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SpeedX Leopard Pro Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

In March, a new bike company known as SpeedX launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The company was looking to raise $50,000 to help launch the first-ever smart aero road bike. Within two hours, the campaign surpassed the initial financing goal, going on to raise over $2.3 million from over 1,200 backers. This made it the most funded bike in Kickstarter’s history.

SpeedX was offering a high-end road bike with better components than brands such as Trek, Cannondale and Cervelo for thousands less. The campaign and product were both intriguing. I was close to becoming a backer myself, but had second thoughts. There was no way this no-name company would be able to deliver the bike on time, let alone deliver a product that lives up to the hype.

I was wrong. The SpeedX Leopard Pro is as elegant as the campaign originally promised. Even more impressive, the company will begin shipping the bike to backers this August.

The SpeedX Leopard Pro is available for preorder now through the SpeedX website for $2,500 (about £1,900, AU$3,350). A more affordable model with a slightly different components, called the SpeedX Leopard, can be had for $1,400 (about £1,000, AU$1,875). Preorders are slated to ship in September.

What are the specs?

Despite the $2,500 price tag, the SpeedX Leopard Pro seems like an incredible value. The frame and fork are made from a mix of T1000 and T800 carbon fiber. The handlebars and seat post are also made from carbon. This makes the bike incredibly light, with a weight of just over 17 pounds.

Dan Graziano/CNET

As for the groupset, it’s Shimano Ultegra Di2, which features electronic shifting. My only complaint about the bike is that it lacks disc brakes, which I prefer for better stopping power, although a few commenters were quick to point out that most racing bikes don’t include them.

The more affordable Leopard model swaps out the Ultegra groupset for a Shimano 105 groupset. The handlebars are also aluminum rather than carbon fiber, although the bike still has the same carbon frame as the more expensive model, with a weight of about 19lbs.

I’m a big fan of the overall look of the bike. Both models feature full internal wiring to give them that clean look. There’s also an integrated rear LED light that will automatically turn on when it gets dark, which I thought was a great idea.

Dan Graziano/CNET

What makes this bike smart?

You may hear the word “smart bike” and assume there’s an electric motor, but that’s not the case. What makes the Leopard smart is the built-in GPS, altimeter and speed sensors, which essentially replaces the need for a separate Garmin or Polar bike computer.

These sensors are used to measure moving time, distance, speed, altitude, cadence, calorie burn and can provide navigation. There’s also Bluetooth and ANT+ built-in for connecting a power meter or heart-rate sensor. All of this data can be viewed in real time on the 2.4-inch color screen, which can also display incoming calls and notifications when your smartphone is connected.

Dan Graziano/CNET

Post-ride data can be viewed in the SpeedX mobile app. In addition to viewing a map of the ride and all of the recorded data, the app is similar to Strava and includes online challenges and leaderboards.

What about battery life?

Yes, the bike has to be charged, but it won’t be very often. The battery, which powers the built-in display, will last up to 40 hours of continuous usage. Charging is done through a small microUSB port on the back of the bike (our model didn’t have a protective flap covering it but the company says the final ones will).

This isn’t the kind of bike you would leave outside, at least not in New York City, and it only takes 30 minutes for a full charge, but it would have been cool if you could charge it simply by pedaling.

Dan Graziano/CNET

Is it too good to be true?

I didn’t get to ride the bike for an extended period, but I was impressed with the ride in the short time I did spend with it. The electronic shifting was smooth, and it felt as if I could really get some speed on the bike. The seat wasn’t the most comfortable, but that’s pretty standard. While my first impressions were positive, further testing will be needed to make a final conclusion.

My only concern is with the company itself. While SpeedX offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and a 30-day money back guarantee on the entire purchase, this is still a company we know little about. A lifetime warranty could mean only a few months if business were to go south.

The Leopard and Leopard Pro are an incredible value. SpeedX has said it can offer these low prices by cutting out the middleman to deliver high-quality bikes cheaper than the competition, but a part of me wonders if you are better off going with a true and tested bike from a reliable brand.

Only time will tell how SpeedX and the Leopard bikes continue to perform, but it is a company I plan to keep my eye on.


Jabra Halo Smart review – CNET

The Good The Jabra Halo Smart is a sturdily built neck-band style headphone that performs very well as a headset for making cell phone calls, offers good battery life, and decent sound for music if you get a tight seal. Neckband vibrates when a call comes in.

The Bad You may not get a secure, tight seal from any of the included ear tips, which leads to a poor fit and a reduction in sound quality.

The Bottom Line While it doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from other neckband-style headphones from a design standpoint, the Jabra Halo Smart seems sturdily built, performs very well as a headset for making calls and offers decent sound quality for music if you get a tight seal.

Welcome another neckband-style headphone to the world: the Jabra Halo Smart, which retails for $80 (sorry, UK and Australian readers, no word on international pricing yet).

What’s special about it? Well, since it’s from Jabra, you’d hope it would work really well as a headset for making calls. And it does, with multiple microphones and noise reduction technology that helps tamp down ambient noise like wind. It’s also water-resistant and has very good battery life, with up to 17 hours of talk time and 15 hours of music listening.


What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It also has a few notable extra features. The ear buds adhere magnetically to each other, which keeps them from flopping around when they’re not in your ears. You end up wearing them sort of like a pendant or you can affix the buds to a spot on the neckband to eliminate any dangling altogether (the manual shows you exactly where on the neckband the tips can be pinned magnetically).

When a call comes in, there’s a vibrate feature in the neckband, and you can answer the call by pulling the ear buds apart. You then stick one or both buds in your ears.

The free Jabra Assist app for iOS and Android works with the Halo Smart. It doesn’t do all that much, but you can enable a message readout feature that allows you to hear incoming notifications. These include calendar events and incoming emails (just the subject name and subject). There’s also a “Find my Jabra” feature that allows you to locate your headset should you lose it.

Three sizes of ear tips are included, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get a tight seal and secure fit with any of them. I had to pull off a set of extra large tips from another in-ear headphone I was testing. Those bigger tips made a big difference.

The tip issue was really my only major gripe. Otherwise, the headphone performed well, and I encountered only a minimal amount of Bluetooth hiccups.


GE GTW485ASJWS review – CNET

The Good At $650, the GTW485ASJWS is one of GE’s most entry-level washers. It also boasts 13 cleaning modes and a Deep Fill feature that lets you add as much water to a cycle as you want.

The Bad Its traditional agitator wasn’t gentle on clothes.

The Bottom Line The GE GTW485ASJWS is fine if you’re looking for an affordable top-load washer — just keep in mind that its agitator isn’t forgiving when it comes to wear and tear.

The $650 GE GTW485ASJWS might be one of the simplest washing machines you can buy today. It doesn’t have a ton of advanced settings, an LED-bedazzled digital display, or on-board Wi-Fi connectivity. You won’t find a second washer tucked inside a hidden compartment like the LG Twin Wash or a built-in sink like the Samsung WA52J8700.

But what the 485 lacks in pizazz, it makes up for with a traditional agitator — something folks nostalgic for the days of laundry-past will like. The downside, of course, is that agitators tend to be tougher on fabric than the impeller-style designs you’ll find on most pricier top-loaders. It did do a decent job removing stains, though. Yes, GE’s GTW485ASJWS will do fine overall, but you might want to spend a little more for an impeller washing machine if you’re concerned about wear and tear.

A budget washing machine for laundry traditionalists
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A simpler wash

While the 485 doesn’t exactly do anything innovative in terms of design, it’s a nice looking machine considering its price. Available in a glossy white finish, it features the same 13 cleaning cycles as more expensive GE washers. They include:

  • Active Wear
  • Bulky Items
  • Casuals
    In other washer news:
    • How we test washing machines
    • The tech behind our washing machine testing
    • 16 washers to help you clean up your laundry routine
    • This Samsung washer has everything, including the kitchen sink
  • Cold Wash
  • Colors/Normals
  • Dark Colors
  • Delicates
  • Drain + Spin
  • Heavy Duty
  • Jeans
  • Speed Wash
  • Towels & Sheets
  • Whites

It also has a Deep Fill setting, which lets you add more water to a cycle. This isn’t great in terms of efficiency, but it does let you customize the fill level if you think the washer isn’t adding enough water on its own. Press the Deep Fill button at the top of the display panel either before a cycle begins or after it has finished auto-filling. Press it again to stop it.

The straightforward display features one dial each for soil level, temperature, cleaning cycles, options (this includes things like Auto Soak and Extra Spin), and stain pre-treat.

Here’s a look at the 485’s basic specs compared to other top-load washers:

Comparing washers

$650 $900 $1,200 $1,199
White White, metallic (for $1,000) Metallic, white (for $1,100) Stainless platinum
4.2 cubic feet 5.1 cubic feet 5.1 cubic feet 5.2 cubic feet
13 13 13 15
152 kWh/year 152 kWh/year 152 kWh/year 165 kWh/year
27 x 44 x 27 inches 28 x 44.5 x 29 inches 28 x 44.5 x 29 inches 27 x 46 x 29.3 inches
1 year, limited 1 year, limited 1 year, limited 1 year, limited
120V 60Hz 120V 60Hz 120V 60Hz 120V 60Hz
No Yes, Android and iPhone Yes, Android and iPhone No

The main difference here is bin capacity. Where models like the GE GTW810SSJWS, the GE GTW860SPJMC, and Samsung’s WA52J8700 all have capacities over 5 cubic feet, the 485 has just 4.2 cubic feet of space. This is mainly due to the built-in agitator, although its dimensions are also slightly smaller.


New in our buyer’s guide: All the phones (just the good ones)

It took us a while, but now that we’ve reviewed the Moto Z, we think we’re done testing flagship phones until the iPhone 7 or next Galaxy Note come out (whichever arrives first). With that in mind, we can now confidently say that the following phones belong in our buyer’s guide: the Samsung Galaxy S7, the HTC 10 and the iPhone SE. (Sorry, LG, maybe next year.) While we were at it, we also inducted the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets, since we likely them more or less equally. And, in the less-expensive realm, we added the Roku Streaming Stick in the A/V category. Head over to our buyer’s guide hub for all the details on these and many more. That’s it for now, but stay tuned — who knows what we’ll add after the next gadget-reviewing frenzy.

Source: Engadget Buyer’s Guide


GE GAS18PSJSS Top Freezer Refrigerator with Autofill Pitcher review – CNET

The Good The Autofill Pitcher is a unique feature that works well and seems practical for daily use — a rarity with top freezers. Despite the plain-looking design, the fridge feels sturdy and well-constructed.

The Bad Storage space is cramped to begin with, let alone with the Autofill Pitcher taking up space on the top shelf. Cooling performance was also pretty unexceptional.

The Bottom Line The Autofill Pitcher is a borderline ingenious fridge feature, but the GAS18PSJSS isn’t well-rounded enough to be a top pick.

As refrigerator categories go, top freezers are the least exciting. They’re safe, they’re simple and they typically miss out on the kinds of cool features and eye-catching designs you’d expect to find in fancier, French-door models.

Enter GE, which saw an opportunity to stand out by giving the $1,000 GAS18PSJSS top-freezer fridge an intriguing new feature that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s called the Autofill Pitcher, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a pitcher that the fridge will automatically fill with fresh, filtered water whenever you dock it in place on the top shelf. It’s an admittedly cool feature that works well and makes a lot of sense, especially if you already like to keep a pitcher of filtered water on hand on the fridge.

The Autofill Pitcher is appealing enough for this appliance to earn my approval, but it’s really all the GAS18PSJSS has going for it. It’s a smallish refrigerator for the price, it was fairly mediocre in our cooling tests and, like most top freezers, it isn’t anything special to look at. Autofill is worth it, but only if you can forgive this fridge’s shortcomings.

GE’s Autofill Pitcher top freezer is a glass-half-full…
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As soon as you dock the pitcher in place, Autofill will begin filling it up.

Chris Monroe/CNET

A killer filler pitcher feature

If you’re wondering why no one thought of an auto-filling water pitcher before now, you should know that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen it. The Autofill Pitcher was actually the very first project to come out of FirstBuild, which is essentially a collaborative, open-door R&D department for GE. Back then, the Autofill Pitcher was a DIY retrofit kit that you could buy and incorporate into your existing GE fridge.

“We hypothesized that people in the maker movement would be willing to take a refrigerator and drill a hole, tag on our electronics, and add this feature,” said GE director of Research and Development Natarajan “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan when I interviewed him for a piece in CNET Magazine. “It didn’t go so well. We made about 15 and we sold about 4.”

GE didn’t give up on the idea, though — and it’s a good thing. The Autofill works like a charm, filling the pitcher to the brim in about 30 seconds. And don’t worry about overflowing: The dispenser shuts off automatically when the water level hits a clever floating sensor at the top of the pitcher. There’s also a timer at play, so if the water runs for longer than usual for some reason, it’ll shut off on its own before flooding your fridge. I’d advise patience, though — if you pull the pitcher out of place halfway through a fill-up, the dispenser dribbles.

Top-freezer fridges for around $1,000

13.5 cubic feet 17.6 cubic feet 14.2 cubic feet 15.2 cubic feet
4.0 cubic feet 6.2 cubic feet 4.1 cubic feet 6.1 cubic feet
17.5 cubic feet 23.8 cubic feet 18.3 cubic feet 21.3 cubic feet
Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Stainless Steel
No Yes (+$100) No No
No Yes Yes No
399 kWh 501 kWh 363 kWh 443 kWh
$48 $60 $44 $53
$2.74 $2.52 $2.40 $2.49
$1,000 $1,200 $1,100 $1,100
$900 $1,075 $850 $900

Still, it’s a great feature, and one that makes a lot of sense if you’re already used to storing a pitcher of water in the fridge. With Autofill, you’ll never need to nag your kids or your roommate to fill it back up after emptying it.


Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys review – CNET

The Good About the size of a smartphone, the Pocket Drone’s arms fold into its frame for easy travel. It has an HD-resolution camera and auto takeoff and land, auto return and a headless mode. It can also automatically hold altitude.

The Bad The camera can’t be tilted. Battery life is the typical 6 to 8 minutes. The plastic frame feels a bit flimsy.

The Bottom Line For quick stable flights indoors or outside, the Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys is an excellent option for its features and cool, collapsible design.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

The Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys is unique among pint-size toy quadcopters because it is actually designed to put in a pocket.

With just a simple twist of each motor mount, the Pocket Drone’s propeller arms collapse into its body for travel, leaving you with just the main frame, which is essentially the size of a smartphone. The controller is about the same size, too, with control sticks that pull out and store in its body.

The design might be its most interesting selling point, but it’s not the only one. Priced at around $100 (that converts to about AU$135 and £75), the quad has an HD 720p-resolution camera in front between its bright LED headlights. Buttons on the controller snap photos and AVI video clips, and everything gets stored on the included 4GB microSD card. The quality is good, but it’s not going to rock your world, and since there’s no stabilization, the video rocks with every move. There’s no tilt, either, so you’ll only capture what’s directly in front of the drone.

A camera quadcopter that truly does slip…
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The controller also has buttons to instantly start and stop the motors, one for auto takeoff and landing and another to trigger a headless mode, so the drone will always travel forward, backward, left or right when you move the sticks in those directions, regardless of which way the front of the drone is pointed. It also has an auto return feature that basically shoots the drone directly back at you, so you’ll want to be careful when you use it. You can download the full manual to read more about its features.

Also read
  • 7 things you should know before you buy your first drone

The lightweight plastic frame feels a bit flimsy, but it held up well to crashes (I’d be careful not to sit on it, though). All of the features worked well and it can hold altitude — unlike a lot of toy drones at this price — letting you concentrate on directional flying and not keeping it from getting too high or low. Battery life is about 6 to 8 minutes from its removable 3.7V 550mAh (25C) lithium polymer battery. That’s typical for a quad like this and extra batteries are inexpensive and readily available.

For quick stable flights indoors or outside, the Pocket Drone by Odyssey Toys is an excellent option for its features and cool, collapsible design.


Volt Infinity review – CNET

The Good The Volt Infinity is comfortable to ride and the responsive motor and electric gears make setting off from a standstill quick and easy.

The Bad It doesn’t come cheap, and the design doesn’t exactly stand out.

The Bottom Line Thanks to its large wheels, nippy motor and electric gears, the Volt Infinity is a pleasure to ride on country roads or in the city centre.

Looking for a solid all-round ebike that’s well-equipped to tackle those sweeping countryside roads as well as your daily commute?

The Volt Infinity is the bike for you.

Its 20-inch frame and full-size wheels make it a comfortable ride, helped by the front suspension forks, which absorb all but the worst of East London’s potholes.

The electric motor provides plenty of assistance to your pedaling and has three power modes, selectable with two buttons on the handlebars. It kicks in quickly, which helps you get up to speed without much effort on your part. If you want to blitz through your commute without breaking a sweat, keep the assistance at maximum. Turn it off altogether if you want a proper workout.


Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Smart Connect Cradle n Swing review – CNET

The Good The Fisher-Price Cradle ‘n Swing is a flexible product that performs its basic functions well. Plus, the design is sturdy and reliable.

The Bad This thing will take up considerable space, and its extras aren’t too impressive. For the price, I want something more than the basic music and sound effects.

The Bottom Line This product isn’t a must-buy, especially for its price, but it performs reliably well and will work effectively with many children.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

Sometimes the only way to soothe a baby is by holding her. But if you want to have a life (or just some sanity), an alternative means of soothing the kid is really important. I have personal experience living at the whims of a teething child, and I’m a strong believer in buying some sort of rocker, swing or seat that’ll give parents a little relief when they need it. The question is, which one should you buy?

It’s not an easy question, in part because every child is different. Some babies like to ride in cars, some like to be rocked in cradles. But Fisher-Price’s 4-in-1 Smart Connect Cradle ‘n Swing tries to solve that problem by doing it all. I love the flexibility, but between a high price of $200 (about £150 or AU$270) and a giant frame, the Cradle ‘n Swing loses some of its appeal. It’s still worth considering, but only if you’ve already got the budget and the floor space.

Fisher-Price shoves four baby gadgets into…
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Setting up the Cradle ‘n Swing isn’t as easy as I’d hoped. It took me between 30 and 40 minutes, and by the time I’d screwed together all the metal bars and fastened the plush cushion to the bed, I needed a break.

While initial setup isn’t that big a deal, once the Cradle ‘n Swing is assembled, it’s also hard to move. This is a beast of a device, with the largest footprint of any baby-related tech I’ve tested. While it isn’t too much larger than comparable non-smart devices, I still feel like its frame could be a little more compact. Additionally, it doesn’t collapse well for travel or storage, so expect a permanent fixture in your home.


NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 gives you gaming power on a budget

After debuting the fastest high-end and mid-range video cards ever seen, the GTX 1080 and 1070, we expected a lot from NVIDIA’s new lower-tier entry, the $249 GeForce GTX 1060. And the stakes were raised even higher after AMD launched the Radeon RX 480, a $200 GPU that’s fast enough to power VR headsets (and manage some decent 1440p gaming). NVIDIA claims the GTX 1060 is even faster than the GTX 980, its premium video card from 2014. That says quite a bit about how far we’ve come in the GPU world: You no longer have to break the bank for a decent amount of gaming muscle.

As with the GTX 1080 and 1070, I tested the slightly more expensive ($299) Founders Edition of the GTX 1060. While the previous two cards looked practically identical — they’re both beefy 10.5-inch-long dual-slot GPUs — the GTX 1060 is a bit shorter at 9.8 inches. They all share the same elaborate metallic case and fan design, though, along with a premium-feeling build quality. On the back, there are three DisplayPort slots, an HDMI port and a DVI connection.

The GeForce GTX 1060 features clock speeds between 1.5GHz and 1.7GHz (in boost mode), just like the GTX 1070, and there’s also 6GB of GDDR5 RAM. Because of its slightly shorter frame, and the fact that it only needs a 6-pin power connector, the GTX 1060 might be a useful upgrade for people with tight cases and less capable power supplies. If you’re really in that spot, though, maybe just hold out until you can revamp your entire system.

3DMark (Firestrike) 3DMark 11
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Standard 10,890 / Extreme 5,715/ Ultra 2,953 X5,698
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Standard 13,918/ Extreme 7,703/ Ultra 4,110 X7,778
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Standard 15,859/ Extreme 9,316/ Ultra 5,021 X9,423
AMD R9 Fury X Standard 13,337/ Extreme 7,249/ Ultra 3,899 X,6457
AMD Radeon RX 480 Standard 10,279/ Extreme 5,146/ Ultra 2,688 X4,588

Now on to those benchmarks: The GTX 1060 performed pretty much as I expected on my system (which consists of a 4GHz Core i7-4790K CPU, 16GB of 2400Mz DDR3 RAM and a 512GB Crucial MX100 SSD on an ASUS Z97-A motherboard). It’s noticeably slower than the 1070, and slightly faster than the AMD RX 480 with 8GB of RAM. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a GTX 980 that I could use to directly test NVIDIA’s claims about the 1060 being faster, but 3DMark comparisons against similarly specced systems showed that the cards were about as fast.

4K benchmarks

Witcher 3 Hitman Doom
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 24 23 29
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 38 35 48
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 43 48 N/A
AMD R9 Fury X 35 38 N/A
AMD Radeon RX 480 20 25 35

Average frames-per-second performance in 4K with all graphics set to maximum and NVIDIA HairWorks turned off.

Unsurprisingly, the GTX 1060 isn’t much of a 4K contender. That’s a resolution that even the GTX 1070 struggled with, and honestly I wouldn’t even want to run it on the 1080. Still, it’s worth comparing the GTX 1060’s performance (if only to future-proof our benchmarks a bit). Once again, it’s slightly faster than the RX 480, but that’s kind of a moot point, since both cards delivered unplayable performance.

1440p benchmarks

Witcher 3 Hitman Doom Overwatch
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 44 44 58 60
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 60 60 55-65 60
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 N/A N/A N/A 60
AMD R9 Fury X N/A 70 N/A 60
AMD Radeon RX 480 43 45 58 60

Average frames-per-second performance in 1440p with all graphics set to maximum and NVIDIA HairWorks turned off.

When it comes to 1440p (2,560 by 1,440 pixels), my preferred gaming resolution, the 1060 was about twice as fast as it was in 4K. In some games, like Doom and Overwatch, it even managed to reach 60 frames per second, which is the gold standard for smooth performance. It was about on par with the RX 480, which came as a surprise given the 1060’s slight 3DMark lead.

Naturally, the GTX 1060 had no problems reaching 60 fps and beyond at 1080p in just about every game I threw at it. Given the amount of power it holds, that’s no surprise. It also delivered a smooth VR experience with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. There were no signs of slowdown either as I flew around space in Eve: Valkyrie or had shootouts in Hover Junkers.

While the 1060 generally outpaced AMD’s $240 RX 480 (8GB RAM version), it would likely perform similarly against the $200 RX 480 (4GB RAM) variant. Benchmarks comparing the 4GB and 8GB RAM versions of AMD’s card show very little difference between the two. So if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, the RX 480 is still your best bet. You can also add in another RX 480 down the line for even more performance, whereas NVIDIA has removed its multi-card technology (SLI) from the GTX 1060 entirely.

And if the RX 480 doesn’t cut it for you, it’s probably worth saving up and getting a GTX 1070 instead of NVIDIA’s budget GPU. GTX 1070 cards retail for around $379, and they’ll offer significantly better performance than the GTX 1060. The 1070 also supports SLI, so you can throw in another card in a year or two as games become more demanding.

Overall, the GTX 1060 is exactly what NVIDIA needed to compete against AMD’s revolutionary RX 480. But its pricing makes it a tough sell, since the 480 is a better deal and NVIDIA’s own GTX 1070 isn’t that much more expensive. Once GTX 1060 cards come down in price, though, they’ll become much more compelling.


Sony HT-NT5 review – CNET

The Good The Sony HT-NT5 gets nearly everything: right, design, features and sound for music and home theater.

The Bad Sound quality, while excellent, is not twice as good as a $400 sound bar. Setting up rear speakers is expensive and a little frustrating.

The Bottom Line The Sony HT-NT5 offers distinctive good looks, a superlative feature set and generous performance, making it our favorite sound bar for the price.

Audio equipment, and the sound bar in particular, is a little bit like local government. Everyone sees the “little people” — the street sweepers, the meter readers and so on –and everyone knows the “mayor”, but from the outside looking in it’s hard to know about the ones in the middle. Until now there haven’t been any significant soundbars between $400 and $1200 that we highly recommended.

One problem is that most soundbars, regardless of price, sacrifice sound quality in favor of form factor, so in many cases it doesn’t make sense paying over, say, $400. But there are a couple of models that manage to solve the “can’t block the TV screen or IR sensor” problem without sacrificing much performance. The Sony NT-H5 is one of these.

With a raft-load of features, reasonable future-proofing and excellent sound quality to boot, Sony offers an excellent upmarket soundbar with a plenty of flexibility. In short, the HT-NT5 is a keeper. The Sony HT-NT5 is available in the US for $799, Australia for $999 and the UK for £599.

Design and Features

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The Sony HT-NT5 is a stylish 2.1 soundbar which offers extensive connectivity and the ability to add wireless rears.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Sony manages to counter the low height requirements for a sound bar — they typically need to fit under a TV–by angling the drivers back. In this way the unit is able to incorporate a pair of two three-eighths inch drivers and two sets of silk dome tweeters. Why two sets I hear you say? The unit can be placed horizontally or vertically on a wall and it is configured in such a way so it always has one set facing towards the listening position. The bar is 42.5 inches wide and 2.5 inches when lying flat on your AV unit (about 108cm by 6.4cm).

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit comes supplied with a wireless subwoofer which includes a front ported design and a 6.5-inch driver. It’s moderately large at 7.5 inches wide by roughly 15 inches both tall and deep (19.1cm by 38.1cm).

The onscreen display mimics the company’s SongPal app, with a graphical representation of the inputs and a helpful “Wireless Rear” button at the top (of which we’ll hear more later).

Sony was one of the first hardware manufacturers to support Google Cast, and the HT-NT5 continues the trend. This extra allows you to control music from Cast-compatible audio apps on your phone or other device, and have them play through the sound bar. Even cooler, now that Chromecast Audio and other companies’ Google Cast products can support multiroom audio, the HT-NT5 can become part of a whole-home audio system, with simultaneous playback in multiple rooms from one app (a.k.a. “party mode”), for a price much lower than Sonos.

If you want to dabble in other all-you-can-eat streaming apps, Sony does provide its own proprietary SongPal Link multiroom system and Spotify Connect as well.

View full gallery

Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit comes with three HDMI ports (while many competitors don’t even offer one), each equipped HDCP 2.2 and HDR support for 4K sources.


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