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Showing posts from March 30, 2014

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - New Zealand's First Viable Electric Vehicle

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I can't say that the Mitsubishi Outlander has ever held much appeal for me, until this week that is. The new Outlander PHEV makes a bold statement about the future of motoring worldwide and a specific one about motoring in New Zealand.

The PHEV is a plug-in hybrid vehicle, which takes all the best bits of previous hybrids, matches them with a family friendly SUV body and cranks out some quite amazing economy figures. That despite providing the space and 4WD off-road capability of the regular Outlander.

The Outlander sports two electric motors and a two-litre petrol engine. It appears to be the same disappointing unit that powers current Lancers - poor NVH performance being it's most obvious problem.

However for most city dwelling drivers that may not prove to be a problem as the PHEV will run for 50km or more solely on the battery pack and electric motors. That's well inside the average daily commute for around 95% of drivers. Go beyond that and the petrol engine will cut…

Windows Phone 8.1: Too Little, Too Late?

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At Build today Microsoft made Windows Phone 8.1 official, showing off new features and capabilities. Most of which were excellent news for existing WP8 owners (who will all get an upgrade) and future Windows Phone buyers.

There were some headline grabbing new features too - not least Cortana, which looks to be a pretty impressive mash-up of Siri and Google Now. It looks pretty smart, with capabilities beyond Apple or Google's products. Good as it looks however, it's a case of Microsoft playing catch-up, and that's never a good place to be. Siri has some key advantages, based on what we saw in the demo at least. Not least because it's possible to launch Siri but holding down the iPhone's home key whether the phone is on or off.

The Word Flow keyboard extension was nice to see, even if it got mostly missed in all the noise about Cortana. Microsoft have jumped ahead of Apple and drawn level with Google in the text entry stakes.

Skype will be gaining some new features…

Please Apple, License Swype

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If there's one area where the iPhone really lags the competition it's that of data entry. Whilst Google (and Swype, Swiftkey) have upgraded the concept of a touch keyboard with their excellent trace keyboards and Microsoft are promising a similar upgrade for WP8.1, Apple are stuck with the same basic technology that arrived with the original iPhone in 2007. It's proving beyond them to even get a workable 'shift' key solution.

There's a quick-fix solution and delivering it would make for an significantly enhanced user experience - one of Apple's core values.

By licensing Swype from Nuance Apple would be utilizing technology from one of its existing partners, so there shouldn't be any complications arising out of a new partner. It would also be getting a mature solution, which would mitigate against the kind of disastrous introduction that it endured with Apple Maps.

It's rare that Apple ends up in a position of playing catch-up, but now that they ar…

Twelve South SurfacePad Review

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I don't like putting cases on my phones, ease of access is everything in my book and anything that gets between me and interacting with my phone is a barrier I can do without.

There are times however when you need to protect your phone - especially the screen. Which means putting a case on. Finding one which doesn't add to the bulk of your phone is important at these times, especially if you use an iPhone.

After Apple have gone to all that trouble of making the iPhone as slim, light and attractive as the current iPhone is, it seems a blasphemy to then wrap it up in a god awful rubber, polycarbonate, or chunky leather case; which both adds bulk and looks vomit-inducingly ugly.

When I heard about the Twelve South SurfacePad my interest was piqued. This looks like the slimmest lightest way of protecting your iPhone from damage.

The Surface pad s a wraparound case which protects the front and most of the back of your iPhone. The edges aren't protected - except for the left ha…

Tesla Mitigates Battery Impact Risk

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Looks like the Tesla battery fire farce is over, Tesla has announced that it will add an extra battery guard to new Model S EVs and retrofit this Titanium protection to existing cars free of charge. As as result the NHTSA has announced that it is ending its investigations into the fires.

Tesla has done the right thing here, boosting customer confidence in the product - although as Tesla's customer satisfaction ratings and loyalty rival even Apple's that probably wasn't the main intention. Why the fossil fuel lobby was allowed to make such a big deal of incidents that were directly related to object strikes isn't clear. Porsche's GT3 spontaneously combusts, is far more dangerous than the Tesla when it is burning, and its problems can only be resolved by a complete engine change, all without drawing anything close to the hysteria that surrounded Tesla's fires.

Now that monkey is off its back Tesla can concentrate on battling the dealer groups for the rights to s…