Photos: Top 10 reviews of the week
1. Pioneer PDP-5070HD
Editors' rating: 8.4
The good: Accurate color decoding; can reproduce deep blacks; solid video processing; comprehensive connectivity, including two HDMI, three component-video; and a PC input; excellent feature package with picture-in-picture, CableCard, and TV Guide onscreen.
The bad: Expensive; inaccurate green color.
The bottom line: Pioneer's PDP-5070HD 50-inch plasma sets a benchmark for flat-panel performance and is well worth the premium price for people who take video quality seriously.
TiVo Series3 HD DVR
Editors' rating: 8.3
The good: Can record two HD programs simultaneously while playing back a third previously recorded one; accepts cable TV and over-the-air signals; replaces your existing cable box; 30-second commercial skip; excellent user-friendly interface and remote; impressive Internet and home-networking features, including online scheduling, photo, and music streaming; built-in Ethernet and optional Wi-Fi networking.
The bad: Extremely expensive, especially compared to "free" DVRs available from cable providers; does not work with pay-per-view and video-on-demand services; requires monthly fee in addition to cable bill; CableCard installation can be problematic; no TiVo To Go functionality; some distinguishing network features not yet available; must program 30-second skip; does not offer picture-in-picture.
The bottom line: The Series3 delivers dual-tuner HD recording and some worthwhile networking features to cable customers, but the exorbitant price tag will be too much for all but the most devoted TiVo fans.
Apple iPod Nano
Editors' rating: 8.3
The good: The second-generation Apple iPod Nano takes on a new scratch-resistant aluminum body, which is available in a variety of bright and shiny colors; it's still superslender but more durable, thanks to a seamless construction. It supports photos (with thumbnail grid) and album art and has great sound quality.
The bad: The iPod Nano still doesn't play video, not that you'd want to watch it on the small screen, and there's no built-in FM tuner or recording capability; not all color options are available for all memory sizes.
The bottom line: The second-generation Apple iPod Nano is like the successful offspring of an iPod Mini and a first-generation iPod Nano. It's small, stylish, user-friendly, and competitively priced--a great player all around and suitable for a variety of users.
2007 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged
Editors' rating: 8.0
The good: The 2007 Range Rover Supercharged combines a luxurious and tech-laden cabin with torrential acceleration at higher rev bands and formidable off-road capability thanks to its Terrain Response system.
The bad: A cumbersome voice-recognition interface for the navigation system is more trouble than it's worth, and the glove box-mounted CD player is a hassle. Delayed throttle response from standing doesn't do much justice to the Rover's 400 horses.
The bottom line: The 2007 Range Rover Supercharged is an SUV that talks the talk and walks the walk. Its sumptuous interior is dripping with luxury and (some indifferently integrated) tech features. On and off the track, it blows most of the competition away.
Creative Zen Vision
Editors' rating: 8.0
The good: Beautiful wide-screen display; durable design; intuitive interface; holds up to 60GB; supports wide array of video formats; plays FM radio; supports TiVo To Go and limited movie downloads; syncs with Outlook; removable battery; CompactFlash slot is nice for photographers; good value for a widescreen PVP.
The bad: Bulky body that's just a tad heavy; no line-in audio or video recording; no kickstand; TiVo To Go requires file conversion and third-party MPEG-2 decoder; mediocre rated audio battery life.
The bottom line: The bulky but easy-to-use Creative Zen Vision:W and its nice screen will dazzle video lovers who don't require video recording.
Canon Pixma MP530
Editors' rating: 7.7
The good: Excellent print quality; fast; inexpensive consumables.
The bad: Not network ready; no media card slots.
The bottom line: The Canon Pixma MP530 is a nearly ideal all-in-one for a small office. It just lacks networking and media card slots.
Editors' rating: 7.7
The good: Excellent overall image quality, from text to photos to video; wide array of video connections, including component; fast 8-millisecond pixel-response rate; stable base.
The bad: Webcam comes with bad driver and buggy software; priced higher than competing 20-inch wide-screen LCDs.
The bottom line: The entertainment-oriented Asus PW201 offers superior image quality and an impressive collection of video connections, but it costs more than competing 20-inch wide-screen LCDs and includes a Webcam that suffers from buggy software.
Apple iMac Core 2 Duo 24-inch
Editors' rating: 7.6
The good: Giant LCD makes the iMac a home-video champ; updated specs stay competitive with the rest of the desktop PC field; expanded upgrade options available at the time of purchase.
The bad: Configurator upgrades are expensive; limited aftermarket upgradability means you won't be able to add a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive down the road; no media card reader.
The bottom line: Other vendors might offer more flexible configurations and better deals on components, and the specter of HD video looms darkly, but the 24-inch iMac's sprawling display and convincingly capable features should set most people's minds at ease. We highly recommend this new iMac as a PC that doubles as a secondary home-entertainment system.
ATI TV Wonder 650
Editors' rating: 7.5
The good: Best TV tuner image quality we've seen; offer for free remote by mail; includes media management software.
The bad: Free remote requires shipping charge; still a stop-gap measure until the next generation of TV tuners.
The bottom line: ATI's flagship TV tuner card offers the best image quality we've seen from a TV tuner card and includes over-the-air HDTV support, but it's still not as good as a direct cable-box-to-TV signal.
Apple iMac Core 2 Duo 17-inch
Editors' rating: 7.4
The good: Low price; good looks; new Core 2 Duo processor; fantastic software bundle.
The bad: No SuperDrive; configuration options are almost nonexistent; phone support lasts only 90 days.
The bottom line: The 17-inch iMac is missing a few features you might like--SuperDrive and a remote control, to name two--but it still makes a stellar home PC, thanks to its great design, new Core 2 Duo processor, and superior software bundle. Plus, its price makes it a borderline budget PC.