Dyson DC44 Animal
I've long been a fan of Dyson's vacuums. I've yet to try a consumer vac that holds suction for as long as these things. And while the "ball" series of household vacuums are far easier to maneuver than your conventional Hoover, there's still a certain level of annoyance associated with dragging around a wheeled canister and dealing with a power plug that's never... quite... long... enough.
Enter the DC44 Animal, a new cordless machine that's absolutely perfect for city dwellers. It feels a bit like holding a flamethrower (I'm guessing -- promise!), with a battery pack and a trigger on one end, and the suction apparatus on the other. In testing, I found a full charge to last for around 15 to 20 minutes, while a recharge took between one and two hours. It ships with a variety of useful attachments, and the ball pivot at the bottom makes cornering a breeze.
Like any Dyson, it picks up an insane amount of rubbish. Pet hair, dust you didn't know existed, old Doritos -- you name it. Sadly, the $400 price tag makes it unreasonable for most. It just does. It's also fairly impractical for larger homes, where you'd need to recharge once or twice just to cover all of your floors. But if you're interested in keeping your posh Upper East Side apartment spotless -- and money ain't a thang -- there's nothing better. (Due to popular request, here is the animal I have to clean up after. His name is Gangster.)
-- Darren Murph
NUU ClickMate PowerPlus
The power woes of my iPhone 4 are legendary -- so much so that companies are now urging me to sample their wares. NUU's ClickMate PowerPlus is a battery pack akin to the PowerSleeve or the Mophie Juice Pack, but designed to work with the company's modular ClickMate system. Wraping it all together is a skeleton case allowing you to latch accessories on and off according to your need. Installation's a doddle and while it ruins the sleek lines of your phone, it's been molded together beautifully and won't ruin the line of your pants pocket.
The 1,600mAh battery is robust enough for a second full charge, which should be sufficient for nearly two days of non-stop use. Those familiar with the Logic3 PowerSleeve will be elated to see the micro-USB port being integrated perfectly into the base rather than jammed in as an afterthought, and it aggregates far less pocket lint as a consequence. In fact, the only niggle we have is that the default option is set to "on," rather than off, but given that it's a single button press to remedy the situation, we're going to let that one pass.
-- Dan Cooper
Samsung Galaxy S III
I just had to give the Galaxy S III an extended spin. It's Samsung's defining phone for 2012, after all, and arguably Android's mascot given how thoroughly Samsung dominates the platform. Getting to use the smartphone has been an eye-opener, although not in a way that would have me tossing my Galaxy Nexus -- and no, not necessarily my iPhone, either.
Technically, it's superb. How can you not like that giant screen, the 19Mbps downloads that I got on Rogers' LTE network? While I do prefer the HTC One X among giant Android phones from a pure design standpoint, the Galaxy S III's plastic shell has its own charms. The pebble blue color is at once distinctive and endearing, if a bit smudge-prone. Some credit also has to be given for a few key TouchWiz additions: I really like the quick settings in the notification bar as well as the burst shot and Smart Stay extras, even if those last two aren't switched on by default.
However, Samsung's phone wouldn't be my first pick. It's just. Too. Big. I have normal-sized hands and don't have much trouble with the 4.65-inch Galaxy Nexus, but the 4.8-inch Galaxy S III somehow breaks my limits. It really needs two hands, and I found myself accidentally launching apps with my palm if I reached too far with one hand. Say what you will about the iPhone 5's smaller screen and resolution, but I'd pick that if I were regularly carrying a bag in one hand while checking Twitter from the other.
When you include the slightly sub-par camera quality, some questionable features (S Voice pales in comparison to Google Now or Siri) and the usual questions surrounding timely updates for customized Android builds, it's no wonder I'm a bit disillusioned. Forget the removable battery and microSD slot: for non-stock Android, I'd pick the better-built, more practical One X over the Galaxy S III, every time.
-- Jon Fingas