a few minutes. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell. -Don't worry about a little bit of moisture on your iPad screen, just don't soak your stylus too much. I know it sounds weird. Alright, let's just go ahead and take a quick break. Let's stick around. There's a lot more tech review coming up right after this. Welcome back to the CNET Tech Review, our weekly video digest of all things, good and bad, we've seen here at CNET TV. Now, continuing on in the good, if you find that you're working with multiple computers at any given time and you found that using multiple keyboards and mice is a big hassle, today is your lucky day. Here's Rich Brown to tell you why. -Hi, I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for CNET. Today, we're gonna take a look at a new app from Microsoft called Mouse Without Borders. So, the idea behind Mouse Without Borders is that it lets you use one mouse and keyboard to control multiple Windows PCs. So, we've downloaded the software in the system over here and it's really easy to set up. We install the app and it gets you this Let's Get Started screen. It asks first if you would install Mouse Without Borders on other systems. So, we're gonna say "No" here, and that generates the security code and the name of this computer which we then plug into another PC where we've also installed the same program. So, we've already installed Mouse Without Borders on this other PC over here and you can see the same Startup screen, but this time we're gonna say 'Yes,' and it brings us to a screen where we can enter in the security code and the system name from the other computer. So, let's punch that in and then you can see the systems are connected. So, we'll set up both computers. So, you can see the program lets you control up to 4 systems on the same network. We're only gonna use 2 here for the sake of simplicity. But that said, earlier we were able to connect 2 Windows 7 PCs and the Windows XP machine on the same network, and things were flossy. We had no problems. So, take a look over here. You can see this Option screen. It gives you a few more settings to play around with. Now, with the default setting, we can simply drag the mouse cursor over to the other display, but here, you can see there's a setting that lets you use a key toggle to switch between systems. And the software also lets you drag and drop screens here to kind of help you make sense of the order in which you're gonna move the mouse between systems. So, with the wireless mouse, you can see it has no problem tracking the cursor between the PCs. So, the mouse works seamlessly pretty much. There's no noticeable input lag. You can right-click. You can move windows around. You can launch applications. It works exactly as you would expect a mouse that was connected to the system. Now, despite its name, you can also use it to type on the other PC. Now, on top of letting you control multiple PCs, you can also use Mouse Without Borders to drag and drop files between computers. So, we picked one up. We brought it to the other system. So, as you can see, the software is really easy to use and it works pretty much as you would expect. We also found and did some things we didn't expect. For example, it recognizes hardware volume keys on the keyboard to control volume on the other PC. Now, it has some limitations. Brightness keys on this keyboard won't change that display over there, for example. We also had problems with games. The mouse sensor is just way too high and we couldn't adjust that even using that in Game menu. Overall though, we can see place scenarios where Mouse Without Borders will be amazingly useful from education scenarios, in a dorm, in a support environment, at home, pretty much anywhere you have multiple Windows PCs that want to talk to each other. And, one of the other great parts about the software is that it's freely available for download from Microsoft. I'm Rich Brown and this has been a quick demo of Microsoft's Mouse Without Borders. -As cool as it is, the Mouse Without Borders utility only works with Windows; so, if you want to control PCs running Windows and MACs across your network, check out a program called Synergy. A lot of our producers and editors work with a MAC and a Windows PC sitting side by side, and it works great, and oh, Synergy did not pay me to say that. Alright, now, let's see what we can find out in the bad. Do not buy this Bluray player was the headline. When Matthew Moscoviak posted his review for the Philips BDP5506. Now, here's your chance to find out why this player can't stand up to the competition. -Hey, I'm Matthew Moscoviak at CNET.com. We're gonna take a look at the Philips BDP 5506 Bluray player, which is currently selling for about $165. Philips usually has some pretty unique designs on its products, but this is a generic-looking Bluray player. The front panel buttons are all touch sensitive. There's a glossy black finish and a USB port on the front. We like the main user interface, which is simple and straightforward, but once you access the streaming media features, it gets more cluttered. The icons are relatively small and there are plenty of filler services that just kind of get in the way. You'll also notice that while there are some important services that we care about like Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora, Philips doesn't have many of the premium content sources that competitors do like Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, and MLB. TV. On the plus side, the BDP5506 does have built-in Wi-Fi, so you don't need Ethernet in your living room to use the streaming services. The stand-out feature of this players is supposed to be Philips Media Connect, which allows you to stream whatever is displayed on your laptop directly to the Bluray player. It's an interesting idea, but we found it difficult to set up and overall, it wasn't that useful especially when competing Bluray players have so many streaming media services built right into the player. We also put the player through our image quality tests, and we were surprised to find that the Philips failed quite a few of our basic tests. We saw artifacts and jaggies on standard film-based movies like Mission Impossible and Sunshine, and it's the first player we've tested this year to fail these tests. The same kind of issue showed up on DVD playback. So, if you care about image quality at all, we'd go to a different player. Overall, with all of its competitors offering better image quality and more streaming media services, there's just not a good reason to pick the BDP55 over better alternatives. I'm Matthew Moscoviak, and this is the Philips BDP5506. -I guess it doesn't get much clearer than that; so, let's just move right along to this week's bottomline. We're all familiar with the commercials for Dyson vacuums with that weird guy who's obsessed with suction? Then the company turned its attention from sucking to blowing with their introduction of their hand dryers and swiveling fans. Now, the heat is on as David Carnoy shows us in this first look at the Dyson Hot. -Hi, I'm David Carnoy, executive editor for CNET.com, and a lot of times in the tech world, we like to describe products as hot and new, but this is the first time that word hot has actually been incorporated into the product name. This is the Dyson Hot fan heater. It is really a heater. It's looks like a space heater, but it's actually more of a space age heater. It works with Dyson's bladeless fan technology before the company had something called the Dyson Air Multiplier fan. That fan comes in multiple models. Now, we have the Dyson Hot, which basically pushes hot air through that bladeless fan. There is a thermostat that goes from 32 degrees all the way up to 99 degrees. That's a little bit deceptive because this isn't an air conditioner actually. What you do is you set the thermostat to say if the room was around 40 degrees and you wanted to be 50 degrees, you set it at 50 degrees, and every time the thermostat would drop below 50 degrees, the heater would kick in. Couple of cool features; like the Air Multiplier models, this one has a tilt mechanism in it. This one also comes with a remote control. It's actually magnetic and you can stick it to the top of the fan. That remote control allows you to set the thermostat, also the power of the fan and you can set it to oscillate. Like Dyson's Air Multiplier models, this is a fairly quite fan. It does kick up the sound when you do put it on the higher power levels. It's also designed not to get too hot. There's no exposed heating elements, and Dyson is making a big deal about, I would say, safer fan. If you tip it over, it turns off automatically and there's nothing to, in theory, start a fire. In case you wanted, this can also be used as a standard fan. It is a little bit confusing at first, but you have to set the thermostat all the way down to 32 degrees--