To find the very best tablets, I looked for four key elements: a bright, vivid, pixel-dense display that looks great at any angle; a lightweight design that’s comfortable to hold in one hand for long stretches; a powerful CPU coupled with a good amount of RAM for smooth, speedy multitasking; and an interface that’s easy to understand and navigate even if you’re not tech-savvy. Price was also a consideration — a great small tablet shouldn’t break the bank.
Today Samsung unveiled two new Galaxy Note phones, one that’s a by-the-book upgrade to last year’s Note 3, and one that that does something innovative and has the potential to shake up the way you use Android for the better. There’s no official price announcement yet, but both phones will be out in October. Want to check them out sooner than that? Later this week the public in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, LA, and San Francisco will get a chance to at least play with demo models at select carriers. If you don’t live in any of those cities, check out our hands-on below.
A search for laptops under $500 turns up a wide range of choices, starting with smaller, netbook-like hybrids and moving up to full-size, mainstream PCs with a budget price tag. Assuming you want a full-featured PC, chances are that you’re looking for either a small, ultra-portable, low-power secondary machine or a full-sized computer that’s basic yet reliable. Since the criteria for each are different, a final choice comes down to one thing: Which laptop is the best value for my money?
To evaluate the best laptops under $500, I didn’t just look at price; I also considered performance, design, brand reliability and reviews from professionals and consumers. A handful of promising contenders emerged, including the Acer Aspire E15, the Lenovo Yoga 2 11, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 and the Asus Transformer Book T100.
I don’t think many people expected to see Samsung hardware and the same Nook version of Android used on older tablets like the B&N NOOK HD (which is sad, really, because it was a slick interface). But I had hoped that the experience would be different from what you get when you install the Nook app on any Android. And in some respects, it is. Just not so much that you mistake this tablet for anything other than a Samsung product. It is running TouchWiz, after all.
If that doesn’t scare you away completely, read on for my first impressions.
“Um, why not?”
“That shade is wrong for you. It contrasts with your skin tone too much. It’s too severe.”
At the time I rolled my eyes and ignored her because she’s the only person ever to say something negative about my shade.
You don’t need a big camera in order to take crisp, detailed and balanced pictures. Premium compact cameras aim to be the best of both worlds: small like a point-and-shoot; powerful and programmable like a DSLR. That’s the space the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 fits in.
At $449 retail, the ZS40 is expensive for a compact camera. Its price though, can be justified by its impressive set of features—a 30x zoom, 24-720mm f/3.3-6.4 lens, 18MP sensor, electronic viewfinder, optical image stabilization, WiFi, GPS, RAW capture, and a host of manual controls—great image quality and easy pocketability. The ZS40 is only 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.3 inches and weighs just 8.5 ounces.
So what makes for an impressive tablet? We look for ones that have crisp screens with 1080p (or better) resolution, bright color palettes, interfaces that are pleasing to look at and easy to use, speedy and power-efficient quad-core CPUs, and designs that are thin and light—without feeling flimsy and cheap. The best of these tablets come at a premium, around $500. For that price, you want a device that offers extras—multi-tasking and kid-friendly modes and a wide array of content options—on top of all the basic criteria. Free stuff doesn’t hurt, either.
Headphones are a legit fashion accessory now that a bunch of celebrities either make them or wear them at all times. But as cool as a pair of Beats Studios may look around Katie Holmes’ neck, it does not escape my notice that those things are way huge on her.
The Dr Dres, 50 Cents, and Tim Tebows of the world might prefer giant cans on their heads, but some of us are looking for headphones with a smaller profile. Good thing it’s far easier to find a non-bulky, attractive, premium headphone now than it was just a year ago.
This year, a number of excellent new Android phones hit the market: the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, Sony Xperia Z2 and LG G3. All of them have the ingredients of a great phone — big, beautiful displays, speedy performance, good cameras and long battery life — with only a few drawbacks between them.
I tested each of the new models and determined that the HTC One M8 is the most impressive of the bunch. It has the whole package down pat, including a gorgeous design, which makes it my pick for the best Android smartphone. Here’s why.
Taking notes is one of the most important activities for a high school or college student, be it in class during lectures or at the library or home doing research. Using a laptop to take notes has become common, but recent research shows that laptop note-taking is far less effective than taking notes by hand. And even when students don’t use their laptops to multitask during class (surfing the web and chatting on social networks), they don’t process and retain information as well as students who take their class notes by hand.
This effect doesn’t mean you have to give up the convenience of digital notes. With new digital pen tools and note apps, it’s possible to transform handwritten notes into text or make scribbled notes indexable and searchable.