The Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $300: RTi A1 By Polk

These RTi A1 speakers from Polk Audio are perhaps the best bookshelf speakers that can be purchased for under $300. They have an excellent sound that rivals speakers costing many times more. Robert J. Reina from Stereophile Magazine had this to say about the speakers:

I enjoyed every minute I spent with the RTi A1. The speaker’s greatest strengths — the natural and detailed midrange, the excellent bass extension — are unheard of at this size and price, and its minor deviations from neutrality have been so carefully thought out and balanced that I wanted to mine my entire record collection, playing more and more different types of music.

A total of 32 reviewers on Amazon rated them an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

The RTi A1 speakers from Polk Audio are available from Amazon for about $270.

Another excellent speaker brand is Bower and Wilkins. If your bookshelf speaker budget is around the $500 range, you might want to check out the Bower and Wilkins multimedia speakers.

Top Rated All-In-One Color Inkjet Printers

Listed below are the top rated All-In-One Inkjet Printers, based on our survey of reviews at CNET, PrinterInfoCom, Amazon and PC Magazine. Our selection criteria included how a printer fares in both professional reviews and customer feedback. Importantly, consumers can report on printer longevity, something the experts working briefly with test units aren’t able to do.

Companies that stand by their printers boost our confidence in the quality of their products. PCWorld published a Reliability and Service Survey in late 2010 in which respondents rank Canon #1, followed closely by Brother and Epson. PC Magazine’s Printers Service & Reliability Survey of 2009 also puts Canon at the top.

Warranties are far less difficult to quantify than customer satisfaction and support. For color inkjet all-in-ones, warranties range from one year (all major brands) to five years (some Lexmark models). For brands that offer varying warranty lengths—such as Lexmark and Brother—the general rule is that the more expensive models receive longer warranties.

 

Canon PIXMA MX882

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: Editors’ Choice – 4.5/5.0
  • Amazon: 4.5/5.0 (150+ reviews)
  • PrinterInfo.com: Best Printers – #4

Canon’s customer service and product reliability ratings are exceptionally high. Not surprisingly, several of Canon’s PIXMA series of multifunction printers appear on expert “best lists” and are rated highly by customers. The Canon PIXMA MX882 is one prominent example. This printer’s print quality is above average, its speed is good, and its front panel controls are excellent. It has autoduplex printing to save paper as well as hassle. There are five ink cartridges: black, gray, cyan, magenta, and yellow—so you only have to replace the color that has been depleted. Reviewers are very happy with the life of each cartridge. The manufacturer’s warranty is one year.

You can purchase the Canon PIXMA MX882 on Amazon for around $150.

 

Epson WorkForce 845

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4.0/5.0
  • PC Magazine: 4.0/5.0 (WorkForce 840)
  • Amazon: 4.5/5.0 (250+ reviews) (WorkForce 840)

More expensive than the PIXMA MX882, the Epson WorkForce 845  is also much faster — better suited for homes or small offices with high volume printing needs. The WorkForce 845 print quality is said to be first-rate, and its 7.8” touchscreen interface is a pleasure to use. Like the PIXMA MX882, you’ll save money thanks to this all-in-one’s five separate ink tanks. The WorkForce 845 also features autoduplexing. Epson’s customer satisfaction and support ratings are well above average and the manufacturer’s warranty on this printer is one year.

You’ll find the Epson WorkForce 845 for sale on Amazon for about $150.

 

The Top Rated LED & LCD TVs For 2012

We’ve consulted expert reviews on CNET, PC Magazine, Consumer Reports and PC Magazine to compile this list of the top rated LCD and LED TVs.

Note that we feature 55-inch TVs, but you’ll find additional sizes within each television’s series. You can expect virtually identical performance within any series of a given manufacturer.

The top rated inexpensive TVs for 2012 are: Samsung LN32D550 32-Inch ($475) and the LG 42LV3500 42-Inch ($530).

Samsung UN55D8000 ($2,179)

Samsung UN55D8000

Samsung UN55D8000

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “The design is a spectacular success”
  • 3D TV Buying Guide: 9.2/10.0 “The dual sided remote control is one of the standout features”
  • SlashGear: “If your wallet can accommodate it, the Samsung UN55D8000 is unlikely to disappoint”

The Samsung UN55D8000 LED TV looks stunning even when it’s turned off. This television has an super-thin frame that is hardly noticeable when the screen is off and virtually disappears when the display is on. Picture quality is excellent, with great depth, sharp lines, and rich color. As with all LED TVs, there are some issues with color and black-level uniformity, however, the UN55D8000 is not one of the bigger offenders in this regard. Standard definition sources are well-represented, and its 3D capability is superior to most in its class. The backlight is capable of very high brightness levels. The UN55D8000 has myriad picture adjustments.

The included remote has a backlit, traditional layout on one side, and a QWERTY keyboard on the flip side. The keyboard side has a small screen for keeping track of typing without having to glance at the TV. It also features navigation controls for web browsing. The onscreen interface is best-in-class, with easy-to-read text and plenty of contextual explanations. Wi-Fi is built in to the UN55D8000 and there are many streaming services and applications available (Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and Twitter to name some). Inputs are 4 HDMI, 3 USB, 1 Composite, 1 Component, 1 VGA, and 1 Ethernet.

Purchase the 55-inch UN55D8000 on Amazon. This television is also available in 46-inch, 60-inch, and 65-inch versions. Note that the 65-inch version does not have the super-thin bezel.

 

Vizio XVT553SV ($1,400)

Vizio XVT553SV

Vizio XVT553SV

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: 4.0/5.0 “Top-notch HDTV tech, wireless and wired connectivity, loads of Web apps, and very good HD picture quality”
  • Consumer Reports: 74/100 “It did an excellent job displaying the finest detail in high-definition content”
  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “The remote and menus of the XVT3SV series were among the best we’ve used, and surpass in many ways the efforts of more well-known brands”

The Vizio XVT553SV is an LCD TV with full-array LED backlighting and local dimming. While there are some issues with off-angle viewing and blooming—when lit panels leak light into unlit panels—overall the XVT553SV delivers black levels and color accuracy to rival much more expensive televisions. The XVT553SV really does well in brightly-lit environments, where its combination of strong backlighting and matte screen deliver a picture that isn’t washed out. There are a slightly above-average number of picture adjustment settings. 3D is not available, but the XVT553SV’s standard definition performance is very good.

Inputs include 5 HDMI, 1 Composite, 1 Component, 1 VGA, 1 RF, 3 USB, and 1 Ethernet—a generous selection. The bundled remote control is a highlight; it has a full slide-out keyboard, Bluetooth connectivity, and it does a good job playing the role of universal controller for all your devices. Wi-Fi is built-in to the XVT553SV. It is able to connect to services such as Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu Plus, and Pandora.

You’ll find the 55-inch Vizio XVT553SV for sale on Amazon. This television is also available in 47-inch, 37-inch, and 32-inch versions.

 

LG Infinia 55LW5600 ($1,450)

LG Infinia 55LW5600

LG Infinia 55LW5600

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: 4.5/5.0 “Inky blacks, excellent color quality, low power usage, and a robust feature set all help to make the 47LW5600 our latest Editors’ Choice 3D TV”
  • PC World: 4.0/5.0 “You’ll find very little to quibble about with this handsome 1080p HDTV”
  • TelevisonInfo.com: “A solid LCD TV that has excellent color and internet performance”

The LG Infinia 55LW5600 is a matte-screen LED TV with 3D capability. Its housing is a reserved, glossy black. Picture quality is terrific, with deep blacks and rich colors. There is some blooming caused by local dimming. The matte finish screen greatly reduces glare (compared to glossy screens); as a result, the 55LW5600 does very well in bright rooms. The 55LW5600 employs passive 3D technology. Passive 3D glasses do not need a power source to work; active 3D glasses do. Passive 3D glasses weigh less, cost less, and tend to produce less eye fatigue. Passive 3D also displays images at half the resolution of active 3D, so there is often a noticeable drop in 3D picture quality. Standard definition programs are well-represented. Connectivity options are HDMI (4), Composite (2), Component (1), USB (2), VGA (1), and Ethernet (1). A Wi-Fi dongle is included.

Reviewers really like the control systems of the 55LW5600. The on-screen menus are fast and logical, plus there are a plethora of picture adjustments. The internet and multimedia experiences are good, with a solid selection of apps and a decent web browser. The system is bundled with two remotes: one standard and one motion control. The motion controller responds to input aimed at the screen and is useful for most performing most functions, including web navigation.

The 55-inch LG Infinia 55LW5600 is for sale on Amazon. It’s also available in a 47-inch size.

The Top Rated Anti-Keylogging Software Of 2011

The Top Rated Anti-Keylogging Software Of 2011:

It’s no stroke of genius. Simply getting effective anti-keylogging software for your PC can protect you from having your keystrokes (keyboard strokes) logged by cyber criminals. Logging keystrokes is one way keyloggers can obtain a PC user’s sensitive information like user accounts, banking, and other personal information. Some keyloggers even have the ability to record VoIP (Voice over Internet) telephone calls, take pictures of the computer screen or control a webcam allowing them to stake out a user’s belongings.

In evaluating how effective particular anti-keylogging software is, a user should consider its ease of use, how reliable and consistent its protection will be, and whether it has a full range of system defenses (for example, anti-screenshot logger, anti-webcam logger and protection when conducting online banking and bill pay). Consumers might also consider what the manufacturer is offering in terms of product upgrades and technical support. Note keylogging is one of a range of threats that proper antivirus software, per se, protects against.

We consulted review source like CNET, PC Magazine and AV-Test to find the top rated Anti-Keylogging Software:

Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper 2011

Webroot Antivirus with Spy Sweeper 2011 ($49.99)

Pros:

  • Especially good at detecting and removing keyloggers
  • All signature updates install automatically
  • Extremely effective multi-layered protection system

Cons:

  • Time taken to scan some malware infested systems

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: 4.5 out of 5 stars; “Editor’s Choice”; “this application was worth the wait”
  • CNET: Average user rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars, out of 84 votes
  • AV-Test: 5 out of 6 stars for “Cleaning and repair of malware-infected computer”

Webroot Antivirus has a user interface that emphasizes simplicity. And you won’t have to worry about the signature updates, as they download and install automatically. Updates to program modules also happen in the same way. Webroot automatically scans your system for malware when the system is idle, and applies all of its malware-smashing technologies during a full scan. Over a dozen “shield” modules work to give you real-time protection. The PC Magazine reviewer claimed that Webroot was especially effective in tests for detecting keyloggers.

Webroot Antivirus is available from Amazon.

Ad-Aware Pro Internet Security

Ad-Aware Pro Internet Security ($39.95)

Pros:

  • Very effective at keeping malware out of clean systems
  • Quite effective at preventing installation of commercial keyloggers
  • Very successful at recognizing threats on sight
  • Speedy full scan

Cons:

  • Some threats still running after Ad-Aware reported removing them

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: 4 out of 5 stars
  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars; “the program continues to grow in the right direction”

PC Magazine’s reviewer reported Ad-Aware as being quite effective at preventing installation of commercial keyloggers. Although, CNET claimed that the user can’t view other parts of the program when a scan is in progress; that the scan itself lacks a progress meter or a pause button. However, PC Magazine also reported it as leaving behind a fair amount of malware traces, with some threats still running after Ad-Aware reported removing them. PC Magazine reported Ad-Aware as detecting most malware threats.

Users will see the interface begins in simple mode, showing only the most essential controls and status items. You will have to switch to advanced mode to change any settings. Besides the basic full and smart scans, you can create a user-defined scan profile.

It’s available from Ad-Ware directly or Amazon.

BitDefender Antivirus Pro 2011

BitDefender Antivirus Pro 2011 ($39.95)

Pros:

  • Has an impressive collection of bonus features that enhance security
  • Tech support is built right into BitDefender
  • Well-implemented private data control

Cons:

  • Average ability in removing commercial keyloggers
  • Mixed results from independent test labs

Review Sources:

  • AV-Test: 6 out of 6 stars for “Protection against malware infections”
  • PC Magazine: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • CNET: Average user rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars, out of 134 votes
Users get an abundance of bonus features with BitDefender Antivirus Pro 2011. It offers security protection at a level usually found in full suites only. BitDefender also offers you three very different user interface views: basic, intermediate, and expert. While BitDefender automatically runs a full scan any time the system has been idle for half an hour; if you’re suspicion is aroused a fast cloud-based quickscan is available. CNET reported that BitDefender scored average against commercial keyloggers. On the positive, it claimed BitDefender gives you the capability to tailor your antivirus protection; such as, setting it to display as much or as little detail as you like and place your own most-used items on the toolbar.
Bitdefender is available from Amazon.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011 ($59.95)

Pros:

  • Utilizes effective, multi-layered approach to block malware
  • Can create a bootable rescue CD or USB drive for malware cleanup when the system won’t boot
  • Above industry average for blocking malware

Cons:

  • Scored low on detection of commercial keyloggers
  • Some user reviews reported a slow full scanning process
  • Comparatively more expensive than higher rating software

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: Average user rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars, out of 459 votes
  • AV-Test: 5.5 out of 6 stars for “Protection against malware infections”
  • PC Magazine: 3.5 out of 5 stars; “Attractive easy interface”

Kaspersky’s user interface is easy to follow. While you won’t find a “results page” like many other products, you can click a Reports link to view results. It has a Safe Surf feature which totally blocks access to websites known to host malware; even if the site you’re on is safe Kaspersky will block malicious files on download. New in the 2011 edition, you get System Watcher which lets the product identify malicious software based on specific behaviour patterns. AV-Test reviewers point out that Kaspersky ranked in the top three for both malware detection and malware blocking. And a bonus to US users — U.S.-based phone and live chat support is free for all Kaspersky users.

Karpersky’s Anti-Virus is available from Amazon.

Panda Antivirus Pro 2011

Panda Antivirus Pro 2011 ($50.95)

Pros:

  • The Virtual keyboard foils keyloggers
  • Rated highly in detecting keyloggers
  • Scored well in blocking malware infections

Cons:

  • Rated poorly in removing keyloggers
  • Firewall vulnerable to a simple attack

Top Review Sources:

  • AV-Test: 5 out of 6 stars for “Protection against malware infections”
  • PC Magazine: 3.5 out of 5 stars; “Good malware detection”

The main window displays just enough information to let you know your security is as it should be…or not. Panda’s scan automatically handles viruses and other high-risk items, disinfecting if possible, deleting if not. Reviewers claim that Panda detected a higher percentage of threats than many of its competitors, but that it didn’t thoroughly remove what it found. PC Magazine reported that Panda closely guarded all the routes malware might take to enter your system. But, PC Magazine also commented that it didn’t apply the same level of scrutiny when performing on-access scans of files already in the system. PC Magazine testing found that malware writers could potentially cripple Panda’s firewall. While AV-Test reviewers reported above industry results in “detection of deliberately hidden active malware”.

Panda Antivirus is available from Amazon.

Cheatsheet: The Top Rated Sports And Outdoor Equipment For 2011

Here is our list of the top rated Sports and Outdoor Equipment of 2011. The review sources we consulted were: Bicycling Magazine, Road Bike Review, Bike Rumor, MTBR.com, Backpacker Magazine, Outdoor Magazine, REI customers, and Amazon buyers.

Cycling

Cycling With Kids

Camping & Hiking

Running

Sport Gadgets