Earlier this month, we reviewed Acer's Aspire X1200 and HP's latest Pavilion Slimline, two relatively full-featured desktops shrunk down to a small form factor. The Acer is the better deal on paper, though it may require some mucking about with drivers and settings before it's fully operational. A few tweaks and a BIOS update were required before we had video and … Read more
Since its introduction for model year 2003, the Mini Cooper has been one of the best bang-for-the-buck deals on four wheels. When the second generation of new Mini debuted last year, with the original naturally-aspirated or supercharged engines (Brazilian products of a joint venture between Mini parent BMW and Chrysler) replaced by much-improved naturally-aspirated or turbocharged engines developed in a joint venture with PSA Peugeot-Citroen), the bar was raised. The 115 naturally-aspirated or 163 forced-induction horsepower increased to 118hp or 172. More importantly, the driving characteristics, especially of the turbo, improved. The supercharged engine produced most of its power high in the rev band; the turbo does its work from nearly any engine speed with minimal lag.
And now Mini has improved on that. Enter the John Cooper Works version of the Cooper S. offered in both hardtop and Clubman body styles. Mini recently brought the previously separate John Cooper Works in house, much in the manner of BMW's M (for Motorsport) division. For about a $6,600 price premium, the JCW gets suspension, brake, wheel and tire, and interior upgrades over the standard Mini Cooper S. More immediately noticeable when driving are internal modifications to its 1.6-liter twincam direct-injection turbo engine that increase power to 208 hp (at 6,000rpm), with 192 pound-feet of torque available from 1,850rpm through 5,600rpm. If that isn't quite enough, a little extra overboost is allowed for short periods of time, bringing torque up to 207 pound-feet.
Which can be noticeable through the steering wheel, especially with the "Sport" button on. That remaps the electronically-controlled throttle and electrically-assisted power steering for more sensitive throttle response and quicker steering. Which will get you into overboost mode quite easily. Judicious throttle application is a necessity, and even then there is no doubt that the car has front-wheel drive and plenty of torque going through those wheels. Yee hah! It's not necessarily the best introduction to high-performance front-wheel drive for someone who never has experienced it, if any such persons are left at this time.
On today's show, we get schooled about how cell phone 911 works, we school the music industry on its consistently terrible ideas regarding physical formats (seriously? Albums on micro SD cards? Are you kidding us with this?), Obama cools his pro Net neutrality stance, and Japan gets to work on the space elevator. Jason already volunteered to go. He's so brave. We'll miss him.Listen now: Download today's podcast EPISODE 814
SanDisk, record labels announce new music format http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10047311-93.html http://www.crn.com/retail/210602962 http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/09/22/music-on-microsd-i-cant-believe-the-labels-fell-for-this/… Read more
With a name that recalls the famed Japanese ninja movie, the MiniStation Shinobi is arguably the thinnest and lightest external hard drive to date--merely .2 inches thick and weighing only 2 ounces.
Buffalo announced the drive on Monday. Unlike other pocket-size external hard drives that use the 2.5-inch drives found in most laptops, this one uses the 1.8-inch laptop hard drive that's more often associated with smaller devices such as portable media players. For this reason, the external hard drive is significantly more compact and lighter, but it also features limited capacity: up to only 60GB. This … Read more
Hot on the heels of Altec Lansing's new Orbit, iLuv has announced a mini portable speaker as well. The offical name of the product is the iSP100 Mini Portable Stereo Speaker for iPod, iPhone 3G, 2G and MP3 Players and it will be available "worldwide" in the next few weeks and will carry a list price of $34.99.
Like Altec Lansing, iLuv is touting the mini speaker's "big" sound and something it calls 720? Surround Sound. It, too, features a retractable cable with a 3.5mm jack that connects to the headphone jack … Read more
Have you seen the Volt for real--and will the EPA clobber it? The next Mini could be a crossover, Mercedes gets electric religion, and we romp in the Lancer Evo MR!
Listen now: Download today's podcastSHOW NOTES
It must be SEMA Show time again, because we're seeing the beginnings of an aftermarket accessory flood. Some of these products are useful, some aren't. AC Schnitzer, purveyor of aftermarket accessories, has just released a new LCD shift knob for manually shifted BMWs and Minis that we think falls into the latter category.
The red illuminated LCD screen on the top of the new shift knob displays the gear the vehicle is in up to sixth. The only connection to the vehicle are the wires for 12V power, so the LCD shift knob uses an accelerometer to determine … Read more
Hewlett-Packard and world-renowned Asian fashion designer Vivienne Tam have been working together to create the HP Vivienne Tam Special Edition notebook. However, anyone attending Tam's fashion show during New York's Fashion Week at Bryant Park Tuesday has probably already seen it.
The special-edition notebook--which looks to be an HP mini-note, except it's sporting a 10-inch screen--debuted with the usual fanfare a fashion show receives at Fashion Week, but with a high-tech twist.
Models sashayed onto the catwalk workin' the designer notebook as a clutch purse, while looking fierce in Tam's clothing.
The notebook is gleaming red and bursting with peony flowers--a signature staple of Tam's collection--on the lid. The peony design is then meticulously carried inside the notebook, under the keypad. The laptop also features a extra special enter key that bears the Chinese symbol for double happiness. The design was inspired by Tam's "China Chic" style, which is recognized from the runways in Milan to the Olympics in Beijing and represents her personal mantra to live well and be beautiful. The notebook also features a complimentary embroidered storage sleeve that helps keep the exterior protected while being carried as a clutch.
The "digital clutch" represents the first time a computer company has partnered with a fashion designer to create a notebook PC as well as have it debut at a fashion show. In addition to the design of the notebook, Tam worked with HP to design its accessories and packaging. … Read more