This list brings the cream of the crop together in one place. New to the list for summer 2012 are the Nexus 7 tablet, the latest Barnes & Noble Nook and the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Compare reviews: http://reviews.cnet.com/must-have-gadgets/?tagnewspapers.
Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight
The good: The integrated light in the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight displays uniformly across the high-contrast Pearl e-ink touch screen and is a killer feature for nighttime reading for couples who share a bed. The touch screen is ever so slightly more responsive, and there’s built-in Wi-Fi for direct access to the online Barnes & Noble store, as well as an expansion slot for additional memory, and long battery life. The Nook supports e-book lending and EPUB loans from libraries, doesn’t show ads, and it offers some enhanced social-networking features.
The bad: Like the Nook Simple Touch, this model has no support for audio, no 3G option and no Web browser. The rubberized finish on the back of the device attracts fingerprints.
The cost: $139
The bottom line: The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight sets the standard for e-ink e-readers going forward and is well worth the extra money if you do a lot of nighttime reading.
Google Nexus 7
The good: The Nexus 7’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor delivers fast performance and a beautiful and responsive screen. Also, it’s comfortable to hold and Android 4.1 brings a surplus of welcome additions. At only $200, the Nexus 7 is a steal.
The bad: The lack of built-in expandable storage and omission of HDMI are disappointing, and the design follows the plain, black tablet mold. The top and bottom bezels are a bit too thick.
The cost: $199
The bottom line: With a beautiful screen, fast performance, a comfortable design and overall great media options, the Nexus 7 is easily the best 7-inch tablet available and one of the top tablets on the market.
The good: The Roku HD is an extremely small Wi-Fi streaming-media box that costs only $60. It offers dozens of streaming video and audio services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Pandora, Mog, Rdio and MLB.TV. PC- and Mac-based media can be streamed via the Plex app. The Roku HD can be connected to HDTVs or older analog TVs.
The bad: The Roku HD currently lacks Vudu and YouTube channels, which are found on most competing products. There’s also no Ethernet port, so you’ll need a solid Wi-Fi signal in your home theater.
The cost: $59.99 to $69.98
The bottom line: With its ability to stream hundreds of audio and video channels (including Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus), the $60 Roku HD would be our top pick for those seeking an ultra-affordable Internet media box — if not for the fact that it’s nearly identical to the slightly cheaper Roku LT.
Samsung Galaxy S III
The good: The Samsung Galaxy S3 comes fully loaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 4G LTE/HSPA+ 42 capability, a zippy dual-core processor and a strong 8-megapixel camera. S Beam is an excellent software enhancement, and the handset’s price is right.
The bad: The Galaxy S3’s screen is too dim, and Samsung’s Siri competitor, S Voice, disappointed.
The cost: $189.99
The bottom line: Pumped with high-performing hardware and creative software features, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is an excellent, top-end phone that’s neck and neck with the HTC One X.