It may not get the kind of attention that some of its midsize sedan competition does, but Nissan's Altima definitely deserves a look - and a test drive - if you're shopping for a new vehicle in this niche.
This fifth generation Altima, new for the 2013 model year, offers a heckuva lot of stuff and, while it looks a tad more conservative than the fourth generation model, it's still an attractive design, good to drive, and full of features.
Nissan Canada's sample was of the 3.5 SL trim level persuasion, which means it was top drawer and featured the V6 engine as opposed to the 2.5 liter four cylinder power plant of lower levels. more...
When one thinks of classic epic biblical movies, titles such as "The Ten Commandments" and "Ben-Hur" come to mind immediately. But Cecil B. DeMille had a couple of such flicks under his belt before his 1956 "Commandments" magnum opus, including the new to BD "Samson and Delilah."
Unfortunately, while this movie has its charms (including those of Hedy Lamarr!), it's a pale shadow of his later "Moses versus Ramses" epic. Part of this is thanks to dubious casting decisions.
It sure looks great on the high definition disc, though! more...
Say what you will about BMW's new naming conventions, the German company still makes vehicles that are terrific to drive.
Case in point: the 2014 435i, which used to be the 335i and which still rewards enthusiasts even though they may have to suffer somewhat for their Bavarian art.
The 435 isn't exactly merely a re-badged 335 coupe, but it's mostly that - and that's okay: the 335 coupe was a terrific place for BMW to start. I remember fondly a week's worth of seat time on one a few years ago, and this one is even better - mostly. And now that they're calling the two door 3 a 4 (just like the two door 5 series is, basically, the 6 and the two door 1 series is about to morph into the 2 series), "odds" are your BMW coupe will be "even" more easy to tell apart from its sedan siblings. more...
Leave it to OPPO Digital to raise its own bar!
The company, which has made a fine name for itself in the audio and videophile community for its spectacular disc players, has introduced a new version of its BDP-105 universal audiophile Blu-ray player and its "little brother" BDP-103.
They're called "Darbee" versions, not because OPPO folk have a soft spot for old Disney/Sean Connery movies but because they've squeezed more video processing capabilities into the units, and this threatens - er, promises - to make them even more compelling than before. more..
There's a reason Toyota's Corolla has earned its place as one of, if not the, top selling cars in history: throughout its many generations, it has offered consistent value and quality for those whose idea of a great car is reliability and economy.
Corollas have never been the most fun (though Toyota used to offer some pretty sporty versions back in the 1980's) but imparting fun isn't its mandate - er, persondate.
Now there's a brand new Corolla for 2014, one that continues Toyota's tradition of offering a great car at a good price. Toyota says this 11th generation of the Corolla includes "dramatically amplified elements of style, design, quality and craftsmanship," while building upon the car's well-earned reputation for reliability and efficiency. Besides new engine and power trains, it wears a new suit of clothes inside and out and both of them are big steps forward. more...
Thanks to the Apple iPad Air's diminutive footprint and light weight, and the many applications and capabilities it offers, it's a marvelous portable device for a wide variety of uses.
But its extreme portability and incredibly slender footprint also mean there's danger afoot, in the form of possible damage to the expensive device if you're unlucky enough to drop it. And as handy as its on screen keyboard may be, it's no substitute for a real keyboard you can touch type on. This limits its use in a professional environment.
Enter ZAGG and iHome (among others), who've brought to market a variety of cases and keyboard-based accessories to help keep your iPad Air productive and shatter free. The companies sent me three of their products to audition, a relatively straightforward cover and a keyboard/case from ZAGG, and a keyboard/case from iHome. All of them do their job well, but in very different ways. more...
It appears that both Toyota's flagship Avalon and Lexus' mid-line GS sedans have entered 2014 mostly the same as when they were introduced barely a year ago. Fortunately, it isn't as if they needed a lot of updating, anyway, because they're both very good vehicles.
Lexus Canada sent the GS 350 AWD with more sporty F Sport package this time, a version of the car that promises an upgraded smile component for driving enthusiasts. It features the same 3.5 liter V6 engine (rated at 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque) and the drive mode selector on the center console changes the throttle and transmission characteristics depending on how you want to drive: eco, normal, and sport settings.
Toyota's Avalon, meanwhile, continues to amaze me. The company's biggest sedan was also redesigned about a year ago and is now less like "your father's Oldsmobile" and more like simply a splendid large family sedan. And it's very nice. more...
The assault on Apple's iPhone family continues, with new smart phones being introduced seemingly every week. And while most of these - especially ones that share an operating system - work basically the same, there are still many ways to differentiate competing phones.
Take the two models in this piece for example. The Google Nexus 5 (which, at least as far as Telus' sample is concerned, is built by LG) may be the closest in form (if not iOS function) to the iPhone, while Sony's Xperia Z1 offers plenty of benefits in its own right, including the fact that you can skip it across a lake and it'll still work. Probably.
Both phones use the Android operating system, 4.42 Kit Kat (upgraded from 4.4 during my test) in the Nexus and 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (upgraded to 4.3 during my time with it) in the Sony. I didn't notice a lot of fundamental difference between them - it isn't like the 4.3 version is like having an abacus compared to the 4.42 one - so I wouldn't sweat excessively about the Nexus being a bit more state-of-the-art than the Sony when it comes to its OS. more...
It may be getting a little long in the tooth compared with its newer competitors, but Hyundai's Tucson "cute ute" SUV/crossover is still worth inclusion on your shopping list if you're looking in this market niche.
Hyundai made its recent name - as opposed to its much-derided early name - by offering good vehicles that come with more stuff stuffed into them than the competition. This tactic continues to this day, though the competition has certainly not been sitting on its haunches and watching this assault happen without fighting back. And that's undoubtedly why this older generation - it hasn't seen a complete upgrade in a few years now and so is probably due - isn't quite as upscale compared to the competition as it was when freshly minted. But it still does a great job at a reasonable price. And how bad can that be? more...
"Separating the useful information from the steaming BS can be tough."
That's the word from Calgary-based IT pro Christopher Bray, who sat down at his keyboard recently to give some insight into what to look for when buying a computer in 2014. Bray, who moonlights as my oldest son, was responding to a request from another relative who was flummoxed at the choices out there.
Chris and I have owned many computers over the years, starting back in the early 1980's when the Apple II was king and the IBM PC had yet to be introduced. Heck, it was back then the Radio Shack computer was duking it out with Apple for supremacy. Both lost to the IBM/Microsoft juggernaut, though Apple continues to do extremely well as it offers higher end alternatives to the generic PC. more...
What has 550 horses, even more torque, and seats five?
Very few vehicles indeed - but the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is one of them, and it's a real peach!
This top-of-the-line version of Porsche's popular SUV is an incredible vehicle - as it should be based on its starting price of $166,600 Canadian. That's a wad of cash, indeed, but it'll buy you one of the most interesting and rewarding SUV/Crossover vehicles you can find.
Needless to say, when Porsche offered me a week with this beast - over the Christmas holidays to boot, when I could show it off to visiting family - I jumped at the chance. I mean, the power, the luxury, the prestige. Who wouldn't want to drive it? more...
There aren't many great racing movies, but Ron Howard's Rush should take its place high on the list, and once it's been out long enough to seep into the public's memory it probably will.
Rush is about a lot more than just the highest level of auto racing. Instead, it uses the background of Formula 1 racing more as a setting (not that there isn't some nice racing footage), a stage on which to tell a compelling story of two remarkable and very different individuals, both of whom pursue the same goal, but from very different perspectives. Ad the events outlined in Rush would make for a great story even if they came solely from the imagination of a top author. But they don't, and that makes it even more interesting.
It's kind of like Howard did with Apollo 13, applying his and his team's formidable movie making prowess to a real life story, an especially tough job to pull off since the characters and situations are known well already. Too much Hollywoodization and you lose the racing fans, too much gearhead focus and you lose the mainstream. more...
Take a good diesel sedan and subtract two cylinders from its engine and what do you get?
In the case of Mercedes-Benz' new E250 Bluetech, you get a car that may have a tad less horsepower and torque than the outgoing model, but not enough less to make any substantive difference.
Gotta love the onward march of technology! more...
Bluetooth devices are becoming a dime a dozen thanks to the way it extends your phone or music devices' use wirelessly, to offer hands free phoning in a vehicle or just wireless streaming to a speaker.
Not surprisingly, some devices are excellent and some seem more pretender - or products in search of a market. And that's what we have here, personified by a speaker for the car and a pair of audiophile headphones. more...
The grille is new but recognizable, as is the overall look of the exterior. And under the new skin beats an interesting new heart that could make this newly-Italian Jeep dear to fans' hearts.
And, boy, is it ever perfect for those times when winter winds blow and snows fill the streets!
The new version of the popular SUV rides on a new platform for 2014, one that apparently came from parent company Fiat, and its transmission even gets an extra gear - nine speeds in total. Talk about giving their customers the gears! more...
If you've enjoyed Activision's Call of Duty series of first person shooters, you'll probably dig the new "Ghosts" entry into the franchise.
It doesn't really break a huge amount of new ground as far as conventional game play is concerned, but it's an interesting and believable scenario in which to off bad guys, and it also offers some interesting new wrinkles on the multiplayer side of things.
That scenario puts you into a new Call of Duty universe that, rather than being set in a past war or pitting you against Middle Eastern terrorists, sets its time in the future and its eyes on the south, where a federation of South American nations has set its sights on the United States. Or what's left of it: you'll be fighting in the ruins of places such as Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area, as well as in space, under water, on platforms in the sea, and more. more...
We welcome your comments!
TechnoFile: "The Tech Magazine for the Rest of Us!"
TechnoFile publisher Jim Bray's
print columns are available through the