-This week on CNET Tech Review: join us in Austin Texas for our tour of South by Southwest; tap out a catchy tune with GarageBand for iPad; I'll count down our Top 5 laptops; and something about Google Chrome in a trailer hitch.
That's all coming up right now.
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 some unique tech wisdom in the form of The Bottom Line.
Let's get started with the good.
For the uninitiated, South by Southwest is a collection of conferences and festivals held each year in Austin, Texas to celebrate the convergent worlds of music, film, and interactive content.
Last weekend, Brian Tong and I made the trip out to Austin to check out the show, tape an episode of our Buzz Out Loud podcast in front of a live audience, and hit a few other parties.
Here's a little taste of our visit to South by Southwest.
-Hey guy, Brian Tong here.
-I'm Molly Wood.
-And we are here in Austin, Texas at South by Southwest 2011.
There's a lot of action going on outside, behind us, inside in the conference center, but how do you explain this thing really?
South by Southwest is totally weird.
It's this interactive music, film festival.
Most people say it's really about the parties.
-It's impossible to explain, so
we're just gonna try to show you.
We're gonna show you the best way that we can, so check it out.
Are you really here for panels or are you here for the party?
You can't ignore the music effect and the parties that are going on, but 100% paying for the panels first and foremost.
-What did you come here to check out?
-I really came to kinda just get a vibe of what's going on, get a little inspiration.
I thought it went really well.
I had it all scheduled out in my iPad, on my phone, everything, and then I get here and it all goes to hell.
-We're in the ScreenBurn
Arcade right now.
You guys could check out all of the latest games, some of the ones you haven't seen, and really, it's all about getting the good schwag.
I'm ready to do anything for a t-shirt, even get paddled.
-Are you ready for this?
-I guess I am.
There you go.
But I want another shirt.
Things are starting to wind down.
The sun is going down in Austin.
-The sun is setting.
-Slowly but surely.
-You know, all the work is actually about to start.
-Because when the sun goes down in Austin, it's party time.
All right, this is more like it.
This is 6th Street, where all of it is happening here.
I mean, if you check out on the right side over here, we've got, like,
a movie screening.
They've got this pimped out car.
Well, you have karaoke and live music in almost every place you can imagine.
-And almost everyone of these bars is hosting some kind of party; party over here, party over there.
-Really long line up here.
I think most people just go around looking for the lights.
-Yeah, and we're gonna go find one to get in our-- our own act.
Let's go to this one.
-Here I am.
I am lost in love again.
-I actually decided to hell with the parties.
This is the line I'm getting in.
-So baby I'm lost
in love again.
-All right, now we're partying.
-All right, now we know in Austin, you gotta do the bull ride, so let's see what it goes up to.
Oh my gosh!
What an amazing night here in Austin on 6th Street, South by Southwest.
Oh my goodness!
We party-hopped, we met web celebs, and now, we gotta go.
-We gotta get up early.
-It's been great here.
So, what better way to go home to, you know, with my lovely girl Ms.
-Oh, you stop that.
-You know, you know how it is.
-Plus we had to go in one of Austin's famous pedicabs because these dogs are barking.
-We'll see you guys.
Man, I could've stayed in that country bar all night, although, as it turns out, I am not an Austin dancer.
Oh, and trust me, between the paddling and the bull riding, Brian was walking a little funny the whole rest of the weekend.
You can find Buzz Out Loud in all of our podcast at cnet.com/live.
I have to say it's been a busy week.
Before I left town for Austin, I had a few minutes to fill in for a vacationing Brian Cooley for the latest edition of the CNET Top 5.
This week, we're counting down
the best laptops.
See if you can guess which one comes in at number 1.
Say what you will about tablets being the future, this is the present, and laptops ain't going anywhere.
I'm Molly Wood in for Brian Cooley with the CNET Top 5, the best 5 laptops you can buy right now.
So, why buy a laptop when tablets are the future of media consumption?
Well, maybe because laptops are still the future of getting some damn work done already.
If you still like typing,
you don't like grease smudges on your touchesreen, and you could a little more horsepower than an oversized smartphone chip, here are the 5 laptops that our CNET Editors say are the best you can get.
Coming in at number 5 is the HP Pavilion dm1.
The main thing we love about this guy?
Great battery life and the AMD Fusion platform.
It combines that power-efficient performance with better graphics than you would normally see in a budget netbook,
because it also costs less than $500.
If it weren't for that HP bloatware, it would be love.
At number 4, we're going the opposite direction price-wise and size-wise, but we're sticking with HP.
It's the high-end HP Envy 17.
The Envy line is HP's premium laptop brand and the Envy 17 a sleek, aluminum, MacBook Pro clone with a beautiful display, high-end audio, plenty of power and performance, and even USB 3.0, for around $1500.
Plus, trust me, I actually own the HP Envy 14 and believe me when I tell you it's real purty.
In at number 3, the 11-inch MacBook Air.
The first MacBook Air came off like an overpriced toy for annoying wannabe CEO-types.
The second MacBook Air came off like I gotta have it.
By some reports, Air sales topped 1.1 million in the first 3 months after launch.
The 11-inch model is the stunner, too: unbelievably light and thin, instant on performance, and very impressive battery life.
Although, with a $1000 price tag, no SD card slot, no backlit keyboard, and a pretty outdated processor, the MacBook air is still a little more flash than value.
But, I dare you to use one and not have to have it.
In at number 2, you wanna check out the CNET Editor's Choice Toshiba Protege R705, but maybe don't buy just yet.
This laptop is described by our editors as being
as close to a perfect balance of design, price, and performance as you'll find in a Windows laptop.
So what can make it better?
The R800 Series is coming hopefully very soon.
So, considering how much we love the R705, the more powerful and efficient Sandy Bridge processors will make the new Proteges a total must-have.
And before we get to number 1, I'd like to hear your opinion on whether reports of the laptop's death are greatly exaggerated.
Gartner Research reported this week that tablet sales will grow from 15 million in 2010 to 54 million in 2011, and that laptop sales will tank as a result.
But I wanna know what you think.
What are you more likely to buy in 2011, a laptop or a tablet?
Tell us in our poll at the CNET TV Blog over at blog.cnettv.com.
Okay, now it's time for the number 1 best laptop as rated by our CNET Editors.
No surprise here, it's the MacBook Pro in any size you want.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro is the CNET Editor's Choice thanks to its new high-end processor options,
great graphics, and the new Thunderbolt I/O port.
And the 13-inch model may not have the graphics horsepower, but the 2.7 gigahertz Core i7 processor is serious business, and the battery life is amazing.
I know some of you were hoping for a redesign with the new models, but, come on, it's not like the MacBook Pro is ugly.
And there you have it, the 5 best laptops available right now or coming soon.
Happy shopping everyone, I'm Molly Wood, and you can find all the CNET Top 5 videos at cnettv.com.
I actually own 2 of the laptops on that list: the HP Envy and the Air.
Could I pick them or what?
No matter which laptop you pick, odds are, you're gonna need a web browser to get any real use out of it.
And when it comes to browser experts, look for farther than our own Seth Rosenblatt.
Don't believe me?
Here's his first look at Google Chrome 10.
-Google exploded on to the browser scene with the open source Chrome in September 2008, and interest in the browser has continued to skyrocket.
Chrome's hook has always been its speed, but there's far more to the browser than just fast rendering.
Hi, I'm Seth Rosenblatt for CNET, and in this first look video, I'll be taking you on a quick tour of what's what in Chrome 10.
There's a lot going on under that minimalist interface, so I'm going to talk about just the key features.
Check out CNET's How To videos for a more in-depth look at how Chrome's features work.
Google has been touting Chrome 10 as 66% faster than Chrome 9, even with its limited hardware acceleration implementation.
There's no doubt that Chrome benchmarks at incredibly fast speeds.
Full benchmarks are available at mydownload.com review of Google Chrome.
What's almost as important though is that it feels fast.
Page load times, especially when only a few tabs are open, feel like there's
less than a split second delay from hitting enter to when the site is usable.
I have noticed though that Chrome does tend to slow down noticeably with more than 2 dozen tabs open.
Your browsing habits may vary, but if you're a tab junkie like me, that can be a really big problem.
It can often lead to crashes, too, although that's actually one of Chrome's better features.
Plug-ins like Adobe Flash are sandboxed, so when they crash, they only take down the tab and not the entire browser.
Chrome also comes with its own task manager so you can see the impact of each tab on your system.
When you fire up Chrome for the first time, it will take you to your preferred search engine.
You can change this in the options menu to your new tab page, which is where a lot of Chrome's action happens.
The new tab page has links to the Chrome Web Store for Chrome-based apps, thumbnails of your most visited sites, and a list of recently closed tabs.
You can tear off tabs to make them their own windows and drag them back into the browser.
Right-click on a tab to duplicate the tab, pin in permanently to the left of the tab bar, get multiple close tab options, reopen a closed tab, or bookmark all your tabs at once.
The interface is simple and extremely effective.
Navigation controls live on the left.
Google's unified location bar and search box, which the company calls the Omnibar, quietly displays search results from your preferred search engine, your history, and instant
Extensions get added to the right as icons.
You can toggle always displaying the bookmarks bar, or having it show only when you open a blank tab in options.
Chrome's extension gallery has grown dramatically since its introduction and now has more than 10,000 extensions and themes.
Both are restartless, which means when you install them, you won't have to restart the browser.
Sync is a big part of chrome, and if your life is heavily tied to your Gmail account, you're going to find Chrome extremely convenient.
You can sync apps, autofill, bookmarks, extensions themes, passwords,
and preferences, and you can set it for a lower level of security using your Google password or setup your own higher security sync pass phrase.
The usefulness of this depends on Google's ability
to flag websites as risky, so it's recommended to use an add-on like the Web of Trust.
There's also the incognito mode for private, trackless browsing, although there's no options menu choice for always opening into incognito.
Chrome now comes with a nascent Google Cloud Print which will allow you to print from the browser to any printer over the air--a useful tool (when it works) for those few times when you have to print and you're not near a printer.
You'd think Google would be greener than enabling you tree killers, but what do I know?
The downloads menu isn't
particularly robust, but it does expose the download source link and opens in its own tab, keeping the browser tidy.
Overall, Chrome's speed remains the kingpin feature along with growing support for future web tech like HTML 5, hardware acceleration, and advanced standard support.
People like the browser because it's fast, well supported, and automatically updates frequently with new features.
Potential concerns about Google, privacy, and data mining, can't withstand the juggernaut of convenience,
and for a deeper look at some of Chrome's new features, be sure to check out the How To videos at cnettv.com.
With your first look at Chrome 10, I'm Seth Rosenblatt for CNET.
-You can also check out Seth's review of the latest incarnation of Microsoft Internet Explorer, IE9, over at cnettv.com.
All right, we've covered a lot of ground already, so let's take a quick break.
But we'll be right back with 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, so, do you have your iPad 2 yet?
If so, you might be trying to figure out what to do with your iPad 1.
Well, before you turn it into a coaster, Eric Franklin has some tips for transferring all your data over to the new one.
-Hey guys, Eric Franklin here, and for those of you looking to transfer data from your current iPad to your brand new and hot iPad 2, you're in luck for 2 reasons: one, you get to look at this mug here for the next few minutes; and two, this is a very simple process, which is probably why they chose me to do this one, huh.
All right, anyway, first up, connect your old iPad
to your PC or Mac.
iTunes should open automatically, but if it doesn't, simply open iTunes.
Your iPad may begin to sync with iTunes.
However, if it doesn't simply locate your iPad under devices in the left menu window, right click or control click it, then chose back up.
After a few moments of running through a number of steps, the syncing process will end.
You'll know for sure it's ended when your iPad no longer states
"sync in progress".
Unplug your old and busted iPad and plug in your new hotness.
iTunes will then ask you to register your new iPad if you haven't already.
Then, iTunes will prompt you to either set up as a new iPad or restore from a back up.
Choose restore from a back up and select the back up you just created, which should have your iPad's name as well as the time and day in which it was last synced.
Once the restore process is complete, your iPad 2 will reboot.
iTunes should redetect it and will then begin to transfer settings and data to your new iPad.
Now, to be absolutely sure you have all your apps, movies, and music, select the iPad in the menu just like before.
Now, in the upper nav, check the type of data you want transferred to your new iPad like apps, music, movies, and so on.
Then, click apply.
Your iPad will sync again.
This may take awhile depending on how many apps you have.
Just be patient, and once it's done, your new iPad should have all the same data as your old one.
You can then throw the old one away and await to repeat this process when the iPad 3 launches.
Once again, this is Eric Franklin and I hope you enjoy your new hotness.
-As for your old iPad, might I recommend
selling it at gazelle.com, or you can donate it at the Apple Store for Teach For America; put it to good use in the classroom.
And on that good deed note, let's turn our attention to the bad.
This week, I mean bad as in bad ass.
Among all the nifty things the iPad 2 can do, one of the coolest has to be the ability to create music with the new version of GarageBand.
Jason Parker is here to tell us why it really is one bad app.
-Welcome to Tap That App.
I'm Jason Parker and this is the show where we cover the hottest apps in the mobile space.
Along with the release of the iPad 2 on March 11th, Apple released an iPad version for popular Mac app GarageBand.
GarageBand already has a long history on the Mac, letting people use intuitive controls and a huge library of instruments and pre-recorded loops to create songs.
But with the iPad version, Apple needed to come up with creative ways to record music using only a touch-screen
interface, and we think they did an amazing job.
Just as a general overview, GarageBand offers several touch instruments, guitar amps and effects, eight- track recording and mixing, more than 250 loops to play with, and you can export AAC files of your projects through e-mail or add them to iTunes.
You start by creating a new song, then choose your first instrument.
GarageBand offers instruments you can play in real time like their real-world counterparts, but you also have the option to play Smart Instruments that do most of
the heavy lifting for you.
One neat feature is that every instrument has its own specific theme, giving all of them their own feel as you play.
Using the Smart Keyboard, for example, lays out all your chords in the chosen key.
This means that just about whatever you press will probably go together in a song.
You also can change the key by touching the wrench in the upper right corner.
Using a combination of bass notes on the bottom and chords at the top, it's easy to create a nice-sounding song even if you have very little musical experience.
Similarly, the Smart Guitar offers a different layout that lets you play
chords with a swipe of your finger.
You have the ability to play individual notes and actually bend guitar strings for your big rock solos.
All of the Smart Instruments also come with a few pre-recorded segments so you can just tap the key and let the app play for you.
Drums can also be played manually and you can choose from both standard drum kits and drum machine-type layouts.
Or, like the other instruments, you can choose Smart Drums to make things easier.
Simply place drumset items on the grid to experiment, or hit the dice icon for a random layout.
Once you've been inspired by some of
the instruments, you can record a couple of tracks, then look at the track layout section to add or remove tracks, manage track volume and play with effects like reverb, track panning, and echo.
As you become more advanced, you can also use quantization tools to match up complex tracks to cover up your less-than-perfect human rhythm.
But maybe I'm just speaking for myself.
The track screen is also where you'll find GarageBand's pre-recorded loops.
Once you find something you like by instrument, genre, and other descriptors, just drag and drop the loop onto your track screen to add it to your song.
I created this song on the
way to work this morning in carpool.
Frankly, with tons of uniquely designed instruments, a smart touch interface, and tools that make song creation easy, it's a miracle to me that this app is only $4.99, and there's plenty more we haven't shown in this video.
So far, I can't get enough of GarageBand, so I definitely recommend you tap this app, and tap it, and tap it again.
But try to tap in rhythm guys?
How are we ever going to make it as a band if you...?
Sorry, I got a little caught up in the moment.
Like I said, GarageBand is only $4.99 in the iTunes App Store and definitely worth your money even if you have only a passing interest in creating music.
That's it for today's show.
But if you have any suggestions, send them to email@example.com.
I'm Jason Parker.
Thanks for watching.
-That is a pretty catchy tune that Jason composed.
Not to shammy, Mr.
All right, let's go ahead and check out this week's Bottom Line.
When the iPad 2 went on sale on Friday, Donald Bell immediately awarded it the honor of an Editor's Choice recommendation.
But, I'm not gonna talk about that right now.
Instead, I want you to focus your attention on an Editor's Choice Award-winning mouse.
Yes, I said mouse.
-Hi, I'm Rich Brown, senior editor for CNET.com.
Today, we're gonna take a look at the Editor's Choice-winning Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T.
So, this right here is one of the most expensive gaming mice we've ever seen.
It comes in at $150.
So, it's definitely for the more committed PC gamers out there.
That said, this is also one of the most customizable mice we've ever seen and it's also a great performer.
We recommend it to anybody looking to spend a lot of money on an input device for gaming.
So, the R.A.T.
9 comes with a lot of features we expect on a high-end gaming mice these.
There's a 5600 DPI
That means it's very fast and very accurate.
Now, this is a wireless mouse, but Mad Catz does sell a wired version for a little bit less.
Now, this button right here lets you move through various DPI settings, so you can make the mouse more or less sensitive as you're playing.
You can also use the included driver software to customize the settings, so you can really tweak the feel of the mouse to exactly how'd like it.
And when you flip it over, you can see it down at middle here, there is a series of weights that come upon this post.
You can actually unscrew this cap here and take the weights off and set
the weight of the mouse how you want it.
That's actually a nice little feature and it really helps sort of improve the overall feel of the mouse.
The cap of the post actually doubles as an Allen wrench which lets you adjust various points in the mouse to really make it feel good in your hand.
Now, the thumb side of the mouse, you can use the Allen wrench to move this piece here, either up and down, or you can loosen it so that it comes out at an angle.
That gives you a better position for your thumb potentially and the 2 side buttons, as well as the red button here.
Now, this red button is actually something we haven't seen before.
The idea is that when you're playing a
shooting game and you have a sniper rifle, so you wanna run around really quick to get a position, you wanna have a nice, fast cursor control so you can see where you're going, but then when you zoom in on some somebody, you might want a little bit better control.
So, when you push that button, it lowers the DPI of the laser sensor a little bit and lets you get a better beat on whoever you're to track.
And when you get to the pinky side of mouse, you'll see that there's another screw here.
You can use the Allen wrench and take this piece off, and Mad Catz includes 2 other pinky pieces you can put in.
They have different textures and different sizes, so it lets you customize that side of mouse as well.
Mad Catz also includes a carrying box to let you put all the various pieces that you're not using aside.
Now, for the last part of hardware customization, you see this wrist rest here.
There's a little tab on bottom, push it in, and you can slide wrist piece right off.
You get 2 other wrist piece options: two of them sit up a little higher on this track; one sits closer to flush.
What's cool about this track is that you cannot only slide in new wrist pieces depending on the kind of feel you want there.
You can also set them to be longer or shorter.
So, if you got a bigger hand or a smaller hand,
you can adjust the wrist piece so it fits perfectly.
Now, rounding out the mouse, you got a lateral scroll button here.
That's actually sort of an awkward design.
It's not the most natural feel, kind of like Logitech's version where there's a lateral scroll wheel built in to the main scroll wheel where you have a tilting function.
But one thing we love about this mouse is that it actually comes with batteries, so you can charge the second one while you're using the other.
Now, it comes with a charging station that also acts as a USB receiver.
Pop the battery in there.
In this hole up here holds the cylinder that holds extra weights when you're not using them.
So there's a lot going with the R.A.T.
It's one of he most customizable mice we've ever seen.
It's got some features we've never seen before and it also has great performance.
It really sort of justifies that $150 price tag, which is why we've given it an Editor's Choice Award.
So, I'm Rich Brown.
This is the Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T.
9 wireless gaming mouse.
-The Bottom Line this week?
That is awesome!
I don't even know what else to say except I have to have one.
All right, folks.
That's our show.
We'll be back next week with a brand new addition of CNET Tech Review.
Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com.
See you next time and thank you for watching.