Toshiba’s new line of Tecra business-class laptops include the new Tecra R940 and Tecra R950 models which are available now starting at $599.99. The new Tecra R940 and Tecra R950 laptops are designed with everything a small or medium business…

Pioneer Introduces New Home Speakers


Pioneer Electronics has released its new line of affordable home theater and music speakers designed by Pioneer’s chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones – the SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers ($129.99 a pair) the SP-C22 center speaker ($99.99) the SP-FS52 floor-standing speaker ($129.99…

At a press event aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Samsung unveiled its largest TV to date, a 75-inch 3D TV in its flagship ES9000 LCD TV series. But despite the impressive size of the TV—the largest readily available model, apart from Sharp’s 80-inch models—most attendees appeared to be more captivated by another of the set’s feature: the ability to hurl an assortment of brightly colored birds across the screen using hand movements.

That’s because Samsung is offering a special version of the popular Angry Birds game as a free download to owners of voice/gesture controlled LCD and plasma TVs. (Angry Birds will be available later this month to owners of ES7500-, ES8000- and ES900-series LCD TVs, as well a E9000 plasmas.) To get the 75-inch model when the set arrives at specialty retailers in August, though, you’ll have to part with some serious green: $10,000. Samsung says it will offer another app with animated Angry Birds content later in the year.

Despite its jumbo size, the 75-inch ES9000 set is remarkably svelte, with a rose-and-gold-colored super-slim bezel that’s less than a third of an inch wide. Of course, the set is loaded with features, including Samsung’s Smart TV features, which include Smart Interaction (gesture and voice control), Smart Content (some premium and exclusive content targeting specific niches, such as families and fitness), and Smart Evolution (an optional hardware/software upgrade kit that will be available next year).

The TV also has a pop-up webcam built into the top bezel, which retracts and becomes disabled when not in use for gesture control or Skype calls. That presumably addresses concerns about what was actually being recorded by earlier models when the TVs weren’t being used for gesture control or Skype calls.

Like other Samsung 3D LCD TVs, the ES9000 uses active 3D technology and comes with four pairs of active-shutter glasses. The TV also includes a dual-core processor, an LED backlight, and a new feature called Sound Share, which uses Bluetooth to connect the TV to the company’s Series 6 and Series 7 wireless audio docks.

Samsung held the press event at the Intrepid Museum, on NYC’s West Side, to kick off its sponsorship of SpaceFest, a five-day celebration of the new space shuttle Enterprise pavilion at the Intrepid.

Samsung has added a fascinating new feature to its new 16-megapixel MV900F subcompact camera: You can control the camera’s 5x optical zoom lens, as well as its shutter button, remotely via simple hand gestures. Samsung calls this feature Gesture Shot, and it tracks your hand in much the way face detection tracks your face.

Here’s how you use it:

You’ll need to set the camera up either on a tripod or flat surface, and stand in front of the lens. Then flip up the swiveling display so you can see the photo you’re composing. Now you can control the lens via two circular hand motions (they’re similar to the “wax on/wax off” hand motions Mr. Miyagi immortalized in the movie The Karate Kid).

A clockwise motion zooms the lens in, and a counterclockwise motion zooms it out. To take the photo, you pretend to push down with your hand (palm down) twice, which engages the self timer. So it’s great for self-portraits. If you want to get out of the photo, you have 3 seconds to exit, stage left.

The MV900F subcompact also has Wi-Fi features and a swiveling 3.3-inch OLED display, and it can capture 1080 full HD-resolution videos. It will be available in late August for $350.

A little over a month after competitor Verizon Wireless unveiled its Share Everything data plans, AT&T has announced its own version: AT&T Mobile Share. Unlike Verizon, which is offering only Share Everything to new customers, newcomers to AT&T will still have the option of choosing an existing individual or family plan. And current customers can switch over to a sharing plan without extending their contracts, if they choose.

Mobile Share, to be available in late August, lets customers add up to 10 smart devices (one must be a smart phone) to a plan, all of which will share a “bucket” of data, says the company. Tethering (using an applicable smart device as a modem) and unlimited domestic talk and text are also included.

You can choose a data amount from 1GB to 20GB, at prices ranging from $40 to $200 a month, and additional data is $15 per gigabyte. (AT&T reassures consumers that they’ll receive overage alerts when they approach the limits of their plans.)

“The larger the data bucket you choose, the less you pay per gigabyte and the less you pay for each smartphone added to the shared plan” says AT&T: $45 for each smart phone at the 1GB level down to $30 per smart phone at the 20GB level. There’s an additional charge per each device you add to your plan, depending on the type, ranging from $10 to $45.

In comparison, Verizon’s Share Everything rates begin at $50 a month for 1GB of data and go up to $100 a month for 10GB. You add $40 a month for each smart phone on the plan, $30 for each basic phone, $20 per mobile hotspot, and $10 per tablet.

For now, our advice for low- or moderate-data users who have AT&T is to stick to an individual plan; the shared plan looks more practical for individuals or families with numerous devices, though costs could climb quickly as you add more data.

If you’re shopping around for a new carrier or a new phone, check our Ratings at

Introducing AT&T Mobile Share

Verizon announces Share Everything data-only billing plan
Would all-data mobile-phone bills be a consumer boon?

Refrigerator doors continue to get more innovative, with the debut this week of LG’s Door-in-Door French-door bottom-freezer. The 31 claimed-cubic-foot fridge features a magnetically sealed compartment on the right door that you can access without opening the entire refrigerator. Besides making it easier to reach frequently used items, say a milk carton or bottle of ketchup, the door-in-door is a potential energy saver.

While LG calls the feature proprietary in its news release, it’s similar to Kenmore’s Grab-N-Go door on its Elite 7206 French-door refrigerator, which we recently reviewed. Don’t expect any patent infringement lawsuits, however, since LG actually manufacturers many Kenmore refrigerators. The question is, how will the LG’s performance compare with that of the Kenmore? In our review, the Kenmore delivered very good temperature control and efficiency, though it narrowly missed our recommended list. We’ll report more on the LG has soon as we get it into our testing labs.

If you haven’t shopped for a refrigerator in awhile, you’ll notice other innovations affecting door design. For example, several manufacturers have added a horizontal drawer between the freezer and refrigerator on some French-door models. See our reviews of the Samsung RF4287HA, $2,600, and the GE Profile PGSS5PJX, $2,400, to learn more about this configuration.

Refrigerator doors are also becoming more interactive with the advent of Wi-Fi enabled LCD screens embedded in the front panel. Samsung’s French-door model RF4289, $3,500, includes one of these displays, and it comes with various apps designed to generate recipe ideas, store your household’s calendar, and more.

Enhanced ice and water dispenser design is another innovation you’ll find on some of the latest refrigerators. Our top-rated French-door refrigerator from LG is one of several models on the market with an extra-tall dispenser that can fit pitchers and other oversized containers. And GE’s brand new French-door refrigerator is the first of its kind to dispense hot and cold water alike.

These new refrigerator doors are nifty, but if you’re in the market for a new fridge, you should pay close attention to what’s going on inside the unit. Consistent temperature control, convenient storage features, and optimal efficiency will deliver the most satisfaction over the long haul. We’ve reviewed more than 250 refrigerators to help you find the model that’s right for you.

Keeping a journal of everything you eat can be daunting, not to mention an unpleasant reality check. But new research suggests that it’s one of the most effective things you can do to if you’re trying to lose weight. The other two most important strategies were things to avoid: regularly going out for lunch, and skipping meals.

In a study published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers in Seattle examined the eating-related behaviors and self-monitoring strategies of 123 overweight or obese postmenopausal women who took part in a year-long weight-loss trial. Of the 18 behaviors and strategies they looked at, which included counting calories and staying away from fast-food restaurants keeping a weekly food journal had the greatest positive correlation with weight loss. Women who used that strategy most weeks lost about 6 pounds more over one year than women who didn’t (or, in terms of percentages, 12.8 percent of body weight among journalers vs. 8.2 percent among non-journalers).

The two other strategies most strongly linked to weight loss were things you shouldn’t do: regularly going out to lunch, and skipping meals. Women who did those things lost about five fewer pounds and eight fewer pounds, respectively, over a year compared with other women.

Previous studies have looked at how various individual behaviors and strategies on weight outcomes, but this study was the first to pull together a wide variety of such practices, both healthy (planning meals and snacks throughout the day, keeping track of calories, weighing oneself regularly) and unhealthy (skipping meals, taking laxatives, vomiting after eating). That allowed the authors not just to identify which factors influenced weight loss, but to compare their relative importance.

If you’re not sure what should go in a food journal, here are some basics:
• Be honest. Record everything you eat.
• Be accurate. Measure portions and read labels.
• Be complete. Include details such as how the food was prepared, and the addition of any toppings or condiments
• Be consistent. Carry your food diary with you or use a diet-tracking application on your smart phone

See which strategies were associated with healthy body weight in our survey of 21,632 readers (hint: eating at home was one). If a restaurant meal is the only option, use these tips for healthful dining out.

Self-Monitoring and Eating-Related Behaviors Are Associated with 12-Month Weight Loss in Postmenopausal Overweight-to-Obese Women Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

A blocked dryer vent, a broken microwave, a damaged mower blade. These are three of the most overlooked home hazards, according to, and ignoring them can lead to injuries, fires or worse. “It’s important to be aware of these dangers and to take proper care to reduce risks and stay safe,” says Chris Hall, president of the replacement parts website. Here’s how with tips from Consumer Reports, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and RepairClinic.

Clothes dryers: Instant fire starters
As we recently reported in Appliance fires: Is your home safe? clothes dryers accounted for almost 14,000 fires, 10 deaths and $84 million in damages from 2002 to 2009. Many were caused by blocked dryer vents that caused heat buildup resulting in fast-moving fires. “If you notice that it’s taking longer for your clothes to dry, it’s likely that lint is clogging the venting system,” says Hall of RepairClinic.

What to do. White vinyl venting no longer meets national fire code standards in the U.S. and should be replaced with an aluminum equivalent. Safer yet, replace accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal ducts. Then make the following a routine:

  • Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically.
  • Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up.

Microwaves: Don’t try this at home
The CPSC warns against do-it-yourself repairs of microwave ovens. From 2006 through 2008 there was an average of two electrocution deaths per year associated with consumers attempting their own microwave repairs. Microwave ovens use high voltage which makes it particularly hazardous for consumers to remove the cover and touch electrical parts. The possibility for electrical shock still exists even after the microwave is unplugged.

What to do. Repairs are best left to a professional. However, the cost of a new microwave is often comparable to the cost of replacement parts so a new unit may be the best solution, says Hall. Non-electronic parts like door latches and glass trays, however, are inexpensive and easy to replace. Most of the countertop microwaves recommended by Consumer Reports cost less than $200.

Lawn mowers: Watch for flying projectiles
From 2008 through 2010, an average of 40,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for walk-behind power mower injuries, according to the CPSC. Many of the injuries, including some fatalities, were caused by flying debris kicked up by the mower’s spinning blade.

What to do. To prevent this hazard, clear your lawn of all twigs, rocks and other objects before getting started. Here’s some more tips from RepairClinic:

  • Check the cutting blade regularly for damage, bends and dullness. A blade should be replaced every one or two years, depending on how often the mower is used.
  • Keep children and pets inside when the lawn mower is in operation.
  • Don’t remove or adjust the position of the mower’s deflector. Making a change that’s not in the owner’s manual can result in debris flying at a longer distance.
  • Before each mowing season, check the protective rubber trail shield at the back of the mower to make sure it’s working properly and free of tears.

If your mower is beyond repair, check the results of our tests of push, self-propelled and riding mowers and check for sales at your local big box or home improvement store.

Fujitsu introduced its new full-size 15.6-inch Lifebook E752 notebook, 14-inch thin, light and economical Lifebook S752 notebook, and 13.3-inch high-performance subcompact Lifebook S762 notebook, all available with Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and optional SSD cache or SSD drives…

M-Edge SuperShell iPhone Case now on sale


M-Edge has launched its new SuperShell protective cases for iPhone 4 and 4S smartphones. The tough case absorbs shock and bounces when dropped, so if you can stand a bit of bulk added to your iphone, you won’t have to…