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EDC Review Reviews

Klarus Mi1C Review

The Klarus Mi1C is a small EDC style light with a great pocket clip. It includes a rechargeable 16340 battery that has an onboard microUSB connector for recharging. Thanks to Bestlight.IO for sending me this light to take a look at. Use the code LIQUID at checkout to save 10% on your order.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/JlKb6
The Video version of this Review:

Size & Construction
This is a very small light https://i.imgur.com/aMdafMR.jpg 54.60mm in length https://i.imgur.com/3z8qTyb.jpg to be exact and 21.8mm in diameter to be exact. Weight came in at 1.55 ounces with battery and clip. It’s made of aluminium that is very nicely anodized a black finish with low gloss. The body has a nice texture on the battery tube and the tail cap has flat spots to help you unscrew it. The tailcap is also magnetic and decently strong. The head is ribbed. If I compare it to my Olight Smini here it’s identical in size.

This light breaks down into 3 major pieces, the bezel can be unscrewed with a lock ring pliers. There are springs on both sides of this light. The magnet in the tail can be easily removed (Just remove the spring) https://i.imgur.com/795TSUE.jpg The clip is removable and fully adjustable anywhere around the light. Overall it’s a fantastic clip for EDC. https://i.imgur.com/dqkBdyo.jpg

LED and modes
The LED in use in this light is a Cree XP-L HI V3 in cool white. https://i.imgur.com/TM2YsLP.jpg I didn’t observe any off colors in the beam. This light features 4 main modes and 2 flashing modes with soft mode changes in between each mode. There is no direct access High or Low mode. Mode spacing could be improved in my opinion. As you can see in the table https://i.imgur.com/FT1LoSl.jpg there is a big difference between high at 600lm and medium at 45lm. Low is listed at 10 lumens and moonlight is thankfully at 1lm. Strobe is at 600 and oddly SOS is only at 45 lumens. These were all with the 16340 battery. I would have liked to see another mode between High and medium, something like 150 or 200lm as I think it would be very useful.

On High mode I noticed the light flickers slightly at the beginning before it stabilizes. I tried to capture this on video but was unable to, it’s not very noticeable. This light also has a blink system used to show the battery capacity.

Lockout
There seems to be an error maybe due to translation in the manual about lockout mode. I found it hard to get the light out of lockout if I followed the manual until I figured it out. To activate lockout press and hold the button when the light is off, hold through moon light mode and the light will flash 3 times. If you push the button again the light flashes twice showing it’s locked. To unlock press the button 3 times quickly and the light is now unlocked.

Lens
This is a very floody light thanks to it’s drop style lens. https://i.imgur.com/7pxIX0F.jpghttps://i.imgur.com/zpM0yY7.jpg It has no reflector https://i.imgur.com/NHQXve8.jpg to keep it as short as possible. I measured the lens at 16mm in diameter and 5mm tall. Personally I would prefer a TIR style reflector like what’s on the Olight Smini because I prefer that beam pattern for EDC uses.

Night Shots https://youtu.be/iVtaloS5hYs?t=4m31s
Beam Shots for the Klarus and then the Olight

Battery
This light does need a moderately high drain cell in order to get the full 600 lumens for more than a few seconds. Included is a Klarus branded USB rechargeable 16340 battery that’s stated at 700mah. It has a microUSB https://i.imgur.com/3v83YXH.jpg connector built into the top of it. When recharging there is a Red LED on top and when it’s full it turns blue. I measured this battery recharging at 0.33A. I had no complaints with this battery. There is not room for an 18350 battery in this light. The light is compatible with standard CR123a cells as well.
Runtime Graph
Here is a graph of runtime I did on the included battery on a full charge.  As you can see temperature regulation played a pretty big roll in the output of this light with the light stepping down as it got hot. I think an additional mode between high and medium would be a nice compromise between more usable light and heat.


EDC
As an EDC this is pretty darn great. I really like the captured pocket clip https://i.imgur.com/dqkBdyo.jpg that allows for very deep bezel up carry. https://i.imgur.com/MXWky4V.jpg It’s fully rotatable on the light and nicely accommodates jeans that have a larger seam at the top.There is a magnet in the tail that is strong enough to hold the light up but not much more than that.

Package
This looks like a perfect little stocking stuffer to me. It’s like it’s already wrapped up and with a bow. It’s a very nice presentation box. Inside you get 2 extra o rigns the manual and that’s it.

Pro
* Good low lumen mode
* Very well constructed light with excellent anodizing
* Great in the pocket EDC ability, no issues with accidentally turning on.

Cons
* I am just not a big fan of the light output of the lens here. It’s too much a super even flood and has very harsh edges. I would have a more hot center allowing the light to be pointed.
* Mode spacing could be better. It needs something between High (600lm) and Medium (45lm)
* No USB cable included for recharging.
* There seems to be some translation issues in the included manual about lockout mode.

I have an Olight Smini in copper and really like it as an EDC light. It has a TIR style lens which makes a very useful wide beam with a hotter center. The Mi1c I thought would be very comparable and have the added features of a magnet in the tail cap, be lighter and a great clip but instead the super floody nature of the lens kind of turned me off. I used the light out one night when I was out photographing the sunset to navigate down some trails and out of Golden Gate park https://i.imgur.com/TSiTgGR.jpg. It did work for this but I wished I would’ve had my Reylight Ti-Lan I also had brought on my trip instead.. It was good for up close but further away the super even floody beam provided long shadows that made it hard to determine the trail. Part of this is due to the big difference in lumens between high (600) and medium (45).

In all fairness this isn’t a light to take on a hike. In more normal urban EDC use this light did better. It’s worked well to find the screw the went under a piece of furniture, to make sure the mailbox was empty at night, and to avoid spiders in the backyard. It’s clip is fantastic and it’s fantastic as an EDC. It’s lightweight and well built and rechargeable nearly anywhere. With the attractive box it would make a nice stocking stuffer too. Take a look at it on Bestlight.IO.

Flashlight Reviews

Olight PL-Mini Review

Olight adds to it’s growing family of weapon mountable lights with the new Olight PL-Mini.  Thanks to Olight for sending this to me to try out. Weapon lights are one of my favorite things to test as it gives me an excuse to head to the range for some target practice and testing. The PL-Mini is designed to be very small, and rechargeable. This breaks tradition from most weapon lights that use lithium primary cells like CR123s or CR2032s.


Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/MhnJR
Video Review:

 

Build Quality
This light has a machined aluminum housing, with a built in non replaceable battery. The light housing is mostly pinned together. It has a tool free quick release with a spring loaded side. https://i.imgur.com/3TG5pq2.jpg https://i.imgur.com/glNkKvA.jpg My side was slightly stuck but it freed up easily and has not been a problem. The comes preinstalled with the Glock sized rail piece, but a 1913 rail piece is included in the packaging along with an allen key to change if that’s what you need. I really like the quick release system that’s tooless.

The toggles/buttons are made of plastic with some texture on top. https://i.imgur.com/xNG7Nrh.jpg They have a small amount of rubber between the switch surface and the surface of the light that squishes when depressed. It’s not a mechanical feeling switch like on some of the Surefire weapon lights. The buttons only are able to be pressed down, not from the side or not towards the muzzle. I do like that at least on my G19 here they are much closer to the trigger guard making it not much of a reach to turn on or off. https://i.imgur.com/NkVE9PQ.jpg I shot about 200 rounds with this light attached and had no problems with the light turning off or malfunctioning. Water resistance is rated at IPC6. I had no problems out in the rain with the light.

Size and Weight
This is one of the smallest and lightest weapon lights on the market that I am aware of. It’s a perfect fit on my Glock 19 adding very light weight and no extra length. Weight came in at 2.32oz. I measured the length at 61.3mm, Width at 26.1mm, and height at 27.1mm.

This light uses a Cree XP-L HI LED in cool white. It’s very centered in the light. Lumens is quoted at 400 lumens on high with step down to 60 lumens. That doesn’t sound like a lot but as you will see from my night shots It’s enough in my opinion, especially considering the small weight and size. This is a great self defense or home defense option. It throws more than I expected. The reflector is smooth and the lens is anti reflective coated.

In my testing with the Ceiling Bounce App the gradual step down from 400 lumens to 60 happened after just a few minutes and then slowly over the course of the next 6 minutes the light was down to 60 lumens.  It remained here for a about 45 minutes. At the 62 minute mark it took a rapid decline to zero and shut off due to low voltage protection.

Still beam shot

https://i.imgur.com/nE5jX6j.jpg

Hallway beam shots https://i.imgur.com/eoe6oVq.jpg

Heat really isn’t an issue with this light. I didn’t bother to test this because after 10 minutes of run time it was barely warm to the touch.

Charging
The PL-Mini uses the familiar magnetic charging system Olight uses on other lights but with a twist. This charger is labeled on the bottom as “Special” and the magnet is installed in reverse to other chargers they have on the S30R iii, S2R, etc. I asked Olight what the difference was and they said it’s designed for faster charging, especially for use in the field. From a completely low battery I charged it to full in one hour. The charging numbers are pretty low, but given the size of the battery it’s decently fast. The charging speeds I was was 5.07V at 1.86W with 0.37A. Battery capacity is listed at 260mAh. The light also will turn on during recharging, so thats’ a great way to extend runtime if you needed and it opens up other use cases like using it as a bike light.

I do wish Olight would have explained this in the manual or on the website. I feel like it would have been a smarter choice to make the charger a bit of a different design or anodize the aluminum differently, or a different color cable/USB end so it stood out more from their standard charger.

Is it Safe?
It looks like Olight has taken steps to make the charging port on this light safer the previous magnetic charging designs they use. It will not start a fire with steel wool was placed on the charging contacts. I didn’t measure any live voltage on the charging contacts.

Packaging is typical of other modern Olight lights. https://i.imgur.com/b5o3frT.jpg It has a retail cardboard box, with graphics on the outside and relevant information. Inside is a plastic try containing the light, 1913 rail, alan key, and recharging cable. The directions are brief and complete.

Since this is a new light there isn’t any Holster support yet from established manufacturers. This has been a problem with other Olight weapon lights. I am surprised they don’t establish a relationship with a few manufactures so that holsters are available during launch instead of months later. I feel like this would be a quick way to boost sales of a new light quickly.

I think this will be a popular weapon light from Olight. It provides more than enough light to use in a self defense situation while being in a very small package. I like the ergonomics of the light with the buttons being for left or right handed shooters, and the buttons being closer to the trigger guard. Being rechargeable means it’s less expensive and more convenient to use while on a patrol or during training. It’s simple to operate with only one mode. I think the price is pretty attractive for its offering given others on the market for a rail mounted light.

Pro’s
* Perfect size and weight for a compact pistol like a G19, CZ P10C, etc
* Impressive throw for the size and amount of lumens.
* Decent runtime for most situations, and good recharge time.

Con’s
* No holsters commercially available yet.
* I wish the PL-Mini charger was more distinctive in its look, since it’s not compatible with older Olight rechargeable lights.
* Timed step down. Since this light doesn’t get very hot I wish it would run on high until the battery gave out.
* No Strobe or mode options. Just turn it on.
* Only a 2 year warranty, usually most Olight products have a 5 year warranty.

Olight official store: https://www.olightstore.com/olight-pl-mini
Olight official eBay store: http://bit.ly/PLMINIeBayUS

EDC Flashlight Reviews

AceBeam EC35 Review

Here is my review of the Acebeam EC35 in Neutral White LED color. Check this light out at Bestlight.IO https://goo.gl/g69jzz

Flashlight Reviews

ArmyTek Wizard Pro V3 Review

Use the coupon code RED for 10% future orders on ArmyTek.com

This is my first ArmyTek light and after having it a few weeks and using it frequently, I don’t think it will be my only one for too long. Flashlight enthusiasts on the internet, especially on reddit are quick to recommend the ArmyTek Wizard line of right angled lights and headlamps for a variety of uses. I am glad that ArmyTek sent me one for review so I could experience why it’s one of the most recommended brands out there. I can clearly see why. During this review I will be comparing the ArmyTek Wizard Pro V3 with my recently reviewed Olight H2R. Both are headlamps of very similar size, using the same LED and similar battery sizes. Comment down below and let me know what you think of this light.

Complete Photo Gallery – http://imgur.com/a/nEa3p

Headlamps are useful not only as a headlamp, but in this case as an EDC, when repairing cars and around the house hold. Not only will it tail stand but it will stand on it’s head or on either of the sides. A light like this is useful for strapping onto your chest, or straps on a backpack or tent.

Design & Coating

Size wise this is almost identical in length to the Olight H2R, and it’s very similar in diameter too. With the more square head it’s slightly larger in the pocket. Weight wise without batteries they are 2.85oz for the Wizard and the Olight H2R is 2.22oz. Here is a picture where I lined up several similarly sized lights so you could see the size.

 

When I first got the light I was worried that the button on the side of the light would be a problem due to how it sticks out of the light. However it’s a firm press and has not been an issue other than the one time I was laying directly on it. The button is translucent and has a multicolored LED underneath that it uses to display information such as heat, mode, etc.

 

This light is coated in a mat black finish that is slightly grippy. It’s a finish I have not seen on any other flashlights. The one bad thing about this coating is that it does show scratches and abrasions worse than normal anodized aluminum. I keep my phone and light in the same pocket usually, and have noticed it seems like I have more wear on the coating then normal, some paint seems to wear off my phone case and transfer to the body of the light. Most of these rub off with a little water.

 

The design of this light has a few aggressively shaped areas that I find attract more dust and pocket lint than normal. Up near the head there are several sharped cooling fins, and between these they attract a good amount of dust and lint. Then at the bottom the transition between the body and  tail cap also collects a good amount of dust/dirt around the first oring, the good news is it doesn’t get beyond this point. I think that’s the purpose of this dual oring is to provide water and dust resistance even when the tail cap isn’t 100% screwed on like if charging or in manual lockout.

 

This light is a little aggressive on the labeling in my opinion. I prefer a flashlight with minimal labeling and this one doesn’t get my stamp of approval in that regard. It has labeling on top, on the side, and around the tail. It’s larger white letter on the black body do stand out.

 

Performance

This light uses a Cree XHP50 and combined with its diffused TIR style glass lens it’s primarily a flood. This one is the white variant and it’s fairly neutral but not warm. ArmyTek lists it as having a 70 degree hot spot and a 120 degree spill. Range of brightness is anywhere from 0.15 lumens on firefly 1 to 1800 Lumens on Turbo. Run times range from 40 Days on Firefly 1 to 1 hour on Turbo 2 (if proper cooling is supplied).

 

Modes

If you are familiar with other recent ArmyTek lights then the interface is the same as those. If you are new to ArmyTek like I was there is a bit of study needed. The entire 3rd page of the manual covers how this light operates. I am not going to go over everything in this review but will go over the high points. This light is organized into 4 mode groups. The brightness in each sub group is memorized

 

  • Group 1 – 3 Firefly Modes
  • Group 2 – 3 Main Modes
  • Group 3 – 2 Turbo Modes
  • Group 4 – 3 Special Modes

 

From off

  • One click turns the light onto its previously memorized mode and brightness.
  • Two clicks turns it onto the previously memorized brightness in main mode.
  • Three clicks turns it onto the previously memorized brightness in Turbo mode.
  • Four clicks turns it onto the previously memorized brightness in special modes.

 

Long pressing the button from off cycles through the available modes Firefly through Turbo 1.

 

From On

  • One click turns the light off
  • Two clicks turns from firefly to main or main to firefly or special/turbo modes to main mode.
  • Three clicks goes to turbo mode
  • Four clicks goes to special modes

 

2 Philosophies of use – General and Tactical. General is a normal flashlight, click the button and the light stays on. In Tactical it turns the button into momentary, so the light is only on when the button is pressed. To switch between them you unscrew the tail cap by ¼ turn and then press and hold the button, while screwing in the tail cap.

 

Battery Level Indicator – Uses the LED under the button to flash a series of colors every 5 seconds. Green is between 75-100%, Yellow is below 75%, Double yellow, is below 25%, and double red every second is below 10%. The light doesn’t do this in Firefly mode and you can turn this feature off by a series of button presses and cap rotations.

 

High Temperature indicators – When the light reaches 60C brightness decreases in small steps to cool down.Once cool it will step back up to deliver the most light possible. Timed step down is not used in this light. As temps increase you get a series of LED color indicators on the button. Warning is 3 orange flashes, at critical temps you get 3 flashes in one second.

 

Beamshots can be found on the video  https://youtu.be/3Kc_LjbqV3c?t=11m31s

Charging system/battery + Parasitic Drain

Having onboard charging of lithium flashlights isn’t anything new. Lot’s of manufactures do this in a variety of ways. You have seen me talk about Olight’s magnetic charging in past reviews. More recently the concern about live contacts and the dangers of potentially shorting the battery have become more vocal. The ArmyTek system was designed from the beginning to alleviate these concerns and it’s one of the best systems out there for this. Let me explain how it works.

 

The Charging cable itself is white, and uses USB on the input end. On the other end is a magnetic connection with several LED’s inside. The tail cap has a large recessed center pin and a smaller outside ring. To charge the light you need to slightly unscrew the tailcap. Due to how it’s anodized when it’s tight it breaks the circuit. Unscrew it a little and the circuit is complete and the charging begins.  The LED’s are solid red while charging, Red and blinking if there is a problem (Forget to unscrew the tailcap slightly?) and solid green when charged. They also use a diode in the tail cap to prevent short circuiting via the exposed tail caps should you forget to screw in the cap after charging. The other big benefit is that you can charge any normal battery that fits. No proprietary batteries! The downsides to this system is that it’s a little slow to charge by modern standards. I measured it at 0.7A when the battery was at about 40% capacity and charging. If the battery is discharged a good amount this means charging via the built in charging may take several hours (5+). You must lay this light down or stand it on its head when charging. That’s one place where I do like the Olight charging system better.

 

Included was an ArmyTek flat top cell without protection. It’s recommended that you use a battery that can maintain 7A discharge in order for Turbo mode to work. Parasitic drain was measured at 0.05 mA.

 

Thermal Management

The thermal management in this light is active. Using Turbo for instance the light will provide as much light as possible until it gets to 60C and then it will step down the light giving it time to cool, and then it will power up again to deliver maximum possible brightness assuming the battery has enough voltage. So if you are in a situation where you have a fan or wind cooling the light it will run brighter longer. During my standard test, at 1 minute during Turbo the light reached 111F.  I don’t have the equipment to test and graph  the step up and down but I can show you with a glass of ice water.

 

I don’t often write about the manuals of many flashlights, but in this case I want to say it’s the most complete manual I have seen on a flashlight. It does a good job of explaining its features and has great grammar and spelling. This isn’t a poor translation, I believe it’s written by native english speakers. I think this is a benefit from this flashlight being Designed in Canada and not overseas.  I highly recommend a read through or two of this manual to better understand all of it’s modes and available options.

 

The packaging is a nice white, retail box with a few key details on the outside. Inside is a plastic shell that holds all the goodies. Inside you have the flashlight and an Armytek branded high discharge flat top battery, extra orings, headstrap, handstrap, nylon plastic cradle, and the manual printed in color.

 

As a Headlamp

Some assembly is required with the headstrap. The manual has a section with diagrams that shows how to set it up which is nice because it was a little confusing. I decided to install my headstrap without the over the top piece. I didn’t find it was necessary with the weight of the light when I was using it on home repairs, and an oil change during my testing. It also comes with a handstrap. I didn’t use this during testing but it’s a nice touch. I could see attaching it to the strap of a backpack, or for use when running.  The straps themselves are an elastic cloth that seem pretty sturdy. They are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The plastic cradle is a nylon I would guess as it’s pretty flexible. It has cuts in the top, and both sides to make it easy to remove. My one negative is that when mounted on the strap the mount itself can slide around pretty easily instead of staying in place on the band .

 

As an EDC

I was skeptical at first of carrying a right angle light as an EDC but after the Olight H2R it worked pretty well. The Armytek Wizard V3 is even better due to it’s pretty fantastic clip design and button. The clip might be my current all time favorite of any flashlight I own. It’s deep enough carry, but sticks out enough to easily go on many different types of pockets, or bag straps. It’s rigged yet flexes if needed. My only wish is that it was parkerized black or cerakote instead of a polished tumbled finish. It takes quite a bit of effort to pull the clip on or off the light and it does leave some light scratches on the finish. It seems to rub off though. The clip is not fixed in place so it does rotate if you want it to. The button is proud and protrudes from the light a decent amount. I have had it come on once by accident in my pocket but that was only after I was laying on that side of my body. Due to the smart modes on this light, it didn’t come on in turbo so burning myself or clothes wasn’t a problem. The light does offer lockout if you unscrew the tailcap slightly. I will also add that due to the charging system I covered above there is no worry about shorting the battery while carrying the light in your pocket due to a diode being used and the disabling of the exterior contacts when the cap is screwed on tight. The light also features a pretty strong magnetic base that has no trouble holding the weight of the light to a metallic object securely.

 

Summary

The Armytek Wizard Pro V3 is a fantastic headlamp and EDC in my opinion and testing. It’s peak performance isn’t quite as high as the Olight H2R but it’s advanced mode options, advanced thermal managements, and well thought out safe charging system all for a slightly lower price than the competition make it a very good choice for a fancy headlamp, and an 18650 floody EDC option. The Olight H2R has a more simplistic mode map, but also doesn’t do nearly as many things or has as many modes. Being my first ArmyTek light, I found the modes took some study to fully understand and remember but once I did they made good sense. I think this makes a fantastic choice for a headlamp but can also be used for an EDC, or general purpose light.

 

Pro’s

  • Active thermal management allows the light to be the brightest it can be but keep temps safe. Allows up and down management of lumens.
  • Safest built in charging system, works with any 18650 battery that fits.
  • Very well built with an excellent 10 year warranty
  • Excellent pocket clip for EDC carry

 

Con’s

  • Exterior writing on the light is more than I like to see.
  • The modes are a little complex without first reading the manual. Once you understand they are very logical.
  • Not the fastest built in charging system but probably the safest

Use the coupon code RED for 10% future orders on ArmyTek.com

Up Next is the Acebeam EC35 NW

EDC Flashlight Reviews Review Reviews

Nitecore MT20C Review

I have had this for a while and realized I never did a video review of it.

To Purchase the Nitecore MT20C please use this link http://amzn.to/2qjbYqy

 

Review Reviews

Olight S30R Baton iii Review

 

Olight asked me if I would like to review their revised S30R Baton iii and I said I would. This is a pocketable thrower style light powered by an Olight 18650 battery that in Turbo mode produces 1050 lumens. It’s a pretty nice light  but slightly longer than the Olight S2R due to it’s different lens design to give it more throw. For more in depth review with night run shots, check out my video below.

 
If you are interested in purchasing the light you can find it a the links below.

Amazonhttp://amzn.to/2h68h6L
OlightWorldhttps://olightworld.com/store/flashlight/s30r-baton-iii.html
GoingingGearhttp://goinggear.com/flashlights/olight-s30r-baton-iii-1050-lumen-1-x-18650-cree-xm-l2-led-flashlight.html

 

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Cars Life Review Reviews Tech

Driving the Tesla Model S

Model S side

The Tesla Model S is kind of the halo “electric” car at the moment, and it really breaks the mold of a stereotypical electric car.  It is fast, sexy, and super high tech, yet drives almost normally. Being a car enthusiast, I had previously driven the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt locally; but with so few Tesla showrooms and service centers in the country, it’s hard to have the opportunity to drive a Tesla, especially in Nebraska.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Model S on May 3, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. I had spotted a post on the Tesla Facebook page saying they were taking reservations for a test drive, so I signed up. They called me the next day and confirmed.

They had 4 cars on display in the corner of a parking lot.  All were the P85 variant (the big battery model), and some had quite a few options, so sticker prices ranged from about $80k-$107k. Quite a few people were hanging around the car that was charging while a Tesla employee answered questions.  Having read several reviews of the car and watching several videos of it, I had quite a bit of knowledge to draw from for my test drive.

My time slot came up and I scanned my drivers license, typed in a little info on an ipad and went for a test drive.  The car is so quiet that in a somewhat crowded environment, people kept walking behind the car when we were trying to back out of the parking spot. Their mouths kind of dropped open when they saw this car come at them silently.

The Driving

Acceleration – Instant torque is addicting. Really addicting.  The acceleration in the Model S is so smooth and linear. It definitely pushes you back into the seat in a very satisfying way. Its speed and power are deceiving because of how quiet it is. In a gasoline powered car the engine gives you an indication of the speed you’re going; the S doesn’t have that, so it was very easy to go faster than the law says you should. It would be interesting to see if Model S owners get more speeding tickets because of it. I can verify that traction control is pretty effective too. When you give the S a lot of acceleration off the line, the traction control will come in and make sure you keep things on the road and straight; it does give the sensation of wiggling around a little though.  It was fun.  Because the Model S has no transmission or torque converter like in an automatic transmission, the car doesn’t creep along at low speeds. Tesla has added this creep mode as a software mode if you miss it. It takes a little getting use to in non creep mode.

Brakes – The Model S brake feel was nice and linear under normal street driving. Tesla has taken an interesting approach, giving you the option of a maximum regeneration mode or a low regeneration mode.  It’s a simple setting on the 17” touchscreen center console.  In the low generation mode, the car will coast much like a normal car with an automatic transmission with low drag.  The downside of this is that it will generate much less energy to put back into the batteries and extend range.  In maximum generation mode when off the accelerator it feels much more like you have downshifted on a car with a manual transmission. The feeling of drag is increased quite a bit. It’s essentially using electric motors as an engine brake by using the electric motor to generate electricity..  It takes a little getting used to since you don’t have to touch the brakes nearly as much in city driving. For instance, when coming down a hill, instead of coasting down the hill you actually may have to just use the lightest input on the accelerator to maintain speed.  The benefits of this is it’s extend range optimally. Tesla says that this also greatly decreases brake rotor and pad wear because you’re not using them as much to slow the relatively heavy car.

 

Steering/Suspension – The Model S is the safest car on the road, and part of that has to do with how stiff the chassis is. That stiffness really adds to the sportiness of the car.  The suspension is stiff, but well damped so it’s not harsh, but also not “Lexus” smooth.  I would call it european inspired suspension. The car corners pretty flat, and in normal street driving hides its weight pretty well, I thought.  That stiffness also made the car feel really solid and well built. Our test car (829 miles on the odometer) had no squeaks or shudders. It would be interesting to compare a model with the sport suspension option. The steering was a nice weight and some road feel feedback.

 

The Interior

The 17” touch screen that serves as the cars center console and main control unit for all configurable things in the car really is the top interior feature.  The large screen and first HD backup camera that can optionally be used when driving were great.  The layout and navigation were really logical and intuitive of the controls and options. The UI was fast, and the cas a web browser build in to search for anything or read a website. Navigation was by Google Maps so it was great and always updated. The only driving control I was hunting around for was to put it in park (I will blame wanting to continue the test drive, I think it probably had enough range left to make it back home 🙂 )

2013-tesla-model-s-interior-photo-498135-s-1280x782

For what the car cost, the seats should have been better. After visiting the BMW Welt in Germany my benchmark is admittedly a bit high when it comes to seats though. The Model S I drove had the standard seats, and while stylish, they lacked some adjustability and didn’t have enough side bolstering to match the car’s performance.  With approximately a 300 mile range, you’re not as likely to be in one without a break as long as you would in a diesel or gas European luxury sedan in the same price range. The flat floor (no transmission tunnel) was really nice, and made the middle rear seat much more useable.  Someone who is tall might have problems sitting in the back seat without hitting their head on the roof.  The interior design was minimal but nice.  The design of the door handles are by far my favorite interior design feature.  I didn’t care for the dark gray walnut wood trim on the dash, and would have probably prefered a carbon fiber or dark, warmer wood color.

 

Model S door

 

The key of the car is pretty cool, as you would expect. It’s a fob and there is no traditional key.  It’s actually a Hot Wheels sized model of the Model S in black that is a bit more streamlined. Touching the model (key) on the trunk for a second or two will pop the trunk. Walk up to the car with the key in your pocket and the door handles automatically come out and it unlocks. The car is always on and ready to drive; sitting in the driver’s seat and putting your foot on the brake to put it into drive is all you need to do, no push button start or turning of a key. There is also no shutting it off, you touch the button for park and get out, the car locks and shuts off itself.

Model S Key

 

Conclusion

Coming into the test drive the car was already sitting on a pedestal. My test drive was short but for the most part it met and exceeded expectations.  For me the standouts were the acceleration, large center console screen, general technology, and its sexy lines. It’s an expensive car, and for most people it probably would not be your only car unless you had access to something with more range for long trips. That will change as electric charging, especially the Tesla Super Charging stations, becomes more common. For me it would be a great daily driver: fast, sexy, super safe, and minimal day to day costs.  The main barrier right now for most is the cost. It’s still quite an expensive car. Tesla is rumored to be coming out with a less expensive smaller 3 series competitor that will be more affordable for the masses.  By that time they should have a more robust charging network too. That will be more of a revolution for the masses.  Until then, the Model S is a great example of how good an electric car can be made, especially in the USA. It makes a few sacrifices and has some great benefits.

2014-05-03 12.11.06

The Frunk (Front Trunk)
The Frunk (Front Trunk)

Tesla1

News Review Reviews

Nexus 7 2013 and Chromecast Mini reviews

Nexus 7 2013

I have been a very happy original Nexus 7 owner since day one, but the tablet has gotten quite a bit slower as it ages.  It seems this is a problem with the I/O and android 4.0+. (4.3 is said to improve this, btw).  I decided to upgrade mainly because of the increased storage (upgrade from 16gb to 32gb) and better screen.  So far I am not disappointed at all.  Below are my quick thoughts. Great full length reviews are also online from The Verge, Anandtec, Engadget, Android Central, and others.

 

Pros

  • The screen is a game changer.  Colors are great, it’s bright, and the high resolution (Think “Retna”) looks fantastic.  It’s an improvement in everything.

  • Blazing fast. Everything is much faster. Even the processor itself is faster. I think the biggest difference is the faster storage.

  • The build quality seems to be a large improvement. Despite being plastic it really seems like a solid construction.  It also feels much thinner in the hand.

  • Standby battery life seems to be improved over 50% when on WiFi.  I no longer need to charge it nightly.
  • Notification LED is a nice touch.

 

The Questions

  • Why is the power adapter on the Nexus 7 2013 edition smaller at 1.35A vs the Nexus 7 2012 edition which was 2.0A?

 

Cons

  • Audio – The speakers are a bit of a disappointment.  While stereo is nice, I was really hoping for more volume. I like to listen to podcasts or stream radio stations while in the same room, and the volume is just not that loud.  The internal noise when headphones are plugged in is vastly improved as well.

  • Google needs to differentiate in the Play Store between the versions of Nexus 7.  Currently by default they are just listed as “Asus Nexus 7” and the last date they were used.  Google should at least change the icon of the new Nexus to reflect the one they are using on the box and in promos.  You can go in and rename devices, but users should not have to do this.

  • Touch on my tablet seems to be a bit off once in awhile.  I am going to have to investigate this further to see if its an app problem or maybe a hardware issue.

  • There seem to be some GPS issues with certain apps.  This looks to be more of a 4.3 problem than a hardware problem in the new tablet.  Over time apps should update and this will get fixed.

Chromecast

When this was announced it was a surprise for pretty much everyone.  At $35 this is pretty much a no-brainer.

I had been looking for a way to get music to my receiver in the living room but be able to control it from my tablet or phone. Ideally I wanted the music source to be from my Google Music account, since I have everything uploaded there.  Initially I thought this would be an app and I would plug in my tablet to act as the server, but control it from my phone.  Turns out the Chromecast has this feature and it works really well.  From my tablet I can power on the receiver (TV can remain off) and  start music playing, all from anywhere in the house.  It’s pretty slick. I have my Chromecast hooked up to my Yamaha receiver in the HDMI 2 position with AC power.

Chromecast

There are 2 methods of the Chromecast streaming content.

Mobile Device to Chromecast

Right now there are only a handful of apps that officially support this.  Youtube, Google Music, Google Movies, and Netflix.  It’s really easy to use; you start a video or song playing and then hit the Chromecast button, and within about a second it starts playing on your TV/Receiver.  What is actually happening here is the Chromecast is playing directly from the cloud, allowing you to use your device to do other things, like social media etc.  You can create queues, pause, next, etc from your mobile device.

 

Computer to Chromecast

Computer to Chromecast works a bit differently than Mobile to Chromecast.  Computer to Chromecast requires you to use the Chrome browser, and install the Chromecast plugin.  From there it allows you to share a tab to the Chromecast.  You can display the text of a web page or most video.  The computer is transcoding this information and then sending it to the Chromecast over wifi, so it does take some power on the computer side.  I tried this on my i7 920 desktop and things worked well.  I tried a few websites (Crackel, JaylenosGarage, Vimeo) and everything worked.  There is also a trick that you can open local media files in Chrome using CTRL + O and these cast too.  The MP4 files that were H.264 encoded played well.  I also tried some MKV files I had and the video in these played well, however the audio did not.  Hopefully this is something that is added in the future.

Pro’s

  • Low Price, Small Size.  At $35 this is a no-brainer, Since I ordered early I received 3 months of Netflix as well, which makes it even cheaper. It’s a small dongle that fits about anywhere.

  • Setup could not have been easier with the app on my tablet. My one tip is if you have a long complex wifi password, email it to yourself first, and make sure you copy to your clipboard before you start the setup on the phone/tablet.

  • To steal a famous quote, “It Just Works!” It just works, as Google said it would. It’s only likely to get better from here.

 

Cons

  • AC adapter. This is one of those styles of adapters that can cover up the plugin next to it. On the positive side, Google did include a nice piece of velcro to keep the extra cord nicely bundled.

  • Limited native app support right now, but this should get better since the API is open.

  • No support for Mobile Chrome to Chromecast. Hopefully this will be added soon. I have a feeling that it was due to most hardware not having the power needed to transcode video fast enough.

 

The future potential of the Chromecast is huge.  While it’s not a Roku or Apple TV replacement quite yet, it’s still very useful.  At the $35 price level, you can’t complain about much.  It makes getting Youtube and Google Music/Movie content to your TV/Receiver super easy.  Beyond that, being able to quickly move a chrome tab from your desktop to tv is easy too.