Every week at CNET, we test dozens of gadgets. Not every device stands out as amazing or wonderful, and we've seen our share of failing storage drives or -- shudder -- candy bar "feature phones." (That's what the industry calls a cell phone that's not quite a smart phone.)
But not a week goes by without at least a few standout gadgets. Sometimes, these gems shine in a crowded field. Sometimes, they break the mold. Occasionally, we review a high-quality device from an older category that does its job so well, we fall in love with it anyway.
This week's roundup of top-rated gear includes everything we've awarded three-and-a-half stars or above in our rating scale, but I'd like to highlight a couple of the most newsworthy.
Samsung's new Fire fighter
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is the first Samsung tablet running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, bringing the 7-inch tablet into the modern era of tablets. It's thinner than the competition, and lighter, and it comes with a nifty 50GB of free Dropbox storage for a year.
That's not why this soldier in the tablet wars caught my eye and impressed our critic. At $250, the Tab 2 7.0 costs less than half of the Wi-Fi-only iPad, albeit in a much smaller form factor. For $50 more than the kinder, gentler Kindle Fire, the Tab 2 7.0 gives you the full ICS experience -- important for anyone who wants the full power (and complexity) of an open-ecosystem tablet. The Tab 2 7.0 has plenty of faults, an unimpressive camera among them. But as reviewer Eric Franklin said in his bottom line, "The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 offers an excellent value and a full Android experience that no other tablet can currently match for the price." Go ahead, read the full Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 review.
Panasonic DMP-BDT220: Crummy name, great Blu-ray player
I'm surprised, too, but this week we fell in love with a Blu-ray player, awarding the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 our coveted Editors' Choice award. Reviewer Matthew Moskovciak developed an abiding affection for this $150 little black box because it just does what it should. He says, "It's in the sweet spot of Panasonic's Blu-ray lineup, with built-in Wi-Fi and an excellent set of streaming-media services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, Vudu, MLB.TV, and Pandora." All that, and its interface doesn't suck -- not at all. Find out more in our full Panasonic DMP-BDT220 review.
(While we're at it, though, can we have a little talk about tech product names? Giving a gadget a name that looks like a license plate -- DMP-BDT220, really? -- doesn't help it stand out in the market.)
Speaking of crazy product names, this week's collection of reviews highlights Antuan Goodwin's review of the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe John Cooper Works (yes, that's really the car's full name) and he loves it, but not that much. Dong Ngo gives four stars to the IoSafe Solo G3, the armored tank of backup drives, and Lori Grunin gets her mits on the Pentax K-01's brilliant photo quality. Take your time and flip through the whole set of top reviews from the past week.