Posts from the ‘review’ Category

best deal on mid size family sedan with leather and sunroof

Researched new, family, medium size to full size, family sedans for my father in-law (aka sedan for a cool grandpa :). But found it deceptive how car manufactures advertise their prices without 2 features most if us have to have: leather and a sunroof / moonroof (heated seats and auto transmission as well, but most offer those with leather automatically).
So you see $20k starting price and get excited (Nissan, Honda, etc), but after adding those must haves … you reach $30k – the price range of luxury models (Audi, Acura, etc).
Further, warranty period varies and some offer free maintenance and/or roadside assistance (something that used to be offered only on luxury vehicles, but no longer). All in all, below are is best value for the buck for a mid size family sendans (I found those prices on either trueCar.com or carsDirect.com as of march ’13).

A4 | Accord | Altima | CC | G37 | Passat | Sonata

8) Lexus ES 350$37.5k v6 – length: 192.7 inches
Has 4 yr warranty, i couldn’t find if they offer free maintenance, but don’t think so.
Way to expense for mid size. Thus pretty much excluded from this coparo.

7) Honda Accord – no free maintenance, no roadside assistance
Warranty: 3 years / drivetrain – 5 years
i4 – $26.5 EX-L
V6 – $28.4 EX
length: 194 inches
Ironically this is probably choice #1 for older people, not at all in my book. 
#1 wins price, looks, interior and warranty wise.

6) Nissan Altima – no free maintenance, no roadside assistance
Warranty: basic – 3 years / drivetrain – 5 years
i4 (4 cylinder) – $26.3K – SL limited
V6 – $28.2K – SL
lengh: 191.5 inches (still considered mid size sedan?)
Although a looker it is smaller then #1 and interior feels cheaper.

5) Audi a4 –  5k mikes (only!) free maintenance / 4 yr roadside assistance
Warranty: basic – 4 years, drivetrain – 4 years
i4 – $29k
V6 – NOT avail
length: 185 inches – shortest here (mid size sedan)
Audi (owned by VW) kills me with their logic of uber brand that drives and feels very similar to VW, yet charges premium for the features that are standard on VW … And they stopped offering v6 at all!  
On top of it, I like the look and feel of CC over a4.
Also worth mentioning, they are very difficult to negotiate with.

4) infiniti G37 – no free maintainance (“Luxury” ?!), 4 yr roadside assistance
Warranty: basic – 4 years, drivetrain – 6 years
i4 – NOT avail
V6 – $32k
length: 188 inches
Eventhough not the best deal nor free maintanace, 280hp and the only RWD car here puts it ahead of Audi.
3) VW passat CC – 3 yr free maintainance / roadside assistance
Warranty: basic – 3 years, drivetrain – 5 years
i4 – $29k
V6 – $35k
length: 188.9 inches
My personal favorite in the bunch. It’s a looker and has the best interior.
2) AcuraNO free maintainance / 4 yr roadside assistance
[update: motortrend.com has wrong info about maintenance.]
Warranty: basic – 4 years, drivetrain – 6 years
i4 TSX$30k – length: 185.6 inches (mid size sedan)
V6 TL$33k – length: 194 inches (full size sedan)
TL is not offered in 4 cylinder, that’s why I decided to include TSX i4, which is Fairly similar in looks.
TL is the largest in the group – 194 inches, where TSX is 2nd shortest – 186.
TL on the current special is the best deal for v6 medium side family sedan. They also have best warranty and cheap maintainance. Finally this car feels most luxurious of the bunch (note: didn’t bother test driving a Lexus)
1) VW Passat3 yr free maintainance / roadside assistance
Warranty: basic – 3 years, drivetrain – 5 years
i4 – $25k
V6 – $29k
length: 191.6 inches
Amazing deal: 2nd biggest car in the group at 192 inches,  free maintanace (they give loaners!), 170hp 4 cylinder is surprisingly zippy for such a big car, and the sophisticated looks of Audi family are easy on the eyes. Finally $25k is simply best bargain today, especially with German engineering heritage and maintanace perks. 
Ps: my comparison might be considered bias by not including Hyundai or American ford fusion, but lets be honest – ford is not German nor japanese thus not worth $28k for 4 cylinder sedan, no matter how many praises it gets in American press.
Now i must say Sonata is a solid car. I was very impressed how it handled through rain, snow on my 2k road trip, but the interior does feel the cheapest of all the sedans here and … my father in-law does not like the looks of this $24k “Korean” (leather & 4 cylinder – 174hp , 5/10 yr warranty, no free maintenance, 35mpg).
Ps2: Although, it’s worth mentioning 24 mpg (passat) vs 35 mpg (sonata) difference, so assuming 15k miles a year, that’s a significant $700 difference in gas cost between the 2, back in Sonata’s favor (being a devil’s advocate here :)
But, if you add $500/year worth of maintenance to the price of the sonata and consider the mileage savings … Sonata, “beats” Passat by $200 each year.
ps3: what the world is coming to, when a german sedan is better priced then … korean or an american one … :)
____________  ____________________
warranty (years) price (thusands) notes
length basic drive
train
free maintance road assitance 4 cylinder v6
Lexus ES 350 192.7 4 ? ? (dont’ think so) ? x $37.50 most expensive
Honda Accord EX 194.0 3 5 x x $26.50 $28.40 longest
Nissan Altima SL 191.5 3 5 x x $26.30 $28.20
Audi A4 185.0 4 4 5k miles 4 $29.00 x shortest
Infiniti G37 188.0 4 6 x 4 x $32.00
VW passat CC 188.9 3 5 3 3 $29.00 $35.00
Acura TL / TSX(i4) 194.0 4 6 4 4 $30.00 $33.00 longest, best warranty
TSX 185.6 TSX TL
VW Passat 191.6 3 5 3 3 $25.00 $29.00 cheapest i4 & v6

real world iPhone 4S review / sprint / iOS 5

so, i’ve had “the best iPhone ever made” over the weekend and here are my, real world thoughts:

1) SIRI – yes, pretty amazing … IF it works.

between sprint and/or apple servers issues in the first 2 days. it’s been a very frustrated experience (“i’m sorry, i’m having problems reaching the network”)
but … when it does work. wow
my eastern european accent usually trips any voice recognition app (dragon go has been my favorite so far, but it too has it’s misses)

back to SIRI.
best experience – dictating 1 sentence txt message, in a crowded restaurant. got it 90% right … impressive
worst? trying to dial my friend “ehab” …. i gave up, after the 5th try

“set an alarm in 1/2 hour” doesn’t seem to work for me. “reminders” do, but they are so quiet … i’ve missed one or two already

after using it for 4 days …. although it is not 100% accurate, 85% is impressive

biggest peeve? siri has to reach out to the internet for everything!? seems like a oversight to have to do that for local info, such as your contacts, playlists, etc

2) camera

yeah it’s nice, faster, 8 mb … (can’t really confirm the dimmer environment). but … the reality is that in the end, you’ll take the 8mb picture & upload it to facebook (send it to friends, etc) at … 1mb (if). so in the real world, more doesn’t really mean much … right?


but … take a look at the 2 photos above and you will be able to pick the better one … yes 4S is better, more vibrant, more alive

3) “faster”, “better” battery life

real life improvement? maybe 5%-10% faster overall, but barely noticeable if you don’t play games.

i do have to say, download speeds are twice faster on att – 4gb vs 2gb (even using 1 year old sim card). in real life, maybe 20%+ improvement. when using newer 4G sim, you can get up to 6gb speeds … 3x faster. but that’s only certain cities

battery … i’d say about the same, but … that’s comparing to jailbroken iPhone 4 (so about 5-10% worse … ?)
[update] although i have not experienced any battery problems on the 4S. i’m having a horrible experience with my 4, after upgrading to iOS 5. after extensive testing i found that jailbreak / intelliScreenX & especially stocks ticker are to blame. now, it’s about 80-90% what i used to get on iOS 4.3.3

but … then i played music to apple TV & it drained the remaining 30% in 3 hours

4) iOS 5 – 200 “features”?

if you’ve had your phone jailbroken … you’ll actually miss it (lock screen notification on jailbreak … are better :)
configuring notification _per_ application is … mentally challenging (there’s a better word for it – sarah p especially likes :) )
photo stream is nice, but no option not to post certain pix … & no way to see them on older iOS (eg iPad)

all the other 200 features? (honestly, i had to go to apple.com to remind me, what those “features” are … :)
wireless sync … nice, but iPhoto doesn’t work wirelessly (maybe i do need to update though)
playlist folders sorting is f ed again (if you put “.” in front of your playlists, you can relate)
mail still can’t search old messages via exchange sync from gmail (google might actually be at fault here though)
iMessage … non of my friends have iOS 5 yet, so no use.
[basically, it's a feature you'll never "free" enjoy, since att charges you $20 (!) for lowest txt'ing plan, sprint "includes" it & verizon ... as well? (so you basically will pay for texting regardless if you use it or not).]
interestingly, tried to send an iMessage from a deactivated Verizon iPhone via wifi … can’t do. [update, you have to turn iMessage ON, it's not by default (?!). you also need to have contact's email address that matches apple ID ... i have 4 different email addresses on a good day = a mess. TIP: update your QR business card with the proper email address]
twitter integration – eeeh, as one of my friends recently commented to a photo posted (via twitter) to facebook: “i refuse to sign up, yet to another social service, to see your photos” :)

5) jailbreaks i miss:

free tethering
lock screen notifications that stay (calendar, 5 day weather, etc)
sbsetting on lock screen
airServer
activator gestures
would (if not for sprint integration) – g voice txt
free apps? … not so much, surprisingly

6) disappointed with sprint

i have been complaining about not able to make or maintain phone calls with att for 3 years now …
but when i was not able to check my email, downtown chicago via sprint’s service. i’ve realized …. making that phone call is no longer as crucial as being able to check your email

another annoyance, is the data OR call … will again, make you miss att

yet, another – visual voicemail doesn’t work for me … i could probably call sprint, etc, but why ??? $850 phone should work perfectly, out of box (you’ll pay that other $450 one way or another …)

i do have to say that built-in integration with google voice is amazing: type in the number … that’s it! all your calls & texts to that phone come to your sprint phone now & when you txt/dial from your phone, google voice number comes up. brilliant (att, take notice)


ps: let’s talk about iOS 5 bugs some more (my list) – apple, please take note:

- having to set notification settings, one by one. i have 20 apps on a good day, pleeeeease let me set it once for all
– camera button on the lock screen (even when the phone is not locked) – have you tried to press home button, once you’re there? can’t get out! (can’t see other photos, again even when phone is unlocked)
– battery life – ok, in all fairness, i’ve used 2 diff 4S (att & sprint) & did NOT experience any battery problems, BUT my 4 att … seems to have 1/2 of battery life what it had under 4.3.3. upon detailed testings i finally managed to get a day out of it by: turning off intelliScreenX (stock ticker might be the real culprit here), but then i played music to apple TV & it drained the remaining 30% in 3 hours.
– mail search – still doesn’t work, when it comes to older “on server” messages. first: the default search should be “all”. then i’m not sure if it’s apple or google, but my gmail search via exchange client on iOS hasn’t worked for 2 years now.

my first day with lion mac os x … i hate it

over the years, i’ve learned not to jump on the “new” bandwagon and wait at least a month before upgrading to a new product, software or gadget.
so i’m not in a rush, especially seeing hillarious videos like this one (NSFW 150k+ views).

but, to give apple credit, 2011 MB Air has fixed my 2 annoyances with previous Air: lid up the keyboard & removed pointless “eject” button (thus moving music play keys, where they are suppose to be). so i was excited to test 2011, especially that my in-laws got it & there was no risk of having to go back to Leopard Snow, etc.
apple failed terribly on not putting back the infared for the remotes (yeah, “get apple tv” – $100 – “philosophy” – but you can’t really send power point presentations to apple tv via airPlay, can you?). and to add salt to the wound, they have removed FrontRow app (although there’s a hack for that).

so … i’m writing this on my 2010 Air & will keep it ’till  x-mass,  if not longer … why?

2011 Air, or Mac OS X Lion – i should say – doesn’t feel like a finished product!

- firefox dmg file couldn’t mount. my very first impression wasn’t good: download firefox, mount dmg, move to applications & … “can’t open” (WFT? did i just upgrade to windows?). had to re-download twice, delete files & restart the system to get it to work …. brand new, $1400 laptop!
– after using the Air for few hours, system preference crashed! really apple???
– when downgrading the resolution to lower 1152×720 – can’t see bottom menu in iphoto. yeah, minor bug, but contrary to apple’s belief old folks can’t see ant size fonts at native – 1440×900 resolution. i’ve gotten used to upscaled, not so good looking 1152xx720 resolution. but not to have iPhoto scale down accordingly?
– mail app – can’t increase font sizes. the option is there … but doesn’t do anything … yep, restarted. nada. again, very frustrating for old people, who can’t see ant size fonts on the screen!
– video “anatomy of mac” is still leopard on the support site. support section of apple’s website doesn’t seem to be aware of Lion’s existence … yet (but i guess it’s more efficient for the co. to have old folks come to the store to take lesson … maybe up sell them on some crap they don’t need)
drop box folder – doesn’t work out of the box … until you enable sharing on it …
gestures – not implemented on applications like firefox. now this is probably firefox’s fault, but still when making a fundamental OS changes like: stuff scrolls up, instead of down (thank god there’s an easy way to disable that). or making 3 finger left/right swipes, switch os “pages”, instead of website’ visited pages …. should give devs a bit of notice? have a discussion to make sure those “revolutionary” videos, correspond with the actual product experience?
[no apple, safari is not the greatest browser out there ... it actually sux. e.g. have you heard of a standard cmd-K shortcut to search? cmd-1,2 to switch between tabs?]
ohh & if you want to understand why 2-finger left/right swipe is a disaster. try to explain to a 70 year old a difference between: 1 finger swipe, 2 finger swipe & 3 fingers … the difference between going left, right, up (the middle one, might be up by then :) )
– totally agree with the guy from the video above on, Launchpad doesn’t feel like part of the OS: can’t select multiple apps & move them, can’t manage them via finder. & the name “Launchpad” – again my old folks have no idea that means “application” …
- AirDrop … doesn’t work with older macs. how dumb is that?
dashboard – while you can probably remap “Launchpad” (f4) key back to dashboard … dashboard itself is kinda lost in the “mission control” (another dumb name) … but, ok – that’s a minor annoyance at most.

good?

huh … 2011 MacBook Air, looks nice … but pretty much the same as 2010 (yes, now with a lid up keyboard). did not notice greater battery life. speed … maybe 5-10% faster (but honestly didn’t spend enough time with it).

ok, so i do like the instant integration of yahoo (don’t think that’s automatic with gmail) – when you sing-in the first time, it asks you to plug in the user/password into mail app, it works for contacts & iChat too. nice.

interestingly features, i’ve looked forward to: autocorrect, versions, mail, airDrop … now seem cosmetic conveniences i can live without on Snow Leopard.

so overall, can’t say i’m compelled to upgrade, actually.

overall – Lion OS X feels sloppy.

what’s going on apple? not making enough money? jobs left & attention to detail – we’ve got to love so much about your products – went out of the window with him?
no, i’m not an apple hating a**hole, but i do expect near perfection for a laptop that’s $1400!

but i still love apple

why? no choice, frankly. & i’m brutally reminded of windows in the 90s … by having to wait (3 hours & counting) to migrate my in-law’s PC to mac:
1) upgrade my in-laws’ win XP to SP3
2) so i can install apple’s migration assistant (bit lazy of apple to require SP3 …)
3) so i can migrate … mear 3gb worth of data
will keep you posted, how that goes

[update: sp3 upgrade failed 3 times, then kinda went through, then apple's migration assistant refused to install even after win said SP3. 4 hours later, i've decided to take a USB stick, copy all content of "my documents" & successfully dropped it on the mac ... all of which took, 15 min]

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