2010 Toyota Prius

Photo from Wikipedia

The world’s best-selling hybrid is back for 2010-completely revised and revitalized. The first thing potential buyers will notice is a new exterior. Aerodynamics and styling are improved. The coefficient of drag dropped down to 0.25. The roof’s “wedge” is moved back almost four inches to improve headroom. The front pillar is moved forward. The wheelbase is .06 inches longer, and LED’s are used for low beam headlights, taillights, and stop lights. Ecological plastics, which emit less CO2 than ordinary plastics, are used in the seat cushion foam, cowl side trim, scuff plates, and deck trim cover. A solar panel moon-roof combo will help power electrical features.

By changing the stabilizer layout, creating a higher caster angle, and tuning the bushings Toyota improved handling on the Prius.

Fuel efficiency is increased to an estimated 50mpg. A larger 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine powers the new Prius. Contrary to popular opinion, the larger engine actually increases fuel-efficiency by providing more torque so the engine can be run at lower RPM levels. An exhaust gas reticulation system also helps improve efficiency and cold-start performance. Not present under the hood is a belt; there is an electric water pump and remote-powered A/C system. The new Prius will have three driving modes: EV mode, which allows it to be fully electric for short distances, power mode to allow for most power, and eco mode to help get the best mileage. The 0-60 time is 9.8 seconds. Toyota should’ve upgraded to a lithium battery, but financial competition with the new Insight may be keeping the Nickel-metal hydride battery in use.

Starting at $22,000, the Prius is well priced and competitive with the Honda Insight. A stripped down model will be released later this year, which will cost $21,000. As much as I hate to give into corporate tycoons and greedy business people who could care less about whether or not the new Prius is eco-friendly or not, Toyota is “moving forward” with the new Prius.

How to Buy a New Car the Right Way

Image from Wikimedia

When’s the last time you went to an automotive dealership? When’s the last time you bought a car? How much did you pay? Most likely, you paid too much.

When most people think car dealer, they think about “low-balling,” and haggling down car prices. But how much should you “low-ball?” The answer is much more than you probably think.

The Dealer’s Asking Price on a car is the dealer’s asking price plus all the options you chose like DVD players etc. and a destination fee, but when dealers order a large amount of cars at one time, they get discounts that can be passed down to you. Most people will low-ball only about a $1000 on a brand new car, or just down to the MSRP value, but you can low-ball much more. A great tool for knowing how much to lowball is a website called www.carpricesecrets.com.  Basically, you enter the car year, car make ( Toyota, Honda, Jeep etc.), car model( Civic, Corolla etc.),trim level (lx, ex, laredo etc.), and your personal information like name and address. The personal information is so that dealers can contact you. The only thing you have to add to the “secret target price” they give you is the options that you want like the sunroof, navigation system, premium wheels etc. Stay firm with your price through the whole sales process. Don’t be afraid to spend a few hours going back and forth with the dealer. He/She will try to tell you that the price you’re trying to acquire the car for doesn’t meet their goal. Don’t worry, just stay persistent.

Also, from September, until Christmas is the best time of year to buy a car because all the models for the new year are coming in. For example, you should buy a 2007 Ford Explorer from September until Christmas 2007 because all the 2008 Ford Explorers are coming into stock, and dealers are usually willing to sell brand new cars from an older year at a low price.

Next time you’re ready to buy a car, do it the right, cheap way.

2008 Lotus Elise

“Increasing speed by keeping it lightweight”

Photo from Flickr

My first reaction to the 2008 Lotus Elise: it’s a street-legal go-kart. It’s got two seats, it’s small, and it’s fast.  The non-supercharged version features a 189 horsepower four cylinder engine, and the Lotus Elise SC (the supercharged version) features a 218 horsepower engine. Lotus continues their tradition of producing faster cars by losing weight, not by increasing power. The Lotus Elise weighs just 1984 lbs., and it has a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds. The Elise SC weighs 2006 lbs., and it has a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds. Both versions of the Elise do not have a “high torque” feel; in fact, peak horsepower is achieved right around the 8000 rpm mark for both models, and peak torque is achieved at 6800rpm for the Elise, and 5000rpm for the Elise SC.  Pricing for the 2008 models starts at 46,270 for the Elise, and 54,500 for the Elise SC. I think that’s pretty cheap for a car sold at the Lamborghini dealership.

DIY Helmet Cam and Shock-Proof, Splash-Proof Camera/Phone Case is Free and Beats the Real Thing

I recently made this helmet cam out of parts I had lying around the house. I used packing foam, hot glue, duct tape, velcro, and a piece of plexiglass (acrylic).  I used an X-Acto knife to cut the foam, hot glued it together, and then used duct tape to create a better seal. The plexiglass goes against the camera lens. It’s big and ugly but it works, and it’s free. This was a concept that was made without any plans, so a lot of improvements can be made. But it still works well.

I can mount it to my helmet, handlebars, or almost anywhere you can use two straps to hold it. Since this was a prototype, I made it for my phone instead of my real camera, to test the sturdiness. The phone is an Ericsson P1i, and the quality of the video is better than most $50 helmet cams. Below are pictures of the prototype case and a video of it attached to an RC car. This case offers protection similar to the $30 cases found online or in stores, and with those you most likely won’t find one that you can mount anywhere and have it be compatible with your camera.

The next version will look much nicer, be more compact, more waterproof, and better overall.

Tech Product Deal of the Day: 25x 5mm bright white LED’s

This isn’t technically a deal of the day, since this price is the regular price that these LED’s go for on DealExtreme. Sure it takes a few weeks to receive the lights, but for $2.60 shipped it’s well worth it. There is an endless amount of things you can do with these. I made a bike light using 9 of them, and it can reach 20 feet ahead of me. That’s better than any $30 bike light. These are really bright and you can make a very nice light for around $5 that will outshine most $50 lights. I just ordered two 25 packs and will probably be getting more in the future. Just make sure to run them at the max voltage (I run them a bit over, at 3.5v or 3.6v). The link is below.

14000mcd 25Packs White 5Mm Led

And here is the 10 pack if you don’t need all 25. Also the LED specifications are on this page (scroll down).

Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite System Game Console

Up against Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft has decided to release the Xbox 360 Elite. This new game console comes with a larger storage capacity and new looks, but that’s not all it’s about. It’s at the top of the latest game consoles.

The Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite is black with a matte finish. An HDMI interface is mounted to make full use of the 120GB HDD. This allows for the viewing of shaper pictures in high quality. The IBM PowerPC is at the heart of the 360 Elite.  Three cores process 3.2 GHz. The ATI processor, which supports graphics, puts out 500-million triangles per second. The system and the video card of the game console share 500MB of memory. The whole system is powered by an internal power supply.

There is a 16-bit surround sound mode. Video is 256-bit with a graphic acceleration of 2D and 3D. The maximum picture resolution is 1920 x 1080p. The main source of input that is used with the 360 Elite is the external game pad; it has potential for wireless connectivity. The user interface ports are: 1 AV port, 1 USB port, 1 Ethernet jack and one HDMI interface; also present are 2 expansion slots for memory cards. Accessories include: an HD AV cable, Ethernet cable, a wireless controller, and Headset.

This brouhaha of goodness from Microsoft costs $479.99 (retail). Check out this other Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite System Game Console Review.