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2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L First Drive Review: A three-row SUV worth the wait

When you arrive late, you can either slink in through the back door, or make a dramatic entrance: Jeep chose the latter. The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L may be the first three-row of its lineage, but arrives to a crowded market of strong rivals. That it manages to stand out among that group is a testament to just how big an improvement this SUV is over its predecessors.

The three-row SUV space is big. Huge, in fact. Almost 75-percent of the full-size SUV segment is made up of six- or seven-seaters, and the fact that Jeep wasn’t competing there had become a liability.

It’s notable, then, that the all-new Grand Cherokee starts out with this three-row model. There’ll be a two-row version eventually, and indeed an electrified Grand Cherokee (also with two-rows), but Jeep is pulling out all the stops to court the audience that’s actually opening its wallet.

Pricing kicks off at $36,995 for the Laredo 4×2, with 4×4 a $2k upgrade on each trim. The Limited 4×2 is $43,995, the Overland 4×2 is $52,995, and the Summit 4×2 is $56,995. Jeep’s flagship 2023 Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4×2 starts at $61,995; expect to pay $1,695 destination on each.

There’s no mistaking it for anything other than a Jeep. From the seven-bar grille, to the high shoulder-line, to the short overhangs and rear-drive proportions, the Grand Cherokee L’s heritage is clear.

Familiarity, though, is no drawback here. I think the new Grand Cherokee L is very much color dependent: with some hues, the truncated grille segments look a little odd, but with its LED lighting front and rear and the optional blacked-out roof it’s distinctive and crisp among the big SUV competition. Lest you forget what it is, or where it’s made, Jeep makes sure to slap a big name-badge across the doors, and an American flag.

Pride in a good product, though, can’t be argued with. On that level, it’s tough to speak ill of this new Jeep. There are two engines, starting with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 on the Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit. It’s good for 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, rated for 6,200 pounds of towing, and is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard. 2WD models are rated for 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 combined; the 4WD version drops a point on the city and highway numbers, but keeps the same combined rating.

Optional on the Limited, Overland, and Summit 4×4 trims is a 5.7-liter V8. That bumps power to 357 hp and torque to 390 lb-ft, and nudges towing capacity to 7,200 pounds. It’s rated for 14 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined.

There are three all-wheel drive configurations, too: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II. Quadra-Trac I has a single-speed active transfer case, and can push up to 100-percent of power to the front or rear axles. Quadra-Trac II adds a two-step active transfer case, has improved low-range performance, and is standard on the Overland. Finally, Quadra-Drive II has a two-speed active transfer case and rear electronic limited-slip differential: it’s optional on the Overland 4×4 with the Off-Road Group package, and standard on the Summit.

At the same time, there’s also Jeep Quadra-Lift air suspension, also standard on the Overland. That can adjust the ride height across 4.2 inches, including dipping the Grand Cherokee L down to make loading and unloading easier.

Jeep is, understandably, keen to prove its new model is no pretender when it comes to the rough stuff. The result was an off-road course tougher than any luxury SUV will ever face in typical use: jagged and haphazard rock piles, unruly log piles, and chassis-testing twist fields. As I crept adeptly through with the aid of spotters I concluded it was a textbook example of overkill – Jeep happily agrees that basically nobody will use those capabilities in practice – and evidence of just how useful the front-facing camera is, even if owners only ever use it to avoid parking lot curbs.

It’s compliant but not squishy, partly down to Jeep’s efforts to keep curb weight about the same as the smaller outgoing model. That same stiffness that leaves the SUV so capable on the off-road course also leaves it stiff and reassuring on asphalt: there’s no body twist to unsettle or leave those in the third row feeling seasick.

With the V8’s 357 horses it’s fast but not especially sporting. The engine sounds distant and muffled; there’s none of the hearty grunt that eight cylinders typically aim for. Straight-line speed is ample and the refined tuning means there’s minimal body roll come the corners, but even in sport mode the Grand Cherokee L feels focused on comfort.

I suspect that’s the right decision on the part of Jeep’s designers. As, too, was their focus on the cabin: this interior feels a level above anything we’ve seen from the company in memory. Layout, trim choices, and technology all punch above their weight and, indeed, the Grand Cherokee L’s price tag.

For maximum-lavish you’ll want the Summit Reserve, which has double-diamond stitched leather, massage seats, waxed walnut wood accents, a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, and heating/ventilation for both the first and second rows. Even the more attainable trims, though, feel considered and refined. Jeep’s 8.4 or 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 touchscreens are large and responsive, there’s real metal trim – albeit a little more hard plastic below the interior belt line – and the switchgear strikes a great balance between sturdy and special.

The new infotainment system is a nice improvement. Uconnect has been capable and fast for the last couple of generations, but a little overwhelming in its interface. For this fifth-gen version, Jeep revamped the graphics and made customization easier: you can drag shortcuts to the top bar for persistent access to things like the surround camera, rearrange the home screen with widgets to avoid so much menu-hopping, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto coexist more harmoniously with Uconnect 5 than is the case with most infotainment systems.

Alexa is built-in, and the center console screen plays nicely with the standard 10.3-inch digital cluster and optional 10-inch head-up display. You may have to spend a little time setting it all up initially, but the Grand Cherokee L supports multiple driver profiles for easy recall. Sadly there’s no profile sync across Jeep’s cloud, and while the redesigned owners app is faster and looks much improved, you can’t remotely configure the infotainment with it yet.

It’s not just glitter that Jeep gets right, though. The basics, like space and room for cargo, are pitch-perfect too. There are 6- and 7-seat configurations – the former with plush captain’s chairs in the second row – but even those relegated to the third row won’t be too disappointed. Jeep promised it was sized for adults and sure enough that’s the case: at 5’8 my knees weren’t around my chin and my head was still some way from the roof, and 6+ footers were similarly accommodated.

Getting in there, too, is straightforward with the tip-and-slide seats. The second and third rows will drop down, of course, including the second row center console in 6-seat versions, for a big, flat load floor. With all the seats up there’s 17.2 cu-ft to play with; that expands to 46.9 and 84.6 cu-ft as the two rows drop down.

For towing, the V6 is rated for up to 6,200 pounds, and the V8 up to 7,200 pounds. With a sizable boat hooked up to the back – and coming close to that maximum limit – it’s impressive just how little impact it has on the Grand Cherokee L’s acceleration, handling, or braking. Were it my boat I probably would’ve taken Jeep’s slalom a little more sensibly, which goes to show both the capability of the SUV and why you should never loan me your boat.

As for times when you don’t want to drive, there’s a slight stumble. Adaptive cruise is standard, along with lane management, front and rear parking alerts, blind spot warnings, rear cross path alerts, and forward collision warnings with auto-brake, and you can add on night vision and a 360-degree camera. Jeep’s Hands Free Active Drive Assist, though, won’t be ready until after the Grand Cherokee L is in dealerships, and while the SUV supports over-the-air software updates you won’t be able to retroactively add that feature to models without it. If you want the ability to drive on highways without your hands on the wheel, you may want to wait a little longer.

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Review: Hyper’s Istick, The First Usb Drive W/ Integrated Lightning Connector

While most of my content goes straight to the cloud these days and is usually easily accessible to move around, download or stream from any of my devices, I still found myself getting a lot of use out of Hyper’s new iStick. It’s one of the first made-for-iPhone USB flash drives that also includes an integrated Lightning connector to easily transfer content to and from the device to others. Hyper’s companion app is what makes the experience more than just storage, however…

The iStick is much like your standard USB thumb drive, but a small switch allows you to expose either the standard USB connector (the one that will connect to your computer) or the integrated Lightning connector (which connects to your iPhone or iPad). The overall build quality of the all-plastic design feels solid enough, and I didn’t have any fears of the switch breaking after using it regularly for the last month or so.

The key to iStick is the companion app of the same name. It presents users with four main options on launch: iPhone for accessing local files, iStick for viewing files on the drive, Contacts for backing up and restoring address book contacts, and Photo Library for backing up photos from your iPhone to the drive.

Most of these functions work great. Backing up photos is as simple as you’d hope and lets you select multiple photos at once while viewing your iPhone’s camera roll and other photo folders. The iStick function lets you view files you’ve dumped on the drive and easily stream music and movies or open documents in other apps. With all the cloud services many people use for storage these days, there’s still no cloud solution to carrying several GBs worth of movies or other content and being able to stream it on a plane or other location where internet access isn’t available or reliable (not to mention how that would impact your data cap). That alone might be worth the cost of the premium iStick demands over the typical USB drive.

The Contacts feature, which lets you backup and restore contacts on the iPhone, is also super easy to use and worked without hiccups in my time with the device.

One great use for the iStick is making back ups of important files when backing up to the cloud isn’t possible or convenient. The experience is somewhat frustrating when you want to transfer files from your iOS device onto the drive, however. It’s mostly Apple’s fault, to be fair, as the iStick has no way of tapping into iOS and displaying all available files on local storage (those that you saved from apps like Pages and other content storage and creation apps). That means to transfer files from iPhone to the iStick drive, you have to first manually use the iOS “Open in another app” feature to transfer the file to the iStick app. For a document in Pages, that means 5 taps to transfer a single document to the iStick app and no option for transferring multiple files at once. Other apps might not even support the feature. It’s not ideal if you were planning on using the iStick to dump a large number of files from a specific iOS app.

That app design leaves a bit to be desired, but all the functions for moving, copying, renaming and organizing files you’d expect are present. There’s also an option in the app to format and wipe the drive clean with one tap (and a confirmation to avoid accidents).

If streaming content you don’t want taking up space on your device is your motiivation, the company says the app’s hardware accelerated video decoder supports a wide variety of non-iOS native video formats like MP4, M4V, MPV, MOV, MPG, MKV, AVI, WMV, RMVB, FLV, 3GP, GIF.”

For me in most situations using my Synology Diskstation NAS or other cloud services to sync, store, share, and stream content is my go-to solution, but without an internet connection that strategy becomes useless. I’ve also been known to carry a physical copy of important projects when traveling or on the go just in case the cloud gives me a problem when arriving at my destination. That’s also now an option for iOS projects or presentations with the iStick, allowing me to leave my Mac at home. When the cloud won’t cut it, iStick might be the only option.

Hyper’s iStick is available now in 8GB ($80), 16GB ($100), 32GB ($140), 64GB ($200), and 128GB ($350) in both black and white.

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Lumsing Grand A2 Plus 13,400Mah Power Bank Review

Our Verdict

A good-value and fast power bank, the Lumsing Grand A2 Plus will be a good buy if you have a USB-C device or a requirement for a fair amount of portable power. We’d like to see features such as passthrough charging, and a more premium, less functional design, but at £25 it’s difficult to fault.

Amazon’s virtual store shelves are flooded with  power banks, and choosing which to buy can be a minefield. This Lumsing Grand A2 Plus is good value – a 13,400mAh model that costs £25.99, but until 20 December PC Advisor/Tech Advisor readers can get an extra 20 percent off with the code LUMXMAS1 – but there’s more to choosing a power bank than how much it costs. Also see: Best power banks

When we review a power bank we take into account several factors besides the price: its build quality and appearance, how fast it can charge your phone, how fast it can refill its own battery (and whether it can charge both your phone and itself at once), how many times it will charge a device and so forth. The Lumsing performs well on most of these things.

Let’s start with why you might choose this power bank. The 13,400mAh capacity is appealing, and should offer around 9,000mAh for charging your mobile devices. That would refill almost any Android phone at least three times, and for iPhones you’re looking at more like five or six full charges. Given that this compact 98x79x22, 263g power bank will fit in your pocket, that’s not at all bad. Also see: How to charge your phone’s battery faster 

More interesting to us, though, is its support for Quick Charge 3.0 and USB-C. Although Quick Charge 4.0 has recently been announced, right now Quick Charge 3.0 is the fastest you’ll find in a power bank – but it isn’t supported by all mobile devices. If you have a flagship smartphone running a Snapdragon processor, such as the LG G5, chances are your phone will support Quick Charge 3.0 and can therefore be charged four times faster than via a conventional charger.

In addition to this full-size Quick Charge 3.0 port (which is confusingly labelled as QC 2.0/QC 3.0 when all Quick Charge 3.0 devices are backwards-compatible with Quick Charge 2.0) is a USB-C connection, which can act as both input and output at a fast 5V/3.1A. Using this connection this high-capacity power bank can be recharged in as little as 5.5 hours. That would be even more impressive if it could simultaneously charge your phone to cut down on cable clutter and free up mains power outlets in your home. We like having the option to charge a second device from this power bank, but not that it has to be a USB-C device. See all power bank reviews

The USB-C input/output offers the fastest way to recharge this power bank, but a USB-C cable is not provided in the box and you’re unlikely to have one to hand unless you own a USB-C phone. Fortunately there’s an also fast – albeit not quite as fast – Micro-USB input that accepts 5V/2.5A. Charging the Lumsing over this connection will take longer, but in all honesty at this capacity you’ll likely just leave it plugged in overnight in any case.

Another perk of the Lumsing Grand A2 Plus is auto-on. There is an orange button on the side of this power bank, but you don’t need to press it in order to begin charging – you just plug in a phone or tablet and charging begins. Rather, this button is used to invoke the built-in LED flashlight or to check how much power remains via the four blue LEDs on the device’s front. And here’s where things start to be less exemplary. The LED torch is so small that you wonder why Lumsing bothered to include one – we certainly can’t see anyone making use of it.  Also see: How to improve smartphone battery life

The Lumsing isn’t a bad-looking power bank, encased in matt black plastic with a brightly colour orange rim at the top and bottom, but we’re less keen on the high-gloss plastic end caps with idiot-proof legends. We don’t need to be told on the product itself that the ports are inputs or outputs, nor whether they are Type-C or support Quick Charge 2.0 or Quick Charge 3.0, especially when the specifications are also printed on the bottom of the device. To be fair this is a criticism we could level at many a cheap power bank, but it does detract from the overall design.

Read next: Best desktop chargers

Specs Lumsing Grand A2 Plus: Specs

13,400mAh power bank (charges in 5.5 hours)

1x QC 3.0 USB output

1x USB-C 5V/3.1A input/output

1x Micro-USB 5V/2.5A input

LED flashlight

four-LED power indicator

no passthrough charging



12-month warranty

How To Remove System Z: Drive In Windows 10 In Three Easy Steps

How to remove system Z drive on Windows 10 in three steps






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The mysterious system drive Z: has dumbfounded some users who wondered how to remove it from Windows 10. That is a Z: system drive partition that appears in Windows 10’s File Explorer for some users. Z: drive often appears after users have partitioned a hard drive or upgraded to Windows 10. When they try to open the Z: drive, a pop-up window opens stating, “You don’t currently have permission to access to folder.”

However, an HP support representative shed light on what the Z: partition is. On a forum, he stated:

That new drive labeled (Z: ) is the restore partition which is added to give you the option of restoring back to your previous version of windows. It is nothing to worry about, and should not be deleted.

So the Z: drive is usually a hidden partition. Its appearance on some Windows 10 desktops and laptops is due to a system bug. As the HP representative stated, drive Z: isn’t something users really need to fix.

Yet, there are a few ways users can remove the Z: drive. That doesn’t mean deleting the drive, but merely removing the partition so that it doesn’t appear in Explorer. This is how users can remove the Z: drive in Windows 10.

There are three ways to remove the Z: drive Method 1: Edit the Registry

Some users have confirmed that adding new NoDrive DWORDs (or QWORDs) to the registry gets rid of drive Z: in File Explorer. However, some might prefer to set up a System Restore point before editing the registry as an extra precaution. Using the Registry Editor is the safest way to remove system Z drive on Windows 10.

Open the Run accessory.

Enter ‘NoDrives’ as the name of the new QWORD or DWORD as shown directly below.

Select the Explorer key on the left of the registry.

Then select the Decimal option.

Thereafter, close the Registry Editor window.

Restart Windows after editing the registry and with that, you should remove system Z drive from Windows 10 for good.

Expert tip:

Method 2: Roll Back Windows 10 to a Restore Point

A few users have stated on forums that they’ve removed drive Z: by rolling Windows 10 back to a previous date. System Restore is the utility that rolls Windows 10 back to an earlier date. Note that rolling Windows back to a restore point will also remove software installed after the selected date and undo other system changes.

Select a restore point that will roll the OS back to a time when File Explorer didn’t include a Z: drive partition.

Press the Next button to proceed to the confirmation step.

— RELATED: 5 best backup software for external hard drives [2023 LIST]

Method 3: Update Windows 10

Some users have also stated that updating Windows 10 removes the Z: drive. Drive Z: can appear when updates have not completely installed. Thus, checking for Win 10 updates to see if there are any updates waiting to finish might remove the Z: drive.

To check for Windows 10 updates, press the Type here to search button on the taskbar.

Press the Check for updates button to scan for updates.

The Settings Windows Update window also lists pending updates. You might need to restart the platform to complete their installation. In some instances, pending updates might be stuck.

Those are a few resolutions that might get rid of drive Z: and ensure it never reappears in File Explorer. Then drive Z: will be a hidden restore partition again.


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2023 Audi Q3 First Drive: Style And Luxury With Tech To Match

2023 Audi Q3 first drive: Style and luxury with tech to match

With its US launch not expected until next year, Audi invited us to the incredibly beautiful Bolzano, Italy to try out the new Q3. Tucked into the Dolomites of North East Italy, its peaks and valleys are good enough for the Italian Alpini, the elite mountain warfare corps, and so they’d be good enough for putting the 2023 Q3 through its paces. That its one of the most beautiful places in Europe only sweetened the deal.

The 120 kilometer drive would take us off the highway and through Wolkenstein in Gröden or Selva di Val Gardena in the Val Gardena in South Tyrol, Northern Italy. It’s a very interesting part of Italy, as it’s autonomous: the majority of the population speaks German, even though it has been part of Italy since the end of World War I. The German-speaking part of the community still identifies as Austrian, indeed, while the food is a wonderful mix of all the local cultures.

Unlike US cars, which will get Audi’s 8-speed automatic transmission, the Euro-spec Q3 we’d been entrusted with had the automaker’s 7-speed S Tronic gearbox, and the quick up and downshifts are precisely what I expected. The US transmission will have a lot to live up to when it arrives at dealerships. Merging onto the highway, the 228 horsepower 2.0T engine effortlessly accelerates compared to the first model, and the hour-long, 50 km drive to our starting point at Bolzano Airport went by quickly.

The highways here were constructed through some incredibly old towns, and the sights are beautiful. Trucks and slower cars would generously stick to the right lane, leaving the Q3 to zip right along at the speed limit. After arriving at the airport, it was time for a stint on the highway at the edge of the city.

While it’s likely to be a frequent stomping ground for American drivers, I can’t say I was disappointed when we turned off the highway towards Wolkenstein. Within a few kilometers, we were in the forest and passing through typical European tunnels on our way to the first stop. The views kept getting better, and so did my impressions of the Q3. Quiet in the cabin, and offering no complaints at our route, it proved just as relaxing when I took over passenger duties and had a chance to explore the new interior design.

Audi took a clean-sheet approach with the new Q3’s exterior and interior, with nothing carried over from the previous model. It’s not been miserly with the technology, either: it may be small, but the 2023 Q3 gets the best of the connectivity options and driver assistance systems that debuted in the new Audi A8. The MMI radio plus a digital instrument cluster is now standard, with the speedometer and tachometer now digital. Sandwiched in-between them is navigation, entertainment, and other vehicle information. Unlike the Audi Virtual Cockpit we’re familiar with, though, this version for the Q3 doesn’t have an adjustable layout.

A second, 8.8-inch screen is found on the center stack, where you interact with the optional MMI navigation plus infotainment system. That features a new – but familiar – flat menu structure, along with natural-language voice control and online route calculation powered by HERE. MMI navigation plus is an option, with the full 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display and an all-new 10.25-inch MMI touch display on the center console, mounted at a 10-degree angle so as to better face the driver.

Finally, there’ll be the highest tier, Audi Connect Navigation & Infotainment plus with Google Earth, a hybrid radio, as well as online and onboard dual voice control system. Along with the LTE Advanced and Plus packages comes the myAudi app, which allows many of the vehicle’s functions to be controlled from a distance, and you can also unlock the doors with just your phone. The Audi phone box can both wirelessly charge your phone and boost its cell signal, while the Audi smartphone interface adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Finally, there’s a sweet-sounding Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with 15 speakers.

As our first stop loomed, an incredible tree-framed view of the mountains, with a beautiful blue lake that you could see to the bottom of did its best to distract me from my turn behind the wheel again. As we got closer to the town, though, traffic picked up, and it was time to try out the new adaptive cruise control.

Audi pre sense basic, Audi pre sense front, Audi side assist lane-change warning, Audi active lane assist lane-departure warning system, and an adjustable speed limiter are standard. There are also many options including adaptive cruise assist, park assist, cross traffic assist rear, and 360-degree cameras. The adaptive cruise assist incorporates the functions of the adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, and active lane assist.

In short, the idea is to not only keep you at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, but make sure you stay in the lane, too. A button at the top of the cruise control stalk allows you to set the maximum speed based on the speed limit automatically, or you can manually override that with the normal up and down motion. On the highway sections I set the speed limit and distance limits, kept both hands on the wheel, but let the Q3 do the rest. After you come to a complete stop, the Q3 will accelerate again automatically.

While there’ll be an array of engines offered worldwide, including diesels, I was able to confirm the two engine options for North America. In the US there’ll be the 2023 Q3 quattro with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 184 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque; it’ll do 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds. The second version will be the 2023 Q3 quattro S Line, with 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, enough to cut the 0-60 time to 6.3 seconds. quattro all-wheel drive will be standard, along with the 8-Speed automatic transmission.

There’ll be Standard, Sport, and an optional damping suspension system, which relies on sensors continuously measuring the Q3’s body movements. The dampers then adjust to the road conditions and driving situation. The amount of damping can be configured via Drive Select, which is where you find various driving modes, like Dynamic and Comfort.

At the front, the Q3 features Audi’s new Singleframe grille with its striking, oversized octagonal design. The frame is wide and the slats are vertical, and it’s flanked with the standard LED headlights. Matrix LED headlights will be available as an option, at least in Europe. The extended roof-edge spoiler gives the illusion of the Q3 being much longer, while the sharply-angled D pillars and the crisp shoulder-lines – bulging with the classic quattro blisters – really add to the aggressive look. The intricate headlights and taillights have become the signature of all new Audi models, and the Q3 is no different. The body lines wrapping each have been specifically designed to call attention to the lights, adding to the Q3’s visual identity in the process.

It’s a bigger car all round than the first model, now 14.7 ft long (+3.8 in), 6.1 ft (+ 0.7 in) wide, and 5.2 ft high (+0.2 in). An extra 3-inches in the wheelbase, now 8.8 ft long, is directly beneficial to the interior space. There, depending on the position of the rear seats and backrests, the luggage compartment capacity is between 530 (+250 liters from the previous generation) and up to 1,525 liters with the seats down. The rear seats can also slide by 5.9-inches, and their 40:20:40 split backrests can be tilted to seven positions.

In the trunk, the loading floor can be adjusted at up to three levels, while the parcel shelf can be stowed underneath the floor if not needed. The electric tailgate can also be opened and closed with a kicking motion for hands-free access. Much of this we’ve seen before on the Q5 and Q7 SUVs, but they’re welcome additions to a more affordable model.

Htc Evo 3D Review: The Country’s First Glasses

Here you can see the Evo 3D’s dual-lensed 3-D camera on the back of the phone, as well as that excellent shutter button. Dan Nosowitz

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HTC’s Evo line of Android smartphones is big on firsts: The Evo 4G was the first 4G phone in America (by current definitions, at least), and its sequel, the Evo 3D, is the nation’s first to pack a glasses-free stereoscopic 3-D display, like the Nintendo 3DS. It’s actually a very nice phone, but it doesn’t do much to convince us that stereoscopic 3-D is good for anything but gaming.

What’s New

The Evo 3D is changed in some subtle ways from its predecessor, the Evo 4G. It has a dual-core processor, rather than the Evo 4G’s single-core, along with more memory. The software has been upgraded as well; the Evo 3D has the newest version of HTC’s Android skin, Sense 3.0, laying on top of the newest version of Android, Gingerbread. But the big addition is the 3-D: its screen can display glasses-free stereoscopic 3-D, and its dual-lensed camera (on the rear; it also has a regular 2-D front-facing camera) can take both video and still photography in the third dimension.

HTC Evo 3D: Gallery App

The phone’s face, showing its gallery app. The brick pattern is a reflection, rather than a background image–the phone is pretty reflective in natural sunlight, though actually quite nice–in 2-D–indoors

What’s Good

The phone itself is pretty good! HTC changed the aspect ratio to 16:9, making the phone taller and skinnier than the Evo 4G. I’m not a huge fan of that decision, as it can be tough to reach the upper parts of the giant 4.3-inch screen, especially for those with smaller hands. Aside from that, the design is really nice–much thinner than, say, the HTC Thunderbolt, and with a more interesting look. The textured back and Evo-trademark circle-enclosed buttons are a nice touch. The added horsepower and upgraded version of Android make the phone very snappy to use. Sense 3.0 is kind of overly complicated and showy–expect lots of completely unnecessary animations and a bajillion very-similar widgets–but it does offer some nice features and a sense of cohesiveness that Android sometimes lacks. The lockscreen, which shows the weather and gives you a shortcut into the camera, phone, email, and messaging app, is a good example: It’s pretty, and useful on paper, but it’s not actually any more efficient to use than a simple unlocker.

The included 3-D game, Ultimate Spider-Man: Totaly Mayhem, is pretty fun–about as good as a mid-tier Nintendo 3DS game, which means it’s worth playing. Not to brag, but this further proves our theory that 3-D is at its best in gaming, rather than movies or TV.

Oh, and the camera button is perfect. Other phone makers: Steal this button en masse. It actually feels like a camera’s shutter button, two-stage picture-taking and all. I want it on every phone I buy from now on.

What’s Bad

The 3-D is bad. It’s not implemented nearly as much as I expected–the homescreens and all of HTC’s custom apps are in regular 2-D, including HTC’s replacement Twitter, email, calendar, and messaging apps. It’s jarring to turn on a phone with “3-D” in the name and have to dig around in the app list to find something that’s actually in 3-D.

But once you do find the 3-D stuff–there are a few games in 3-D, the Gallery app displays 3-D images, and you can watch movies in 3-D–you might wonder why you even bothered. The effect is noticeably worse than the Nintendo 3DS: images are very shimmery, shifting around if you change your perspective even a tiny amount. The proper viewing angle is far too specific–if you move to the side, up and down, or back and forth, you’ll lose the effect.

HTC Evo 3D: 3-D Photos

You can’t get too good of a sense of the 3-D feature without using the phone, but you can see how quickly the 3-D photos lose their focus when the phone isn’t at the perfect angle to your eyes

The included 3-D sample photos actually gave me a headache; the effect is the opposite of immersive, since you feel like you’re having to manually adjust your eyeballs to cope with the blurry perspective pranks the phone is playing on you. There’s this moment of switching from 2-D to 3-D while browsing through photos that is legitimately painful, as your eyes struggle to switch their perspective. There’s no way to dial down the effect, like on the Nintendo 3DS–it’s either on or off. Some of the photos we took ended up looking okay, but overall we opted to ignore the 3-D gallery altogether.

The Price

$200 with a two-year contract from Sprint

The Verdict

The Evo 3D itself is actually very desirable–if there was an HTC Evo 2D, this phone with the 3-D elements lobotomized, it’d be a worthy followup to its groundbreaking predecessor. And we’re not judging it for using 3-D, which many call a gimmicky technology. We don’t mind gimmicks; actually, we love gimmicks. But we love them when they’re fun, even if the fun is superficial or short-lived. The Evo 3D’s gimmick is bizarre: it feels like you don’t use it often enough, but when you do use it, it’s actively unpleasant. The final verdict? If you’re on Sprint, grab a Nexus S 4G, unless you’re a very specific type of masochist who wants to watch Avatar on a 4.3-inch screen and get a headache while you do it.

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