An undated handout photo of Motorola's Droid Razr Maxx HD. The Maxx HD is an updated and reissued version of Moto's flagship Droid Razr Maxx. (Handout via The New York Times) -- NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH STORY SLUGGED CIR-GEEK-NOTES. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED.

Handout, New York Times

World of Gadgets: An Android does what the iPhone does not

  • November 3, 2012 - 8:51 PM

Droid Razr Maxx HD, $300,

Motorola's flagship Droid Razr Maxx has been updated and reissued as the Droid Razr Maxx HD as the Google unit continues to aim for the iPhone's soft spots.

At the top of the list is battery life. The Razr Maxx HD claims 21 hours of talk time. The Maxx HD also has the Google goodies that were banished from the iPhone, like Google Maps and Google Talk, and it uses the speedy Google Chrome as its default browser. It also has the latest YouTube app, which you won't find on the iPhone.

It will be among the first Android phones to upgrade to the Jelly Bean operating system at the end of the year. Jelly Bean will add Google Now, an app that learns how a phone is used and provides alerts based on where the user is and what that person is doing; voice search, which is Google's version of Siri; and actionable notifications, which provide shortcuts for dealing with alerts.

It's available only at Verizon, for $300 with a two-year contract.


Hexbug Scarab and Spider XL,

$40 each,

Remote-controlled cars, trucks and helicopters are common these days. Insects, on the other hand, are relatively new on the scene.

The Hexbug Scarab XL and Spider XL are big-brother editions of their tiny button-cell counterparts, with many more features. The translucent plastic robots come in several colors. You can observe the fascinating gear-driven mechanics of each leg being activated to create motion.

Of the two, the Spider, which is powered by AAA batteries, is the more sophisticated. It has an LED eye on a head that turns like a gun turret, allowing it to move in a complete circle. But the faster Scarab, which uses AA batteries, can pop from its back to its feet if it is placed upside down.

The remote control, powered by a single 9-volt battery, makes steering easy. It offers three forward speeds (slow, medium and fast) and one reverse speed. Its two channels allow multiple bugs to be operated independently or at the same time.

The Scarab XL is in stores now, and the Spider XL is due out at the end of November.


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