Creative Zen X-Fi
The amazing Creative Zen X-Fi is an outstanding all-around digital music player, boasting many features that stand up nicely to the latest versions of Apple iPods. The X-Fi has great sound, superb headphones, an amazing feature set, expandable storage via an SD card slot, an easy-to-use interface that will please users who don't want to work with a touch screen, and--here's the kicker--the ability to stream and download music from your PC wirelessly. It looks great, too.
The masses may continue to think iPod first when they need a new MP3 player--but the X-Fi is an innovative, feature-packed player, and it's an absolute steal for the price.
Samsung PN50A760 HDTV
The Samsung PN50A760 HDTV combines cool multimedia capabilities and great image quality. In PC World lab tests, this Samsung plasma HDTV was the only model in its size category to earn a rating of Very Good for image quality.
At $2500, the Samsung PN50A760 is pricey. Still, you get what you pay for in image quality and extra features.
Apple iPhone 3G Smart Phone
Apple's iPhone 3G still stands in a class all its own. While this smart phone is not perfect, its lower entry price compared to the first model, 3G radio, GPS, and business-friendly security features broaden the iPhone's appeal--and cements Apple's position as a defining force in the cell phone industry. And the iPhone 3G is even relatively durable, as our video of iPhone stress tests proved.
In general, when it comes to mobile apps, Web access, and media playback, it slaughters all comers.
Sony Cybershot T700 Digital Camera
The fashionable Sony Cybershot DSC-T700 camera offers plenty of features--most of which are flat-out fun.
A trend-setter in cameras, Sony's main innovation with this good-looking touch-screen camera is its 4GB of on-board storage, as well as a few other features that may be irresistible despite the camera's $400 price tag.
The T700 also sports the highest-resolution LCD in its class. In fact, at 3.5 inches diagonally, it very nearly constitutes the entire back of the camera. Aside from the power and shutter buttons, the touch screen contains all of the camera's controls. The unit is slim and compact, too, measuring a little over a half-inch in depth and weighing a slightly heavy 5.6 ounces.
On the exterior, this camera looks cool. The T700 has a brushed-metal finish that comes in several colors (red, pink, silver, and gray). Our test unit was gray, and out of the box its iridescence was mesmerizing: Tip it one way, it takes on a violet sheen; another direction, it becomes a slight pink or blue. It also has a neat sliding cover that's an attractive and functional design choice.
For more, see "Top 10 Point-and-Shoot Cameras."
HP Mini 1000 Netbook
Gone is the Via C-7M processor; gone, too, is the pipe dream that any current netbook could handle Windows Vista. The Mini 1000 that we received for testing runs Windows XP, and packs Intel's 1.6-GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 4200-rpm, 60GB PATA hard drive. With that configuration, it falls in with the rest of the current mini-notebook pack.
With the Mini 1000, HP does a good job keeping most of the things that worked on the 2133, while upping the performance and managing to cut prices in the process (well, not counting the beautiful, fashionista-oriented Vivienne Tam edition).
Thankfully still present in this model is the fantastic keyboard. The oversized, square keys look like they belong on a full-size laptop. In fact, the main QWERTY and number buttons are large enough to fit your entire finger. No need to carefully hunt-and-peck on this keyboard.
I found the audio impressive, and it matched my experiences with the earlier model. The ingenious top-mounted speaker also serves as a sturdy hinge for the device; this design saves space. And while I'm not one to say that you could use the Mini 1000 as some incredibly dorky boombox, it does get decent audio without turning into a crackly mess.
For more on netbooks, see our ranked "Top 5 Netbooks" chart.
Solio Battery Charger
If one of your new year's resolutions is to reduce your carbon footprint, try a solar-powered battery charger. With the Solio solar-powered charger, all you need is the sun to keep your gadgets' batteries filled to the brim. The Solio will charge all your devices, from phones and iPods, to digital cameras, to game players and GPS. Charging the Solio for an hour in the sun will provide about 25 minutes of phone talk time.
Linksys WRT610N Dual-N Band Wireless Router
The previous version of the Linksys WRT610N router was one of the first draft-802.11n Wi-Fi routers to support simultaneous 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz networks, making it a great choice for supporting both legacy Wi-Fi gear and future streaming media devices.
Linksys has updated that dual-band wireless-N unit with this model, the WRT610N. With USB drive sharing as a bonus, this router can support 2.4-GHz legacy devices and 5-GHz clients simultaneously.
In PC World tests, the previous generation Linksys outperformed five other routers that we tested at the same time in overall speed and range.
For more, see "The Truth About Superfast Draft-N."
HP TouchSmart All-in-One PC
HP nailed the design aesthetic with this 22-inch TouchSmart All-in-One: This model would look equally at home in your living room, bedroom, or office. It comes with five USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, gigabit ethernet, a slot-loading DVD player, an S-Video input, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in.
For even more elbow room, HP recently released a 25.5-inch model.
Paying the $1500 price buys you a system with classy design, the versatility to handle everyday tasks, and the ability to do some light multimedia lifting. It doesn't have enough oomph to serve as a gaming or graphics PC, but it pulls ahead of other recent all-in-ones with its ability to handle most productivity tasks easily.
For more desktop PC reviews, see "Top 10 Value PCs."
Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS Device
The compact Garmin Nuvi 360's accuracy, features, and battery life make it a great value.
You get first-rate maps and an intuitive interface (with features like 3D maps and pronunciation of street names).
The Nuvi's SiRF Star III GPS transceiver latches onto satellite signals quickly, and the routes the device suggested were timely and accurate. The device's smallish (3.5-inch diagonal) display can't fit in the amount of information shown on devices with 4.3-inch screens; it is easy to read even in bright sunlight, however, and the touch-screen controls make entering street addresses and changing settings quick and simple. The unit's Safe mode (off by default) prevents you from changing certain settings, to help you avoid getting distracted while driving. You can enter a code to prevent unauthorized use, too.
For more on GPS, see "How to Buy a GPS Device."