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Review: 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on June 19, 2019 by itnerd

The interior of the 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate is very upscale feeling and you’l love being in it. There is one thing that is missing that I will point out in a moment, but I think you’ll have no problems spending time in this interior. Let me walk you through it:


The drivers seat is 8-way power adjustable with 2-way power lumbar support. It’s leather that’s heated and ventilated. It could be a bit longer when it comes to thigh support, but it’s a comfortable place to be. One thing that the seat is missing is memory settings which was something that I criticized the 2016 model for.


The drivers door has the window, door and mirror switches.


You’ll note that the audio is supplied by Infinity. More on that tomorrow. You’ll also note that the door has space for your water bottle which is a must have for my wife.


To the left of the steering wheel are the lighting brightness switches along with the electronic overseers and the switch for the rear hatch.


The steering wheel is leather wrapped and heated. It’s also comfortable to hold.


The gauges are improved for 2019 as the TFT screen between the gauges is sharper and better looking than the 2016 version. That’s not to say that the 2016 version was bad, but the 2019 version is better. The gauges are also a bit sharper as well.


The 8″ screen has been moved to the top of the dash (which by the way is soft to the touch). It’s sharper than the 2016 version that was in the dash and I love the fact that there are hard buttons for various functions. More on that tomorrow.


The HVAC controls (which is a dual zone HVAC unit) are below the screen. There’s also USB port, an aux audio port, and two 12V outlets. The cubby below that fit my iPhone XS with ease.


The shifter is leather wrapped and below that are various switches for the drive mode, hill decent control, the 360 degree camera and the like. There’s two cupholders to the right of that and a small storage area.


Much like the 2016 model, the cupholders pass the Starbucks venti test with ease.


There’s a storage area that’s part of the armrest that has a small shelf for coins and the like.


There’s a decent sized lit glovebox that is lit.


Over your head is a massive panoramic sunroof that just opens the Tucson up.


The back seats are made of leather and heated. I got two people back here with no issue. You can get three in here if they are all friendly.


If you don’t need to seat three people, you can use this armrest with a pair of cupholders.


There’s a HVAC vent back here and you’ll notice the power outlet below that….


….. there is a USB port. This addressed one of the criticisms that I had with the 2016 model which only came with a single USB port.


There’s a healthy amount of storage space in the back. And it’s got 60/40 folding seats to give you even more space for long and bulky items.


Here’s a picture of our weekly shopping along with some items that we were taking to Toronto’s hazardous waste drop off facility.


One cool thing about the storage area is this hook that allows you to hang a plastic shopping bag full of stuff securely so it doesn’t fly all over the place.


The hatch also has a handle that allows you to close the hatch without getting your hands dirty. But everyone will use the button to the right to get the powered hatch to close. Speaking of which, the hatch has a cool feature where you can walk up to the hatch with the key fob in your pocket, stand there for three seconds, and the hatch will automatically open.

Overall Hyundai has an interior that is very good and you’ll love being in it. I should note that there’s very good vision in every direction for the driver. No rattles, squeaks, or other annoyances were noted during my week with the 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate.

Tomorrow I will talk about the technology in the 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate which has a lot going for it. Stay tuned for that.




Review: 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on June 18, 2019 by itnerd


This is the 2.4 L engine that powers the 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate. It puts out 181 horsepower and 175 pound feet of torque. In comparison with the 1.6L turbo engine that used to power this trim level, it has 6 more horsepower, but 20 less pound feet of torque.  Horsepower is a peak measurement which makes torque far more important as that’s what gets you off the line and around transport trucks. And the drop in torque is noticeable if you’re someone like me who’s driven the 1.6L turbo engine version. That’s not to say that it’s a bad engine as it will still move you past transport trucks and allow you to merge traffic with no issues. But it just lacks the punch that the turbo engine provided. Thus if you like a more spirited drive, you aren’t going to get it here.

Another change for 2019 is that the seven speed dual clutch transmission is gone in favor of a six speed automatic. It’s a smooth shifting unit that I have no complaints about. But this engine transmission combo doesn’t deliver the best fuel economy. I am currently getting 11.4 L/100 KM which is about 1 L/100 KM to 1.5 L/100 KM more than in my 2016 model that comes with the turbo engine and the dual clutch transmission. And compared with competitive offerings from Mazda (CX-5), Honda (CR-V) and Toyota (RAV4), that may be a negative for someone who wants top shelf fuel economy from their compact SUV.

So, the question that you may be asking is why would Hyundai would make a switch like this which would result in lower fuel economy and allow this discussion to pop up? I don’t have any inside info, but my guess goes something like this. The 1.6L turbo with the seven speed dual clutch transmission did generate a lot of complaints in the 2016-2018 model years. I’ve gone into that at length here if you want all the details. Thus I am guessing that Hyundai decided that they didn’t want to deal with those complaints anymore. So they pulled what appears on the surface to be the base engine and transmission from the Santa Fe and dropped it into the upscale Tucson as it is a proven combo. And they were willing to live with the fuel economy hit to make the complaints go away. It makes sense to me and to be frank, this engine/transmission combo might be a better fit for the Tucson as it is more in line with what some expect from how a engine transmission combo should behave when you drive as dual clutch transmissions are a bit “weird” to drive for some. So in short, I think Hyundai made the right call here.

The power goes to all four wheels via Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system. This system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a similar system that is used in the Hyundai Genesis that I reviewed a few years back. But unlike that system, it is front wheel biased rather than rear wheel biased.

One area that is a plus for Hyundai is that the ride and handling is great. While it’s not up to Mazda CX-5 levels as that is what I consider to be the gold standard for handling in this class, it’s better than most compact SUVs out there. And one thing that Hyundai has really worked on noise, vibration and harshness as it’s much quieter than the 2016 version. Body roll is well controlled and it feels solid than’s to the high strength steel that Hyundai makes itself.

The next part of this review covers the interior of 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate. It’s an interesting yet comfortable interior to be in and I will explain why tomorrow.

Review: 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on June 17, 2019 by itnerd

As many of you know, I own a 2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited and I’ve written an extensive one year update as well as a three year update. It’s been very good to my wife as it has taken us on adventures like our road trip to Newfoundland a couple of years ago. Thus I was really interested to see what the newly refreshed for 2019 Hyundai Tucson.

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The look has been refreshed to make it a bit more edgy. Yet it still looks familiar as it doesn’t stray that much from the 2016 version. It also doesn’t take on the looks of some other Hyundai SUVs like the Kona or the Santa Fe. I figure that they took this approach because the compact SUV market is so big that they have to make sure that they don’t come out with something that alienates perspective customers.

My review of the 2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate 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. I have a lot of opinions on that front and I will share all of them tomorrow.

Review: Urban Armor Gear Leather Watch Strap For Apple Watch

Posted in Products with tags on June 10, 2019 by itnerd

I am jealous of my wife as she’s using the a classy looking yet rugged leather Apple Watch band that I would love to get my hands on. It’s the Urban Armor Gear Leather Watch Strap:


My wife got her band in brown and the lugs, which have less play that I am used to, give the Apple Watch a bit of a different look.


One of the unique things about this band is this snap that locks everything into place so that there’s no way the watch will come off your wrist. In her time wearing the band, my wife noted that she didn’t feel that the strap was in any danger of coming off at any time. The strap is made with Italian Leather and intricately hand stitched. You can feel the quality of the leather and smell it as well. My wife made the comment that her co-workers thought it smelled like cuban cigars and they thought that it was a quality product. As you can see in this picture, it has a begun to patina which is a sign of a quality leather band. That’s something that my wife’s co-workers picked up on as well. All the branding is discreet and the band looks very upscale which makes it great for almost any situation. In summary, it’s a great looking and functional band that my wife loves wearing.

The Urban Armor Gear Leather Watch Strap goes for $95 and comes in black and brown. Urban Armor Gear has a great band on its hands. Now I have to get my hands on one as my wife can’t be the only one to have a good quality leather Apple Watch band


Review: Tinkering Labs’ Electric Motors Catalyst

Posted in Products with tags on June 5, 2019 by itnerd

Getting kids into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) at an early age is important because careers in STEM are going to be the future for the next generation. Which is why when Tinkering Labs’ came to me to pitch a review of their Electric Motors Catalyst tinkering kit, I jumped at the chance. 


In front of you is the complete kit which is comprised of:

  • 2 Electric Motors with Detachable Wires
  • 1 Battery Pack with Switch
  • 2 AA Batteries
  • 1 Wooden Chassis
  • 12 Wooden Wheels in 6 Sizes
  • 6 Wooden Connectors in 3 Shapes
  • 2 Metal Axles
  • 4 Metal L-Brackets
  • 10 Small Bolts with Wing Nuts
  • 2 Metal Springs
  • 12 Bushings for Motor and Axle Connections
  • 12 Rubber Bands
  • 1 Pair of Safety Glasses, Child Size
  • 3 Washable Markers
  • 1 Large 3-Foot Wide Paper Work Surface
  • 1 Full-Size Phillips Head Screwdriver
  • 1 Cloth Storage Bag
  • 1 Clear-Top Metal Hardware Tin
  • Printed Tips & Guides
  • 10 Challenge Cards
  • 1 Clear Challenge Card Holder
  • 1 Safety Tips Card
  • 1 22-Page Building Techniques Booklet

That’s quite a lot of stuff. The whole idea behind this kit is that challenges the problem solving skills of kids that are 8 or thereabouts. Not only that it challenges their creativity and ability to invent. All within a STEM framework. There are 10 challenge cards that give the child a series of challenges that they have to build. That allows them to understand how this kit works so that they can then use their imagination to build whatever they want.

Now this all sounds great. But I actually needed to validate this. Thus I enlisted the help of an 11 year old neighbor named Zavier who I knew would be able to tell me what was good and what wasn’t good about this kit from the perspective of the target audience of this kit. Here’s his feedback:

I have been playing and tinkering around with the Electric Motors Catalyst. All around this is a very fun kit. It is very fun and easy to use. Some challenges do arise even though the instructions for the challenge cards help, they aren’t descriptive enough. With a little more detail they would be very helpful. I like how there are many different pieces that do many things. There is also a lot of room for creativity which is nice. This kit is very fun and helpful to learn how to engineer things. This kit is really good and I would definitely recommend it!

Zavier has a future in product reviews quite clearly as while he did have one negative, everything else was positive. One other thing that is positive is that Zavier is still using this over two weeks after I gave it to him to review. That implies that this isn’t going to be something that a child tries out and then quickly forgets about. Which is great for parents as anything they purchase for their children should have long term value.

The Electric Motors Catalyst tinkering kit is available on their site ($55 USD) and on Amazon ($59 USD) where it is an Amazon Choice. It gets the seal of approval from Zavier. Which means it gets my seal of approval because it engages kids and helps them to start down the road to being interested in STEM. 

Review: Urban Armor Gear Active Watch Strap

Posted in Products with tags on June 3, 2019 by itnerd

Thanks to the folks at Urban Armor Gear, I’ve found the best Apple Watch strap for those who lead active lifestyles. And it’s called the Urban Armor Gear Active Watch Strap.


It’s a two piece band made of high strength nylon and it has a large amount of Velcro as well as a lot of stainless steel for the lugs and one section of the band.

57cmjNIiTvaTrC6jJbwoLQ I am going to focus in on the lugs for a second. They have very minimal play and they are on the large side which gives the Apple Watch a bit of a different look.


Most of the branding on the strap is seen below. The only other branding is on the buckle. And if you are wondering what the ISO 22810 means on the logo that’s on the strap, here’s a quick description from here:

ISO 22810 defines no minimum standard for water resistance; instead, it presents testing criteria for the widest possible practical range for non-dive watches, and also makes it the manufacturer’s responsibility for stating “warranty conditions and precautions to be taken to maintain the quality of the watch over an extended period of time.” Rather than requiring any tests, it provides testing procedures which it is then the manufacturer’s responsibility to define at the production stage “if he wishes to be able to guarantee that they satisfy the requirements of the International Standard.” 

This is a reference to the ability of the Apple Watch Series 4 to survive in 50 meters of water during activities like swimming and the like as described here.

So, when my wife and I got our respective straps from UAG, we wondered how to test them. Our first test was to do a 50 KM training ride our our bikes which would help to prepare us for our upcoming fundraising ride later in June which I have written about previously. The strap felt very secure and stable on our wrists during the two hours on the bike and it was very comfortable. But my wife took it to the next level by taking it to her CrossFit gym and did a full workout involving weights, apparatus, and doing things like burpees and the like. Again, there were no issues as according to her. But again my wife took it to the next level beyond that. She signed up for an obstacle trail race called Rugged Maniac. Here’s how the organizers describe it:

our 3-mile course packed with 20+ epic obstacles designed to both challenge and thrill Maniacs of all fitness levels, from couch potatoes to marathoners.  

What they don’t say is it also has mud that deep enough to suck your shoes off and water deep enough to be interesting. And there was a fire pit too. If there was one test that would really highlight the strengths and weaknesses of this band, this would be it. When she lined up in the start pen, a lot of people thought that she was nuts for wearing an Apple Watch for something like this. Even she was skeptical given that this wasn’t exactly the best environment for an Apple Watch even though it was water resistant. But she ran the three miles in under 84 minutes, and had to overcome stuff like this:HhEWAW1gTL+T1+ld4d090Q

And this:


And this:


And here’s what her Apple Watch with the UAG Active Watch Strap looked like at the end of the event:


The Apple Watch was a mess and it took me over half an hour to clean it. The UAG Active Watch Strap was a mess too. But I solved that by throwing it in the washer. As for the Apple Watch, it was in working order as well. According to my wife the Apple Watch was solid on her wrist the entire time and she never felt it was going to come off her wrist. Clearly if this band can survive this, it will survive anything.

Gripes? In the case of my wife, she did comment that on her slender arms and on her 40mm Apple Watch, the band can look overwhelming. In my case, a reflective option like the Apple Nike band would be welcome. But neither of those are deal breakers in any way as this is a great Apple Watch strap overall.

The Urban Armor Gear Active Watch Strap goes for $83 CDN on their website. It can clearly survive anything we threw at it, which means that it will survive your active lifestyle with ease.

Review: ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

Posted in Products with tags on May 23, 2019 by itnerd

I have a different sort of ASUS notebook to review. It’s a Chromebook which means it runs the Chrome OS. It also can be run as a notebook or a tablet. And it feels like one of the more upscale offerings from ASUS. It’s the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434:


Here it is in notebook mode. The first thing you’ll notice when you open it is the 14″ barely-there bezels that surround the display. It has a 87% screen to body ratio which means you get a whole lot of screen real estate to work with. It is a 1080p touch screen, which is fairly bright and vivid.

The keyboard is also a huge plus. In an age where Apple notebooks have horrible keyboards due to their lack of feedback and reliability, it is refreshing to use a keyboard that has excellent feel. I can’t speak to the reliability, but because it uses traditional keyboard switches I expect it to be reliable. The keyboard is also backlit which is handy in dark rooms.


When you flip it to tablet mode, it makes the Flip C434T usable in environments where a full notebook would be unusable. And you can stand it up like this to make it a hand free media streaming device for example.

Here’s the specs of the review unit that ASUS sent me:

  • Intel Core m3-8100Y processor – 1.1GHz dual-core with Turbo Boost (up to 3.4GHz) and 4MB cache
  • Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 615
  • 14” LED-backlit FHD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 standard display
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB eMMC
  • 802.11 ac WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • HD Camera
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (up to 5Gbps)
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A (up to 5Gbps)
  • 1 x microSD card slot
  • 1 x Audio combo jack

All of this is great for running Chrome OS for the most part. I noticed some minor lag when switching between tabs when I opened up 20 tabs at the same time, but the Chromebook Flip C434 did a great job overall. The bottom-firing speakers on the front of the Flip C434 pump out clear sound that’s loud enough to fill a large room. The webcam like most webcams these days is average. In terms of battery life, I got about 9 hours which is more than respectable.

So, the only question is how much does the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 cost? I found it on Amazon for just over $700 CDN which is a bit pricey for a Chromebook. But the other side of this argument is that if you need a notebook with a lightweight OS and a fair amount of functionality in the box, then this might be an option. The Chromebook Flip C434 is a standout 2-in-1 that gives Mac and Windows users a compelling reason to switch to Chrome instead of grabbing another Windows or Mac laptop.