Walt Mossberg

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A Mac on Windows?

Q:

My goal is to watch video from Netflix and Amazon on my TV. Which of the set-top boxes you recently reviewed will allow me to do that?

A:

Of the three I tested, only the Roku 2 player will deliver both of these particular services, plus others, to your TV. It starts at $60, plus the cost of a subscription to Netflix or downloads from Amazon. The other two—Apple TV and Boxee Box—do provide Netflix, plus some services the Roku lacks, such as iTunes for Apple TV and Vudu for Boxee.

Q:

In your column last week, you noted that the latest version of Parallels Desktop for Mac can run a second copy of the Mac operating system inside a virtual computer on a Mac. Will it also allow people to run the Mac OS on a Windows PC?

A:

No, according to both Apple and Parallels. First of all, the new Parallels product, which is mainly meant to run a virtual or faux Windows computer on a Mac, can run only on Mac hardware.

The company does make a similar product that runs on PC hardware, but Apple says its Mac operating system is designed to only boot up on Mac hardware, even if it is installed in a virtual computer.

I know that some techies and engineers have been able to get around this and run the Mac OS on PC hardware, but it often doesn’t run perfectly normally, and I don’t believe average users can pull this off in any case.

Q:

I am interested in a tablet for reading books, newspapers and magazines, email and light Web surfing. Which tablet do you recommend?

A:

Assuming that, by “tablet,” you are excluding simple monochrome e-readers like the current Amazon Kindle, I’d recommend the iPad. It’s the best overall tablet I’ve tested, with the best battery life and the greatest variety of apps. All of the tablet contenders can do email and Web surfing adequately, but the iPad has a greater selection of newspaper and magazine apps.

However, there are two caveats. One is that the iPad cannot display Flash video, so if that is of prime importance, look elsewhere. The other is that Amazon is widely expected to soon offer a more limited, but less expensive, color tablet that—given Amazon’s business—might well be very good for books, newspapers and magazines. So you might want to wait to evaluate that product.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.


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