From the rumors to the unveiling to the in-store debut, iPhone chatter seemed to dominate the month of September. But technology does not live on the iPhone alone, and plenty of other gadgets hit the scene during back-to-school time. Here's what we loved most.
The Kindle Fire HDX is a big step forward compared to its forebears. It's got a sleek redesign, blazing fast guts, and a few new tricks. Most of all, though, it's the best small tablet you can buy. Movie- and TV-watching on the HDX is revelatory. Between the beautiful screen (if it's playing high-quality content, e.g. Prime or anything hi-res and native), the booming sound, and the hand-comfort afforded by the tablet's angled back, you'll wonder why you bother with a TV. The HDX isn't just a pretty face, or a set of powerful pipes, it's the whole portable package. With a starting price of $230, the HDX is set up squarely against the Nexus 7, and on most fronts the HDX wins. [More]
If you like really big phones, or phones you can scribble on with a stylus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the best one out there. First off, it's got the best-performing, brightest display of any mobile phone. It's clad in a surprisingly satisfying leather-esque back that looks good, grips your hand nicely, and still pops off for battery and SD card access. The S Pen software, while not as fast or accurate as a touchscreen keyboard, has some pretty neat tricks, like direct dialing a phone number you just jotted into a note. Big phones aren't for everyone, but while this isn't the perfect phone (audio quality is disappointing, and the circa-$300 on-contract price is steep), it's the best choice if you want it big. [More]
The big news in cellphoneland was the introduction of not one, but two new iPhones — the upgraded 5S and the colorful, plastic-clad 5C. We took a good hard look at both, and decided that unless you really love the colors or really need to save $100, you should probably go with the 5S. It may look the same as last year's (goldpagne and space gray colors notwithstanding), but the small additions to the S model just make it stand out more than the 5C, which is basically last year's phone in this year's colorful shell. [More]
Battery life is important in any phone decision, but if you absolutely need longevity, perhaps at the slight expense of svelte dimensions, Motorola's Droid Maxx is the marathoner you're looking for. Motorola claims it'll last for 48 hours, and while it came 6 hours shy in our hands, that's still damned impressive. The Droid Maxx is a little heftier than its competitors, and costs about $100 more than most of its Droid competitors. If $300 is worth the peace of mind of up-all-night battery life, the Maxx is for you. [More]