You bought a pair of audiophile headphones -- now what?

If you've laid down serious cash for a great pair of headphones but they're plugged into your phone or computer, you're missing out on a lot of the sound quality you paid for. Don't get me wrong, phones and tablets can sound acceptable, but their designers didn't focus on sound quality -- that's the last thing they worry about. The cure for so-so sound is straightforward: invest in a high-performance digital converter/headphone amp, like the Cypher Labs Theorem 720. It can be used with iPhones, Android phones, or computers via USB connection with … Read more

CES 2014 battle of the budget tablet begins with $129 Acer Iconia B1-720

Expectations for budget tablets are continually increasing, and the Acer Iconia B1-720 is one of the first at CES 2014 to try to meet them. The new model, a slight upgrade from last year's Iconia B1-A71, boasts fresh features including a slimmer build, textured back, and faster internals.

The Acer Iconia B1-720 tablet ships with Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1 and houses a 1.3GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. It also packs a microSD card expansion slot and front-facing camera, as well as purportedly better sound quality and battery life.

Acer's … Read more

Will 2014 be the year of the Google Chromebook?

The new year could be the year that Google's Chromebook platform gains real traction, according to research from Digitimes.

That's the upside view of a research note published by Digitimes Research on Friday.

"Chromebook shipments may reach as high as eight million units in 2014, accounting for 5% of total notebook shipments," Digitimes Research said.

The note continued. "If Google puts more resources on the device's ecosystem and Microsoft's low price strategy fails [the above scenario could play out]."

The more pessimistic scenario (Digitimes Research is offering two scenarios) is that Chromebooks … Read more

Acer to sell touch Chromebook at fraction of Google Pixel price

Since February, when Google launched its Chromebook Pixel, there's been just one option for those seeking a Chromebook with a touch screen. It came with a high-resolution screen -- and a high price tag: $1,299.

On Tuesday, however, Acer announced a touch screen Chromebook option that's less than a quarter of the price. The latest in its new C720P Chromebook series comes with a touch screen and will go on sale early next month at Amazon, Best Buy, and the Acer Store for just $300.

It features a Haswell-based Intel Celeron processor and an 11.6-inch HD … Read more

Acer slashes $50 from C720 Chromebooks

For a while, it seemed like Chromebooks had a sweet spot of $250, so Acer rose to the challenge and priced this year's new Chromebook C720 at that level -- $50 higher than last year's C710.

On Friday, it released an updated version of the C720 -- back at $199.99.

The Acer C720-2848 Chromebook is 0.75-inch thick, weighs 2.75 pounds, sports an 11.6-inch, 1,366x768-pixel display, and matches the previous Acer C720 model. For now, it retails at Best Buy and Amazon.com. It will be in the Acer store in December, according to … Read more

Acer's Chromebook C720 leads with pseudo-Haswell core

Following last month's brief preview of four Chromebooks powered by a variant of Intel's Haswell processor, Acer is the first out of the gate with an update to the Chromebook C7.

The Chromebook C720 follows last year's Chromebook C710) with hardware that is better, but not necessarily a massive leap forward. The improved specifications are enough for Acer to charge more for the C720, which retails for $249.99 -- about $50 more than the C710.

The Chrome OS-fueled C720, which is available on Thursday for pre-order from Acer.com, Amazon.com, and BestBuy.com, doesn't … Read more

Busy fall for Apple, Xbox, and Amazon

CNET Update is out of breath:

Apple fans will have to wait until the fall for new "amazing" products, or so promises CEO Tim Cook.

Samsung fans will also be doing some waiting. The Galaxy S4 was said to hit stores this weekend, but the smartphone is facing supply issues -- and that's causing T-Mobile and Sprint to push back launch dates and only sell online. But you may be able to find one on Saturday in stores at AT&T, and on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular. [Read CNET's review here.]

For shoppers that … Read more

Nokia Lumia 720 review: Sleek, but not the best value in town

With all the Nokia Lumia phones out and about right now, it's hard to keep track of what's what. Luckily, CNET UK's Andrew Hoyle puts the Nokia Lumia 720 into perspective in his full review of the midrange smartphone.

The Windows 8 phone looks sleek and familiar, more akin to Nokia's high-end Lumia 920 than the upper-midrange 820 series. It offers more than the forthcoming 520 and budget 620, but not so much over these latter two that wallet-watchers should lose focus.

In other words, the decent camera, user-friendly interface, and bevy of Nokia-only apps do … Read more

The 404 1,246: Where we kick rocks (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- EA awarded "Worst Company in American History" for second consecutive year.

- Next Xbox won't be backward-compatible, report says.

- CNET How-to: How to make a video game patchbay.

- Warner Bros. Montreal developing Arkham City prequel starring "unrefined" Batman: Arkham Origins.

- 404 news: We're starting to break segments out into shorter clips that are easier to share. Help us blast these out to your friends, won't you? The first one is our report on the list of NSFW movies the Vatican is watching right now!… Read more

Google might be chatting with WhatsApp

CNET Update needs a smarter wrist:

Could Google be looking to buy WhatsApp? The latest report says Google is considering acquiring the app for $1 billion. At the end of 2012, it was said Facebook was talking about buying this popular messaging app. If it sells for $1 billion, that puts WhatsApp into the same category as Instagram, which sold to Facebook for the same amount.

Also in today's tech roundup:

- We might hear more about the next Xbox console in late May. Reports indicate that Microsoft pushed an April reveal back to May 21.

- Sony revealed … Read more