2013 Audi Q5 Review

February 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Car Tech, Reviews, Spotlight

Exterior

The Q5 has been one of the most popular compact premium SUVs in the region, and for a good reason too. Or multiple reasons, as is the case, what with decent looks, comfortable size (without being overly large like the Q7) and acceptably sporty performance. And while the new Q5 looks similar to when it was launched 4 years ago, a whole lot has changed for the 2013 model.

Sure, there have been some basic changes to bring the Q5 in line with other modern Audis, but nothing remarkable. There’s the slick daytime running LED strip on the headlamps, the dark grill where the fog lights are housed has a more downward sloping, aggressive look. The main front grill looks like a single piece from top to bottom thanks to the chrome highlights and the thick outline.

The rear and side remains exactly the same, except for some minor highlights added to the tail lamps. Of course, there are the 20-inch 5-spoked rims which come basic, while our tester came with the S-line package that added the ‘S-line’ logos and branding to the front arches, door steps and dash.

We’re sort of in the middle of the Q5’s lifecycle, so while it’s still got nice looks, compared to Audi’s recent sedans, especially the new A6 and A4, the Q5 looks downright outdated.

Interior

Inside we have the typical Audi feel of quality components presented in precise quantities and luxury. The Q5 has a subdued interior, black and silver in our tester unit with the full options interior ambience lighting (red glow in door handles and foot rest areas). It’s really sublime, especially at night when the red backlight comes on the silver interior gets a nice saturation against the black leather as you’re passing under the street lights.

The front seats are completely adjustable, electronically, including backrest and lumbar support, although the latter is not as pronounced as I’ve seen in other Audis. Ample legroom comes up front with the rear being respectably sufficient. Storage space is also very generous in the back with easy operation thanks to the powered boot.

The one thing I found sorely disappointing was the Audi multimedia system. A low resolution screen with limited colors and no way to connect my iPhone 5’s audio over Bluetooth left a sour taste. The extremely outdated multimedia system, which in our tester didn’t come with navigation either, especially stands out as a poor design choice given how brilliant every other aspect of the Q5 is.

The Drive

I was told that despite having the same overall build as the previous year, the 2013 Q5 is internally marked as a PI (Performance Improvement) edition. In this case the 2.0-lter Turbocharged engine has a massive performance boost with 225HP @ 4,500 – 6,250RPM and an extremely impressive 400Nm torque @ 1,500 – 4,500RPM. Comparatively last year’s model made 225HP and 350Nm of torque. The new performance boost is good enough to give the Q5 a respectable acceleration from 0 to 100kmph of 7.1 seconds.

Despite its size and almost 1.9-ton weight, the Q5 is extremely nimble on the road. The steering wheel is butter smooth to use with minimal force required, making it one of the smoothest 4x4s on the road. However, not everyone will like the power steering on the Q5, perhaps going so far as to say it has a detached feeling, but in my driving experience it felt really nice. Sure, you’re not going to get the type of surface-to-wheel feel you get in Audi’s other performance cars, but for being a luxury SUV, the Q5 excels at comfort.

The best part, however, is that apart from the performance bump, fuel efficiency has also improved significantly. The 2.0T Q5 gives an extremely impressive 7.1L/ 100km fuel economy, and in the 135km I drove the Q5, with mostly city driving and aggressive acceleration, the fuel tank was just a hair’s breadth down from full, still showing 660km left!

When you consider other luxury SUVs in this segment, the 2013 Audi Q5 may not look the most modern one of the lot, but it definitely has the punchiest performance, smoothest ride and arguably the best fuel efficiency. And with 5 years or 105,000km service package included in the price, the 2013 Audi Q5 is one of the best compact luxury SUVs in the market right now.

Trip down memory lane with PC graphics evolution

Personal computers, desktops in particular, have been the defining platform for graphics in every generation since home gaming became a thing. And while we all like to reminisce about the olden days with the 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, unique sound bites and constrained gameplay, it wasn’t until the new millennium began that we started to see photo-realistic graphics in games.

The video below will take you through most of the popular PC benchmarking software (3DMark, Unigine, etc.) as well as in-game benchmark from most of the visually spectacular games of the last decade (Doom 3, Crysis, etc.). Unfortunately the testers were running NVIDIA graphics cards on their system, so while all of NVIDIA’s demos are presented, none of ATI/ AMD’s demos are present here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bHpUljLVrc&w=550]

We sure have come an incredibly long way over the past 13 years, yet it’s interesting to see that since the DX10 days, Crysis in particular, graphics haven’t evolved as much as we’d hoped. That’s either Crytek being way ahead of their time in 2007, or that we’ve yet to see something truly groundbreaking in PC games as developers are still focusing on home consoles.

2013 Nissan Altima

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Car Tech, Product of the Week

Over-delivering on the basics, Class-above exterior and interior design, Rewarding driving experience, segment defining technology. A premium look and feel with extensive use of upscale, soft-touch materials and craftsman-like attention to detail.

The 182-hp 4-cylinder engine gives you smooth power while contributing to the best-in-class fuel economy. Nissan’s legendary 3.5-litre, 270-hp V6 engine treats you to sports-car like performance with Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVVTCS).

Six Standard Air Bags. Single-stage supplemental front air bags adjust their inflation rate, depending on the severity of impact and seat belt usage.

 

Check out our review of the new Altima 3.5 SL to see what makes it so amazing.

AMD vs Nvidia: How much of a difference do drivers make?

Intro

Every time a new graphics card comes out from either AMD or Nvidia, we get new drivers, which are good enough to show the average potential of the card. Still, as with all early releases and beta drivers at launch, we know that it isn’t until the manufacturers and game developers work together over the coming months, that the true power of a card is revealed.

So basically what I’ve decided is to take the first officially supported drivers for the test cards and the latest stable release (WHQL) drivers from both the companies. Beta drivers weren’t considered due to their inherent nature of being potentially unstable with various hardware configurations and creating conflicts with patches and driver software.

Drivers

For starters I tracked down which drivers supported the AMD HD 7970 (non GHz Edition running at 925MHz on Core Clock) and the NVIDIA GTX 680 at launch. The Catalyst 12.2 came out in March 2012 and was the first driver to officially support the HD 7970 outside of the original beta which came out with the card’s release in December 2011. So it took AMD three months to bring out officially supported drivers for their highest-end card. Their latest drivers are the Catalyst 13.1.

On the NVIDIA front the GeForce 301.10 were the drivers of choice that officially supported the GTX 680, which came out mere days after launch. The latest version of the GeForce drivers are 310.90.

Over the course of 2012 most driver updates from either company focused on official support for recently launched cards, or supporting the most recent game, or giving better performance on SLI/ CrossFire setups. Squeezing out performance for already released cards seems low on the priority list. And then there were advanced features such as improved anti-aliasing techniques and bug fixes on specific games.

Hardware

So let’s have a look at the test system and the hardware used.

Benchmarks

And now let’s look at our benchmarking methodology:

3DMark

It’s interesting to see the GTX 680 leading the benchmarks in 3DMark 11, yet in the latest 3DMark benchmarks the HD 7970 takes the lead. How DirectX 11 programming has changed to take advantage of AMD hardware. Note: that the Launch 301.10 drivers for the GTX 680 kept on crashing on the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark.

Games

Conclusion

As you can see both the AMD HD 7970 and the NVIDIA GTX 680 perform on par, my guess being that the HD 7970 GHz Edition will outperform the GTX 680 in F1 2012, Battlefield 3 and Civilization V. However, none of these would be meaningful performance bumps as anything beyond 60fps is only for boasting, unless you have a monitor running at 120Hz refresh rate. Even then, though, actual performance benefits are arguable for most competitive games.

So useless framerates aside, what we’ve learned today is that either AMD releases their cards with poorly optimized drivers, or they have some of the best programming engineers who know how to really exploit the hardware available to them over the course of a few months. Of course, it could be a mix of both.

NVIDIA demos Borderlands 2 running on Project SHIELD

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Components, Graphics Cards, News, Tablets

NVIDIA’s Project SHIELD was one of our favorite products displayed during CES this year. With the Tegra 4 processor built-in the Project SHIELD is already an extremly capable handheld gaming device, but what makes it even more amazing is the ability to wirelessly stream PC games using it’s ultra-fast WiFi chip for lag-free gaming.

And while many people questioned it’s capabilities to stream high-end games, especially given the entry requirement of having an NVIDIA GTX 650 (or GTX 660M) or more powerful graphics card in your PC (or laptop), today we have a demo that should alleviate doubts on it’s PC streaming capabilities.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF7V3h24w38&w=550]

Impressive stuff when all things are considered. Of course, the demo showed best case scenario running Borderlands 2 on a GTX 680, sitting close to the source PC over a (presumably) dedicated WiFi connection. However, this is a good start for true handheld PC gaming.

Slated to be released in North America in Q2 of this year, we’ll bring you more on this exciting handheld device as the year progresses.

evasi0n iOS 6.1 untethered jailbreak out

February 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Apple, News, Smartphones, Tablets

Jailbreaks for iOS devices have been around since the original iPhone came out, and with the recent slew of release of iOS devices, it was only a matter of time before the new jailbreaks were out. Sure enough, a few days after iOS 6.1 was released worldwide, the latest jailbreak, dubbed ‘evasi0n‘ is out.

Available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, the evasi0n jailbreak brings an untethered solution for all your iOS 6.1 running devices, meaning you don’t have to connect your iOS device to your computer every time you reboot it.

The evasi0n jailbreak works for iPhone 5, 4, 4S, 3GS, iPad Mini, iPad 1, 2, 3 and 4 plus iPod Touch 3rd, 4th and 5th generation running iOS 6.1.

BlackBerry Z10

February 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

Introducing a completely new way to use your smartphone. A new experience where features and apps work together seamlessly and share your train of thought to help you complete tasks faster and with ease. Discover BlackBerry 10, designed to keep you moving.

Check out our review of the Z10 to see what makes it so great.

All the best Super Bowl 2013 tech commercials

Super Bowl is undoubtedly the most watched event in the US, and with an estimated 111 million tuning into this year’s Super Bowl, getting a 30 second spot meant $4 million. Here are the tech related commercials at this year’s Super Bowl for you viewing pleasure in one convenient location.

Audi S6 “Prom” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANhmS6QLd5Q&w=550]

Hyundai Santa Fe “Team” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPZ8LZQMPys&w=550]

Toyota Rav 4 “Wish Granted” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iymBRSUfz9U&w=550]

Go Daddy “Your Big Idea” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE6ugHoIB_Q&w=550]

Hyundai Sonata Turbo “Stuck” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SohqIBOb03k&w=550]

Volkswagen Beetle “Get Happy” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H0xPWAtaa8&w=550]

BlackBerry Z10 “Can’t Do” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPbhzmIq9uU&w=550]

Kia Sorento “Where Do Babies Come From?” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t535BjVmXq8&w=550]

Mercedes Benz CLA “Deal with Devil” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPNr0_6MnDo&w=550]

Samsung “The Next Big Thing” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ae7E8J7h7Y&w=550]

Samsung Super Bowl Mock Ad

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2t6CVika6o&w=550]

And finally the very controversial GoDaddy “Perfect Match” commercial

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-3j4-4N3Ng&w=550]

Typing “File:///” will crash your Mac

February 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Apple, Desktop PC, News

An interesting bug was recently discovered for Mac computers whereby if you type “File:///” without the quotation marks in your Mac running the latest OS X Mountain Lion, it will crash whatever application it’s written on.

A closer look shows the bug is inside Data Detectors, a feature that lets apps recognize dates, locations, and contact data, making it easy for you to save this information in your address book and calendar,” says Slashdot

Sure enough we tried this in our office iMac running Mountain Lion and typing these eight characters in Spotlight, Chrome, Safari and Mail crashed each of these applications. So far the problem only appears to be on Mountain Lion and doesn’t seem to affect OS X Snow Leopard or iOS devices. A small and (so far) harmless bug that will surely be fixed soon, but it goes to show that every company is susceptible to lazy programming.

HTC CEO screams out new flagship ‘M7′ at party

February 3, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Smartphones

Usually handhelds aren’t revealed until the company decides it’s the ‘right’ time. Whether that’s some shopping season, or during a big tech event, or even soon after a competitor has announced something. Now HTC has an event scheduled on 19th Feb for the big reveal of their new flagship handset, but what better way to announce to the world this new handset than a New Year’s party?

And so it was that HTC’s CEO, Peter Chou got his employees riled up in the chant for their new device, the M7, making the crowd scream it along with him. The video from pocket-lint below shows the name of the handset being ‘officially’ announced. Later during the event Chou was seen taking photos of the crowd as well, but nobody else had access to, or even saw the handset except from behind.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXk2SU6MxcQ&w=550]

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