Archive for the Products Category

Review: LG G4

Posted in Products with tags , on July 21, 2015 by itnerd

Telus this week set me up with LG’s new flagship phone. The G4 is out to compete with the Samsung Galaxy’s and the iPhone 6’s of the world. On paper it has the goods to compete with those phones:

  • 6 Core Processor
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440
  • 32GB internal storage, microSD card expandability up to 2TB
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16MP rear camera
  • 8MP front camera
  • LTE / HSPA+
  • WiFi 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1LE
  • NFC
  • USB 2.0

From a design perspective, it looks similar to previous G phones form LG. It still has the rear mounted power and volume buttons. But something that is new is the removable back case. It’s made of leather that looks like it will survive a couple of years in your pocket. If for some reason that doesn’t do much for you, there is a plastic back case. There’s a headphone jack on the bottom, but beyond that this phone is very minimalistic in nature. It feels solid in your hand and is easy to hold. When it comes to the screen, it is sharp and clear with excellent color purity. The only area that I wasn’t impressed was when I used the G4 in bright light. It was basically unusable in those conditions. The G4 is incredibly quick. Nothing that I threw at it bogged it down. Credit the 6 core processor under the hood. Also, having 3GB of RAM likely helps as well. Speaking of quick, Telus gave me a phone that was the fastest phone on their network that I have ever tested. I scored 53.23 Mbps downstream and 29.76 Mbps upstream. If Telus serves up a few more phones that are this fast, their competition will have something to worry about.

From a software perspective, LG has done a good job of implementing elements from Material Design, and has made Lollipop’s idiosyncrasies bearable. There are a ton of apps installed and your mileage may vary as to whether they would be useful to you. But one thing that I did note is that this phone came with SureTap Wallet to enable mobile payments. Another thing that I noted was Smart Settings where you can trigger apps or events when you do something. For example, you can set it up to have Spotify to open every time you plug in a pair of headphones. That might come in handy for some users.

Now onto the camera. I’ve had autofocus issues with previous LG flagship phones. The G4 does continue this tradition but it’s annoyance level is minimal. But I am getting ahead of myself. First let me show you what I managed to get out at Pearson Airport in Toronto. Click to see each image in full resolution:

20150718_132432

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The pictures are very good. But I did note that the autofocus issues that I had in previous LG flagship phones was there at much lower levels than previous LG efforts. But once you recognized that it was present and framed the pictures so that you can get the image that you want the way you want it, you could get fast moving pictures such as planes landing without an issue. One thing that I did like was the camera app. It is outstanding as it gives advanced photographers all sorts of control that you typically don’t see in a phone. Another cool feature: Double tapping the volume down button on the phone’s rear opens the app and takes a photo. That’s handy if you need to grab a quick picture.

When it comes to video, the G4 supports 4K video at 30fps. I wasn’t that ambitious with this video which you can set to 1080p and full screen:

The video quality is great if I may say so myself.

Battery life is exceptional. You can easily get a day and a half out of the battery without trying too hard. If you use some of the power saving features, you should be able to get two days. That was impressive.

So, what does LGs latest flagship phone go for? From Telus, it’s $200 on a two year term or $700 outright. If you’re in the market for an Android phone with the latest Android OS as well as a very different design that works, this has to be on your list to look at. It’s quick, expandable, and has a pretty good camera even with the issues with autofocus that I found (which I hope go away with a software update). Check it out at your local Telus store.

Review: Netatmo Welcome

Posted in Products with tags on July 20, 2015 by itnerd

Security cameras are something that always catch my attention because of the fact that a couple of scumbags broke into my condo and stole a bunch of stuff from my wife and I. Which is why I have security cameras that are accessible via the Internet which trigger when they sense motion. But the camera that I am reviewing is very different. The camera is the Netatmo Welcome and it looks like this:

IMG_1475

It doesn’t look like a camera does it? That’s on purpose as it’s not going to be noticed as a camera by anyone who sees it. Not only that, it’s made of aluminum which dissipates the heat that the camera generates (which is normal according to Netatmo). And before anyone asks, gold is they only color available.

IMG_1474

On the back are are Ethernet port in case you don’t want to or cannot use the camera via WiFi, a USB port that allows you to connect it to your computer to configure it and power it, as well as a slot for a MicroSD card which stores video. It’s 8GB and is included in the package and you can swap it out for a larger one if you want more storage.

As mentioned earlier, the camera operates over Ethernet or WiFi. I chose the latter and setup was almost dead easy:

  1. Download the Netatmo App which is available for iOS or Android phones and tablets. I chose the former.
  2. Plug the power cable into the camera’s USB port and then flip the camera upside down. This makes the camera discoverable via Bluetooth. Eventually, a blue light will appear on the camera.
  3. The Netatmo app will eventually find the camera.
  4. The camera will then find available WiFi networks and instantly pair with the one you choose including getting the required password from your phone.

At this point I should have been done. But it would not connect to Netatmo’s servers despite the fact that I had an Internet connection. It threw an error message that made a cryptic reference to not having VPN access on my router. I eventually figured out what it was talking about (click to enlarge):

Untitled

This is a configuration page from my router and the circled area is for VPN (Virtual Private Network) Passthrough. It was off by default on my router. Clearly this camera requires it to connect with Netatmo’s servers. Once enabled, it connected and worked fine. Though I did some reasoning and detective work for me to figure this out. There was nothing in the documentation that pointed to this as a requirement. Netatmo may wish to do something about that to make life easer for their users.

So, once connected and working, the Netatmo Welcome camera has a bunch of features:

  • It has facial recognition so that it can identify individual people once you create a profile for each person. It took about a week of usage before that worked reliably (though it was a bit slow at times) for myself and my wife because it has to “learn” people’s faces. You can accelerate that to a degree by helping it via the app to recognize faces and associating them the right profile. I did note that it learned my wife’s face (who has a lighter skin tone) faster than it recognized mine (which has a much darker skin tone). You can identify up to 16 people and the app can show you the current state of each profile in terms of its ability to recognize an individual.
  • When you leave home, it recognizes that by using the GPS function on your phone to compare the location of your phone in comparison to the location of the Netatmo Welcome. The camera considers anything that goes outside a short distance of the camera’s location as you having left home. Thus there’s nothing that you have to remember to turn on like most other cameras. Alternately, the Netatmo Welcome considers the home to be empty if it hasn’t seen anyone it recognizes for four hours, or you can simply use the app to tell the camera that nobody is home.
  • The camera pushes notifications to your phone in almost real time via their servers when it detects motion, recognizes someone, or sees someone that it doesn’t recognize. I also got alerts when the camera was no longer connected to my network or when it connects back to it. All alerts tended to arrive within 2 minutes of the event happening.
  • It’s built with privacy in mind. All video is recorded to the MicroSD card in the camera and stays there. You can also configure the camera to selectively record people. For example, I had it set not to recored video of my wife and I and it set to record any motion or any unknown faces or any motion that it detects. One advantage of this is that you don’t need to pay to store videos and the like in the cloud like you do with some other camera vendors. Nor do you have to expose your data to a third party.
  • It can sense motion anywhere in its 130 degree field of view, even at night via its infrared night vision which worked quite well in my testing.
  • The Welcome supports up to 1080p video. However, the quality of video that you see depends on the Internet connection the camera’s end as well as the quality of the Internet connection on your mobile device. The better the connection on both ends, the better the video.
  • If the camera is unplugged, it will upload the last image it sees before power runs out to Netatmo. The logic is that if a thief recognized that the Netatmo Welcome is a camera and unplugs it, you get an image of their face.

The one thing that I have to point out is that placement of the camera is a key factor as to how well it works. It’s meant to watch your door and the instructions specifically warn against pointing it out a window or anywhere with too strong a backlight. That was a problem for me as I have a light near the door to my condo that clearly interfered with its ability to recognize faces. I changed the bulb to a softer bulb and the ability for the camera to recognize my face improved somewhat. Another issue is that you can’t attach Netatmo to a wall which means that you’ll need to find flat surface for it where it can reach a plug and see the door. For some users, that might be an issue. But if you can get past that, the use case is pretty compelling. You can know at a glance who is coming and going from your home and it’s largely automatic. That makes it unique when compared to other Internet enabled cameras. I think that will appeal to a broad group of people

The Netatmo Welcome is $219 Canadian and it is available at Best Buy in Canada. If you’re looking for a camera that has a bunch of unique features including privacy, the Netatmo Welcome is worth a look.

Review: Nikon Coolpix P900

Posted in Products with tags on July 13, 2015 by itnerd

Let me get right to the point. The Nikon Coolpix P900 is an outstanding camera. It tickles off all the right boxes and should be on your list if you want a Camera that is a great point and shoot camera with a bunch of extra features. Before I get to those features, let me show you the camera:

IMG_1468

As you can see, it’s not a small camera as most of the size is occupied by the 24-2000 mm lens.

IMG_1469One handy feature is that the rear LCD flips out to allow you to shoot selfies or position it to wherever is handy for you. The LCD was usable in the bright sunlight that was evident on the day that I tested it.

The Coolpix P900 is a 16 megapixel camera that comes with the following:

  • 83x (2000mm equivalent) optical zoom lens.
  • Built in flash.
  • 7fps burst rate at full resolution, 60fps and 120fps burst rates at lower resolution
  • Electronic View Finder with eye control
  • 5-stop Vibration Reduction
  • 18 scene modes including timelapse, bird-watching, easy panorama and moon shot. There’s also a manual control if you want to do your own thing.
  • Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC are included so you can view and transfer photos and video clips to your smartphone or tablet, or even use another device to remotely control the camera. GPS is also built in for geotagging shots and finding points of interest you might want pictures of when traveling. The GPS was quick to gain a signal and was able to maintain the signal throughout my testing. However, battery life was drained quickly with GPS logging turned on. That was kind of annoying.
  • Full HD video at 60 frames per second as well as 30fps. 720p resolution is also available at 60p/30p as is a neat slow-motion video mode that captures at up 120 frames per second at VGA (640 x 480) resolution.
  • For storage, the P900 uses Secure Digital flash memory cards and is compatible with SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.
  • It uses a Lithium ion battery pack. You should buy two or three if you want to use the GPS function on this camera.

It all comes together nicely to give you a camera that is great for any situation. It is heavy, but it is easy to hold. Though I wish that it had a bit more on the left hand side to hold. Two things that I like about the design of the camera are the fact that it has two ways to zoom in and out (one on the shutter and one on the lens), as well as a separate control to record video. Clever.

But the real question is this: How well does it take pictures? To answer that, here are some pictures taken at various zoom levels outside my favorite place to test cameras which is Pearson Airport in Toronto. Click to see them at full size:

DSCN0405 DSCN0406 DSCN0408 DSCN0399

One thing I really liked was the fact that the Coolpix P900 was quick to cycle after taking pictures. That makes it great for action shots.

As for video, Here’s a couple of videos shot at 1080p. Set the video to full screen and 1080p to see it in full resolution:

The video is outstanding from a quality perspective and I will note that while the built in microphone could be overwhelmed by wind, it did pick up the surrounding noise very well. Everything from birds to my car stereo was recorded.

The Nikon Coolpix P900 has a MSRP of $670 Canadian. Other than the fact that the GPS function drains the battery, there’s not much that I didn’t like about this camera. Take a good look at it if you are in the market for a very capable point and shoot camera.

In Depth: Method

Posted in Products with tags on July 7, 2015 by itnerd

Large businesses typically have the benefit of using one piece of software,or a suite of applications to run their business operations. Be it from accounting, inventory, or customer relationship management. Small businesses however often run multiple applications to do business. Thus they run an application to do accounting and inventory, and another application to perform customer relationship management. Typically the applications are not integrated so small business owners have to enter data twice which of course is far from ideal.

A company called Method is changing this for the better. If you’re a QuickBooks user (and there are a lot of small and even medium sized businesses that are) and you want to add customer relationship management functionality, their flagship cloud based application Method:CRM allows you to do that. The key feature is that Method:CRM integrates with QuickBooks (and it doesn’t matter if you use QuickBooks in the cloud or on your desktop). Thus you get a single pane of glass to look at your data and you don’t have to enter data twice. But the innovation doesn’t stop there. Method:CRM allows you to see your data on multiple platforms be it Android, iPhone, iPad, laptop, desktop, Windows phone or Blackberry. Because the app is web based, it makes it completely platform agnostic. Thus you can use whatever device suits you to see your data rather than be forced to pick a platform to get at your data. The final piece of the puzzle is that Method:CRM is 100% customization. That way you can make it work for you as opposed to you being forced to adapt to it. The average user should be able to customize it themselves. But if that’s not you, Method has assisted services to help to train you and customize the application to suit your needs. Plus they have dedicated services where you get a 1:1 relationship with one of their Business Solutions Specialists for a fixed number of hours to train, assist, mentor, and customize your instance of Method:CRM. Alternately, Method has a small army of partners that can help you get the most from Method:CRM.

Another thing about Method that caught my eye is a second application that they offer called Method:Donor which is aimed at someone in the non-profit space that needs to collect and track donors and donations. It works the same way as Method:CRM, but in my mind, this is may have more of an impact for Method as this is a space that is growing and they are leveraging what they know from their CRM product to make Method:Donor a product to strongly consider if you’re in this space. One key point to mention is that Method:Donor came about via winning a QB Connect hackathon in 2014 where they built the app in 36 hours.

Method is a very interesting company from my perspective. They’re located in the Fashion District of Downtown Toronto and have been around in some form since 1999.They have a “work hard and play hard” culture that comes through even when browsing their website. They also come across as very agile when it comes to how their products are developed and supported, and I think that’s a huge advantage for them as they’re the #1 CRM product for QuickBooks with a 5-star rating on Intuit Apps.com.

Method:CRM is $25 to $40 per user per month and they have a 30 day trial to let you test drive it. Method:Donor is $25 per user per month. In either case, you’ll be getting a customer relationship management or donor management application that can take you to the next level. For that reason, If you’re an small or medium business or a non-profit, you need to take a serious look at Method.

In Depth: Parrot’s Next Generation Of Mini Drones

Posted in Products with tags on June 27, 2015 by itnerd

I attended a event put on by Parrot where they were showing off their next generation of mini drones. You’ll recall that I reviewed their first generation mini drones a few months ago. But this next generation step things up in a number of significant ways. Let’s walk through the lineup:

Parrot Jumping Mini Drones – For those who want to have a ground based mini drone, Parrot gives you two options to choose from:

ParrotMiniDrones_JumpingNight_Buzz

Parrot Jumping Night Mini Drones feature a pair of LED lights that allow you to pilot the drone at night.

ParrotMiniDrones_JumpingRace_Jett

Parrot Jumping Race Drones are designed for high speed action as they are capable of speeds up to 8 miles per hour.

Either way, you get these features:

  • Wi-Fi 2.4 or 5 Ghz connectivity via the free FreeFlight 3 application.
  • Embedded camera: they are equipped with a wide angle camera that streams live, immersive views on the screen of the piloting smartphone or tablet. They take pictures and videos which are directly stored on the internal 4GB flash memory.
  • Embedded speaker and microphone:
    • They talk: Depending on their mood, they ‘bip’, ‘ziiip’, ‘groutch’.
    • Walkie talkie: You can talk and listen through them.
  • A patented spring-mounted system: They can jump up to 2.5 ft. in height and length.
  • Automatic movements: the Jumping perform acrobatics, without the need for training: spin around, jump, roll upside down, push or hit an object.
  • Retractable wheels: large or compact mode to adapt to all driving styles.
  • A programmable road plan: a ‘road plan’ enables you to program a course and actions. The itinerary appears on the app among the predefined movements. You just have to click on it to see the Jumping Drones maneuver autonomously.

Each model is available in three colors and will go for $239. Availability is slated for Q3 2015.

Parrot Airborne Mini Drones – Just like the Jumping Race Drones, you get two choices:

ParrotMiniDrones_AirborneNight_BlazeThe Airborne ‘Night’ which is built to fly during the day and night thanks to two powerful LED lights with adjustable intensity.

ParrotMiniDrones_AirborneCargo_MarsThe Airborne ‘Cargo’ transport drones are able to carry figurines or toy “bricks” meaning the building blocks that kids play with.

In either case, you get these features:

  • Ultra-compact and light-weight at 1.2 lbs.
  • Connectivity using Bluetooth Smart via the free FreeFlight 3 app for smartphones and tablets.
  • Removable polyamide hull to protect the propellers.
  • A 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope measure and analyze each movement or inclination of the drone and, thanks to the autopilot, rectify the position of the Minidrone.
  • A vertical camera compares, every 16 milliseconds, an image of the ground to the previous one to determine the speed of the Minidrone. It also enables the Minidrone to take snapshots, which are saved on the 1 Gb flash memory. Perfect for aerial “selfies.”
  • An ultrasound sensor analyzes the flight altitude up to 13 ft. Beyond, a pressure sensor controls the Minidrone in altitude.
  • The Airborne’ can do high-speed flights: they rush up to 11 mph, turn right, turn left and perform flips with amazing fluidity and stability. A ‘swipe’ on the piloting screen and the Parrot ‘Airborne’ turn 90 or 180 degrees in a flash.
  • Toss them into the air and their sensors detect it instantaneously: engines start automatically and the ‘Airborne’ stabilize in the air.

The Airborne ‘Night’ is available in three colors and will sell for $159. The Airborne Cargo is available in two colors and will sell for $129. Both versions will be available in Q3 2015.

Parrot Hydrofoil Mini Drones

ParrotMiniDrones_Hydrfoil_NewZ

A new addition to the Parrot mini drone family is this water based Hydrofoil mini drone which are flying Minidrones that can be attached to a hydrofoil. They rise out of the water to hover over the surface and hit speeds of 6 miles an hour in the water. Once the engines are on, the upper part of the Hydrofoil positions perpendicularly to the nautical structure. Thanks to the four propellers of the Minidrone, it slides through the water and stays about 2 inches above the surface with amazing stability and agility. Communication is via Bluetooth and the free FreeFlight 3. Two colors are available and it will sell for $229. Expect to see it in Q3 of 2015.

During the event that I attended, I got the chance to try out these new mini drones and I also managed to capture some videos of them in action:

I’ve requested them to review and as soon as I get them, you’ll see a review of these new mini drones online quickly.

Review: GTA Car Kits Pure Bluetooth Car Kit

Posted in Products with tags on June 19, 2015 by itnerd

Over the last little while, my wife and I have felt the need to replace our add-on Bluetooth kit in our car as it wasn’t working as well as it used to. Now because this was a tech related item, my wife delegated the task of finding a replacement to me. I didn’t really want to replace the factory stereo with an after market unit as the cost of that including installation would be high. So, after doing some research I came across a company called GTA Car Kits which sells iPod/iPhone integration kits and Bluetooth add-on hardware for cars that don’t have either but still have the factory stereo. We didn’t need iPod/iPhone integration so I decided on their Pure Bluetooth car kit. This kit promises the following:

  • Compatibility with almost any Bluetooth enabled Smartphone.
  • CD or better quality sound.
  • The ability to stream all of your music and have full control of said music through the factory stereo system and the steering wheel controls.
  • The ability to answer and hang up the phone through the factory stereo system and the steering wheel controls.
  • It includes an AUX audio port for non-Bluetooth devices and a USB port to charge the phone (data transfer is not supported). A microphone is also included.
  • Easy installation.

First let’s tackle what comes with the kit:

There is a main unit that interfaces with the factory stereo. You also get a bunch of cables:

  • One connects the main unit with the factory stereo
  • A 1/8″ cable that allows you to plug in a non-Bluetooth device
  • A microphone.

Please note that the image above comes from GTA Car Kits website.

Now let’s tackle the installation part. Assuming you have some skill and the right tools (more on the tools you need in a second), you should be able to install this yourself. One of the things that GTA Car Kits has done is provide videos to help you install these kits. While the videos are currently for their iPod/iPhone integration kits and are currently not available for the Pure Bluetooth car kit (although videos are starting to appear for some cars), they are still useful as the process is largely the same. It also makes up for the fact that the printed instructions are on the sparse side (and to be fair, deliberately so as I cannot see how they would be able to document every car make and model in a printed document). Here’s an example of such a video for the Toyota Matrix that I have:

Another thing that they’ve done is they make the tools that you need to install these kits available for sale along with a video showing how they are to be used properly. Thus you can get everything that you need to do this yourself. Now based on the feedback that I have seen, installation is achievable by most people. But if you’re not good at doing this sort of thing, you may wish to get a pro in a car stereo shop to do it for you. Alternately if you live in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, they can install it for you for a fee. That’s the route that I went and it only took them about 30 minutes to install it. One thing that I’d like to highlight is the placement of the microphone as pictured below:

IMG_1426

Clearly they were able to pop off the panel on the “A” pillar to route the cable for the microphone. Even though it is hanging off the “A” pillar, I’m fine with that. When I examined the car later, I found no dents or scratches on the dash or the “A” pillar. In terms of the electronics, everything worked when I tested the functionality of the in-dash CD player, built in AUX port, and any of the lights or switch gear (that would be the passenger airbag lights and the hazard lights switch) that they would have had to disconnect to install the kit.

Now, I did not leverage the AUX port option as my car already had one built in. I also did not leverage the USB charging option as that would require them to drill into the dash which I did not want them to do. Plus I will be getting this accessory from Garmin to charge my phones. Thus I was left with just having Bluetooth which is what I wanted.

The way the kit works is that it plugs into the CD changer port at the back of the factory stereo and basically fools the factory stereo into thinking it has a CD changer connected to it. Once you set it to “Disc 1″ here’s what you can do:

  • You can listen to music via Bluetooth as it supports the A2DP Bluetooth profile. You can change tracks using the car stereo and steering wheel controls. However you have to choose the playlist and start and stop the music from the phone. Preferably while you are parked.
  • If a call comes in, you can answer it by pressing the seek forward button. You can also hang up by using the same button. Now if you’re listening to music via Bluetooth, the music will stop and the call will come in. When you are finished with the call and you hang up, the music will start up again automatically. However, if you are listening to the radio or CD, then you will have to hit the AUX or CD button on your stereo before you answer the call as it doesn’t automatically switch over when a call comes in. That is understandable as the factory stereo wasn’t designed with this in mind and I am guessing that GTA Car Kits couldn’t figure out a way to make this behavior happen automatically when a call comes in.

The kit supports two phones and pairing phones is easy:

  • Put your phone into pairing mode and start the car.
  • Wait for a device called “GTA Car Kit” to appear.
  • When it does appear, simply pair the two devices. If it asks for a pairing code (My iPhone 6 did not ask for one), use “0000”.
  • Done. Declare victory and have a beer.

That is way easier than many factory stereo systems that I’ve tried lately where you have to do all sorts of stuff to pair a phone to it via Bluetooth. In my case I paired my wife’s iPhone 6 along with my iPhone 6. The key thing to keep in mind is that if you have both phones in the car at the same time, you need turn off Bluetooth on the phone that you do not want to be paired with your car (which should be the phone that belongs to the person who is not driving). Also, I note that the phone auto-connects quickly once it is paired.

In terms of the audio quality while playing back music, it was exceptionally good. No hiccups, distortion, or any other issues were noted in my testing. As far as I am concerned, it is CD quality or better. In terms of audio quality during phone calls, everything that I heard inside the car was clear and crisp. People who heard me speaking in the call commented that it was easy to hear with and at worst there was a bit of echo. On this front, I have no complaints.

Oddities? I noted that music would auto play sometimes when I put it into the Disc/AUX mode of the factory stereo or when my iPhone connected via Bluetooth. That’s not the fault of the Pure Bluetooth car kit as this is a long standing bug that has been present in iOS since iOS 7. I also noted that it sometimes had problems auto-connecting properly to my iPhone with the core symptom being that music was not routed from the phone through the factory stereo, but phone calls worked fine. A reboot of the phone fixed that issue which implies that this is another Bluetooth related issue with iOS. Finally, to properly hear anything over Bluetooth, you need to crank up the volume on your phone to the max. That’s not the fault of the kit as this is common thing that you have to do when you stream from a Bluetooth phone.

Wish list? How about the ability to invoke Siri? That would be cool as it would allow you to use your voice to pick playlists and send and read text messages among other things. In my e-mail conversations with GTA Car Kits, they did say that they were going to be doing some testing on this front in the next few weeks. If this functionality does appear and they tell me how to invoke Siri, I will update this review. Having said that, I did an experiment where I plugged a external battery pack into my iPhone 6 to simulate the phone being plugged into AC power and used the “Hey Siri” phrase which only works while on AC power to get Siri’s attention. That worked. But a button press would be better.

Now to how much this setup costs. The Pure Bluetooth kit for my Toyota Matrix was $159.85 and GTA Car Kits charged me another $100 to install it. The company makes kits for a number of car makes and models, thus I would suggest that you check their website to see if your car is on the list.

What’s my verdict? If you’re in the position of owning a car with a factory stereo that lacks Bluetooth and you want to add Bluetooth, this is a good option for you as it is way cheaper than swapping your factory stereo out for an after market unit. One thing to consider is that the company offers a 60 day refund policy. That way you can try it and see if it is right for you.

Review: 2016 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on June 12, 2015 by itnerd

So I’ve come to the end of my week long review of the Mazda CX-3 GT AWD. It’s in a crowded field of sub-compact crossovers and I think that based on my week with it, it will hold its own against anyone in that class. It has great driving dynamics, a great interior, and as more tech than you can shake a stick at. I really liked it and this class of vehicle appeals to my wife and I because we both want a vehicle that isn’t too big, but still has the versatility of a crossover including having all-wheel-drive, while being good on gas. Speaking on gas, my final fuel economy was 8.2 L/100KM’s. Not the big drop that I usually get when I test cars for a week, but that’s pretty decent given I drove it in the city and on the highway in and outside of rush hour. Back to that crowded field of sub compact crossovers that it has to contend with. The list is one that grows as more carmakers enter it. Right now if you wanted to cross shop it, contenders would include the Nissan Juke, Chevy Trax and it’s corporate cousin the Buick Encore, and the upcoming Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V. If you wanted to expand this to the luxury space, you could toss in the Mercedes Benz GLA, Infiniti QX-50 and BMW X1 for good measure.

The Mazda CX-3 starts at $20,695 but the GT trim level that I had this week goes for $30,795 and it had pretty much every option box checked. Thus there’s a wide range to get as little or as much CX-3 as you need.

My final verdict, if you live in an urban environment and want a small versatile vehicle that is easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces, or you want to downsize to a vehicle that is “just right” in terms of size, you have to look at the Mazda CX-3. Mazda has ticked off all the boxes and its a winner as far as I am concerned. It’s also a winner with buyers. It’s only been available in Canada since late May and Mazda has already sold over 700 copies. Clearly, it’s also a winner with car buyers as well.

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