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CNET Tech Review
New Honeycomb tablets (do not eat!)This week on the CNET Tech Review: tablet fans enjoy the sweet taste of Honeycomb; get only the updates you want in your Facebook feed; how to root your Android phone; and a high-tech toilet--how could we resist?
-This week on the CNET Tech Review, new Honeycomb tablets keep our labs buzzing, how to root your Android phone and why you would want to in the first place, take the drive-in theater wherever you go, and how to put the kibosh on annoying Facebook updates. 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 our unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. Let's get started with the good. The Motorola Xoom was the first device on the market to run Honeycomb, the tablet-only version of the Android OS. Now, it's got company though from a flood of new Honeycomb-based tablets. Here are Eric Franklin with the LG G-Slate and Donald Bell with the Acer Iconia Tab. -As only the second tablet to use the Honeycomb OS, the T-Mobile G-Slate with Google by LG will garner a lot of attention. Most will want to know how it compares to the Xoom so let's get that out of the way right now. First off, the G-Slate is smaller, sporting an 8.9-inch screen compared to the Xoom's 10.1-inch screen. It also supports T-Mobile's 4G network, includes a 3D camera, and features the pre-installed app T-Mobile TV which offers streaming TV and on-demand movies. The tablet also includes full Flash support out of the box. Those are the major changes. With so many tablets being released this year, we don't recommend signing up for a new data plan. You should know that the no-contract price for the G-Slate is $750. By signing up for a 2-year plan with T-Mobile, you can get the tablet for $630 plus a $100 mail-in rebate, bringing the price down to $530. At those prices, it's cheaper than the Xoom with a Verizon data plan but not quite as cheap as the iPad 2. Again, we don't recommend signing up with any carrier until the dust on the tablet landscape has settled. Also, no word yet on a Wi-Fi-only version of the G-Slate. Weight-wise, the G-Slate is only slightly heavier than the iPad 2, but like the Xoom, feels heftier due to its odd weight distribution. It's also nearly a third thicker than the iPad 2. In landscape mode, its screen measures as wide as the iPad 2s but it's about an inch shorter in height. The G-Slate feels comfortable in our hands while typing whether in landscape or portrait mode, and unlike the iPad 2 with its smooth-as-silk metal casing, the G-Slate isn't as likely to slip from our grip. On its bottom side, the tablet includes ports for mini USB and mini HDMI. In the top is a volume rocker and microphone pinhole. Two speakers can be found on the right side with another on the left. Also on the left is the power and lock button, a headphone jack, and a power adaptor slot input. Accessing the G-Slate's SIM card is a little more involved than we liked. There's a hidden panel on the back requiring you to push down and slide it up, revealing the SIM card as well as the reset button underneath. These days, you can't have a tablet without a built-in camera, usually 2. The G-Slate attempts to one-up the competition by not only including a front-facing 2-megapixel camera but also a 5-megapixel 3D camera on the back. The silver panel here isn't the kickstand, sorry. Sometimes, a silver panel is just a silver panel. Unlike the Xoom, the G-Slate includes an IPS screen with a noticeably wider viewing angle. Surfing speeds under 4G were faster than the Xoom and iPad using 3G, especially on busy sites, but using 4G did drain the battery something quick. If you're expecting good looking 3D on the G-Slate, prepared to be disappointed. First off, it uses anaglyphic red and blue glasses which, while more practical and cheaper than active shutter lenses, results in a lower quality image in the end. The G-Slate's screen outclasses the Xoom. While Motorola spins its thumbs on 4G support, T-Mobile delivers it out of the box. While the 3D is shoddily implemented, some will find some use for it. Also, the content on T-Mobile TV won't suit everyone's tastes but it's still a convenient way to get live TV and on-demand movies on your tablet. All told, thanks to a slightly lower price, higher quality screen, and extra features, the T-Mobile G-Slate with Google is a better value than the Xoom with the Verizon data plan. However, the iPad 2 is still the tablet to beat. Check out the full review for more details on the T-Mobile G-Slate. -Hey, I'm Donald Bell and today we're taking a First Look at the Iconia Tab from Acer. This is a Wi-Fi-only, contract-free tablet running Google's Android Honeycomb OS, and priced attractively at $449. Honeycomb made its debut on the Motorola Xoom early in 2011, and we criticized the tablet for being a little too pricey and too bulky to compete with the iPad. With the Iconia Tab, Acer is at least answering one of our requests, pricing their tablet at a full $150 less than the Wi-Fi-only Xoom while maintaining nearly all of its features. Like the Xoom, you get a 10.1-inch screen that's great for videos and web browsing, there's a built-in HDMI output for mirroring HD content on to your TV, you get a 5-megapixel camera on the back, a 2-megapixel camera on the front, both of which can be used to chat over the included Google Talk app. The Android Honeycomb experience here is pretty much what you'd expect. Acer puts a few of their own bundled apps on the home screen but if you don't like them, they're easy to clear off and replace with something else. The bad news is that Acer hasn't cut any of the bulk we saw on the Xoom. In fact, it's a tad heavier and when you hold it up next to the slimmed-down iPad 2, the difference is dramatic. Still, we're happy to see Honeycomb reach a price below the iPad, and hopefully this will be a trend that we'll keep seeing throughout the year. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell and this is the Acer Iconia Tab A500. -And believe it or not, those are not the only Honeycomb tablets to pass through the lab this week. Head on over to CNETtv.com to see Eric's review of the Asus EeePad Transformer and it's snazzy keyboard/docking station. Next up is a pair of products that can help turn your home office into a DIY photo studio without breaking the bank. -Hey there, I'm Josh Goldman, senior editor with CNET, and this is a look at the Nikon Coolpix S9100. Now, like all point-and-shoot makers, Nikon continues to push just how much lens can be jammed into a compact camera. This one is packing a 25-mm wide angle lens with an 18x zoom. That's longer and wider than most in this category. It's also using a 12-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that improves low-light photo quality and shooting performance, and this camera is fast. There's almost no shutter lag and its shot-to-shot time is barely more than a second. The only time it really slows down is when you pop up the flash. Actually, using the camera is nice, too. Nikon's S series cameras are geared for point-and-shoot use so you won't find any manual controls beyond changing exposure compensation, ISO, and white balance. What you will find are a lot of automatic modes to help you get the best results without worrying too much about settings, and that includes some special effects that can help spice up otherwise boring photos. The S9100 also captures movies in full HD at 30 frames per second, or high-speed videos for a slow motion effect. The zoom lens works while shooting regular movies, but the movements gets picked up by the stereo mic on top so in quiet scenes, you will hear it a bit. Otherwise, the clips are pretty good and photo quality is good, too, but average for this type of camera. There's some lens distortion in the corners at the wide end and if you're a stickler for sharpness or fine details when photos are viewed at full resolution, well, then this camera probably isn't for you, but for its price and shooting flexibility, most people after a decent snapshot, should be pretty happy with the results. I'm Josh Goldman and that's the Nikon Coolpix S9100. Thanks for watching. -Hi, I'm Justin Yu with CNET.com with the First Look at the Canon Pixma MG6120 multifunction printer. We had a few issues with the touch sensitivity on the control panel, but its missteps are definitely offset by its competent home office capabilities and those include HD movie print, simple installation, and dual paper trays on the top and bottom that can hold up to 300 sheets of paper at a time. The MG6120 takes on a new design that incorporates folding trays all around to keep the footprint relatively small and easy to transport despite the rear-mounted auto document feeder and its six individual ink tanks inside, but the most interesting design change comes in the form of this interactive touch-sensitive control panel. As you can see, the only tactile button you get is for power. All the other buttons light up on an as-needed basis depending on the function you're accessing. The controls also work in conjunction with this 3-inch LCD screen that lifts forward from the middle and tilts back into the unit. The new button style is easy to use but we're hoping that Canon will let us adjust the sensitivity in future models as the current setting is so sensitive that we found ourselves accessing the wrong buttons accidentally. Along with the standard multifunction duties like copy, print, and scan, the MG6120 also includes Canon's HD Movie Print feature that will let you pull still snapshots out of videos shot with compatible HD Canon cameras. In terms of performance, the MG6120 registers impressive output speed in 2 out of the 4 tests but did fall behind to competition printing text prints and photos. That said, this printer may not be the quickest performer for graphic design offices, but we would not hesitate to recommend it's output quality in a boardroom presentation. And you can read more about all those features and performance scores for this printer in its full review on CNET.com., but that's gonna do it for me, I'm Justin Yu, you just took a First Look at the Canon Pixma MG6120 all-in-one printer. Thanks for watching. -Yes, you could spend a lot more money for a DSLR camera and a high-end photo printer, but if you just like to take a lot of snapshots and wanna print out a few of your favorites, those 2 goodies should do just fine. Meanwhile, back in the world of Android, last week, Sharon Vaknin showed us how to back up our Android phones. During that video, she also talked a little bit about rooting your phone. If you don't know what she was talking about, Seth Rosenblatt is here to explain what rooting your phone means and how to do it. -Rooting your Android phone used to be a complicated process, involving about a dozen steps and arcane rituals best left to folks like Anton LaVey. Nowadays, it's much simpler. There is an app for that. Hi, I'm Seth Rosenblatt for CNET, and today I'm going to show you how to gain root access on your Android phone. Actually, there's more than just one rooting app, but the one I'll be using today is SuperOneClick. If you have an HTC phone, you'll want to use the unrevoked, non-market app to root and remove the NAND lock. For unrevoked, simply download, run the installer on your desktop, and follow the instructions. Before we begin, I'm going to caution you--be careful when you root your phone. It will void your warranty and it's possible to brick your phone, even with a one-click rooting app. Generally, that only happens when the one-click process gets interrupted, but one more time, please be careful. For example, if your main computer is a laptop, make sure it's plugged in so you're not draining the battery while rooting. All right, all that said, let's get this started. Note that these are general instructions and that there might be device-specific idiosyncrasies you ought to know about before you begin, so do your research. First, download SuperOneClick and save it to your desktop, but do not run it, not yet. Next, connect your phone to you computer but do not mount the SD card. That means that you should not turn on USB storage. Double check by going to Settings, SD Card and Phone Storage, and unmount the SD card. What you do want, though, is to enable USB debugging. If you don't have a notification that will take you to it, go to Settings, Application Settings, Development, and Enable USB Debugging. Go back to your computer and double click on SuperOneClick.exe. Choose the Samsung Captivate tab, if that's your phone. For all others except those made by HTC, choose the universal tab. Last, click the Root button and go get yourself a tasty beverage, this is gonna take a while. If you want to sit and watch it, you ought to see a bunch of activity scrolling by with "OK" appearing after each one. You might see some warnings, too, but they're nothing to worry about as long as SuperOneClick doesn't freeze. After rooting is complete, it's a good idea to check for an app called Superuser with a skull and crossbones icon and to allow non-market apps to install if you haven't set that up yet either. Go to Settings, Applications, and check Unknown Sources. Finally, reboot your phone and you ought to be ready to breathe in the rarified air that all rooted Android owners share. Smells like victory. So that's how you root your Android using SuperOneClick. Keep an eye out for the companion video to this one, how to install a custom Android ROM. Remember, always be safe when rooting. For CNET, I'm Seth Rosenblatt. -Great. My phone is totally rooted. Now what? We'll come back after the break for the second half of the process, installing a customized Android ROM and 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 in the Good. When we last left Seth, he had just finished helping you void your Android phone's warranty by rooting it. Well, if you made it this far, you might as well go all the way and set it up with a brand-new ROM. Take it away, Seth. -You've rooted your phone. Congratulations. Now comes the hard part, installing a customized version of Android. Hi, I'm Seth Rosenblatt for CNET, and today I'll show you how to install a custom Android ROM. There's a lot of reasons you might want to run a custom ROM--Android features that the phone company or hardware manufacturer has decided won't get pushed to your device, or just to get a more robust set of features. You can also run customized themes on a ROM. You're likely to see significantly better performance, basically you get more control over your phone. It's all about you, baby. Oh, and I hope you know this by now, but rooting your phone voids your warranty. Installing a custom ROM pretty much obliterates it. There are a few methods for downgrading your phone back to stock, and though they're not simple, CNET TV has a how to do that, too. The mod we're going to be working with today is CyanogenMod, which is in use on more than 100,000 Android devices and is one of the most popular ROMs. I'm going to install it on CNET editor Antuan Goodwin's old Droid 1, mostly because that's the first spare phone that showed up. ROMs can be tricky things, so be careful that you use what I tell you here as more of an introduction or loose guideline for how to install a custom ROM. Definitely, go look up how to install the ROM of your choosing on your specific device. So here's how it's done. First, we're going to create a backup of your system. Download and run a backup app like Titanium Backup, then download the ROM Manager app from the market, either free or paid will do. Tap the app and then choose "Flash ClockworkMod Recovery." Tap "Motorola Droid" and then give the app root permission if prompted. If the app crashes, just allow it to force close and run it again. If the flash was successful, you'll see a box that reads "Successfully flashed ClockwordMod Recovery." ClockworkMod Recovery is a customized version of the Android default recovery screen, and it allows for more choices such as Nandroid Backups. All right, let's get to the ROM next. If you've bought the premium version of ROM Manager, there's a slightly automated way to do this. Jump into the app and select "Download ROM." Tap CyanogenMod after you install, you can back up existing ROM and wipe data and cache. When the install finishes, it will reboot directly into CyanogenMod. If you didn't buy the ROM Manager Premium, you can still install a ROM relatively easily, relatively. Go to CyanogenMod.com and download the latest version. If you use Google apps like GMail, also download the Google apps package. Cyanogen decided to spin off the Google-sourced apps to avoid potential conflicts with Google. Connect your phone to your computer, enable USB mode, and place both the Cyanogen and Google apps zips in the root directory of your SD card. Next, boot into ClockworkMod Recovery by turning off the phone and restarting it, holding down the X key along with the Power button. Use the D-pad to navigate. Choose "Wipe data," "Factory reset," then "Wipe cache partition," then "Install zip from SD card." Select "Choose zip from the SC card," then go for the CyanogenModupdate.zip. Then, install the Googleappsupdate.zip. Once the installation has finished, go back to return to the main menu and choose "Reboot now." Your phone ought to boot into CyanogenMod. If it fails the first time but you can still navigate, give it another shot. Of course, if it doesn't do anything at all, you've got yourself a pretty little brick, and that's how you install a custom ROM on an Android. For CNET, I'm Seth Rosenblatt. -So now you're all set, right? No problem. Actually, rooting and installing ROMs can be tricky, so if you decide you'd rather put it all back the way you found it, look for Seth's video "How to restore your rooted phone to the factory settings" on CNET TV. Most new cars these days have these big, pretty touchscreen displays right there in the center console, and they're cool but they take up a lot of space. Luckily, Pioneer has come up with a solution that is both elegant and kind rad. -If you want a big-screen car audio system for your vehicle but you don't have the ton of space in your dashboard, you'll probably be interested in taking a look at one of these motorized AV units. I'm Antuan Goodwin at CNET.com. Today, we're taking a first look at the Pioneer AVH-P6300BT. This unit features a 7-inch color touchscreen that moves on a motorized arm. The unit can be tilted back and forth, and retract into a single DIN chassis when not in use. You're saving a lot of space here on installation but you wanna make sure there's about an arc of 6 to 8 inches of clearance in front of the unit so that the motorized display actually has room to move. Physical controls include a volume knob, a source button, physical skip buttons, and a disc eject button for the CD/DVD player. There's also a button to retract that touchscreen. An analog auxiliary input and USB port can also be found on the front panel, the latter of which supports mass storage devices and iPod connectivity. There's also an SD card slot but you'd be hard-pressed to find it because it's hidden behind this removable panel. Both that USB port and SD card slot support audio playback and photo viewing, so it may not be such a bad idea just to leave an SD card in this unit with a bunch of your favorite songs. Additionally, there's also an input for a rear-view camera and an analog auxiliary video source. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, and a microphone is included, but it doesn't appear that audio streaming is supported just yet. Now, when the iPhone is connected by USB, Pandora's AppLink is supported if you have the app downloaded on your phone, so you can then view and select your preset radio stations, thumbs up and thumbs down songs, and bookmark songs all from Pioneer's interface. You're gonna wanna check out the full review for the Pioneer AVH-P6300BT for even more details and photos and our final thoughts about this mobile DVD receiver. This has been Antuan Goodwin with CNET.com, giving you your first look. -Woo, another cliffhanger. I guess you'll have to go find Antuan's review to see what he really thinks, but here's a hint, 3-1/2 stars. All right, I've put it off as long as I can, it's time to check out the Bad. The Bad award this week goes to my Facebook news feed. Between the Top News feature and the over-sharing friends that pollute your timeline, making sure you're seeing the updates you want can be a little tricky. Luckily, Sharon Vaknin is here to show you how to solve those problems and more. -Hi, I'm Sharon Vaknin for CNET.com here to give you a spring cleaning project for your Facebook account. When Facebook set Top News as the default view, my news feed became completely irrelevant. According to Facebook, Top News displays posts that get the most comments, likes, and shares along with posts by people who you interact with most. But instead of letting Mark Zuckerberg decide what content is important to you, here's how to customize your news feed. First, switch to the Most Recent view, which is like a realtime view of your friends' activity. Now, it's not really a realtime view because Facebook only shows you the latest post from people who you frequently interact with. To change that, click "Most Recent" and head down to "Edit Options." Here, select "Show post from all of you friends and pages." Now, this means that every single bit of activity will show up in your news feed, even updates from the annoying people who you didn't really miss when you were in the Top News view. So, the next time you see an update from that person or page, hover over the post and click X. You can actually choose to hide just that post, which is pointless, or hide all updates from that person. They'll never know. This also works for hiding apps like FarmVille or Twitter. Click the "X" and choose to hide all posts by that application. At this point, your news feed is already much cleaner, but there are still a couple more options to make it even better. This drop-down menu gives you options to filter posts by status updates, photos, links, and more. Just below those options are your friend lists. If you don't see any, that's because you haven't created them. Click "Account" and then "Edit Friends." In the upper right is the option to create a list. Enter the title of a list and select the friends you want to include. I have a work list, a list for just my close friends, and a family list. Now, if you go to the news feed and select that list, only updates from the people or pages you included will appear. You can make as many lists as you want. One creative way to use them is to put all of the news brands into one list to stay on top of current events. Of course, the most powerful way to control your Facebook feed is to unfriend people who bother you or delete pages and apps that you don't care about. Facebook needs to make some changes, though. I'd like to see a built-in current events filter and the option to make Most Recent my default view. It would also be nice to hide certain activities like new friendships or relationship statuses that I don't care about. Until then, these workarounds will do. For CNET.com, I'm Sharon Vaknin and I'll see you on the interwebs. -You know, I noticed we blurred out the names of the people that Sharon had blocked from her feed. I wonder how much it's worth to her for me to keep that information private. While I come up with a ransom figure, let's go ahead and check out this week's Bottom Line. Now, here at CNET, we see all kinds of technology but sometimes, our jobs take us in unexpected directions, like to toilet first looks. Yeah, no, really. Check it out. -Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior associate editor at CNET.com, and this is the Kohler Numi toilet. Now, this may not be for everyone. In fact, it costs almost $6400 to buy, but this is a high-tech toilet that borrows a lot from the idea of Japanese high-tech toilets but gives it a distinctly American design, namely there's a touchscreen on this. This has a touchscreen, magnetic tablet that docks over here and gives you complete control over heated seat functions, an automatically adjusting bidet, and also temperature and blow drying options for your every comfort need. There's a speaker system built in here. There's a radio. You can attach your iPhone. Yes, this is a full entertainment system for your commode, but if you are a touch averse and you don't like using a remote, this thing can be fully automatically adjusted as well. It will automatically raise and lower the lid from a distance of up to 6 to 8 feet. You can also set it to automatically flush for you and it also has two flush settings, one uses less water for the ecologically conscious. Overall, it is a toilet from the future, but if you've been to Japan, you may have seen something like it. You probably haven't seen one that has a remote quite like this. I'm Scott Stein and this has been a hands on with the Kohler Numi ultra high-tech smart toilet. The Bottom Line this week, stay classy, Scott Stein. That was a remarkable exercise in restraint. Not a single bad pun in the entire piece, which is a lot more than I can say about this show. All right, folks, that is our show. We'll be back next week with a brand spanking new CNET Tech Review, including highlights from the 2011 New York Auto Show. Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at CNETtv.com. I'll see you next time and thank you for watching.