Google Maps review

Google Maps brings you a wealth of features that can help you find your way in more than 220 countries, including Street View, voice search, and turn-by-turn navigation, which makes it a valuable addition to your smartphone no matter how you're traveling.


Comprehensive yet accessible: Google Maps' greatest virtue is that it remains easy to use, despite providing complete mapping features for most places in the world, with an excellent amount of detail that often goes beyond mere street names to include images and essential information about places. It recognizes your location and allows you to effortlessly search … Read more

GasBuddy review

GasBuddy is a fully loaded application that assists you in finding inexpensive gas near you. Features like reporting gas prices and entering daily contests help create an active community of devotees.


Active members: GasBuddy relies on self-reporting to ensure its prices are accurate. Because you win prizes and awards by reporting this price information, it helps increase the amount of information you can find.

Correct prices: Our tests showed that almost all gas prices were accurate when compared to the stations, themselves, with most differences being only a tenth of a cent.

Total package: For a free application, GasBuddy … Read more

GE and Local Motors team up to make small-batch appliances

GE and Local Motors, a crowdsource design community similar to Quirky, have joined forces to create an open-source platform called FirstBuild. FirstBuild will be used exclusively for designing, testing, and producing large appliances with an emphasis on co-creation and micro-manufacturing. Basically, that means that it will make small batches of products in a hurry -- something Local Motors is known for.

Local Motors is also known for designing the $99,900 Rally Fighter pictured above in a microfactory, along with an assortment of home and vehicle accessories and, my personal favorite, this Mercedes G55 12v "car" just for … Read more

How to switch your Windows 8.1 log-in to a local account

When you configure a Windows 8.1 system the very first time, you're asked to use a Microsoft account to log in, and though you don't have to use one, it's not real clear at the time. If you used a Microsoft account to set up your Windows 8.1 PC and would like to use a local account instead, you can switch.

Using a Microsoft account does have some advantages over using a local account. For example, using a Microsoft account log-in lets you sync your settings across different Windows 8.1 PCs. You can also … Read more

Vizio's cheap E-Series TVs are brimming with local dimming

In the wake, in more than one sense of the word, of Panasonic's decision to stop making plasma TVs, there's now a hole in the TV market. It's right at the intersection of picture quality and value, a massive axle-rending divot left by the uncaring snowplow of market forces.

Absent as-yet-unannounced new plasmas from Samsung, this year it's up to LED LCD to pave the pothole. I'm pessimistic that any can reach the levels of bang/buck that the Panasonic S60 and ST60 achieved, but products like the Vizio E-Series -- with its affordable, effective … Read more

Yahoo teams with Yelp on local search, says report

Yahoo is beefing up its local-search results with the help of a Yelp partnership, according to a report.

Yahoo's search results will feature Yelp listings and reviews "in the coming weeks," an anonymous source told The Wall Street Journal.

The partnership was revealed by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer at a staff meeting on Friday, which the source attended, the Journal reported, adding that terms of the deal were unknown.

Microsoft and Apple both have similar deals with Yelp, the Journal points out. Apple shows local business listings, reviews, and photos on its mobile mapping software.

Mayer is … Read more

Vizio's 60-inch M-series offers pic quality on the cheap

Like the Vizio M551 before it, the Vizio M01 is a competent budget television with a high level of performance. It forgoes some features -- like MHL and touch-panel remotes -- and sometimes others don't work, like learning remote codes, but what the Vizio doesn't do you don't need.

Picture quality is very good for the cash, with darker black levels than some plasmas, but on the other hand the backlight's local dimming effect can be obvious. There is blooming evident on contrasting images, and it's something that more expensive local dimming TVs like the … Read more

Google+ Local hotel listings commandeered

Hotel Web site links in Google+ Local listings have been replaced by the thousands with fakes, according to a report on Tuesday.

Links that were supposed to lead directly to hotel Web sites now point to third-party booking sites. As frequent Google observer SearchEngine Land reported, URLs that were supposed to point legitimate hotel sites such as Marriott's Courtyard Los Angeles in Sherman Oaks were replaced by links to sites like courtyardmarriot.roomstobook.info. Another common URL change was to roomstobook.net. Both sites would redirect some visitors to HotelsWhiz.com.

Owners listed in public WhoIs records for roomstobook.… Read more

TVs of CES 2014 wrap: LCDs get curved, 4K, bendy...and better

LAS VEGAS -- Will it bend?

If the answer is "no," then it's probably not a TV weird enough to catch the attention of the mainstream media at CES 2014. Samsung's brilliantly bizarre bendable TV, followed closely and predictably by LG's, made the biggest splash by far among TV announcements at the show (except for this). The most amazing news to me is Samsung's follow-up that it will actually be available to buy this year. It'll probably cost six figures, but yes, it will bend.

Beyond a set with the bends, the depth … Read more

Samsung's mainstream 4K TVs do local dimming

Among the two 4K/UHD resolution LED LCD TVs we reviewed in 2013, the Samsung UNF9000 series was our favorite. The UNHU8500 is its closest match in the company's 2014 lineup.

It's available in a massive range of five sizes: 75, 65, 60, 55, and 50 inches. It arrives this April, and pricing has not been announced.

Among exotic sets like the curved HU9000 and exorbitant S9, the HU8500 is a sort of everyman's 4K resolution Samsung. Samsung says it has improved the upscaling to make 1080p and other non-4K content look better, and it also touts … Read more