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December 23, 2005

Why I Chose a Honda Accord

When I started looking for a new car I already owned my car outright and it still worked fine. So I was in no rush and the new vehicle definitely had to be a worthwhile improvement. I was looking to upgrade vehicle classes to a mid size with a V6. I kind of hit on the Mazda 6 right away and spent quite a lot of time looking at it, probably months. It just wasn't quite right, but the new model season was approaching, so I started taking a peek at other cars while waiting for the 2005 Mazda. The Pontiac G6 hit highly in my books, but it wasn't quite right either. When the 2005 Mazda 6 came, it just wasn't enough either, I still considered it and the G6, but the dealers mishandled it and I walked away. I was still considering them when I thought I better check the rest of the competition. I tried out a Nissan Altima, they hadn't disabled the travel mode and its rev limiter. But that didn't deter me, it was still limited by the exterior and especially the interior. The chassis and drive train were good. Then on a lark one boring evening after work I went to Honda. On paper I really disliked the Accord, but my friend kept mentioning the car, so I drove it. Wow, I was pretty much sold right away. The interior was heads and tails above the competition, likewise the drive train. The exterior was kind of bland and unassuming, but its not unattractive. The clincher was the incentives offered at the time, it took the traditionally high priced Accord and brought it in line with the competition. Add in Honda quality, reliability and resale and how could I go wrong.

A year later and my decision continues to be validated. Its still a great car to drive. Only two really minor issues so far. After going through the car wash the drivers side mirror ended up cracked, pretty cheap and easy to fix myself, at least after the dealer found the right part in the warehouse. The second issue continues to occur, the auto power up/down drivers window fails to operate when its colder, it goes up and down, just not automatically. The exterior has been growing on me, but its still a pretty unassuming look. The interior on the 2006 model doesn't look quite as good. Someone wanted to add fake chrome all over and it just doesn't work well altogether. Everything has been working great and its still fun and comfortable to drive.

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December 21, 2005

My Car is iPod Enabled

After getting my free iPod I just had to get it into the car since that was the point of this whole exercise. I used a Dension ice->Link: Plus to connect the iPod to the factory radio. It gives me line quality audio and head unit/steering wheel controls of the iPod just like it was a CD changer. I cheated on the installation and didn't disassemble anything. On the Accord, if you open the center console bin, you can get at the bottom of the radio where the connector is. So far the unit works as advertised. A few things I noticed. If you leave the iPod connected it remembers the play list you are on, where you are in it and where you are in the current song. All that gets lost if you disconnect the iPod. So after reconnecting you have to reselect a play list before it starts playing. I also noticed that the interface is a bit slow, faster than changing CDs, but a bit slower than switching tracks on a single CD. Using the menu can be cumbersome as you use the radio controls to navigate the menu on the iPod screen. I'm still trying to get the proper connector for my video iPod, the company hasn't been too helpful so far. So in summary, pretty good, but definitely room for improvement.

Update: The connector was finally obtained. The adapter had some serious issues with heat it seems. It would lock up and need to be physically unplugged from the radio or the radio fuse pulled to get it going again, not easy or fun. A later firmware update which wasn't posted on the companies website sorta fixed it as it resets by itself. I'm still getting lockups that eventually reset after a couple days at the longest, not sure of the cause. I also seem to get input lock ups where it will play music but not accept any radio selections, toggling the radio mode seems to reset it. Other than that there are all kinds of random usability issues. The USA distributor dumped Dension and came up with a clone of their own, which they offered to upgrade me to when I was having issues, actually more like sell me one at a discount. I'll be looking for a new adapter when I get a new car :(

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December 18, 2005

Roomba the Robotic Vacuum

When iRobot first released the Roomba I took a quick look, noticed the hefty price and noted no availability in Canada and brushed it off. A few years later it was still popular so I took another look, the price was down, but checking the feature set, it didn't do half of what I expected it to do. Another few years, still popular, price is way down, and low and behold it now has most of the features I was looking for. Namely it can dock for self charging, although you still need to manually clean the dust bin out. And secondly, you can schedule it to run autonomously. I got the Sage model, which came with a bonus of the docking station and added a scheduling remote to it. It does a pretty good job of picking up the little bits of dust and lint that builds up. In other words, it eliminates the need for regular vacuuming. It can't get everywhere or move things and don't leave cords or sheets where it can grab them. It will run for an hour or two and get to all the rooms in my apartment. I'm always amazed how much stuff is in the dust bin when I empty it. Roomba Review has some good community information.

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December 06, 2005

Free iPod Received

Back in June I started the process to get a free iPod via the Freepay organization. Well, today I received it and it didn't cost my anything, just time and effort! For those into the details, offer completed June 8, requested approval November 8, ordered November 17, sent to vendor December 2, received December 6. Since this worked, I thought I'd try for an Xbox 360 and a cute little iPod Nano.


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