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CNET Tech Review
Good week for Google, GalaxyThis week on the CNET Tech Review: Google releases new OS(es), music service, and more; new Galaxy Tab and Chromebook reviewed; Samsung's Galaxy S II is our Editors' Choice; and the HP Veer 4G is not.
-This week on the CNET Tech Review, there's something for everybody at Google's developer's conference, new laptops, new tablets and new music service. We've got the highlight from Google I/O plus an MMO you can take on the road and a teeny-tiny smart phone you should leave at home. 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 tell you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech plus offer some unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. Let's start with the good. Google I/O was this week and Google pretty much buried in us in news everything from laptops, so like 9 different operating systems. Well, actually, I can sit here and recap the whole thing, but I actually just did that in the Buzz report this week, so here you go. I barely nowhere to start with Google I/O, they keynotes are only an hour, but man they're packing the news. Let's do this as bullet points, okay. First, an updated version of honeycomb, the tablet operating system, which my goodness gets resizable widgets. [unk] so that's almost awesome as that time IOS folders. We also got to look at the new version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich because you can never have too many operating systems. That one will remain open source and it will become the OS that runs everything from smartphones to smarthomes as an embedded system. The Chrome browser as usual gets faster. You can now rent and stream movies via YouTube. You can even stream them on your Android phone, which is pretty awesome, and here are some of the bigger head lines. First, Google Music Beta. It's a cloud based music locker where you can store and play back your music kind of like Amazon's cloud player service. It's an invite only Beta for now, unless you have an android phone and then you can just download the mobile app and like Amazon, Google went ahead and launched it without the music labels on board because they remained that irrelevant in the way of everything consumer watched and finally, and this is really the biggest news of all. There's a free Angry Birds chrome app available now in the Chrome app store with exclusive content for chrome users. I already have RSI from my mouse hand to watch these birds all the day. My boss is not pleased. I ashamed to confess that I played 5 levels of Angry Birds Chrome edition in the middle of recording buzz loud on Wednesday. They were the easy levels though, and what better way to show up how old this new step is going to work, then they give a free galaxy tab to try things out on, everyone in attendance at I/O got the new 10.1 inch version and Eric Franklin rushed back to the office, so he could gives this first look. -You can never have too many Honeycomb tablets in the wild, it seems, and today we have our fourth such tablet. I'm Eric Franklin and today we'll take a First Look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Obviously named for its 10.1-inch screen, the 10.1 is a Google Experience Tablet which means it's UI is exactly the same as the Xoom running Android 3.0.1. It has a Tegra 2 dual-core CPU and a 1280 x 800 resolution. Design-wise, however, the 10.1 has much more in common with the iPad 2 than the Xoom. We don't have a micrometer to confirm this but just from feel and eyeballing them side by side, the 10.1 is just as thin as the iPad 2. In addition, it's actually slightly lighter than the iPad 2 but is about half an inch longer and a quarter inch wider. However, the most intriguing detail the 10.1 isn't what it has but what it doesn't have. The 10.1 sports a clean design with no mini USB or mini or micro HDMI ports. What you do get is a universal port that does allow you to connect to a computer via USB, speakers on either side of the tablet, a headphone jack, volume rocker, power, and front and rear-facing cameras. So far, the only disappointing design decision is the plastic back which makes the tablet feel less solid than the iPad 2 and kinda looks like cheap kitchen wallpaper. Donald Bell did mention that he thought it was cute, though. To each his own, I guess. This is the Wi-Fi-only version of the 10.1 with no word on when we will see cellular versions. There's also no word on price just yet but the 10.1 will be available on June 8th. Once again, this is Eric Franklin and this has been the First Look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. -The lesson here, it pays to go to Google I/O. If ever they give a cool laptop or a tablet or both, it's gonna like going to see Oprah. Remember a few weeks ago when Amazon cloud player was all the range, well, if you haven't taken the time to upload all your songs to Amazon servers yet, you might wanna wait especially of if you're an android. Google's new music service might be a better answer. -Hey, I'm Sharon Vaknin from cnet.com. I'm here to walk you through Google Music for Android. With Google Music, you can access all your music across multiple devices and computers without burdening your phone or computer storage. Basically, the music stored on Google Servers and playback over Wi-Fi or your song network to your phone. To get a Google Music account, go to music.google.com/music and request and invite. Google is slowly rolling this beta software out, so be patient. Once you've been invited, you will be able to access to Google Music web interface in the browser and download the music manager for your desktop. Music manager will copy all the music on your computer to Google servers and make it all available on your Android phone or tablet when you're not at home, but even without an invite, you can still download the Android app and get to know the interface. Go to the Android market and search for music. It's the app with the headphone's icon. Once it's downloaded and installed, select which Google account you want to use with the app. It's based on what accounts are already connected to your phone. Once you're all set up, the app will automatically load songs from your online library and your phone's internal storage. If you have a huge library because maybe you decided to take advantage of the free storage of 20,000 songs, it might take a while, but once those just populated playing music is pretty straightforward. Just tap a song to begin playing at or hit the arrow to the right of any song and press play. Here, you'll see other options. Make an instant mix is Google's answer to Apple's genius feature. If you select it, Google will create a playlist of songs similar to the one you selected. It's for when you're on the go, wanna take up old music or you just wanna like google work its magic. You can also add a song to the playlist in this menu. You can either add the song to an existing playlist or create a new one. All your playlist is stored in the tab at the top. To create a new one hit the menu button and select new playlist. You can rename it and begin adding songs, albums, or artists through the other tabs. Each tabs menu selection is different. It makes you experience a little frustrating, but the main thing you should know is that the playlist albums and artists' tabs have an option called make available off line. So, now that all your music is stored on Google server, how do you access it when you're not connected to the internet? This is where make available offline comes in. Tap that option and you'll see question show up next to the items on the list. Tap the questions next the items what available offline and hit done. The music is cached onto your phone, so the amount of music you can make available offline depends on how much storage you have, and deselect them later to remove them from your phone and free up space. You can check on the download progress by going to menu, settings, then download cue. There are other useful settings here too. Take a look around and contact me on face book if you have any questions, and look, if you rotate the phone to landscape, you get hold different interface. Feel free to choose accordingly. Send you questions, comments, and how to ideas to how at cnet.com and for more handy how to videos head on over to cnettv.com. For CNET, I'm Sharon Vaknin and I'll see you on the interweb. -You may have noticed the fine print that indicates that the music beta will be free for a limited time and there's no telling how long it's gonna take before those invites will starting showing up in your inboxes, but you might as well sign up now if wanna get in early. Some of you may be wondering what phone Sharon was using to demo goggle music. Well, it was none other than the second member of the Samsung Galaxy family on the show this week, the Galaxy S2. Here's Jessica Dolcourt with a closer look -Hi, I'm Jessica Dolcourt with CNET. This is the first look at the Samsung Galaxy S II. This is the next generation Samsung Galaxy phone and it happens to be my editor's choice. Now, there's a lot going on with this device. First of all, it is a quad-band GSM world phone. It's got dual core 1 gigahertz processors, 4G speeds with HSPA+ and it's running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. That is the latest version of the Android OS. The screen is really beautiful. It is a 4.27 inch. It's almost 4.3 inch super AMOLED plus screen. That means it is brighter, bolder, smoother and the colors pop more than the regular Samsung Super AMOLED screen, which was also very good. So, this is just pretty amazing, pretty brilliant linking. Now, this phone does feature Samsung's custom Touch Wiz 4.0 interface. I'm not always a fan of these custom UIs, but I do like the easy access to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings and there are some visual flourishes on here as well. Hopefully, that won't impede any of the OS updates in the future. There is an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera on this phone, also flash and has got a 2-megapixel front facing camera for all those video chats. Photo quality on this phone was really impressive. It was sharp and clear and the camcorder on the back captures and plays back 1080p HD video. As for the design itself, it's very thin. This is less than 0.5 an inch, it's 0.3 inches and it's also pretty light. Sometimes light isn't very good because it makes the phone feel cheap, but in this case I'm glad that it's not too heavy and won't let you down. Now, Samsung's Galaxy phones are usually really plasticky, but with this design, they're getting much better. There's this textured backing that makes it feel a little bit more premium. However, it's still not as premium-looking as one competitor, that's the LG T-mobile G2x. Now, I did have a few complaints. There is no camera hardware button on the side and the back cover is really stiff. I feel like I was gonna break my nails off trying to get it off. There is a micro SD card behind the back cover, but its position in such a way that you have to remove the battery to exchange the card. It holds up to 32 gigabytes of external storage. There are couple interesting things inside the phone. First of all, there's a photo editor and a video maker, which I find really handy, also an FM radio that I like. Samsung has added 3 new hubs; it's got music, games, and a reader hub. Now, it's something that's unique to the TouchWiz Interface. There are also some motion controls that are pretty interesting. For example, you can zoom, pan, silence, and tap for certain apps. There are also some business tools to try to make the phone a little bit more enterprise-friendly. For example, there's VPN encryption and support for some of Cisco services. An FC support is also enabled for some markets. So, how can you get this wonder phone? It is available in Europe and Korea right now. It costs about 500 euros, 500 pounds in Europe unlocked and it was able to find an online from between $700 and $800. However, when Samsung does announce US and Canadian availability, the price should come down. So, what do I think of this phone? Despite a few design flaws, the Galaxy S II has really top of the line specs and it delivers. So, with the screen and speeds, and the excellent processors, it adds up to one of the best all around Smartphones on the market. This is Jessica Dolcourt and you've been looking at the unlocked Samsung Galaxy S II. -Eight hundred dollars unlocked? That's why unlocked phones haven't been that successful there in the US. I'm imagining most us will wait and see a deal with a carrier looks like before we dive in, awesome phone though, by the way, nice bracelet ladies. I kind of wanna barrow that too, and while I figure out where those girls do their shopping, let's take a brake. We'll be 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 the good. There's no denying that World of Warcraft is or at least was a phenomenon, but the major down side to the game is how much time some people spent, locked up in their houses playing it. Fortunately, this week's tappable app offers tons of the genre and opportunity to go out cyberging. -Welcome to Tap that App, I'm Jason Parker and this is the show where we cover the hottest apps in the mobile space. Most gamers know about Blizzard's World of Warcraft, the most popular online role playing game of all time. Featuring the perfect mix of beautiful graphics, engaging gameplay, and the ability to explore a huge online world, it's no surprise that World of Warcraft is a big hit among desktop gamers. This week's app is called Order and Chaos Online from mobile game company, Gameloft. Order and Chaos online closely resembles World of Warcraft in many ways, from the graphical style all the way down to the game mechanics, but with Order and Chaos Online you can play on your iPhone. Like most popular Massive Multiplayer Online games, Order and Chaos starts you off easy. You start by selecting a race: you can be Human, Elf, Orc, or Undead. Then you select a class: Warrior, Mage, Monk, or Ranger. We're going to select Warrior to keep things easy. Next you can make customizations to skin color, hair style, hair color, and facial features. Finally, choose a name for your character and you're ready to play. Order and Chaos starts you off in a beginner area and the game shows you the ropes of how to move your character using the onscreen joystick, look around with a swipe of your finger, other basic movement options, and with notifications that show up as exclamation points. Once you learn the controls, you'll be ready to take on your first quest. Touch the NPC (or non-player character) with the scroll over his head to receive a quest. The first quest is to talk to the Warrior class trainer who is right nearby. The Warrior trainer shows you the ropes of basic attacks on a combat dummy and how to use special attacks. Once you've completed the quest, return to the Warrior trainer to receive your reward. These early quests help you get acclimated to the controls and options for your chosen class. But later, you'll need to run great distances and fight monsters in strange lands, all while improving your character with new items found and also focusing your character to one of two Talent trees. Each class has two paths to choose from, in the case of the warrior, you can be a Battle Warrior or a Guardian. As you level up from completing quests and gaining experience points, you'll be able to unlock new skills and abilities based on your level. As you can see, there are a lot of choices to be made as you play Order and Chaos, but the class variations and talent trees are part of what gives the game so much replay value. Massive multiplayer role playing games like this one are mostly made for desktop computers because they often have a lot of complex controls. Fortunately, Order and Chaos online does a great job of organizing your menus, requiring only a touch of your finger to get to things like your inventory, Character loadout, your quest log, spells and skills, and social and team menus. As you get further into the game, you'll need to team up with other players online to conquer the more difficult dungeons, and Order and Chaos online offers a full range of social options to team up and even join online guilds of players. Order and Chaos Online is a smooth overall experience with good frame rates and beautiful 3D graphics, but you'll need to have a Wi-Fi connection to play. Also, you start out with 3-months free after buying the game for $6.99, but you'll need to pay a subscription fee of 99 cents per month to keep playing after that. Though it may seem a little steep now, we think that once players realize how deep this game is, a buck a month won't seem too bad at all. So if you like fantasy-based role playing games or are a fan of online multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, we definitely recommend you tap this app. That's it for today's show, but if you have any suggestions, send them to Tap That App at cnet.com. I'm Jason Parker, thanks for watching. -Of course, if you actually take order in Chaos out into the real world, I would suggest taking along a charger as well. It will be burden to your battery in no time. Alright, let's move along and see what's going on in the back. Well, the trend with most smart phones seems to be bigger and brighter screens. HP decided to do in a different direction with the new Veer 4G phone. Let's see how that's working out, shall we. -Hey everyone, I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at cnet.com and today, I've got your first look at the HP Veer 4G for AT&T. This teeny-tiny device is the latest webOS smartphone since the Pre2 and it's probably one of the cutest phones I've ever seen. It's got a very attractive pebble-like design, and the white model that I have here is particularly eye catching, But will probably grab your attention the most is the size. As you can see, the Veer is really small and there are certainly good things about the compact design, but I actually think the HP made the Veer too small, because there are number of problems that come with it. The first is the screen. It only measures 2.6 inches diagonally, so if you're trying to do anything like view a webpage or maps, it's very difficult, and you will be using the pinch-to-zoom feature a lot. Even simple task like making call gets frustrating because on screen dialers cramped and if you want to read an email, there's a lot of scrolling involved. Luckily, you don't have to enter text using the touch screen since there is set of QWERTY keyboard. To be honest, I didn't have high hopes for keyboard because the layout is pretty cramp and the buttons are small, but with some practice, you can actually around it without too many problems. It's not ideal, but I wouldn't say it's unusable either. The last issue with the design is the proprietary ports. Because the Veer is so small, HP connect set in a headphone jack or a micro USB port, so instead, they put in this magnetic connector on the side. With that, you can connect this headset adaptor and then plug in your headphone, so you can listen to music. I just think it's a bad idea. Number one, it's an [unk] and because it sticks out of the side like this, I can see it easily getting ripped off just putting it in your pocked or if your headphone wire gets caught on something. Also, it's small, so it's easy to lose when you're not using is and I've already misplaced it several times while reviewing the phone. The other issue is with the magnetic connector, you have to use the charging cable that comes with the phone. So, if you're running out of battery and you don't have it nearby you're tossed, so overall, I just can't the flat idea. [unk] because the Veer 4G offers a decent set of features. It's running webOS 2.1.2, so you're getting some of the latest functions like stocks, which groups together similar tasks for better multitasking and just type, which expand on universal search by letting you type search terms and even status updates from anywhere on your phone, and fortunately, I think, it's just how to take advantage of any of these features with the phones design. Set at a reasonable price at 100 dollars on contract, but AT&T has a number of other devices for 100 dollar or less like the HCC Inspire 4G that will provided a better experience. I'm Bonnie Cha, and this has been your first look at the HP Veer 4G for AT&T. -Sure, it may only be 100 bucks, but battery cost is pretty penny to replace those magnetic headphone adaptor things. So, that's where the real money is or would be. If anyone actually buys a Veer in the first place, you know them, right. Let's move along and check out this week's bottom line, shall we? Google, on Wednesday announced the new Chromebook platform that brings the Chrome OS experience onto a regular laptop and Donald Bell was on hand to check out one of the Chromebooks, the series 5 from Samsung Hey, I'm Donald Bell for CNET.com and today I'm taking a first look at the Samsung Series 5. This is a new laptop from Samsung that runs Google's Chrome OS. It's due out in June, pricing starts at $429 for a WiFi only model. You also have a $499 option for a model that has built in 3D coverage through Verizon Wireless. You also get 2 different colors here. There's a white version and a dark silver version. Both are gonna be available in the same prices and configurations. There's not a lot to the laptop and that's really the point. You get 16 gigabytes of onboard storage and when you boot it up, you're booting up right into the Chrome browser. It has support for Google's Chrome browser application so that you can extend this through different apps store that's built in to the Chrome system. You can also have support for all of Google's great apps like Gmail, calendaer, documents, all that functionalities here too. So the upshot of having such a lean system is that you get really fast startup time from a cold boot, 8 seconds will get you up into the operating system. If you're just coming out of standby mode, that's gonna happen instantly. You'll also get 812 hours of battery life, about 5 hours of video playback battery life, and the other good thing about this is that because nothing is really stored locally, everything is backed up to the clouds so that if you shut it down and this thing got run over by a train, you could rest assured that all that information that you've been working on, it's been [unk] to the cloud and you get a new one, open it up, login and all your information is gonna be there. Taking a look at the hardware design, you got a 12.1-inch screen. This is a really bright screen, provided by Samsung. You got a full-sized keyboard, a multi-touch track pad, you've got 2 USB ports, an HD webcam up at the top, and you also have a headphone jack and an SD card or 4-in-1 card slot here for memory cards right here on the front. Under the hood, you get a 1.66 Dual Core Intel Atom processer. So it's got some muscle but it's only got about 2 gigs of built in RAM so it's not gonna be a serious horsepower machine. It's also not the lightest machine we've seen. It's about a little over 3 pounds. So it's not groundbreaking in terms of design, but I like the concept a lot. It's really after a single lot of tabloids this year. This kinda of strikes that same upheaval of being a machine that is affordable, is really utilitarian system for getting on to the web, getting there fast, and having a really simple operating system without confusion people. I think there's gonna be segment of people who are really gonna gravitate towards this because of it's simplicity, so yeah, I'm excited to see this in June. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell and that was a first look at the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook. -The bottom line this week, now that's gonna be a hard still. I mean that's nice of Donald to say there will a segment of people who are excited about chrome books. I just don't know if it will be a big segment. I mean you can buy a full pledged laptop for 4 or 5 bucks and then have like programs and the chrome browser and the other browser you want. Well, see you though, I meant I was wrong about people buying iPads too. All right folks, that's your show. We'll be back next week with a brand 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.