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Review: ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8)

Posted in Products with tags on July 6, 2020 by itnerd

Before I get to the review, let me tell you a funny story. So I had a Netgear router for the longest while. However their security issues made me switch to another router. Specifically the ASUS ZenWiFi AC (CT8) model which ASUS sent over for me to review. I set it up and locked it down and I declared all to be well with the universe.

Two days after that, ASUS called and wanted their router back. After all, it was a press loaner that they had kind of forgotten about during the pandemic.

Craptastic.

That meant that I had to get a replacement in a hurry. While I could have gone with more of the same, I figured that I would take opportunity to future proof my network. Which meant that after a quick trip to Amazon.ca, and a screw up in terms of delivery by Purolator Courier in terms of delivery, I got this:

This is the ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8) mesh WiFi router. You get two nodes in the box which will cover 5500 square feet. It supports a variety of standards including the following:

802.11a: 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11b: 1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps
802.11g: 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11n: up to 300 Mbps
802.11ac (5GHZ-1): up to 867 Mbps
802.11ac (5GHZ-2): up to 3466 Mbps
802.11ax (2.4GHz): up to 574 Mbps
802.11ax (5GHZ-1): up to 1201 Mbps
802.11ax (5GHZ-2): up to 4804 Mbps

So in short, you get every standard available including WiFi 6/802.11ax. That pretty much future proofs your network by allowing you to use any device including the latest MacBooks, Surface devices, and iPhones with WiFi 6. What also is cool is that you get three bands. A 2.4 GHz band, and two 5 GHz bands. Though when used in a mesh setup, the second 5 GHz band is used for a dedicated backhaul between the nodes. Thus you effectively have 1 2.4 GHz band, and one 5 GHz band,

Here’s a look at one of the nodes:

It looks exactly like the ones that come with the AC version of this mesh router. But the black version looks way better than the white version. For the record, both the AC and the AX versions come in black and white.

On the back you can see that each node comes with three gigabit Ethernet ports for your devices, one 2.5 gigabit port for your Internet connection which is handy as many Internet Service Providers are now offering above gigabit speeds. Which means that you don’t want your router to be the bottleneck. There’s also a USB port for a printer.

The setup process of the ZenWiFi AX is absurdly simple by using the ASUS Router app. The app can automatically detects the mesh WiFi system over a Bluetooth connection. Just connect one unit to the modem from your ISP and turn both units on. Once both units are booted up, you can use the ASUS Router app to setup the system. It’s a wizard driven setup that if you want to just go the easy route, it will have you set up in minutes. But I like to do a lot more in terms of setting up a router, which means that I have to go to the web based interface to do things like disable WPS and UPnP for security reasons.

I configured the ZenWiFi AX (XT8) to be used in my condo with one node in my den and another one in the living room. The result was that I had 100% coverage in terms my 800 ish square foot condo. The other thing that I noticed is that I was able to get roughly get this speed in my condo using my MacBook Pro:

Now this speed is consistent with the AC version of router. If I had any WiFi 6 devices, I suspect that this speed would be faster. I was getting these speeds regardless of where I was in my condo. I also noticed that the experience was seamless. I was able to walk through my condo and the ZenWiFi AX seamlessly switched between nodes. So if it works in my use case, it will work for houses up to 5500 square feet in size.

Now like the ZenWiFi AC, this router is highly configurable and the nodes are accessible via the router app, or via a web page which is really good for nerds like me as the advanced features are available via the latter. You also get a pile of security to keep you safe via AiProtection Pro. And it supports Amazon Alexa and IFTTT.

Gripes? Well the only thing that was an issue was that I had to set up the 2.4 GHz band according to this FAQ as not setting it up this way was causing my wife’s Joule not to connect to WiFi. This was something that I did not encounter with the AC version of this router which is a side effect of the fact that this is a 802.11ax/WiFi 6 router. This is something that I will keep an eye on.

That brings me to another gripe. It also would be nice to have the Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports to be bondable so that you can get extra speed from a NAS or something like that. But I will have to admit that I am really being nerdy at this point.

The ZenWiFi AX is a great product which you can pick up for roughly $680CDN for two nodes from Amazon. That’s not cheap. But if you need WiFi across your home, and you want something that is future proof, the ZenWiFi AX deserves a good hard look.

Review: Ever Widening Circles

Posted in Products with tags on May 29, 2020 by itnerd

Right now we live in a world of bad news regardless whether we’ve talking about the pandemic, or we are talking about the economy, or politics. And the news that we see reflects that. It’s downright depressing at times.

So what if I said that you could download an app that would serve up more positive news to you. There’s a new mobile app called Ever Widening Circles which is available via the Apple Store or Google Play that allows you to take a few moments from your day to experience the lighter and more uplifting side of the 24/7 always-on news cycle. I took a few minutes to download the app onto my iPhone and spent a lot of time going through it. Here’s my observations on this app:

The front page of the app shows the latest articles that are on offer. I like the fact that it gives you an estimation of how long it will take to read.

The articles themselves are very rich when it comes to media. It’s not just text, there are Instagram and YouTube links as well. This makes each article a very engaging experience.

There are a rather large number of categories available. I noted that they had TED Talks, Life Hacks, Science and Technology. Whatever you are interested in, it’s likely here.

What’s interesting is that there is a core team behind all the articles that work to put all of this together. That means that the stories that you get are curated and that you won’t see anywhere else. They promise no agenda: no politics or commercial biases. And from what I can tell, there isn’t any of that. Sources are cited as well which I appreciate. And to top it off, there’s a pretty clear privacy policy that doesn’t ring any alarm bells for me.

The app is free to download. But there are two subscription plans:

  • A $0.99 monthly subscription plan with the first month free.
  • A $9.99 yearly subscription plan with the first month free.

If you want to brighten up your day and take your mind off the news that can drag you down, Ever Widening Circles is a good way to do it. And it is worth your time to download it and have a look.

Review: Taotronics SoundLiberty 79 Smart AI TWS Headphones

Posted in Products with tags on May 29, 2020 by itnerd

True wireless headphones, meaning a pair of Bluetooth headphones that are not connected by a wire are officially a thing as the millennials would say. Apple has dominated this category, but players like Sony, Sennheiser, and others have joined the party. But I tripped over a serious contender from a brand that you may not have heard of. That brand is Taotronics and the true wireless headphones in question are the SoundLiberty 79 Smart AI TWS Headphones:

Here’s what comes in the box:

Starting from the top left are the headphones themselves along with their charging case. Then on the right is a very short USB-A to USB-C cable, and below them are a package with extra wing tips and ear tips.

Here’s a closer look at one of the headphones. You can see the copper charing pins as well as the wing tips and the ear tips. I should note that the ear tips which are purple are not the ones that come with these headphones. More on that later.

The front of the headphone looks sleek and low key. The silver tip is the only thing on it that could be considered to be “bling”. In other words, they won’t attract attention while you are wearing them. The outside of the headphone support tapping to control your music and allow you to answer calls. More on that in a bit.

The headphones charge by USB-C and for those who want wireless charging, it doesn’t support that. The headphones will last 8 hours on a single charge and another 22 hours in the charging case. That’s a total of 30 hours. During my testing, I couldn’t get the headphones to run out of juice during a day of Zoom calls or listening to music.

There are four buttons on the front of the case. When you plug it in, it will display 1 to 4 lights to indicate the level of charge. And when it’s not plugged in and the headphones are inside of the case, you’ll get the lights that you see above which indicates that it’s charging both headphones. The case is small and easy to pocket.

Pairing them was easy via Bluetooth 5.0. Open the case, and wait for it to pop up in your Bluetooth menu. Done.

So how well do these headphones work? Here’s my observations:

  • I used them for several hours on Zoom calls. The default ear tips which were the medium ones worked fine and were comfortable to wear for the four or so hours that I was doing Zoom calls as I felt no discomfort whatsoever. The sound quality that I heard was absolutely crystal clear. And people on the calls had no problem hearing me. You will not have any complaints here. After that I checked the battery status. I started out this day with three dots on the case which indicated that I had about a 75% charge. By the end of day I had two dots on the case which indicated about a 50% charge. I will note that I put the headphones in the case to recharge between calls.
  • I did a test call with my wife and she said that I sounded crystal clear. She sounded crystal clear as well. You will not have any complaints here either. In both cases, you can thank built in noise cancelling which makes your voice sound better.
  • These headphones seal off outside noise effectively. Which is great for calls and music But I should note that there’s no transparency mode to let outside noise in.
  • I listened to music using one of the audio torture test playlists that I use for testing the audio systems in cars. The audio profile is designed to produce a very neutral audio profile. By that I mean that it will not produce a lot of bass or treble artificially. That’s what I tend to prefer when I listen to music. The stereo separation was excellent and there was a lot of detail to the music. You will not have any complaints on this front.
  • The headphones are IPX7 water resistant which means it can survive immersion for 30 minutes to a depth of 1 meter. That means I had to test it during a workout. So I took it on a workout on my bike indoors on the Zwift platform. While these headphones are comfortable, they will not stay in your ears once you get sweaty. That’s a bit unfortunate. But it does highlight the one weakness with these headphones which are the ear tips. They are comfortable, but also thin enough that they tear easily if you are not careful while removing them so that you can change them to a different size. This is why I used the purple ones that you saw in the pictures above that I had lying around as they were more robust while producing no difference in the sound quality.
  • The headphones support a variety of tapping commands to do everything from controlling your music to summoning the voice assistant of your choice. But the area that you need to hit to do any sort of tapping is small enough that I found it easy to miss. In the end I gave up and used my Apple Watch to control the music and answer phone calls. I suspect that this might be a your mileage may vary thing.

The bottom line is that I was impressed with the Taotronics SoundLiberty 79 Smart AI TWS Headphones. The sound quality is great, they are comfortable to wear, and your voice will be crystal clear. Though they are not perfect as the ear tips are not that robust and the surface to tap out any commands is hit and miss. But given that they go for $59.99 USD, this is a great value. And I would say that you should consider taking a trip to Amazon to grab a pair.

Review: Fobo Tire 2

Posted in Products with tags on April 8, 2020 by itnerd

I recently received a pitch from a Malaysia based company to try out their new product which is the Fobo Tire 2. Seeing as I have tried a couple of these sorts of products in the past, I had them send one over to me. The Fobo Tire 2 is a Bluetooth 5 based tire pressure monitoring system that has some interesting things going for it. And some glitches that need to be ironed out. First let’s have a look at the hardware that comes in the box:

In the box, you get the in car receiver on the top left, the pressure sensors on the top right, on the bottom left you get two wrenches to allow you to lock the pressure sensors to the valve stems so that you can avoid them being stolen. And on the bottom right you get a set of velcro stickers to stick the in car receiver to your dash.

What’s interesting about the in car receiver is that it is powered by a pair of AA batteries which is different than similar solutions that rely on being plugged into a 12V outlet. That means that the tires are always being monitored even when the car is not running. That’s cool because that means that you will immediately get alerted to a tire issue when you get into the car.

Looking at the tire sensors the material that the part of the sensor that makes contact with the valve stem are made of a brass type material that is similar to what the valve stem is made of. That means that you will not have any issues with galvanic corrosion which can cause the sensor to fuse to the vale stem and result in you paying to have the valve stems cut off and replaced.

If you take apart the sensor, you can see the orange rubber ring that makes the sensor water proof. The battery that the sensor uses is a CR1632 which should last about a year.

This is how the sensor looks like when it is installed. Since the sensor is silver, it may stand out on your car. Which means that they might be stolen. That’s where the wheel locks come in. They are a set of bolts that you put on the valve stems and then you can use the included wrenches to tighten them. That removes the possibility that the sensors will be stolen.

All of this is driven by an app called Fobo Tire 2 that is available for iOS and Android. Once you sent the recommended tire pressure, it will monitor the current tire pressure, the status of the battery, and the temperature of the tires as that might be a sign of you being at risk of a blowout.

Now besides monitoring the four tires on your car, the app will monitor the spare tire as well. That’s unique as I could not find a similar product that does that. This is a total win because it is important to have a fully inflated spare just in case you should need it. Or put another way, you don’t want to be that person who never checks their spare, and it is massively under inflated the moment you get a flat.

Another cool thing was that it comes with an Apple Watch app. Which seeing as I am a big Apple Watch user, I had to try out. The only problem was that it consistently crashed when I tried it on my Series 5 Apple Watch. This is a quirk that I expect to be ironed out by the time that this product is available. Finally, the app supports tire rotation. So if you get your tires rotated, you will be able keep the sensors in sync so that if you have an issue with a tire, you are able to zero in on the tire with the issue.

Installation was straightforward. But I did find some quirks that can simply be explained by the fact that I was supplied an early production unit. For example, it took me multiple tries to set up the sensor for the spare tire. And to share this setup with my wife’s phone took me several tries to get it to work. But I am going to go out on a limb and say when this is available for purchase, these should be non-issues. All in all, installation should take about 10 minutes or so. Should you get a flat or a slow leak, you’ll get an alert on your phone as well as the in car receiver where it will give you a very loud alert as well as a flashing light that corresponds with the wheel that has the issue. That way you do not have to have your phone to know if you have an issue. Or if you’re like me, and you are on Team iPhone with Apple CarPlay, you will still get an alert on the in car unit even though notifications on your phone are silenced.

Gripes? Well I have already mentioned the quirks that should be ironed out by the time that this ships. But beyond that, I didn’t really come across anything that is a problem that is worth mentioning. The Fobo Tire 2 is $159 USD normally. But there are deals on their website that will save you quite a bit of money as it is available for pre-order with shipments starting in May. If your car doesn’t come with factory installed tire pressure monitoring system, the Fobo Tire 2 is very much worth a look.

Review: Apple Watch Series 5 GPS+Cellular

Posted in Products with tags on March 30, 2020 by itnerd

About a year and a half ago I got an Apple Watch Series 4 GPS+Cellular and it was running fine until last week. That’s when it started to go haywire. By that I mean that the side button would randomly act like it was being pressed and held. For example it would try to dial 911 until I disabled that functionality. Or if I turned it off, it would turn itself back on without being touched. And worse, it would try to erase itself without any user interaction. Something was clearly wrong so I called Apple as the watch had AppleCare (Pro Tip: Always buy AppleCare when you buy Apple hardware). But prior to that, I did all the things that they suggest, like rebooting, doing an erase and restore from a back up, and erase and set up the watch as new. None of that worked. After telling the AppleCare rep what I had done, he quickly concluded that it must be a hardware problem and made arrangements to have me go into an Apple reseller to have the watch returned to Apple. That was going to take 4 to 6 weeks, so I needed to get myself a replacement Apple Watch as it has become a key piece of my fitness journey. Long story short, I made a trip to Best Buy, which was an interesting experience due to the times that we currently find ourselves in, I ended up with this:

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Meet the Apple Watch Series 5. This one is the space grey aluminum (recycled aluminum for the record) 44mm GPS+Cellular model which is the same size as my Series 4. The band is a Nike Band that a client of mine gave me a few months back. If the looks of the Series 5 seem familiar, it’s because Apple didn’t change the looks at all. And to be frank, they didn’t change all that much else. But I will highlight the main changes that Apple did make. Starting with the S5 system on a chip, which is the same speed as the S4 system on a chip that was on the Series 4. Meaning that if you’re thinking that the Series 4 is going to faster than the Series 4, you’ll be disappointed. But it does bring 32GB of storage to the table which is something that you’ll want if you want to do a run with your Apple Watch and you want to listen to music while leaving your phone at home. But to be fair, it does bring some new features to the table:

  • It brings a compass to the table. Now those of you on Team iPhone have had a compass on your iPhone since the iPhone 4s. But this is the first time a compass on the Apple Watch. I have to admit that it makes it much easier to navigate using Apple Maps on the Apple Watch. The reason why it that it now behaves just like Apple Maps on the iPhone. Meaning that it’s easy to tell what direction that you’re facing thanks to a cone on the dot that represents you that indicates the direction that you are facing. Plus it narrows as it becomes more confident that the direction that you are facing is accurate. Now you also get a compass app as part of the deal, but take it from me. You will use it once, and never use it again.
  • It now has the ability to call for help in about 150 countries. So for example if you have fall detection turned on, and you actually fall hard and can’t get up, the Apple Watch can phone for help without needing to be connected to your iPhone as long as you are in one of those 150 countries. However, the Apple Watch still doesn’t roam internationally.

But the big news is the always on display. Just like the name suggests, the display is always turned on. Which means that it is more like a regular watch rather than the Apple Watch Series 0-4 where you had to either tap the display (or more annoyingly, someone else tapping the display) to tell the time. Or you having to flick your wrist to tell the time. Which if you are in a meeting when you do that, you will look like a jerk.

Here’s how this feature works:

  • The screen in the Series 5 is basically the same screen as the Series 4. Which is a LTPO (Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxid) OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen which gives you a bright screen while giving you a 5% to 15% power savings versus other types of OLED screens.
  • This screen is powered by a display driver that is part of the S5 system on a chip that allows the display to go from 60 Hz to 1 Hz which means that you can keep the screen on while sucking very little power as it is redrawing the screen 1 time a second as opposed to 60 times a second.

Since this is hardware that makes this always on display work, there’s never going to be a software update that will bring this functionality to older Apple Watches. So if you want an always on display, you need to get your credit card out.

Now Apple has added one more trick to this functionality. Certain Apple Watch watch faces take advantage of this to have distinct and different looks. Let me give you an example:

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When the display is fully powered on this watch face, this is what you see. But when it throttles down the power, you see this:

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Basically, you see an outline of the numbers which means that very little power is being consumed. That’s because OLED screens that have a majority of black on the screen consume little power. On other watch faces you might not see the second hand move. Or you might not see complications being constantly updated. The bottom line is that from the first time your Apple Watch won’t look like a black square on your wrist when it is trying to save power. That brings it in line with Android Wear smart watches where always on displays have been a thing for years.

Now this sounds great, but it’s not perfect. Third party apps like Strava don’t quite work with this always on display. When you use that app and the screen goes into low power mode, this is what you see:

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However if you use the first party Workout app, you see this:

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It cuts back on how often the display gets updated. For example it won’t show tenths and hundredths of a second. But at least you can see the stats while you work out. Which means that Apple needs to help third party app makers to make their apps behave like first party apps. And the sooner the better because this dichotomy between first and third party apps is pretty stark. But on the positive side, you have the option to hide sensitive complications like your health stats, or hide notifications so that there’s nothing embarrassing on your screen when it was in low power mode.

There’s one other side effect of the always on display which is battery life. My Series 4 would regularly deliver battery life that would leave me with about 50% or slightly more by the end of the day. The Series 5 gets me to about 35% by the end of the day if I do a workout with GPS and I was away from my phone. Maybe 45% if I don’t do a workout. And I know it’s the always on display that’s responsible for this because if I turn off this functionality, I get to 50% with ease at the end of the day. So while the always on display still fits with Apple’s promise of 18 hours of battery life, it will infuriate users of older Apple Watches who are used to much better battery life from an Apple Watch.

As for the rest of the feature set of the Apple Watch Series 5, if you read my review of the Apple Watch Series 4, you will cover what else is in the Series 5. So let me get to my criticisms of the Series 5:

  • It still doesn’t work with Android phones. Not that I am shocked by that. This is an Apple product after all.
  • While Apple in its stores and online allows you to customize the bands to get the look that you want, you can’t buy the Apple Watch without a band which would appeal to someone who is upgrading from another Apple Watch.

So, who should buy the Apple Watch Series 5. Well, I covered that in another story that I wrote some months ago. But it can be summed up like this:

  • Series 4 owners should skip upgrading. There’s not enough here for you to bother. Unless you really want the always on display.
  • Series 3/2/1/0 owners should upgrade as this is totally worth the upgrade.

One other thing to consider is that if you don’t want all the bells and whistles of the Series 5, the Series 3 is still available from Apple at a steep discount that puts it in the price range of Fitbits. Which I am sure that scares Fitbit’s new owner, Google.

In Canada the Apple Watch Series 5 starts at $529 CDN. My GPS+Cellular model that is made of aluminum is $699 CDN. If you want stainless steel, titanium, or ceramic, you should make sure that your credit card balance is in order as you can get into four digit country very quickly. If you want what is regarded by many to be the best smart watch on the market, and you’re on Team iPhone, this is the smart watch for you. If you’re already an Apple Watch owner, the decision may be a bit murky as some may see that there isn’t enough reason for an upgrade. But it may be worth a look and you’ll have to make the call if you want to put your credit card down to get one.

Oh, for those who are wondering, the Series 4 that I am sending back to Apple will go up on Craigslist the second it comes back from Apple after they repair or replace it.

Review: ASUS ZenWiFi AC (CT8)

Posted in Products with tags on March 10, 2020 by itnerd

Mesh WiFi continues to be the go to type of WiFi router for consumers as you can ensure that you have complete coverage for your home. ASUS has a new product for those who need mesh WiFi in their home. That’s the ASUS ZenWiFi AC (CT8):

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Now unlike many of these devices, I like how good this node looks. It will fit in with any decor. You get two of these nodes in the box. The other thing that I notice is that it is very functional:

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The ZenWiFi AC comes with 3 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and a USB port. And both nodes have them. That allows you to use them in a variety of use cases. The USB port is for file sharing and/or printer sharing on the network.

The setup process of the ZenWiFi AC is very simple by using the ASUS Router app. The app can automatically detects the mesh WiFi system over a Bluetooth connection. Just connect one unit to the modem and turn both units on. Once both units are booted up, you can use the ASUS Router app to setup the system. I configured the ZenWiFi AC (CT8) to be used in my condo with one node in my den and another one in the living room. The result was that I had 100% coverage in terms my 800 ish square foot condo. The other thing that I noticed is that I was able to get roughly 600 Mbps sustained speeds regardless of where I was in my condo. And that speed consistently. I also noticed that the experience was seamless. I was able to walk through my condo and the ZenWiFi AC seamlessly switched between nodes. So if it works in my use case, it will work for houses up to 5400 square feet in size.

Now this router is highly configurable and the nodes are accessible via the router app, or via a web page which is really good for nerds like me as the advanced features are available via the latter. You also get a pile of security to keep you safe via AiProtection Pro. And it supports Amazon Alexa and IFTTT

Gripes? It would be nice to have the Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports to be bondable so that you can get extra speed from a NAS or something. But I will have to admit that I am really being nerdy at this point. The ZenWiFi AC is a great product which you can pick up for roughly $450 CDN for two nodes. If you need WiFi across your home, the ZenWiFi AC deserves a good hard look.

Review: 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on February 27, 2020 by itnerd

The 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred is a SUV packed with healthy amount of technology in it. Let’s start with the safety aspects of the vehicle:

  • Blind spot monitoring is included. Not only does it warn you when you are about to do an ill advised lane change, but it also alerts you based on distance and relative speed.
  • Rear cross traffic alerts as well as rear parking sensors present to make reversing out of a parking space easier.
  • One real highlight is that lane departure warning and assist functionality is included. It is one of the better systems that I have tested lately and I say that because any steering corrections that it makes are gentle and does not freak you out while doing so. Plus if it has to make an audible warning, it does so in a way that doesn’t freak out you or your passengers.
  • There’s an attention assist feature which monitors your driving and will suggest that you should take a break if it thinks you are getting tired.
  • You get automatic headlights so that you never forget to turn the headlights on or off.
  • Cruise Control is on board. It’s a basic system where you set the speed and you have to ensure that you don’t hit anything.
  • There are six airbags on board.

As for the infotainment system:

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. It gets served up on a 7″ screen which is extremely sharp, has great contrast and is viewable in all lighting conditions. The infotainment system user interface was easy to navigate and didn’t display any lag whatsoever. That was completely in line with other Hyundai products that I’ve tried recently. One other note is that I observed that info such as song names from Apple CarPlay showed up in the center TFT screen which was cool. There’s hard buttons for functions like the phone, radio, navigation etc. That also helps to make this system easy to use. One thing to note is that there’s no built in navigation system. Thus you are going to be relying on your phone to find your way around unfamiliar places.
  • There’s a 6 speaker audio system that sounds good as I had no complaints when I was listening to radio or tunes from my iPhone. Though I will admit that audiophiles may want something more upscale.

One thing that I really want to point out is the quality of the camera/screen combo:

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The camera/screen combo is bright with a lot of contrast. It made backing into a space really easy as you can see everything.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my closing thoughts on the 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

Review: 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on February 26, 2020 by itnerd

The interior of the Hyundai Tucson Preferred is functional, but modern. I’ll get to why I say that the interior is functional later, but for now let me walk through it with you.

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The cloth covered drivers seat is easy to dial in to your preferred driving position. They’re also heated which is a plus.

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The window and door lock switches are easy to reach. However the door is a sea of hard plastic.

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One thing to point out about the doors is that they will hold a water bottle. A requirement for my wife.

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You can see the switches for the various safety systems are to the left of the steering wheel. There’s also a dead pedal to allow you to rest your foot on long drives.

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The leather wrapped steering wheel has all the controls for the infotainment system and the cruise control system. It’s also heated.

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The gauges are clear and easy to read even in direct sunlight. There’s a TFT screen between them that will show you a variety of information such as fuel economy or how the AWD system is being used.

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On the top of the dash is a 7″ LCD screen with hard buttons for all the infotainment functions. The very top of the dash is made of a soft touch material. The rest of the dash is a hard plastic.

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The HVAC controls are below the screen. Below that are a pair of 12V outlets, along with an aux audio jack and a USB port. The shifter is leather wrapped. You also have cubbies in front and to the left of the shifter for items that you need to have at hand.

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You also get a cubby below the shifter along with two cupholders. Plus you can see the drive mode and hill decent control button.

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The cupholders pass the Starbucks venti test with ease.

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Inside the arm rest is a deep storage area with a small tray that makes it easy to store small items such as loose change.

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There is a lit glovebox that is decently sized. You will note a pair of clips to the right, That’s a holder for a pen.

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The back seat is decently sized for two adults. Maybe three for short trips.

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If you don’t need to seat three people, you can use this flip down arm rest to hold your drinks.

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There’s a HVAC vent for the rear seat passengers.

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Rear seat passengers get heated seats.

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You get a lot of storage space in the back. 877 Liters to be precise. And if you flip down the 60/40 rear seats, you can get up to 1754 liters.If you look on the right hand seat, you’ll see a hook for a plastic grocery bag.

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You can get a ton of stuff back here.

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There’s a handle to help you to close the hatch so that you don’t get your hands dirty. Which is handy as the hatch is manually operated.

While I didn’t note any squeaks or rattles during my time with the Tucson, the only thing that I will note is that the winter tires on the Tucson created some road noise. But nothing that was objectionable. The other thing that I will note that there is a ton of hard plastic in this interior which may turn some off. But it really isn’t that bad as long as you keep it clean as it will show dirt rather easily.

Tomorrow I will talk about the technology in the 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred which has a lot going for it. Stay tuned for that.

 

Review: 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on February 25, 2020 by itnerd

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This is the 2.0L four cylinder engine that comes as part of the Hyundai Tucson Preferred. It puts out 161 HP and 150 pound feet of torque. These numbers don’t exactly set the world on fire. But I will say that this is more than enough to power this compact SUV and do the things that you expect of it. Such as merge onto the highway, pass slower vehicles and the like. Though I will admit that you may have to occasionally push the engine more than you perhaps would want to to get the most out of it. It’s paired to a six-speed automatic and gets the power to the ground using Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system. It snowed a couple of times during my review and it along with the winter tires really helped to keep the Tucson shiny side up.

Handling is pretty good as I was able to park it easily and make sharp turns in parking lots and the like. While more uplevel Tucsons feel more sporty than this, the target audience of this vehicle will not care. But what the target audience will care about is fuel economy. I am currently getting 9.4L/100KM’s in mixed city and highway driving. I am expecting that to go down as the week goes on.

Tomorrow I will discuss the interior which can be described as “functional” for the most part. Tune in tomorrow to find out what I mean by that.

 

Review: 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on February 24, 2020 by itnerd

I review a fair amount of cars on this blog. And the one comment that I occasionally get is that I don’t review enough models that people would actually buy. After all, only a handful of people buy the fully loaded models that I tend to review. Which is why this week’s review is for those who want to see a review on a model that most people will buy. Thus with that out of the way, meet the Hyundai Tucson Preferred.

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From the outside it is the same design as the 2019 Tucson Ultimate that I reviewed last year. But instead of 19″ alloy wheels, it comes with 17″ alloy wheels. But other than that, it has the look and the design language that Hyundai has been using in the Tucson for a while now. Which makes it easy to spot in a sea of SUVs.

My review of the 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred is made up of five parts:

  • Exterior
  • Engine, transmission, handling, fuel economy, and driving comfort
  • Interior
  • Technology in the vehicle
  • Wrap up

The next part of this review will cover the engine, transmission and driving comfort. Even though this is the base model with the base model engine, it is a surprisingly good drive. Find out why I say that tomorrow.