Monster has hooked-up with lifestyle company Diesel to announce the availability of their new on-ear VEKTR headphones, which are priced at $279.95. These unusually shaped VEKTR headphones feature a diamond-cut Diesel logo on each ear cup. Reflecting Diesel’s passion for…



Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 Tablet debuts

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Lenovo’s new IdeaTab S2109 Tablet has been released starting at $349, with features that include four SRS surround sound speakers, Micro HDMI output, 10 hours of battery life, and an extra bright 9.7-inch IPS HD display. This tablet runs the…



New Sony VAIO T Series Ultrabook Announced

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Sony’s first VAIO Ultrabook line, the T Series Ultrabook PC, sports an ultra-smooth full-flat brushed aluminum and magnesium chassis and it features a 13.3-inch display, the latest generation Ultra Low Voltage Intel Core processors, optional Solid State Drive or Hybrid…



Lenovo has announced the worldwide release for their new U Series IdeaPad U310 and U410 Ultrabooks. The 13.3-inch U310 and 14-inch U410 measure 0.7-inch and 0.83-inch thick and weigh 3.74lbs and 4.18lbs, respectively. Both models are available with 3rd generation…



The hand-held Nintendo 3DS system gets super-sezed with the new Nintendo 3DS XL model, which will go on sale in North America, available in Red or Blue on August 19th for $199.99. The New Super Mario Bros. 2, from the…



Intel has slowly been rolling out its third-generation Core i5 and i7 processors, and Consumer Reports has rated several laptops and desktops that use this series. We’ve found that they boost performance up to 20 percent for certain tasks compared with the previous generation’s same speed Core processors.

New 3D features were also added to the new processors, including the ability to watch 3D videos with passive glasses and faster conversion of 2D videos into 3D.

Senior electronics editor Donna Tapellini visited Into Tomorrow to talk about which tasks are much speedier on these processors—and which aren’t as noticeably affected. Get the details in our podcast.

Every week, Consumer Reports experts produce a short audio segment that covers a wide variety of issues regarding consumer electronics and technology for “Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline.” The recording featured on the Consumer Reports News Blog was aired on the prior weekend’s “Into Tomorrow” broadcast.

About Into Tomorrow
Now in its 17th year, “Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline” covers the latest in consumer electronics and technology available today and into tomorrow. The show airs on more than 180 AM and FM radio stations around the U.S. and can be heard globally through various sources—including America’s Armed Forces Networks and podcasts of previous “Into Tomorrow” episodes.

This year TVs aren’t just getting bigger—they’re also getting wider, thanks to a new line of Vizio LCD sets that feature a 21:9 aspect ratio, rather than the 16:9 screens found on other TVs.

The XVT Cinemawide-series LCDs—initially announced about 18 months ago and previewed at CES this past January—are loaded with features, including Vizio’s passive Theater 3D technology, an edge LED backlight with local dimming, built-in Wi-Fi, and the company’s VIA (Vizio Internet Apps) Smart TV platform. Each model comes with a Bluetooth universal remote control with a keyboard, plus four sets of passive, polarized 3D glasses.

The primary benefit of the wider screen is the ability to display the many movies now shot in the 2.35:1 format without black bars appearing at the top and bottom of the screen. But the 21:9 screen also allows viewers to watch a full-screen, 16:9 high-def image on the right side of the screen while accessing apps from a column on the left side of the screen. To accommodate the greater width, the screen has a resolution of 2560×1080 rather than the 1920×1080 resolution found on full-HD 1080p sets.

At CES, Vizio announced three models, in 50-, 58-, and 71-inch screen sizes. The first to arrive is the 58-inch XVT3D580CM, which will be priced at $2,800, although Vizio says it will offer the TV for $2,500 as a limited-time introductory offer. The TV can be ordered at Vizio.com.

We expect these new 21:9 TVs to be a niche product targeting movie fans who watch a lot of Blu-ray movies in the 2.35:1 format. Let us know what you think of these new, wider sets, and whether you think it’s worth the premium in your home theater setup. And check our free TV buying guide at ConsumerReports.org.

The Sony Xperia ion, which runs on AT&T’s high-speed LTE and HSPA+ networks, offers impressive display and camera performance. The ion can snap a picture in less than 2 seconds from standby mode—very convenient for capturing life’s magic moments. Both still and video image quality are currently being assessed by CR’s engineers, but photos and videos look smashing on the phone’s dazzling LCD.

But the phone’s touch-screen and main navigation keys seemed unresponsive at times. And the phone’s main camera comes with an interesting way to take 3D pictures that unfortunately sometimes fell flat.

The Xperia ion, which has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, a 12-megapixel main camera and a 4.6-inch high-resolution display, just became available on AT&T for $100 with a two-year contract. You can also get the ion for only $50 with a two-year contract, if you buy it directly from Sony.

The black metal-and-glass phone is 5.24 inches tall and 2.7 wide and has a curved back that helps make the Xperia ion comfortable to hold. It’s 0.46 inches thick along the middle, but tapers to a grip-friendly 0.3 inches along the edges. It weighs 4.9 ounces and comes with comes with 16GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 48GB with a 32GB microSD card.

The phone comes out of the box running on the Android 2.35 OS (Gingerbread). Sony promises a system upgrade to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) will be ready soon.

I used a press sample of the Xperia ion for this hands-on look. Here are the details:

Display. The ion’s 4.6-inch HD (1280 x 720) display looked fabulous under most lighting conditions—even in sunlight. The display apparently has some kind of silver-toned reflective backing that helps text and other screen elements stand out in direct sunlight. Indoors, photos had vibrant, natural colors, with deep blacks that revealed a healthy degree of gradation.

Text looked crisp and smooth, thanks, no doubt, to the display’s fantastic 342- pixel-per-inch resolution. But the screen froze on me several times, often when I was viewing photos in gallery.

Camera. The Xperia ion has two HD cameras. The rear-facing 12-megapixel camera can record video at 1080P, and the front-facing camera can capture video at 720P. I spent most of my time with the main camera, which can be launched into snapping a picture from a locked screen by pushing a button on the lower right side of the phone. After a few tries, I was able to snap a picture in less than 2 seconds after removing the phone from my shirt pocket—a record for any camera phone I’ve ever used.

Along with the increasingly common smile-detection and panoramic-shot features, the ion can shoot 3D panoramic and portrait snapshots; these are best appreciated when you connect the phone to a 3D HDTV via an optional micro HDMI cable. While most devices produce 3D images using two side-by-side-mounted cameras, the Xperia ion uses a single camera, which records multiple images from different angles as you sweep the camera across a scene or a nearby subject. These images are merged into a single file.

You can view pictures you take in 3D Sweep Panorama mode in 3D on the ion’s display when the phone held sideways; you have to rock the phone from left to right. But the effect is slight, and the images often appear distorted. I found the 3D effect more convincing when viewing the images on a 65-inch Panasonic plasma TV (the VT25). But the 3D images are blurry on this top-rated TV’s screen.

Controls and connections. Besides the hard camera button on the lower-right side of the phone, the ion comes with a power button on the upper right side, and a volume rocker button just below it. On the phone’s left side are separate micro USB and micro HDMI ports, protected by a plastic flap.

The main navigation keys (Menu, Home, Back, and Search) along the bottom of the display are always visible. This is noteworthy because these buttons are often invisible on other smart phones until you do something to activate their backlights. Unfortunately, as with the display, these buttons occasionally did not respond to my touch, despite several presses.

NFC and Smart Tiles. Like many new Android phones, the ion supports NFC (near-field communication), a wireless technology used for beaming Web links, contact information, and other small files between devices after you tap the two devices together. NFC also facilities e-wallet services that allow you use your phone to pay for items by bumping them against special terminals at the point of sale.

The ion also uses NFC technology in an additional, interesting way: It can program tiny, quarter-size medallions called Smart Tiles to perform a variety of tasks when you tap the phone against one. Smart Tiles, which cost about $20 each at the Sony store, use NFC technology to transmit their signals.

The tasks range from changing the phone’s wireless settings (for example, turning Bluetooth off and Wi-Fi on when you get home) to sending out text messages, such as a programmed confirmation that your kid is home. Smart Tiles are very similar to the TecTiles used on the Samsung Galaxy S III. (I’ll have more about Smart Tiles, which also work with other new phones, in a follow-up post.)

Bottom line: The Sony Xperia ion is an attractive phone that offers a compelling number of top-shelf smart-phone features at a relatively low price. These include a large, brilliant display, a high-megapixel camera that’s quick on the draw, and an interesting way to use NFC technology. But these pluses might be outweighed, if the control and display freezes I experienced turn out to be more than a press-sample glitch. CR’s engineers will soon find out.

At the Google I/O developer conference today, the search company confirmed recently ubiquitous rumors by announcing its very own Nexus 7 tablet, which will run on a brand new version of its Android mobile operating system: Android 4.1, nicknamed Jelly Bean.

Specs for the tablet, which will be manufactured by Asus, include a 1,280 x 800 HD display, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, a 12-core GPU, and 1GB of RAM. The Nexus 7 will also feature a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera and NFC (near-field communication), 9 hours of HD video playback, and up to 8 hours of “active use” battery life.

Beyond specs, though, Google’s product page touts the Nexus 7 as an entertainment device: “All the entertainment you love is right in your hand: more than 600,000 apps and games, millions of eBooks and songs, thousands of movies, and a growing selection of TV shows and magazines.” This puts it in competition price-wise (and size-wise) with the Amazon Kindle Fire.

It’s an open question as to whether Google Play’s offerings can (or will) compete with the rich media ecosystems of Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle tablets. In contrast, Microsoft’s recently announced Surface tablet seems aimed more toward productivity.

The Nexus 7 can be pre-ordered today and will ship in mid-July along with a $25 coupon for the Google Play store. An 8GB version is $200, and a 16GB model sells for $250.

Where do you do most of your Web browsing? Overall, 88 percent of U.S adults now own cell phones; 55 percent go online with their phones, and of those, 31 percent use their phones more than computers to explore the Web. That works out to 17 percent of all cell-phone owners who go online mainly via their phones.

This is according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project that was conducted earlier in 2012. Reasons include that cell phones are convenient, always available, and easy to use; and also, for some users, a lack of other means to access the Internet.

The study noted that in 2009, 31 percent of cell phone owners went online with their phones. The increase to 55 percent represents quite a change in habits for many of us who have become used to having the Internet handy wherever we go. With the advent of smarter smart phones with bigger screens, faster connections, and more ubiquitous network coverage, the number should only grow.

Which phones are best for Web browsing? Check out our cell-phone buying advice, and look for our most recent tests and Ratings of smart phones as well.

Source:
Cell Internet Use 2012 Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project