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Check out our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide, win some awesome gadgets!
Our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide is in full swing - we are adding our recommendations daily, aimed at men, women, teens, families, techies, and more. If you need help figuring out what to get the people in your life, head on over to our Guide for some ideas. We’ll even be giving away some of the items featured this year!
The Amazon Kindle Fire is the first small tablet that average users can pick up and immediately use, with a simple, clear interface. Then there's the price: Android along with amazing specs for just $199. It's open enough to attract geeks, too. While the user interface occasionally gets sluggish, we're willing to have a bit of patience to get a first-rate tablet for half of what most competitors charge, thus the Kindle Fire is our first Editors' Choice for small tablets.
A solid little brick at 7.5 by 4.7 by .45 inches and 14.6 ounces, the Kindle Fire looks and feels a lot like the BlackBerry PlayBook, but the Fire is smaller in all dimensions. There are no slots or tabs; both the memory and battery are sealed in, and the only interruptions in its smooth, black form are the headphone jack, Power button, MicroUSB jack, and dual stereo speakers. There's no camera, but I've never been sold on the value of tablet cameras anyway. It uses 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networks to get online; there's no cellular radio or Bluetooth connectivity.
Turn the Fire on and the 7-inch 1024-by-600 IPS LCD screen lights up. This display is very sharp and clear, but it's also rather reflective. Just like on the Apple iPad 2, you may have trouble reading in bright light because of the screen's sometimes mirror-like gloss. While this is par for the course with tablets, I expected more given the Kindle name. This isn't a dedicated e-reader by any means.
After over a year, Apple has released the follow-up to the iPhone 4, and its called the iPhone 4S. What do you do with your phone? If you're like most Americans, you make some calls, take some photos, and send some texts. Maybe you kill time with some games, check Facebook or Twitter, and look things up on the Web. If that's you, then the iPhone 4S ($199-$399 with contract on Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T) is your phone: it's the best cameraphone in the US, the fastest Web-browsing phone, and one that has finally licked the iPhone's calling problems. It's so good, that it's our current Editors' Choice on Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T.
Microsoft released its Windows 8 Developer Preview and free developer tools to the public for download last night. It's intended to help developers start building apps for the forthcoming newest version of Microsoft's operating system. But that won't stop hordes of regular users from installing it anyway, just to get a sneak peek.
We got our hands on a copy of the software and figured that the most compelling system to install it on was a Apple MacBook Air 13-inch running Boot Camp. For the most part, the Windows 8 Developer Preview installed and ran smoothly on the Air despite being the first public build. It's stable enough that I didn't encounter heat issues, the infamous blue-screen of death (yet), or even a single application crash.
There are some key MacBook Air components that Windows 8 didn't recognize, however. These included the speakers, SD card reader, webcam, and Bluetooth, although a sophisticated user could probably tinker with current Windows drivers and get some of them to work. The good news is that the essential ones, such as Wi-Fi, the keyboard, trackpad, and USB ports, worked perfectly.
Buying a new cell phone or smartphone leads to the inevitable purchase of a new set of accessories. Car mounts, docks, and other add-ons tend to work with only one particular phone, leaving you with a slew of stands and cases lying around.
Allsop hopes to change that with Clingo, its line of universal wireless accessories. Not just your average mount or stand, each of the Clingo accessories uses an adhesive to keep your device in place, but it doesn't leave any residue behind. The company claims the sticky stuff will hold any device as long as it isn't in a case, won't leave any residue, and will stay sticky as long as you rinse it off periodically.
Google's new Google+ social network, currently in a "field trial," can't quite avoid the stereotype that the company's products sacrifice usability for new features. Put simply, Google+ is a social network for geeks.
Unfortunately, Google can't help exposing numerous options to share, hide, protect, and discover photos, friends, videos, posts, and all of the other minutiae that make up today's online social interactions.
Underneath, however, there are some rather elegant features, including a lovely "Circles" interface to add friends, and a "Hangout" group video chat feature that holds promise.
But users used to Facebook's minimalist interface may find Google+ jarring. And, sad to say, Google's "field trial" suffered from overcapacity, an issue which may or may not have rippled into our evaluation on Tuesday afternoon. I and other staffers experienced numerous annoyances, which resulted from either poor design decisions, alpha glitches, or the overcapacity issue - I don't know which. Read on for our full hands-on with Google+.
Apple's completely revamped Final Cut Pro X makes serious leaps and bounds past its predecessor in terms of usability and performance. The upgrade is a complete from-the-ground-up-rewrite that takes advantage of modern 64-bit multicore CPUs, and is a radical departure for the increasingly popular software suite.
In fact, it's changed so much that it may throw some professional users for a temporary loop; more on this later. But for the pro-sumer enthusiasts that make up the bulk of PCMag's readership—people moving up from iMovie or another consumer-level app, Final Cut Pro X is a huge leap forward in terms of usability and raw power. While its interface looks a lot more like iMovie's, with a free-form trackless "Magnetic Timeline" view, the program still packs vastly more editing power than the iLife video editor.
Read on for our thoughts!
The finest Android phone we've seen so far, the Samsung Galaxy S II isn't just a competitor to the current iPhone. It competes with the next iPhone. The Galaxy S II is the fastest Android device we've ever tested, with the best screen, the best camera, and the latest version of Android software. It's a pity that few people in the U.S. will buy it, because it's only available unlocked, with no carrier subsidies, for $799. That's simply too high a price in a nation where people are used to buying top-of-the-line smartphones for $199. Click on through for our full review of the Galaxy S II.
The Apple iMac 27-inch (Thunderbolt) ($1,999 list) is the newest top-of-the-line iMac, and it adds second-generation Intel Core i processors (aka, Sandy Bridge) to Apple's class-leading all in one Mac desktops, along with Thunderbolt ports first seen on the new MacBook Pro laptops. It has that huge, beautiful high-resolution screen, killer (if aging) design, and it is fast, fast, fast. Your "Mac OS or die" art director already wants one. Still, it's not enough to unseat the HP TouchSmart 610-1065qd as our high-end all in one desktop Editor's Choice, given that the latter offers quad-core power, a touch-screen display, and an innovative screen reclining feature, all for about $200 less. That said, read on for our full review of the 2011 27-inch iMac with Thunderbolt.
Read More | iMac Thunderbolt
If you want to capture the action close up, the 12.1-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P500, with its 36x zoom lens, will get you right there. But with this digital camera, you get more than just an insanely long lens. Good image quality, speed, and a well-rounded feature set, are part of the deal. Just keep in mind: The P500 is big, since it houses a big lens, but you don't get a large sensor, like you would with a compact interchangeable lens camera or a Digital SLR. Read on for our full review of the Coolpix P500, and how it stacks up against the competition.
Verizon customers now have two 4G Android smartphones to choose from: the HTC Thunderbolt, and the $299.99 Samsung Droid Charge, which is Samsung's first LTE device, and first officially designated Droid device for Verizon. The two cell phones are pretty similar, but not identical. While the HTC Thunderbolt retains a slight edge, you'll be thrilled with either device.
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