Category Archives: Cars

Gadget Man – Episode 110 – Electric Vehicle Charge Points in the home

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced proposals to change building regulations to encourage the mandatory installation of electric vehicle charge points in new homes and offices. New street lighting columns which service on-street parking will also have charging points in appropriate locations.

Along with these changes, the government has also promised more money to fund the charging infrastructure.

Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP as Secretary of State for Transport
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP as Secretary of State for Transport. Image Credit: HM Government.

Mr Grayling said the proposed measures would mean the UK having “one of the most comprehensive support packages for zero-emission vehicles in the world”.

“The prize is not just a cleaner and healthier environment but a UK economy fit for the future and the chance to win a substantial slice of a market estimated to be worth up to £7.6 trillion by 2050”.

Tesla Destination Charger, Adelphi Distillery
Tesla Destination Charger, Adelphi Distillery – Image Credit: Matt Porter

I’ve tested 14 different electric and hybrid cars and I’m obviously sold on the idea of alternative fuel cars. Having travelled from Ness Point to Ardnamurchan in Scotland in a Tesla Model S 100 D and found the charge network was already in place, but improvements and investment from the Government would be very useful. With mass production of electric cars and more importantly lithium-ion batteries, the costs should come down in line with petrol and diesel powered cars. We should also look forward to electric powered lorries in the near future too. Exciting times indeed!

This morning, I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about the proposals. To listen to what I had to say, click on the stream above.

What do you think about electric cars, do you think they will be mainstream in your lifetime? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme – The perfect laptop for any road trip #gadgetroadtrip

Before departing on our electric road trip in the Tesla Model S in October, we were kindly lent lots of kit to make the journey easier and more tech-packed.

Of all the tech we used and tested on our trip, one of the most useful was the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme, a gadget perfectly suited for the journey to Scotland and back.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme at Leicester Services.

As the name suggests, this is a Rugged laptop specifically designed to withstand some pretty extreme conditions. It is aimed at people who need to be working out in the field in all kinds of weather conditions. Perfectly suited for the west of Scotland then!

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme comes with Resistive Touch Screen and Stylus fir ease of use in wet conditions.

The Latitude 14 Rugged was to be the central hub of our video and blogging management, allowing us to edit video whenever the chance presented itself and manage blogs and social media in a full screen environment. Video was edited using Adobe Premiere Pro CC and uploaded over EE’s 4g network.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme Designed for ‘in the field’ use.

As laptops go, this is a seriously luggable device, it’s bulky and heavy to the point that it has an integrated carry handle. The bulk and weight are due to it’s armour added to protect it from fairly substantial drops and providing it will water resistance.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
All I/O ports are rubber sealed.

Each of the myriad of i/o ports are rubber-sealed to protect them and it’s touch screen is resistive rather than the market standard ‘capacitive’ touch in order for it be used in wet conditions and dell have even provided an inbuilt stylus to aid use of it in cold conditions where you wouldn’t want to expose your fingers to the elements.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
Integrated finger print reader is included.

The model we tested was packed with hardware features including a Intel Core i5-6300U Processor (Dual Core, 3M Cache, 2.40 GHz), 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 Memory, 128GB Solid State Drive, Intel Integrated HD Graphics 520, Intel Dual Band Wireless 8260 (802.11ac) with Bluetooth, Dell Wireless Qualcomm Gobi 4G LTE (DW5809E for Win8/Win10), 35.6cm (14.0″) HD (1366×768) Touch Display with Microphone Camera with Privacy Shutter all powered from E5 90W AC Adapter.

The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
The Dell provided excellent battery performance during our trip and we ensured we topped up overnight where possible.

The processor, memory and solid state drive all helped to run Windows 10 Professional with ease. I was able to happily edit 4K video footage in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 and upload these files with a EE 4G data Sim card. Everything was taken care of without having to mess around with secondary devices to connect to the internet. In retrospect, we could have employed the Latitude as a virtual studio for our video broadcasting, but time constraints simply didn’t give us the time to set this up.

All in all this was a seriously impressive device, although this is in no way a practical machine for use in an office,  but when used for it’s intended purpose in extreme weather conditions and less that welcoming environments, it simply excels with a feature packed all in one solution with water resistance and extreme durability.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these features come at a premium, the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme is priced around the £2900 mark.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

 

Transcend DrivePro 230 – A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip

It’s been a while since Paul and I ventured to Scotland and back in the Tesla Model S on our East West Road Trip. During the trip we had the opportunity to test lots of technology.

Transcend DrivePro 230 - A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip
The Transcend DrivePro 230 was welcome addition on The East to West Road Trip last year.

It was particularly comforting to have the Drive Pro 230 in car camera along for the trip, providing us with the added comfort that should anything unpleasant happen during our 1200 mile trip, we would have full audio-video documentation to refer to.

Dash-cam’s have become an essential gadget for drivers over the last few years, providing evidence in road traffic accidents and thus being referred as an IEW or Independent Eye Witness by the Police, but also by providing additional features to make the drivers experience safer and legal.

The Transcend DrivePro 230 is as feature packed as any Dash-cam currently available currently. Aside from packing at Sony Exmor™ image sensor to capture 1920×1080 video at 30FPS which offers excellent lowlight video capture with the able assistance of the F/2.0 wide angle lens.

Attaching the camera to your windscreen using either suction or adhesive mounts. The camera also packs a GPS receiver and synchronises your geographical position to the video using Transcends PC, Mac and Phone Apps.

On the rear of the camera is a 2.4″ colour LCD screen and remote display is also possible via Wi-Fi to phone app. Obviously, this is targeted for use by passengers of the car.

The package comes with a very long MicroUSB to 12v car power adapter which charges the camera whilst driving and with the on-board battery, it can be configured to continue to monitor the car in ‘Parking Mode’. silently monitoring it’s field of view for movement and then recording this movement for later review.

Transcend DrivePro 230 with included 16GB MicroSD card
Transcend DrivePro 230 with included 16GB MicroSD card

Aside from the ‘quick record’ button, the camera also packs an emergency recording feature which also prevents overwriting of recorded video when the included 16GB MicroSD card fills up. In normal mode the camera records in chunks of video and gradually overwrites the oldest video files enabling continuous recording for as long as your journey takes.

Transcend DrivePro 230 - A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip
Transcend DrivePro 230 – A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip

Other safety features included are Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), driver fatigue alert and headlight warning system (when light conditions begin fail.

The camera also comes with speed warning settings which will audibly warn you when you exceed the set speed limits set within the camera.

Transcend DrivePro 230 Dash-cam Transcend DrivePro 230 Dash-camTranscend DrivePro 230 Dash-cam

This type of device demands simplicity of use, and the DrivePro 230 excels in this area. It simply is a ‘plug-in and go’ solution which aside from the obvious safety and legal comforts provides a vast amount of other features which make driving that little bit less stressful.

At around £136, the Transcend DrivePro 230 is excellent value for money, with a high quality device providing excellent video quality with an enormous amount of added features.

For more tech news, reviews and comment visit www.thegadgetman.org.uk

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

 

Pininfarina H2 Speed Hydrogen Concept at Adastral Park

We are very lucky to share our premises with numerous high tech companies here at Adastral Park.

Pininfarina H2 Speed Hydrogen Concept
Pininfarina H2 Speed Hydrogen Concept – pictured at Adastral Park, UK.

A few weeks back it was the turn of Tech Mahindra to wow us in the form of the Pininfarina H2 Speed hydrogen concept car which was touring the country.

Marco Pintor - Sales Executive, Pininfarina S.p.A.
Marco Pintor – Sales Executive, Pininfarina S.p.A.

We were very pleased to spend some time chatting to the guys at both Pininfarina and Tech Mahindra on the day and gained some very interesting insights into this marketplace.

I spoke to Marco Pintor, Sales Executive at Pininfarina at length about the H2 Speed and how the challenge of powering a high performance vehicle with hydrogen, but retaining the traditional designs cues we have become accustomed to.

Sports car designers are faced with similar challenges when designing vehicles, they must be aerodynamic, light, appealing to the eye and evoke the ideals behind the vehicle. Thus, the H2 Speed’s body is constructed from carbon-fibre.

Pininfarina
The timeless Pininfarina badge
Pininfarina H2 Speed
Pininfarina H2 Speed

Propulsion is provided by the GreenGT Full Power Hydrogen powering 2 synchronous electric motors giving the equivalent of 500 horsepower. Energy is provided from 2 stacks of PEMFC Fuel Cells with a combined 210kW of energy.

Pininfarina H2 Speed
Pininfarina H2 Speed

Power is applied directly to the rear wheels at a ratio of 1:6.3, as we many other alternative fuel cars, there is no clutch, differential of gear changing necessary, just immediate maximum torque, traction is controlled by torque vectoring.

Fuel is stored in two side mounted Hydrogen storage tanks either side of the cockpit with a combined tank capacity of 6.1 kg, with a pressue of 700 bars. Refuelling times are estimated at around 3 mins. Further energy is recovered from the braking system at 400V and a capacity of 20Ah.

Pininfarina H2 SpeedEmissions are simply air and water from the exhaust system, there is ZERO pollution from the vehicle.

So, how does this stack up in peformance? Pretty well it would seem! Th H2 is capable of a 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds,  a standing quarter mile in 11 seconds and a top speed of around 186 mph.

Sergio Farina with the Testarossa
Sergio Farina with the Testarossa

Pininfarina have been styling automobiles for over 86 years, for manufactures such as Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Peugeot and of course Ferrari with the benchmarks of design of the Testarossa and Dino.

Now they find themselves in the 21st Century producing leading edge design and technology for a new breed or race cars. The future is looking very bright for both Pininfarina and their owner Tech Mahindra.

Currently, the H2 Speed is priced at around $2 million dollars and aimed at a very particular marketplace. We should however look forward to this amazing technology finding it’s way to our vehicles in the near future.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

First Products of the Tech Giants – Play our Quiz!

We all have to start somewhere and so did some of the biggest tech companies. Play our quiz and see if you can guess what their first products were? You might be surprised at some of the answers!

Don’t forget to comment with your score and don’t forget to like and share!!

1257 Miles in an Electric Car – Part 1 – A Plan is Hatched.

Holzhausen’s drawings of the Model S
Holzhausen’s original drawings of the Model S

10th July 2017

I was sitting in my office in Martlesham on the 10th July 2017 chatting to a colleague about Tesla cars. The conversation had started after he noticed the framed artists sketch hanging on my wall.

I have driven a number of Tesla Model S cars in the past from the excitable P85+ to the ‘Insane’ P85D. They are very exciting cars to drive, not just because they are fully electric and pack extremely powerful single gear motors, but because you feel your are riding on the coattails of automotive history, participating in an irreversible shift change in motorvehicle technology. It’s very exciting!

The conversation moved on the the Model X and Model 3, Tesla’s entries in to the SUV and ‘affordable’ markets. The Model X has recently appeared in the UK, the Model 3 is two years away from being available. We continued to chat for the rest of lunch, but the seed was planted.

That evening I wrote an email to Tesla’s press office requesting the loan of a Model X for review. Nothing specific, simply available dates.

The next day I received a reply from Tesla, it’s explained that things were very busy with the Model X, but the 5th and 6th of October was available for a test drive, did that suit? I puzzled for a while, in the past I had been loaned vehicles for a little longer, to give me time to get to know the vehicle, two days seemed a bit short to get a proper review in place. So, I followed up with an email, requesting a little longer.

I quickly received a reply from Tesla asking what my plans were? OK, good question, time to put on my thinking cap.

15 July 2017

My initial idea was driving from Lands End to John O’Groats, but after a little bit of Googling, I discovered that this had already been done in a  Tesla and well documented on YouTube, there was nothing original to achieve in travelling down this this ‘road’.

But wait a minute! Was there? I live about 40 minutes from Ness Point, the most easterly point in the UK. Nestled in Lowestoft, Ness Point at first glance seemed a little unloved. Some thought and effort has been made to build a stone circle, with plaques showing distances to well known points in the UK. It’s quite nice, but the surroundings aren’t that impressive, but it seemed like the obvious starting point for a challenge and wasn’t too far from home.

Now to find the most westerly point of the UK.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits on the most westerly mainland point of the UK accessible by a short ferry ride at Corran and a two hour drive along single track roads across an extinct volcano. There even appeared to be a ‘rapid’ charge point a few miles away at Kichoan Pier, which would set a challenge outside of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ network.

The plan was hatched, but it was just the beginning.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

The Gadget Man – Episode 105 – On the Sofa with Sarah Lilley at BBC Radio Suffolk

As I continue to ride the wave of euphoria of completing the 1200 mile east to west  Gadget Road Trip with my lifelong friend Andy. Today I joined BBC Radio Suffolk’s Sarah Lilley on the Sofa in Ipswich and explained how the challenge came about and how it felt to drive 1200 miles in an Electric Car and why I love Gadgets!

I also talked about how I met Vanessa, how I listen to music and an ill fated trip to Tunisia in 1996.

Listen in to the stream, bookmark the site, we have a LOAD of reviews coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

The Gadget Man – Episode 104 – Defeating Vehicle Security

Following a report by the RAC that vehicle thefts in the United Kingdom have risen by 30% in the last three years, I spoke to Mark Murphy on his BBC Radio Suffolk Breakfast show about how thieves are trying to defeat the security measures that car manufacturers are putting in place.

You can listen into the stream, but clicking the ‘play’ button above.

If you are interested in the technology that is regularly being used to defeat vehicle security, Andy Greenburg has written a very interesting article on Wired which can be found here.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

180 Year Old Technology Set To Tackle Smartphone Distractions For Motorists

Smartphone use behind the wheel is a BIG problem, with 31% of drivers admitting to handling their phones whilst driving in 2016 according to the RAC (Up from 8% in 2014).

It seems no amount of fixed penalty fines or danger of accidents can stop people from tinkering with their devices when they should be concentrating on driving.

I have myself been a guest on a fair number of radio phone-ins where this was discussed all including the question,”Surely, there is a way of blocking phone use behind the wheel?”

It seems the answer to this problem lies with a technology that was invented almost 200 years ago by Michael Faraday and later developed by Benjamin Franklin. Yes, the ‘Faraday Cage’, otherwise used to protect engineers working on power-lines, is now being adopted by Nissan GB to try and help reduce smartphone distraction at the wheel.

The ‘Nissan Signal Shield‘ is a compartment which sits in the arm rest of the Nissan Juke and when a phone is placed within this compartment, it blocks ALL the phones incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth and WiFi connections.

It’s all based on the principle of the Faraday cage, with conductive material, such as wire mesh,  blocking the  electromagnetic fields around the phone.

When an electronic device, like a smartphone, is placed inside, any incoming electromagnetic signals – such as cellular or Bluetooth data – are distributed across the cage’s external conducting material and so prevented from reaching the device.

This all allows the driver to make a choice about whether they want to completely eliminate the distractions of text messages and multiple notifications arriving on their smartphones whilst they drive and allow them to concentrate on driving safe.

Smartphone use has become habitual and having the temptation of checking phones every few minutes removed seems like a great idea and brings to mind the old saying ‘out of site, out of mind’.

The Nissan Signal Shield concept provides optional connectivity, giving drivers the choice between being able to contact and be contacted from the road, or creating a ‘phone-free’ space and time. It means a digital detox and a drive that’s free of incoming distractions.

If drivers want to listen to music or podcasts stored on their smartphone, they can still connect to the car’s entertainment system via the USB or auxiliary ports. The device will maintain wired connectivity even when in the Nissan Signal Shield compartment.

To restore your phone’s communication, you simply open the arm rest and all is back working again.

Alex Smith, Managing Director, Nissan Motor GB Ltd. said; “Nissan produces some of the safest cars on the road today, but we are always looking at new ways to improve the wellbeing of our customers. Mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing concern across the automotive industry, and indeed society, particularly with the high number of ‘pushed’ communications, such as texts, social media notifications and app alerts that tempt drivers to reach for their devices.”

“The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving. This is about delivering more control at the wheel, not less. Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very ‘connected’ world we live in.”

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Our research shows that handheld phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions. As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a handheld phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.”

“The Nissan Signal Shield is a good example of a technology that can help drivers be phone smart. For those who can’t avoid the temptation, this simple but pretty clever tech gives them a valuable mobile-free zone. We are asking all drivers to make a personal commitment not to use a handheld phone at the wheel by visiting www.bephonesmart.uk and sharing their promise with their friends and family.”