Finetune is one of the increasing number of sites that lets you hear songs you don't own, for free. It's got about 2 million songs from all four major labels and many indies. How does it stay out of the legal crosshairs of the recording industry? By restricting you to building playlists with a minimum length of 45 songs (although there's an "I'm Lazy" button that fills in a partially completed playlist with similar selections--mostly songs from the artists you've already picked). The playlists can have no more than three songs from the … Read more
Uniformity across the screen is one thing many flat-panel HDTV owners take for granted. Plasma TVs generally have perfect uniformity: the screen is the same brightness and the same color in all areas, and it looks the same from every angle. Most LCD sets, while less than perfect, have screens that are uniform enough to not distract from the viewing experience. Then there are models like the Haier HL47K.
This bargain-priced 47-inch LCD won't wow anybody with its black levels or color accuracy, but for the money those aspects of its image quality are decent enough. Unfortunately, its screen uniformity is not. In our testing this set basically failed every aspect of our uniformity tests, suffering from brightness and color variation, backlight banding and poor-off-angle performance. To top it off, there's even a stuck pixel!
On the plus side, the Haier is really cheap for a 47-inch 1080p HDTV, and its looks and connectivity aren't bad at all. It also outperformed the dismal Honeywell we just reviewed, so that's something.
Honeywell's Altura MLX, a budget 42-inch LCD TV with a 120Hz refresh rate, looks promising on paper but doesn't quite live up to the promise in person.
This is one of the least-expensive TVs with 120Hz, and it even includes the smoothing processing, aka dejudder, that the kids seem to like these days. But we're generally not big fans of the effect, so we like to have the capability to actually turn off dejudder. One problem with the Altura is that it doesn't have that capability. Inexplicably, with this set it's dejudder or bust.
We liked the Honeywell's styling, but couldn't find much to like about its picture quality. Lighter black levels and less-accurate color are big culprits, as is a very dark gamma that makes the whole picture appear too dull regardless of any adjustments we tried. In case you're still interested, there's plenty more detail after the jump.
Check out the full review of the Honeywell Altura MLX.… Read more
Search is inextricably woven into the use of computers, but it's still a relative rarity when it comes to the mobile phone market.
That's why I was keen to try Yahoo's attempt to make the technology more approachable through its free voice-controlled search product, OneSearch with Voice. My overall assessment after trying it on a BlackBerry Pearl 8130 Yahoo lent to me: the software is useful, but it whetted my appetite more than it actually transformed my life.
To use OneSearch with Voice, you hold down your phone's "talk" button and speak a few words into the phone. The phone sends what you said to Yahoo servers that convert it into text and run a search tailored for mobile phone users. Whereupon, the results and sometimes an accompanying ad appear on the phone.
It didn't always produce the right answer, but it did so often enough and easily enough that I found myself turning to the application more and more frequently. And its textual results were more useful for me than Google's 1-800-GOOG-411 voice-only search service.
There's no secret why Yahoo is eager for the market: mobile search is growing fast and is a powerful conduit for targeted advertising.
Google long since passed Yahoo for search on personal computers, but the mobile market is relatively immature--and it's growing fast. From June 2007 to June 2008, "the number of people accessing mobile search at least once a week grew 50 percent in Europe, with France and Spain leading at a rate of 69 percent and 63 percent, respectively," according to ComScore analyst Alistair Hill, and the number in the U.S. grew 104 percent to 10 million. But Google leads Yahoo by a wide margin for mobile search usage in the U.S., U.K., Italy, France, Spain, and Germany.
So how's does OneSearch with Voice stack up?
What's good The best thing about the service, far and away, is that it frees you from your phone's keyboard. Even on finger-friendly phones such as the BlackBerry, typing is a pain. With voice control, you can run searches much more easily.
I'll plead the Fifth about whether I tried OneSearch while driving, but there are other times when one-handed typing on a phone keypad is difficult. One early aha moment came while I was walking through the rain holding an umbrella. Another was lugging a bag through the airport. With OneSearch with Voice, I could have my say, then check back after a few moments to see if the phone fetched what I wanted rather than trying to pay attention to typing and walking at the same time. … Read more
Since absolutely nothing significant took place on the national stage this week, we know you had plenty of free time to pore over Crave posts. On the remote chance that you didn't, here's a quick rundown to keep you up to the minute on all the interesting, weird, and wonderful news we covered.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a Ferrari!
Toshiba went for the triple play.
Fujitsu wants you to wake up and smell the asphault.
Circuit City short-circuited.
Philips Aurea 42PFL9903D, you light up our life.
Nike: just wear game-inspired sneakers.
An … Read more
Google is letting Yahoo go it alone.
Bowing to federal regulators' antitrust concerns, Google pulled the plug on a search-ad partnership with Yahoo that would have given the latter major new revenue.
"After four months of review, including discussions of various possible changes to the agreement, it's clear that government regulators and some advertisers continue to have concerns about the agreement," David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said in a blog post Wednesday.
The 10-year deal would have placed Google ads on some Yahoo search results, and the companies would have shared resulting revenue. The deal … Read more
Ah, 120Hz. Like many features used by TV manufacturers to induce people to spend more money on step-up models (see also 1080p, HDMI 3.0), its visible impact on picture quality is often difficult to discern. In test patterns, 120Hz can reduce blurring, and when paired with a 1080p/24 source it can make film-based sources appear a bit smoother, but for the average viewer, and in many cases even experienced reviewers like me, the differences appear slight.
It's easy to confuse 120Hz with dejudder processing, which can have a significant visible impact on picture quality--not all of it good, but that's another story. The confusion increases because many manufacturers market 120Hz and dejudder in the same breath, and, in fact, nearly every 120Hz LCD also features dejudder. The Sharp LC-46D85U we just reviewed is one exception.
In case you're just awakening from a coma, today's election day in the United States, and turnout's expected to set records.
But what about tomorrow? After the polling places have closed and the results are in, what can you do if you still hanker to cast a ballot and make your opinion count? OurStage offers you the chance to make or break thousands of independent artists by listening to and rating their songs.
We realize you probably spent a lot of time coming up with your Halloween costume this week (extra bonus points if your creativity went beyond a red power suit, pageant hair, and Tina Fey glasses!). So if you weren't able to keep up with all the goings-on in gadget land over the past five days, no worries, we've got what you need to know right here.
Prison life just got easier--for the guards at least.
MP3 player prices are sinking to the bottom of the iriver.
Showing now, pretty much everywhere: Netflix.
Hewlett-Packard makes your dream of … Read more
We recently put the largest plasma TV we've reviewed yet, Samsung's 63-inch PN63A760, though its paces, and this massive plasma came up a bit short of the tough competition. Although its distinctive red styling makes it stand out, its lighter black levels don't help its picture quality.
We compared the Samsung directly with a pair of other huge-screen plasmas, the 58-inch Panasonic TH-58PZ800U and the 60-inch LG 60PG60, and both delivered better black levels and more-accurate color. That's not to say the Samsung wasn't without its charms--we liked its antireflective screen, and proponents of of dejudder will appreciate its Smooth option (although it doesn't work with 1080p sources). The TV's prodigious feature set, which includes a full suite of interactive options, will also draw some fans.