2016 Chevy Volt Impressions Pt. 2

2016 Chevy Volt Impressions Pt. 2

posted in: Gadget Impressions | 0

Here are an assortment of impressions after spending some more time with my new Volt.

ICE Time

This was a bit concerning. I used the internal combustion engine (ICE) for the first time and I experienced the effects of “engine burn off”. This is what I posted on the GM-Volt forum:

I’ve had my 2016 Volt about two weeks now and, outside of ERDTT, today was the first time I used the ICE as it was intended. I ran out of EV range and relied on the ICE to get me to work.

 

I exited the highway, pulled regen paddle, came to a stop at the light and noticed this burning smell. My buddy and I just chalked it up to the car in front of us or something else in the area. On the way back home, I noticed the same smell after exiting the highway again! It dissipates after a few minutes of driving but it’s still irksome and puzzling.

 

At first I thought it was regen braking related but I never had that issue before. After some searching on the forums, this sounded an awful lot like the issues in this “Smelly Volt after extended gas runs” thread.

 

So is this normal for first time use? If so, how long does it take before it goes away? Or is this something more serious and I should get in contact with my dealer ASAP?

 

Thanks!

Apparently the burning smell was normal and part of the burning off oils and chemicals used during manufacturing and assembly.  It was likely exacerbated by the fact that I was running the fan. I’ll keep an eye on it but I wish something I was warned about. I guess it’s a reason to drive more efficiently and keep off the ICE.

Automated Park Assist

After multiple botched attempts, I finally managed to get the automated perpendicular parking assist to work on Saturday evening. I tried it again on Sunday but it didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped. I think I may have been reversing too quickly but it’s not the feature I thought it would be.

I’ve been focusing on the automated perpendicular parking assist feature because parallel parking is uncommon in my travels.

I was hoping the system would just help park in an empty parking spot but unfortunately the system requires actual vehicles or physical objects as reference points. This explains why all my attempts have failed and the one success parked my car near a concrete pillar. The manual didn’t explicitly spell this out but it makes sense. I don’t know why I thought otherwise because my car doesn’t have a 360 degree camera system.

Built-in Navigation vs Apple Maps via Car Play

I don’t have a sizeable data plan (250 MB) on my iPhone. I never really needed a big data plan before but Apple Car Play is building a compelling argument for buying a sizeable data plan.

I bought the built-in navigation option for the Volt because I wanted to have a standalone GPS solution. Coming from a 2008 Garmin GPS unit, the Chevy solution is sleeker and more robust but it’s still pales in comparison to Apple Car Play.

Dictating the address to the built-in navigation is cumbersome. With Siri and Apple Maps, I can say “Take me to <store name>” and a list of store locations would appear on screen with the nearest one on top. The built-in navigation only recognizes addresses and I have to drill down to each address starting from the city and province level. It’s also very strict with naming and offers very few suggestions.

Suite of Sensors

I originally wanted to build my Volt with only “Driver Confidence Package I”. I thought the Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert and Rear Cross Traffic alert features were the most beneficial but after the test drive, I decided to include both options because I appreciated the extra eyes the second “Driver Confidence Package” included:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Low-speed Front Automatic Braking

It’s excessive for careful drivers and anytime the alerts went off, I was well aware of what I was doing but I liked the reassurances. It’s like when I use the GPS even though I am somewhat familiar with the route.

The second “Driver Confidence Package” also included Following Distance Indicator and IntelliBeam headlamps but I haven’t used either.

Multimedia

I have a free trial to XM Radio but I don’t I have any desire explore the paid radio service. For music, it appears to be occupying a weird middle ground between AM/FM radio and music services like Spotify. I can see it being useful for talk or sports radio but none of that interests me. Nevertheless, it works albeit a bit cumbersome to explore; I wish there was a way to sort by genre or moods.

The AM/FM radio was fine and the Spotify experience through Apple Car Play was easy as pie to use. I have no complaints about the included Bose audio system but I haven’t put it through its paces. I would like to load up a small USB stick full of familiar music to give it a real test.

I also discovered I could watch videos on the entertainment screen which is a neat but useless feature for even the passenger because, for safety reasons, the video image will be hidden while the car is in drive.

Still Lots to Tinker With

I still have a lot to tinker with in the Volt including driving in Low drive mode which would technically give me the ability to drive with one pedal. I’m also looking forward to the warmer weather so I can give sport mode a more thorough work out.

I have a beta life now

I have a beta life now

posted in: Gadget Impressions | 0

I just realized that I could be running public beta software on my desktop, laptop, console, tablet and phone. It’s the kind of world we live in now. A world where the word beta is treated more like demo and the lines between development and final get blurrier and blurrier.

Desktop: Windows 10 Technical Preview

The Windows 10 preview builds have solidified to the point of being ready for prime time which is no surprise considering the official launch is only a couple of weeks away. I haven’t installed it on my home PC yet but my day-to-day experiences with it at work have been very positive. I just wish they would change that Recycle Bin icon.

Laptop: Mac OS X “El Capitan” Beta

It was made public last week but my gut reaction was that there wasn’t enough surface level changes to warrant the hassle of downloading the beta last weekend. I think I’ll give it a test drive just to say I’m living on the technological edge.

Console: Xbox Dashboard Preview

I managed to get an invite via GAF for the Backwards Compatibility but unfortunately the only backwards compatible title that I own is the original Mass Effect and I have no interest to revisit that at the moment. I’m crossing my fingers for Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. I’m also crossing my fingers for the redesigned interface to make an appearance sooner rather than later. The current interface is very clunky.

Tablet: iOS 9 Beta

It’s probably the beta with the most drastic change and also the most impressive. I recall running the previous iOS betas and they were not nearly as functional and performant as iOS 9 Beta. It’s still early which means no third party applications support the split screen functionality but I like what I see so far.

Phone: iOS 9 Beta

Of all the devices that I own, I have the least amount of desire to install beta software for it. Not because I need my phone to the rock solid foundation of my daily life but because not a single feature on the iOS 9 page screams “you gotta try this on the iPhone”. I might just install it anyways.

 

What a crazy alignment of beta participation. The most surprising thing is how stable and functional every one of those builds are. I’m used to crashes, slowdowns and notable incompatibilities with my current suite of software but none of it reared its head with these betas.

2013 PC Build Impressions

posted in: Gadget Impressions | 0

I finally finished my building the 2013 PC. It officially belongs to my brother but I had the pleasure of putting it together. Here are some of my impressions of the build and the build process itself.

 Model
ProcessorIntel Core i5 4670
MotherboardASUS H87I-PLUS
MemoryHyperX 10th Anniversary Edition 16GB DDR3-1600MHz CL9 Dual Channel Kit (2 x 8GB)
Video CardPowerColor PCS+ HD5770 1GB GDDR5
OS DriveSamsung 840 120GB
Storage DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7,200 RPM
CaseBitFenix Prodigy (White)
Power SupplySeasonic G Series 550W
CPU HSFSwiftech H220
Additonal FanScythe Slip Stream 120mm (SY1225SL 12L)
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 64-bit
MonitorASUS PB278Q
KeyboardMicrosoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000
MouseRazer Death Adder
SpeakersBose Cinemate Series II
OtherMicrosoft Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows

Read More

A Summer of Betas

windows-8-logoThe following betas are available for testing:

  • Mac OS X Mavericks
  • iOS 7
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1

I could be running beta operating systems across all my computing devices. From tablets, smartphones and laptops to home servers and desktops. I could be living on the very bleeding edge. I could but I will likely not and here’s why.

I threw iOS 7 beta 2 on my iPhone 4S and iPad 3. I’m enjoying the early look but it hasn’t been all smiles and rainbows with Apple’s latest. There were a number of app crashes, battery draining issues and just overall glitchiness. Still, I am sticking with it and will experience the evolution of iOS 7 towards Gold Master.

I have access to OS X Mavericks but unless I can eventually upgrade to the final release, I will stay away.

As for the Windows 8.1 Preview, I’ll install it as soon as I rebuild my PC. It’s an upgrade which should easily be replaced with the final release.

Windows Server 2012 R2 will likely remain unused since I have no intentions on disrupting my home server unless I can easily upgrade to the final build as well.

The computing future is always evolving and I’m pleased to catch a glimpse of what the future has in store however I can.

1 2 3 4 6