Voltz Electric Bikes at The Gadget Show

Personal electric vehicles were very much in evidence at The Gadget Show with bicycles, scooters and skateboards all on show from different vendors. Voltz Bikes covered two of these categories; bicycles and scooters.

First up is the Voltz eTrail, an electric mountain bike which was recently road-tested on The Gadget Show itself. With a range of up to 50 miles, the 1.9 kW motor can give some serious “oompf”, technically speaking. Looking over the bike, the attention to detail and component quality is impressive, which is not entirely unsurprising given that it costs around GBP £8,500, which is not cheap.

Voltz eTrail

Next is the brand new eScoot is a electric scooter with a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 20 mph. A range of accessories will be available including the neat trailer shown in the photo below. Also not cheap at £2000 but I could see myself buying one of these or similar – my job requires me to travel between sites that are usually no more than a few miles apart and a vehicle like this would be ideal for those journeys. No worries about parking either! Both the eTrail and eScoot are made in Britain which is great to see in these economic times.

Voltz Bikes Scooter

Dan, who helps make “awesome fun products”, reviews Voltz range with me at The Gadget Show.

Worst Car Ever

Car hire is always a bit of a lottery. You never know exactly what make or model of vehicle awaits you, only that it will be “mid-size” or “economy”. Usually the car is from a major manufacturer but recently I had the dubious pleasure of renting a car that I had never seen before and frankly, never wish to see again.

Tata Indigo SW FrontThe car in question was a Tata Indigo. Tata is an Indian conglomerate and the Indigo seems to have been developed primarily for sale in India, but is also being sold in Europe. I’m sure it meets all the relevant legislation but it’s an awful car that pales in comparison to any other US, British, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese or Korean car I have ever driven.

How do I describe how bad it was? It was just everything….the interior trim was a sea of poorly finished grey plastic with matching grey cloth seats. The sunglasses holder didn’t stay closed. The driver’s electric window didn’t close properly. The central locking was unreliable.

The boot catch was so insubstantial that I feel it would have opened with a good pull. The boot lid itself was such thin steel that I could easily pull the corner of the lid away from the body of the car. To be fair, the boot was a good size, getting three 20 kg suitcases in there without too much trouble.

Tata Indigo SW RearThe engine was uninspiring, an underpowered 1.2 litre engine, and overtaking on anything other than half a mile of clear road would be a mistake. The tyres (on steel wheels) were narrow in comparison to most modern cars and I’m sure would have made road-holding on a wet and twisty road somewhat challenging. Fortunately, it never rained and the roads weren’t that twisty.

The steering was adequate: the car would go round corners as directed but the power steering didn’t give much feedback to the driver. On the plus side, the brakes seemed to work fine, though I never had to really stamp on them. I was always too scared about having an accident to go very fast.

Apparently a top of the range model costs around 600,000 Indian rupees, which converts to US $10,000. Still too expensive.

Overall, it was simply a terrible car and the luggage space was the only redeeming feature. Top tip to car rental companies – don’t expect your customers to be repeat customers if you have the Tata Indigo in your fleet.

Photos courtesy of Michge.

Delkin Device Connector Bracket For A DSLRs or Camcorder

Connector If you have ever watched a video someone tried to film from a vehicle you know how painful it can be because of the vibration. At one time the only way to stop this type of vibration was to spend hundreds of dollars on a Hollywood style contraption , not anymore. Delkin Devices is announcing the new Connector Bracket which is compatible with Fat Gecko Mini and The Fat Gecko Original. This will allow photographers and videographers to connect one camera, iPad or camcorder mount with a second Fat Gecko Original or Mini model. It can handle DSLRs and camcorders up to 8 lb. It provides triple and quadruple contact points, which allows you to attach a camera to any non-porous surface. The Connector Bracket has a slide and lock design which allows the camera to be placed at various angles and positions. Meaning if you want to attach your camera to the top  or side of a vehicle and have an image that is crisp and smooth, this is the bracket to use.

The Connector will be available for $19.99 directly through the Delkin Device Website or at any authorized retailer. Delkin Devices has been making accessories that are built to make life easier for photographers since 1986.

inCarBite iPad and Kindle Fire Car Mount

inCarBite iPad car mountThese days, in-car DVD players are old hat – a tablet is where it’s at. Andy talks to Linda at inCarBite on how their car mount can keep up with the Joneses.

The inCarBite tablet mounting system is available for the Apple iPad 1 & 2 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which is gaining in popularity as an entertainment device. The tablet mount fixes onto the headrest stems of the front seats using a neat clamp, which is detachable from the mount itself to make fitting easier. Power is provided from the car’s cigarette lighter socket so the tablet is charged while it’s in the mount.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a matching home dock with surround sound which takes the same mount so the device can be easily switched between the living room, kitchen and car.

It’s available now for the iPad from $79.99 to $159.99 depending on accessories. The Kindle Fire version is coming soon.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Cobra 7750 Platinum Trucker’s GPS

After my recent unacceptable experience with the TomTom GO 2535M Live with two separate units spontaneously falling into an endless reboot loop, I decided it was time to try another brand of GPS.

After getting a refund in full from Best Buy, I decided to try a GPS that’s specifically aimed at truck drivers. Trucker-specific GPS units tend to carry significantly higher price tags. My question was, do they deliver extra value?

So, I made my way to a Pilot truck stop and purchased a Cobra 7750 Platinum 7” widescreen trucker GPS. Pretty much every Pilot truck stop has a GPS display set up with various brands of trucker-specific GPS units. On the Cobra unit they have a very slick, highly produced sales video playing on the unit itself that really puts the model 7750 in a very good light. I was impressed, so I purchased one. In Pilot the Cobra 7750 sells for $399 plus tax. It can be purchased from Amazon.Com for about $340 if one has time to wait for shipping.

The Cobra brand has long been associated with CB radios sold at truck stops marketed specifically to truck drivers, so a trucker-specific GPS would seem to be a natural product extension.

The best part of the 7750 was the large, bright 7” widescreen display. Unfortunately, the 7750’s pressure-sensitive touch screen left a bit to be desired, producing a higher-than-average number of errors compared to similar pressure-sensitive touch screens. Pressure-sensitive touch screen technology has been around for years, so this may reflect build-quality issues.

The 7750 seems to be using some variation of TomTom software, since it displays an event horizon near the top of the screen with blue sky and clouds in the daytime mode and a black sky with moving stars in the night display mode just like TomTom units do.

The menu screens gave me the impression they were perhaps scaled for smaller screens. It could have been that they were trying to make the menu icons large and easy to select in a bouncing truck, but they gave me the impression of lack of refinement.

To be perfectly honest, I found the 7750 to be hugely disappointing. Entering addresses proved to be a clunky, somewhat confusing, time-consuming experience. Pilot Truck Stops have a 7 day money back return policy on GPS items, with a 14 day exchange policy. I was within the 7 days and I realized I would never be happy with the 7750, so I took it back and exchanged it for a Garmin DEZL 560LT.

Ford Joins with ZipCar, Adds Focus, Escape to Lineup

Ford

Ford

This is a great announcement for all you College students that only need a car for a few hours a week. Ford has announced a tw0-year alliance with Zipcar to add Escape and Focus cars to their line-up of over 250 university campuses. The 2012 models will start arriving on campus starting this week.

Zipcar is an alternative to car rental. You join the club and you will get a Zipcar card. Reserve your car for a date and time, then on that day walk up to the car, hold the card near and the car unlocks. Drive the car, return to the same spot and you are good to go.

Zipcar is in several cities across North America and the UK. There is an annual fee (depending on city you live in) upon registration and you would pay per hour, or day, depending on what you need. Gas and insurance is not needed – they take care of that for you.

Zipcar

Zipcar

“Today’s students are thinking differently about driving and transportation than they have in the past,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “This program enables today’s new drivers to experience our latest fuel-efficient vehicles, while helping them reduce their cost of living and help relieve congestion on campus. We’re looking forward to making Ford a staple of their college experience.”

For those who don’t need a car, this seems to be a decent alternative. The cost is low and the car choices are pretty good. Now you can Ford vehicles to the mix, which contain excellent fuel economy and technological advances. So you don’t need to take that old beater to school and fight parking fees and tickets. Just Zipcar and go!

Visteon: Integrating the iPad in a Vehicle

Jeffrey Powers talked to Upton of Visteon about integrating wi-fi enabled devices, including the iPad into vehicles. The iPad or another device then could become the vehicles middle dashboard. You could control audio, GPS and other information from it. Upton said “It allows you to change the way you design cockpits.” If the system works as proposed you could have various cockpits in the car, both in the back and front. Since you could remove the device, it would be more secure than a traditional system.

The traditional system would remain for those times when the wi-fi enabled devices is not around. Upton said right now this is just a concept, but there has been a lot of interest shown. They already have all the parts necessary to make the system work, they just require wi-fi secure devices. Visteon is known for creating innovative products for vehicles. It will be interesting to see if anyone actually installs something like this in a vehicle.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.

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