2012 Buick LaCrosse, with eAssist, to start at $29,960

2012 Buick LaCrosse with e-Assist Technology.


General Motors today announced that the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist will have an MSRP of $29,960 plus $860 destination charge.

The U.S. automaker announced the “mild hybrid” earlier this year. The new LaCrosse is expected to deliver 25 percent better highway fuel economy than the current model.

According to GM, eAssist will be the standard power train for LaCrosse. It works by using a lithium ion battery to help propel the
car with up to 11 kilowatts of power from a stopped position. The eAssist system has an electric motor-generator that enables regenerative braking capability, so it stores energy from braking. This “light electrification” system also will be available on the 2012 Buick Regal later this year.

The Buick LaCrosse comes in a front-wheel-drive 3.6L model that is rated at an SAE-certified 303 horsepower (226 kW)–an improvement of 23 hp–and 264 lb.-ft. of torque (358 Nm). It boasts 37 mpg highway. An available all-wheel-drive version is yet to be rated.

The 3.6L LaCrosse has an integrated cylinder head/exhaust manifold design and a composite intake manifold that helps reduce its weight by more than 20 pounds (9 kg), which increases horsepower without any loss in fuel efficiency. Also, the direct-injected engine also warms up faster, which cuts emissions of unburned hydrocarbons by up to 25 percent, GM said.

The LaCrosse also features dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, full-color driver information center, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

“LaCrosse with eAssist is the smart choice for those who want great fuel economy without sacrificing the driving dynamics and passenger comfort that have made Buick the fastest-growing major automotive brand in the United States,” said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick marketing.

Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20070159-48.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=TheCarTechblog

Microsoft readying own Windows tablet?

Windows 8 on a tablet.

Windows 8 on a tablet.

Rafe Needleman/CNET)

Microsoft may be thinking of hitting the market with its own Windows 8-branded
tablet by the end of 2012, according to sources cited by Taiwan’s DigiTimes.

If the rumor eventually holds true, the company would create the tablet by partnering with Texas Instruments and various Taiwanese equipment manufacturers to supply the hardware.

CNET’s request for comment to Microsoft was not immediately returned.

The new tablet reportedly would borrow Microsoft’s branding strategies from such products as the hugely successful
Xbox 360, the lackluster
Zune media player, and the very short-lived Kin smartphone.

Microsoft would move forward on the tablet using a “low profile” and would still work with other vendors to roll out their own Windows 8 tablets, according to the report. Though other vendors may be a bit miffed that Microsoft would launch its own branded tablet, the DigiTimes sources say that’s not likely to have any impact on the folks in Redmod over the short term.

The computing giant has already stirred up some complaints. Last week, Acer’s president and CEO criticized Microsoft for placing “troublesome” restrictions on Windows 8 tablet makers by limiting how many of them can receive chips from Intel, AMD, Texas Instruments, and the other companies providing processors for the new tablets.

Microsoft demoed its Windows 8 for tablets at last week’s D9 conference, though tablets based on the new OS are not likely to start shipping until next year.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-20070044-75/microsoft-readying-own-windows-tablet/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Impul gives its take on the Nissan Juke

Nissan Juke wearing Impuls body kit

Impul’s Nissan Juke is either much cooler or more awkward-looking than its stock aesthetic.


It’s been a while since we’ve showcased a tuner
car here on the Car Tech Blog, but after getting an eyeful of Japanese tuner Impul‘s take on the already love-it-or-leave-it stylings of the 2011 Nissan Juke, we couldn’t help but take another look.

The Impul Juke benefits (or suffers) from a new front bumper with a more aggressive lower lip, side skirts, and a rear diffuser, as well as a restyled grill and a huge, aggressive rear wing. There are also larger wheels in a Hyper Black finish, side-window vent visors, and what look like small winglets hanging from the bottom of the side mirrors. Rounding out the look are Impul script graphics along the vehicle’s flanks and Impul badging at both ends.

For the enterprising Juke driver who’d like a bit of go-faster with the extra-aggressive styling, Impul also manufactures and supplies an array of performance parts, including a performance ECU, a more freely flowing throttle body, and an axle-back exhaust kit–all of which should unlock a few more ponies from the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. Handling improvements come from available high-performance brake pads, upgraded dampers, and stiffer springs.

My Japanese is a bit rusty so data on the actual power and handling gains from the performance parts eludes me, but does the Impul Juke at least manage to look better than the standard Juke? Sound off in the comments with your opinions.

Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20069851-48.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=TheCarTechblog

Richard Stallman: break free of e-book ‘chains’

Barnes  Noble Nook

Doe the new $139 Nook from Barnes Noble liberate us from physical books or burden us with restrictions?

Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive)

Richard Stallman, who bridles to see the idealistic purity of his free software philosophy debased into the more pragmatic open-source movement, can be a prickly character. But I find myself agreeing with some of his concerns about e-books.

In a piece titled “The Danger of E-books” (PDF), Stallman bemoans the e-book’s loss of freedoms that most of us take for granted with physical books and places the blame on corporate powers.

“Technologies that could have empowered us are used to chain us instead,” he said. “We must
reject e-books until they respect our freedom… E-books need not attack our freedom, but they will if companies get to decide. It’s up to us to stop them.”

I find that language over the top. Free-speech ideals about learning and discourse haven’t been squeezed off the Internet, despite some censorship and some discussion taking place within the confines of Facebook.

But I do resent the restrictions I suffer with e-books. I understand why companies such as Barnes Noble, Apple, and Amazon impose them, but that doesn’t make me happy about it.

I’ve moved living quarters a lot in the last couple years, and I have more moves to come. Each time, more of my family’s physical-book library ended up at used book stores, friends, and goodwill. I love books, but I don’t have the space for them, and because my active reading habits tend toward new books, the library ends up being more ornamental than practical anyway.

Living a high-mobility lifestyle has given me a great appreciation for e-books. They take up no room in my confined quarters, and I read them where my mobile phone happens to be handy: in lines, the walk to the grocery store, waiting for the photos to download. The book I was reading on a phone while pumping gas in the day is the same one I read at night on a glowing
tablet screen at night in bed.

I don’t mind terribly that I can’t sell them when I’m done, the way I can with a physical book. I do mind, profoundly, that I can’t share them easily with my wife, friends, or others. Kindle books can be lent for two weeks, but my nephew with a Nook can’t read them, and for me, two weeks is often not enough. Buying an e-book pains me, because instead of owning something I can cherish, I end up with an ephemeral-feeling license to some intellectual property that’s tethered very strongly to a username and reading technology.

Here’s Stallman’s list of physical book advantages:

? You can buy one with cash, anonymously.

? Then you own it.

? You are not required to sign a license that restricts your use of it.

? The format is known, and no proprietary technology is needed to read the book.

? You can, physically, scan and copy the book, and it’s sometimes lawful under copyright.

? Nobody has the power to destroy your book.

That list contrasts with his list of e-book drawbacks, including Stallman’s preferred derogatory term for digital rights management (DRM), using Amazon as the example:

? Amazon requires users to identify themselves to get an e-book.

? In some countries, Amazon says the user does not own the e-book.

? Amazon requires the user to accept a restrictive license on use of the e-book.

? The format is secret, and only proprietary user-restricting software can read it at all.

? To copy the e-book is impossible due to Digital Restrictions Management in the player and prohibited by the license, which is more restrictive than copyright law.

? Amazon can remotely delete the e-book using a back door. It used this back door in 2009 to delete thousands of copies of George Orwell’s 1984.

I think he’s spot on with some of these gripes. Where I don’t see eye to eye is on ascribing blame and coming up with solutions.

“The e-book companies say denying our traditional freedoms is necessary to continue to pay
authors. The current copyright system does a lousy job of that; it is much better suited to
supporting those companies,” Stallman said.

That, at least to me, implicates Amazon and its peers. I think, though, that publishers, too, are part of the equation. Their negotiations with e-book distributors are crucial to setting the prices and permissions of e-books. They’re also a conservative bunch at the cusp of a profound change in their business: instead of selling a physical object that’s difficult to reproduce, they’re selling access to information that is extremely easy to copy with perfect fidelity.

And it’s not quite so simple as blaming greedy corporate powers eager to strip us of our rights so they can extract maximum profits. Sure, Barnes Noble would love as much money as possible, but let’s not forget that today it’s a free-market approach that’s paying for the digitization of the publishing industry–or for that matter that Barnes Noble is hardly swimming in cash because of its e-book business.

One solution Stallman proposes: tax Internet service providers and distribute funds to authors according to the cube root of their popularity so they can offer their work for free sharing. I’m no libertarian who’d like to see taxes reduced to zero, but I can see plenty of reasons that kind of idea won’t fly.

Other private-sector cases in point: Google may have overreached with the Google Books settlement, but now that it’s been rejected I don’t see any other organizations stepping in to scan millions upon millions of books that don’t make today’s publishers’ priority lists. In a similar way, it’s Apple that’s dragging a reluctant music industry into the digital age, balancing customer rights, artists’ royalties, and its own profits in a way that has plenty of commercial success despite any number of criticisms. Let us not forget, too, that Amazon and Apple even managed to craft music services that offer music in MP3 formats free of the DRM restrictions Stallman so loathes, and that Amazon offered the limited sharing as a competitive response to Barnes Noble.

One final point. Physical books come with all kinds of freedoms, but they also come with their own set of constraints. You can only get them if you happen to be near a library, bookstore, or friend that has a copy in stock, and they’re a huge hassle to lug around. E-books, for all their restrictions, are also very liberating.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20069648-264/richard-stallman-break-free-of-e-book-chains/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

GM may test EN-V in Detroit


GM EN-V personal mobility shown at the Shanghai auto show.


General Motors is eyeing its hometown of Detroit [as a place] to test its so-called EN-V personal mobility concept.

In a speech last week to Michigan business and civic leaders, GM North America President Mark Reuss called Detroit a “perfect” spot to test the futuristic machines.

EN-V, which stands for Electric Networked Vehicle, is GM’s answer to improving transportation systems in congestion-choked cities such as Beijing. The EN-V was unveiled in 2010 at the Shanghai auto show. It is a battery-powered, enclosed two-wheeled vehicle that seats two, based on the two-wheeled Segway scooter. It reaches speeds of 25 mph and can drive itself and communicate wirelessly with other EN-Vs to avoid crashes.

In April, Chris Borroni-Bird, director of GM’s EN-V program, said the automaker is exploring potential sites for a broad pilot. He mentioned military bases and senior-living communities as possibilities but did not give a time frame.

Reuss acknowledged that GM’s hometown, with its abandoned buildings and declining population, has the opposite problem of the dense cities that the EN-V is meant to help.

He said the timing is right because the infrastructure for the EN-V could be installed alongside a light-rail line and a possible high-speed rail connection that has been proposed for Detroit.

Reuss made clear that GM has no firm plans to test the vehicle there. And the company would enlist corporate and government help if it proceeds.

He said: “It would take unprecedented effort with unheard-of levels of cooperation between business and government.”

(Source: Automotive News)

Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20069324-48.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=TheCarTechblog

E3 2011: PlayStation Vita vs. Nintendo 3DS

With the
PlayStation Vita now officially unveiled we’re putting it side by side with the Nintendo 3DS. Priced the same, we’re curious which system provides the best overall value. For your $250, which portable console will you buy?

Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-21539_7-20069518-10391702.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

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