Michelin Smart Jumper cables for easier jump-starts

Michelin Smart Jumper cables

A control box located inline gives the Smart Jumper cables a number of safety and convenience features.

(Credit:
Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

We’ve already shown you how to jump-start your car with standard jumper cables, but if you don’t trust yourself to remember all six steps in our guide, Michelin may be able to help with its new Smart Jumper cables. This set of jumpers features inline electronics that take most–but not all–of the guesswork and danger out of jump-starting a
car.

There are two physical differences that seasoned automotive enthusiasts will notice between the Smart Jumper cables and, well, dumb jumpers. The first is that where standard jumpers have red and black clamps on each end, marking the positive and negative connections, all four of the Smart Jumper’s connections are the same electric blue. So, how do you know what’s positive and what’s negative? As it turns out, it doesn’t matter.

The second physical difference is likely the most important: the control box of electronics mounted about a quarter of the way on the cable. The control box monitors the connections at both ends of the Smart Jumper cables and notifies the user with a pair of green LEDs when the proper connections have been made. If the electrical connection between the two vehicles is improperly made, the lights will not illuminate and power will not flow between the batteries.

Hands on with Michelin Smart Jumper cables (photos)

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In addition to just monitoring the flow of power, the Smart Jumper cables feature surge protection that prevents sparking while making connections or electrical spikes which could damage either connected vehicle. There’s also built-in polarity switching, so it doesn’t matter which clamp is connected to which terminal–which explains why all of the clamps are the same color. You could switch the positive and negative connections on either vehicle back and forth and the Smart Jumpers would sense and redirect the flow of power.

So, the user simply connects either clamp to either terminal on each end of the cables. Once the connections are properly made and both lights are illuminated, the dead vehicle may be jump-started. Sounds easy enough, right? Not exactly.

Although the Smart Jumpers will let the user know when they’ve made the right connections (and won’t punish them if they don’t), actually making the connections is still in the hands of the user–including the engine block ground connection that most would-be jump-starters forget to make. Fortunately, there’s an illustrated connection guide right there on the back of the control box to remind users of what needs to go where. Additionally, during our testing, we weren’t able to get one of the status lights to illuminate after making the correct connections. However, after switching the ends of the cables from one vehicle to the other, both lights illuminated. This was confusing considering that these Cables should be smart enough to make the switch for us. It looks to us that there still may be a bit of know-how required when using the Smart Jumpers.

One more minor issue that we had with the Smart Jumpers is that they didn’t ship with a carrying case or bag, like most standard jumpers we’ve tested, which means they’ll likely end up loose and tangles as they flop around in your trunk. For cables that are roughly double the cost of standard cables, we’d expect at least this small convenience.

So the Smart Jumpers aren’t completely idiot-proof, but they will prevent an idiot from electrocuting himself or damaging a vehicle involved in a jump-start. That, for us, makes these $40 jumper cables worth their price premium over a $20 set of standard cables.

Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20063320-48.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=TheCarTechblog

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 reviewed: thin, sleek 13-incher for the business set

Especially in an age of iPads and
tablets, thin laptops seem to be back on the rise. Emerging into a landscape full of MacBook Airs, Samsung Series 9s and Toshiba Porteges–to name a few–is Lenovo’s corporate take on the thin, sexy 13-incher, the ThinkPad X1. We’ve played with one for a week now, and have finally emerged with our review of Lenovo’s sex(ier) beast.

The ThinkPad X series has been alive and well for years–the x100e and X201 are recent members of the ThinkPad’s ultraportable line–but the X1 is a 13.3-incher that’s also the thinnest ThinkPad yet. Yet, although the X1 is thin, it’s not as thin as a MacBook Air. It does come with uncharacteristically “sexy” features for a ThinkPad: a Gorilla Glass-covered glossy screen, backlit keyboard, and Dolby sound-enhanced speakers, along with an overall design that feels more like the ThinkPad Edge series of laptops (well, for ThinkPads, that qualifies as sexy).

It’s not lightweight, either: the 3.8 pound roll-cage chassis feels dense, but the X1 is also extremely sturdy. Under the hood, the X1 has a standard-voltage second-generation 2.5 GHz Core i5-2520 CPU. USB 3.0, HDMI and eSATA are among its forward-looking ports. It’s a full-fledged laptop.

However, at a starting price of $1399, the X1 isn’t cheap. And, while we’d love to say its extremely fast-charging internal battery lasts a long time, it’s a distant second to laptops like the Toshiba Portege R835 and Samsung Series 9.

Read our full review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/lenovo-thinkpad-x1-reviewed-thin-sleek-13-incher-for-the-business-set/8301-17938_105-20063362-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Alpine SXV100 SiriusXM tuner offers advanced satellite radio functions

The Alpine CDE-124SXM hides a powerful SiriusXM satellite radio tuner behind its unassuming faceplate.

The Alpine CDE-124SXM hides a powerful SiriusXM satellite radio tuner behind its unassuming faceplate.

(Credit:
Inc.,Alpine Electronics of America)

Alpine Electronics puts its weight behind SiriusXM satellite radio in the
car with its announcement of a new line of single-DIN CD receivers that will bear the new SiriusXM-Ready badge, marking their compatibility with the car audio supplier’s new SVX100 SiriusXM Connect Vehicle Tuner Kit. For the first time, Alpine is offering a bundled SiriusXM tuner and CD receiver package, giving customers a turn-key option for getting satellite radio content through their cars’ speakers.

The star of the show is the SXV100 SiriusXM tuner, which provides access to a number of advanced satellite radio features in addition to the standard 180-plus channels received through its magnetic rooftop antenna. For example, users are now able to pause, rewind, and replay up to 30 minutes of satellite radio content from the tuner’s internal cache. There’s also support for iTunes Tagging to save the info of a playing song for later purchase in the iTunes store–a feature that debuted on HD Radio tuners. Additionally, a selection of notification functions–SongAlert, ArtistAlert, and GameAlert–inform the user when a favorite song, artist, or professional or college sport team is playing on any SiriusXM channel.

The CDE-124SXM package consists of a CD receiver and the SXV100 SiriusXM Connect vehicle tuner.

The CDE-124SXM package consists of a CD receiver and the SXV100 SiriusXM Connect vehicle tuner.

(Credit:
Inc.,Alpine Electronic of America)

The SXV100 tuner is compatible with Alpine’s new CDE-123 CD receiver, which features front and rear USB ports, an
iPod interface cable, an auxiliary input, and an internal amplifier that outputs 18 continuous watts through each of its four channels. The CDE-123 CD receiver and SVX100 satellite tuner can be purchased separately for $199.95 and $69.99, respectively. Those looking to save a few bucks off of the combined $269.94 cost can have the SXV100 bundled with the CDE-122 CD receiver–which is mostly identical to the CDE-123, but with the omission of the rear USB port and iPod cable–as part of the new Alpine CDE-124SXM package for $229.95.

Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20062802-48.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=TheCarTechblog

HP revamps consumer desktop line-up

HP unveiled three new towers for its consumer desktop line this morning. The Pavilion, slim tower Slimline, and higher-end Pavilion Elite series all received new external designs. HP wasn’t overly specific regarding the new hardware specifications in the new systems, but we do know HP is bringing Intel’s second-generation Core (aka Sandy Bridge) CPUs to certain models in all three new systems.

HPs new Pavilion desktop chassis.

HP’s new Pavilion desktop chassis.

(Credit:
HP)

Compare the new Pavilion p7 series design with that of the p6 series and you’ll see that the p7’s new look is really more like a straightening up. The glossy black front panel is a little smaller than before, and HP moved the power button down from the top of the chassis, but otherwise the Pavilion looks very similar between generations.

We don’t mind the incremental aesthetic tweaks, especially for a workhorse system like HP’s Pavilion. Pricing for the new p7 models will start at $299 when they launch online on May 18th. In addition to the new Intel chips, HP will offer AMD CPU options as well.

The new HP Slimline s5 design also looks a lot like the previous model.

The new HP Slimline s5 design also looks a lot like the previous model.

(Credit:
HP)

We’re ambivalent about the bread-and-butter Pavilion, but we confess some disappointment in the new Slimline s5 design. It too looks like a cleaner version of the previous model, but with smaller systems like Apple’s Mac Mini, and Dell’s Zino Inspiron HD performing capably in the living room, we’d hoped HP might trim down the Slimline’s measurements. It’s still also larger than Gateway’s SX slim tower series, which has traditionally offered all of the configurability of the Slimline series, but with a significantly smaller chassis. We like the new front panel well enough, but based on preview we saw a few months ago, the new Slimline is unnecessarily large.

The Slimline s5 will hit HP’s Web site a bit later than the Pavilion, appearing online June 15th. Prices start at $329, with both AMD and Intel CPU options.

The Pavilion Elite received the biggest design overhaul of HPs new line-up.

The Pavilion Elite received the biggest design overhaul of HP’s new line-up.

(Credit:
HP)

HP seems to have poured most of its design effort into its Pavilion Elite h8 chassis. Compared with the previous Pavilion Elite, which mostly seemed like a tricked out standard Pavilion, the new higher-end chassis features sharper angles and a more streamlined front panel.

The red line across the front of the system indicates the Beats Audio-boosted audio jacks. This is also the only model in the new line-up for which HP specifically calls out discrete graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia, as well as dual-monitor support.

The Pavilion Elite will debut on HP’s Web site alongside the regular Pavilion on May 18th. Pricing starts at $599.

In addition to the new desktops, HP is also announcing a new feature available on all three systems called HP LinkUp. Essentially a local network file sharing service, LinkUp will let you draw down files from an HP desktop to a laptop on the same wireless network.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/hp-revamps-consumer-desktop-line-up/8301-17938_105-20063091-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Sleeved iPad 2 run over by car, survives

The $59.99 G-Form ‘extreme’ sleeve comes in yellow or black.

(Credit:
G-Form)

Last month, in a marketing stunt, an
iPad 2 encased in a $59.99 G-Form “extreme” sleeve was tossed out of a plane and survived just fine. So what, right? Who drops their iPad out of a plane?

Well, the folks over at the Canadian Web site Mobile Syrup decided to do a more practical test: they ran a G-Form-protected iPad 2 over with a
car.

In a bit of drama, after they ran it over, they discovered that the video they had running during the test had stopped playing. But once the sleeve came off, the iPad ended up turning on just fine.

Note to Android fanboys who will take issue with us writing up another Apple story: the Motorola Xoom should fit inside the G-Form sleeve.

(Source: Mobile Syrup via 9to5mac)

More: Ultimate iPad 2 case roundup

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/sleeved-ipad-2-run-over-by-car-survives/8301-17938_105-20063027-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Using wind power, Audi aims for carbon-neutral motoring

The Audi A3 TCNG will enter production in 2013.

The Audi A3 TCNG will enter production in 2013.

(Credit:
Audi)


Audi plans to use wind power as a source of clean energy for its upcoming electric and natural gas vehicles. The combination of clean power and zero- and low-emissions vehicles is a first step by the manufacturer toward making its entire lineup carbon-neutral.

To make its carbon-neutral goal a reality, the carmaker is financing the construction of four wind turbines off the North Sea that will generate annually up to 53 GWh of electricity. Wind-generated electricity will be fed to the public power grid, and Audi plans to use a portion of the wind power to charge its electric e-tron vehicles. It will also use wind-generated electricity to produce hydrogen and something Audi calls e-gas.

Harnessing the power of wind to produce hydrogen through electrolysis, Audi can power fuel cell vehicles, including the Audi Q5 HFC. But until fuel cell vehicles enter production, the hydrogen will be combined with CO2 to produce e-gas, a synthetic form of methane. Audi will use the e-gas to power a CNG version of the A3. The A3 TCNG’s four-cylinder TFSI engine is designed to run on e-gas, natural gas, or conventional gasoline.

To make the A3 TCNG even more environmentally friendly, Audi plans to break ground on its own synthetic methane facility in July. Using CO2 from a connected waste-biogas plant, Audi’s facility will produce annually 1,000 metric tons of e-gas. This fuel will be added to Germany’s natural gas network, which serves 900 CNG stations.

Electric vehicles powered by clean energy are the current gold standard for well-to-wheel zero-emission vehicles. And Audi’s A3 TCNG is also arguably carbon-neutral because it produces a similar amount of tailpipe C02 emissions that were diverted from the atmosphere to produce methane. In other words, this “closed loop” system introduces no new carbon into the environment.

Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20062788-48.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=TheCarTechblog

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