HTC Evo 4G LTE smartphone
$199.99 at Sprint.com;$149.99 at Amazon.com
The original Evo 4G phone from Taiwan’s HTC Corp. was one of the first serious challengers to Apple Inc.’s iPhone. Now comes the latest version, and while it’s an impressive sliver of hardware, there are reasons to be wary.
The new Evo runs Google Inc.’s Android operating system. It sports the same thin form factor as the gorgeous HTC One X currently offered by AT&T Inc. But its black plastic casing has a slightly flimsier feel. There’s been no skimping on the electronics, though. There’s a dual-core processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, a 4.7-inch screen, and a superb 8-megapixel camera that takes much better pictures than the iPhone 4S.
So why hesitate? Well, there are multiple reports of uneven reception. The phone’s exclusive carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. is investigating whether there’s a serious problem here.
Beyond that, there’s the little detail that the phone’s vaunted 4G LTE data service doesn’t work in Boston, or most other places. That’s because Sprint has only just started deploying an LTE network. So this superfast data technology will be useless to you, probably for months to come.
The same thing happened with the original Evo, which used an older 4G network that wasn’t available in many cities at launch. But it was such a good phone, most consumers didn’t care. After a few minutes with this sleek, sophisticated phone, you might feel the same.
TripIt Proonline travel organizer
$49 a year at TripIt.com
As the summer travel season cranks up, we could all use a little help keeping our plans in order. This useful service makes it easy to stay organized.
TripIt works as a website, but is also accessible through well-designed apps for mobile devices, including Apple Inc.’s iPad and iPhone, devices running Google Inc.’s Android software, and BlackBerry phones and tablets. TripIt is not a travel service like Expedia or Orbitz. Instead, you use it to keep track of the travel arrangements you make at those other sites.
Say you book a flight and rent a car at Expedia. You’ll get a confirmation e-mail. Forward it to your TripIt Pro account, and that information is now instantly viewable through the TripIt app on your smartphone or tablet. it’s also easy to add notes about events and meetings that will take place during your trip. Whether you’re planning a night on the town in New York or a business meeting in Denver, you can put all the details into TripIt. The software can even generate a map of your various destinations and serve up driving directions.
If there’s a flight delay, TripIt will warn you with a text message or e-mail; if the price of a flight drops, it will let you know. And you can automatically share your travel plays via e-mail or Facebook. With TripIt Pro, your summer travel itineraries will probably be just as exhausting, but far less confusing.
HT-SL75Sound Bar audio system, by Sharp Electronics Corp.
$248 at Walmart.com
Even first-rate television sets generally feature lousy speakers. That’s why lots of us spring for a separate home theater audio system with surround sound. These often require placing speakers in odd corners of the room. If that’s too much trouble, Sharp has a sleek and simple alternative.
The company’s Sound Bar system features a couple of thin speakers that fit nicely just below a large-screen TV, though they can also be mounted on a wall or held upright on a pair of metal stands. The speakers are plugged into an amplifier which also contains a subwoofer for deep bass audio.
Assembly isn’t difficult. But the Sound Bar’s audio quality has a thin, insubstantial quality, even with the subwoofer helping out.
The system’s effort to simulate full-fledged surround sound fell far short. Besides, these days, you can find full surround sound kits for about the same price. It’ll take more time and effort to set up those extra speakers, but you’ll get far more satisfying results than the Sound Bar delivers.