Underneath the seemingly predictable veneer of the 14-inch Toshiba Satellite P745D-S4240 are two new stories, albeit ones that might not interest the average person much. The Satellite P series is a new laptop line for Toshiba, although you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and the M, A, and L series of Satellite laptops (the P replaces the M and A). Under the hood is a quad-core AMD A6 processor, part of a new line of budget-targeted AMD Vision A-series APUs that include better-than-Intel-integrated graphics to accompany mainstream processing power.… Read more
When it comes to laptops in 2011, "thinner is better" seems to be a consistent trend. The MacBook Air and Samsung Series 9 head the pack in that regard, but laptops such as the Sony Vaio SE and Dell XPS 15z have followed suit. It's no surprise, then, that the mainstream Dell Inspiron line has gotten its own thinned-out model in the Inspiron 14z. If the name rings a bell, that's because there was a previous Inspiron 14z released in 2009, with a Core 2 Duo processor, but that "thin" laptop was inferior to … Read more
Gateway laptops are funny products. Of the two mainstream lines available, the "budget" NV series and the "higher-end" ID series, neither one currently has a single model that tops $699. So, in that sense, both are budget lines. The Gateway ID is the slicker, more polished-looking product and a significantly thinner laptop with a 14-inch display, more closely matching what most people consider to be easily portable.
The $699 Gateway ID47H02u has a good set of specs for its price. An Intel Core i5-2410M processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive are considered mainstream specs nowadays, but no corners are cut on the processor, which matches equivalent $1,000-range laptops such as the Toshiba Satellite E305 and the Toshiba Portege R835. A sleek--for Gateway--design, a comfortable keyboard and touch pad, and a long-lasting battery complete the package. It's definitely a more attractive and slimmer notebook overall than you see in the Gateway NV line, which we recently reviewed in the form of the Gateway NV55S05u.… Read more
The A1 is a $250 7-inch Android 2.3 tablet in the same vein as 2010's Samsung Galaxy Tab. Unlike most Android tablets in this price range, the A1 is fully decked out with all of Google's Android services, including Market, Gmail, Maps, navigation, and more.
In fact, navigation is something the A1 should be particularly adept at, since its GPS capabilities aren't dependent on an Internet connection. Using the Navdroyd global … Read more
I cover a lot of high-end, audiophile-oriented gear in this blog, but I also love finding great-sounding affordable products. Match any of the stereo speakers on this list with any amp from my post on "Top 10 great-sounding amplifiers from $40 to $450," and you'll get amazing sound value. Unless noted otherwise, the prices listed are for pairs of speakers.
Dayton B652 ($40) The price is no typo; the Dayton Audio B652 is a midsize, black vinyl-covered monitor speaker, 11.7 inches high, 7.1 inches wide, and 6.5 inches deep. Fit and finish are decent, but the rear panel's spring-clip wire connectors won't provide a tight grip on the wires, so they may fall out when you move the speakers.
I've seen clips on $100 speakers, so I can't really complain about spring clips on $40 speakers. Bass definition is fine, but deep bass is lacking. The B652's bass is reasonably flat to 70Hz, so you may not need to add a sub. The speaker earned its reputation by delivering surprisingly accurate tonal balance, exceptional detail, and transparency. The B652 speakers are available for $40 a pair from Parts Express.… Read more
We've been producing a "cheap" Blu-ray movie list for several months and it's time for another update, especially since a number of our earlier picks on the list crept over the $15 mark.
As we like to note, cheap is popular these days and, not surprisingly, a lot of these bargain-price titles end up on the best sellers list on Amazon.com. But when it comes to owning discs, most people have become fairly discerning, and don't just buy anything because it's cheap. With that in mind, we've culled down the list of … Read more
The MP3 player will never die. You can show me your smartphones and your tablets and all of the dozens of ways we have now to listen to music, but there will always be a place in the world for a cheap, reliable MP3 player.
SanDisk's latest Sansa Clip Zip is proof of this point. Starting at just $49 (4GB) and decked out with an enviable array of audio format support (including AAC and FLAC), an FM radio, a voice recorder, a stopwatch, and a 1.1-inch color screen, the Clip Zip is destined to become the same kind … Read more
As of November 2011, the Nintendo Wii will be 5 years old. That's a long time in game years; in fact, it's nearly a console generation. To no great surprise, then, Nintendo has already announced the Wii's successor, the Wii U, with a likely release date of 2012. Until then, the Wii still survives, but as a lame duck console. That doesn't mean it should be overlooked. Nintendo's latest Wii console bundle--the fourth since the Wii's debut--is the lowest price ever, at $150, although the components in the bundle since last year's $200 have changed.
Gone is Wii Sports, the perennial Wii console pack-in. Gone, too, is Wii Sports Resort. Instead, the new Mario Kart bundle includes a Wii Remote Plus, nunchuck, a copy of Mario Kart Wii, and a Wii Steering Wheel plastic accessory. Mario Kart's a fun casual racer, but Nintendo has taken its most popular motion-control game, Wii Sports, out of the equation, forcing people to buy it separately. It doesn't make much sense, especially considering the game's 5 years old. Those interested in multiplayer games will also have to buy an extra Wii Remote Plus and nunchuck, $40 and $20, respectively.
Europe has announced an even less expensive redesigned Wii bundle, but the $150 Mario Kart version remains the least expensive Wii console in the U.S. We'd love to see this system drop down to $99, but that's just wishful thinking for now. That said, it can be found for under $135 at such major retailers as Wal-Mart and Amazon.
So the question remains: at those prices--about half that of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360--is the Wii worth the investment for first-time buyers?… Read more
The landscape of budget laptops often looks like a police lineup of suspects: a muddy confusion of similar-looking faces and bodies. For $600 you can buy a lot of computer lately, though you're not likely to get something that's particularly sexy.
The $629 Gateway NV55S05u is one of more than a dozen 15-inch Gateway NV laptops with a galaxy of different processors. In the case of our 15.6-incher, an AMD A8-3500M APU is inside. AMD's A8 processor is part of a new line of AMD Fusion processors with graphics and CPU on one chip (called an … Read more
When reviewing the Dell XPS 15z this summer, it was hard not to notice how comparatively slim it was to the normal XPS 15--and how thick so many of Dell's laptops are by comparison. While the Inspiron R series is hardly as large as the XPS, it's miles away from anything one would call thin and light.
Dell's newly unveiled Inspiron 13z and 14z laptops are a continuation of the thinner laptop trend, but they're a bigger deal for most consumers: they're 13- and 14-inchers, and they're relatively budget-oriented mainstream machines as opposed to high-end. It's a repeat of what Dell did just a few years ago with the Inspiron line, but revisited on the latest-generation laptops. … Read more