Jim Bray


Jim Bray photo
Jim publishes TechnoFile Magazine. Jim is an affiliate with the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and his careers have included journalist, technology retailer, video store pioneer, and syndicated columnist; he does a biweekly column on CBC Radio One's The Business Network.

Jim can be reached at: [email protected]Older articles by Jim Bray

Most Recent Articles by Jim Bray:

Soundlink Micro makes big sound for a tiny package; and The House falls down

Oct 14, 2017 — Jim Bray

First came the Soundlink, then a while later came the Soundlink Mini. So it was probably inevitable that Bose would follow up eventually with this new, micro-sized Bluetooth speaker.

It only makes sense, what with technology’s continuous process of miniaturization and optimization. A computer that used to fill a room is now outclassed by a smart phone and room-filling speakers can now fill rooms from enclosures a fraction of the size of other types of loudspeaker.

With audio, however, the fly in the ointment is bass. Bass frequencies have longer wavelengths than the higher tones and that has traditionally meant you needed those honking big cabinets to reproduce those low frequencies faithfully, while you could get away with smaller speakers for the higher stuff. Hence the proliferation of subwoofers and satellite speakers.


Mercedes-Benz E coupe a real ‘Tourer de force’

Oct 14, 2017 — Jim Bray

Or maybe it’s a “coupe de grace!”

However you pun about Mercedes-Benz’ 2018 E 400 coupe, it’s an exquisite and luxurious two door E Class, and that is nothing at which to sneer. Sure, you won’t get much change back from your 90 grand to get one configured as Mercedes-Benz Canada’s quite loaded sample was, but that’s what a car like this costs these days - and for that amount you’re getting an incredible vehicle.


Acura adds A-Spec goodies to 2018 TLX

Sep 29, 2017 — Jim Bray

Honda’s luxury division may have sparked the Japanese invasion of the luxury and high end sports car markets - and led the way for several years after that - but you might wonder what the company has done lately.

Well, besides the new NSX supercar, the company has continued to release well built, luxurious vehicles that are stuffed with technology. The problem is, everyone else is doing the same thing, only some have now passed Acura’s lead enough that the folks at Honda’s top niche may find themselves a tad lost in the customer shuffle. And that’s a shame.


Disney jumps into 4K disc market with a bang

Sep 29, 2017 — Jim Bray

Disney’s first two 4K disc titles, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean Volume 5 are welcome additions to the burgeoning 4K title library, though one is much better than the other as both a home video presentation and as a movie.

Still, it’s nice to see Disney stepping up to the 4K world. The company may be many things, but stupid it is not. And it knows how to make money.

But there was a time when the company misunderestimated the marketplace so badly that it ended up suing a tech company for having the audacity to create a new technology! That was after Sony introduced the Betamax, ushering in the home video age - and Disney (and some other studios, if I remember correctly) sued them, ostensibly because they thought they’d lose a pile of money due to piracy, home taping, whatever.  It made no sense then and looking back on it now (and considering the percentage of its income Hollywood makes from video releases these days) Disney looks pretty silly.


Volkswagen stretching things with new generation Tiguan

Sep 25, 2017 — Jim Bray

The VW Tiguan has always been a great compact SUV, and for 2018 the German carmaker has redesigned the vehicle completely, crafting a new generation Tiguan that seems fully capable of slugging it out in this niche of the market.

As a VW fan, I’m always nervous when they release a new model because I’m afraid they’ll screw it up. It’s like your favourite sports team coming off a championship-winning season, and you just know the team will be different next year thanks to retirements, free agency, etc., and you dearly hope the new team will be everything the old one was. They aren’t usually, unfortunately - dynasties being the exception rather than the rule - but at least in Volkswagen’s case their history is generally one of steady development and refinement rather than the company rushing to throw the new baby out with the ancient bath water.


TP-Link Router offers plentiful features and good range

Sep 9, 2017 — Jim Bray

If your home is plagued by Wi-Fi dropouts and other router issues, you may want to think about an upgrade, perhaps to one that offers multiple bands to up your choices and, with luck, performance.

Hence TP-Link’s AC5400 Wireless Tri-Band MU-MIMO, also known as the Archer C5400 Gigabit Router. This sucker offers a total of six distinct networks, kind of: 1 x 2.4 GHz, and 2 x 5 GHz, with all three options available for both regular use or as specially noted “Guest” networks, so you won’t get in trouble for some overnight interloper’s porn downloads. Or whatever your issue may be.


Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid hits the right notes except for some weird sounds

Sep 9, 2017 — Jim Bray

Minivans. These people haulers have been around for years and for a while were some of the most popular vehicles on North American roads. Then came the “crossover,” a combination of car and SUV, and the minivan segment in which an abundant number of automakers had participated started dwindling down until today there’s only a handful of models available.

One of the more interesting is from Chrysler, via its Pacifica - a name that once applied to one of the early crossovers, a seven seat people hauler that was more a long and a tad taller car than a minivan. I reviewed the first Pacifica back in 2007 and thought it was pretty neat - a decent carrier of people and not necessarily their stuff. But that Pacifica is long dead and the new one comes down firmly into the minivan segment - and it also offers what the company says is the first hybrid minivan on the market.


New CX-5 continues Mazda’s zoomy tradition

Sep 3, 2017 — Jim Bray

Here we go again, another Mazda review, another vehicle that does everything it should well, but which adds a little extra "zing"  to the equation or, as Mazda has put it for so long, with "Zoom-Zoom."

Sure, it could use a little more "Zoom," but it’s still pretty good, and it’s a darn fine mid-sized SUV as well.

I love Mazdas and have only found one over the years I’ve been reviewing them that was lacking enough in "Zoom-Zoom" for me to whine about it - even though I’d love to see a little more of it in most of their current vehicle line. It was the original CX-5, back in 2012, the first Mazda product to offer its SKYACTIV technology. The two litre engine in question only put out 155 horsepower, which prompted me to quote the book of Daniel: "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?"


Oppo’s new flagship 4K player continues the brand’s record of excellence

Sep 3, 2017 — Jim Bray

Relatively hot on the heels of its outstanding UDP-203 universal player comes Oppo Digital’s UDP-205, a sequel that not only equals the previous player’s great video quality but which also ups the audio ante substantially.

And how often can one say that a sequel is better than the original?

The UDP-205 is also the successor up to the company’s BDP-105, which was a heckuva tour de force in its own right. But like its little brother, the UDP-205 adds 4K disc playback capability to the mix. That could be enough to justify it for folks who’ve embraced - or are planning to - the 4K disc format (and if you’re a "home theatrephile" you really should). But 4K is only one thing that’s great about this high end disc player that’s also perfectly happy to function as a media hub and more.


Tablo makes a DVR for cord cutters - while Kensington offers dual USB in its power adapter for trave

Aug 20, 2017 — Jim Bray

Dumping cable and/or satellite appears to be quite the trend these days but what happens, once you’ve gotten rid of the service, if you want to record your favourite programs for watching later? Equally important: how are you going to watch the shows in the first place?

Well, that’s the idea behind Nuvyyo’s Tablo DUAL, which the company claims is the first network-connected over-the-air (OTA) DVR to also include 40 hours’ worth of onboard high definition recording storage. In other words, it has a hard drive built in by which you can record your favourite TV broadcasts that spew into the air from your local TV stations.


Does VW’s Atlas hold the company’s future on its shoulders?

Aug 20, 2017 — Jim Bray

Volkswagen’s first all new SUV since the Tiguan is here, and it’s bigger, more angular - and more modern in VW’s inventory, than the Tiguan and the Touareg.  Will it be enough to help turn around any negative public impressions there may be coming out of the diesel kerfuffle of the past couple of years?

Who knows? I doubt one model could do that - though the Atlas is a darn fine place to start. Besides, I think the whole diesel thing was BS anyway - and a shame from consumers’ standpoints. That’s because, if I were to buy a vehicle today that was offered in gas or diesel, in most cases I’d opt for the diesel. Sure, they’re down on horsepower, but they generate gobs of torque, which is more important for the lead footed, plus they get terrific fuel mileage. And, though prices wobble wildly, diesel is often cheaper than gasoline.


Rotel’s new nearly-all-in-one audio component sounds very sweet

Aug 11, 2017 — Jim Bray

Perhaps you could call it an "unreceiver." Or maybe a "deceiver."

However you refer to it, Rotel’s RAP-1580 is a one box solution to most current audio needs. The only mainstream feature it doesn’t have on it is a radio tuner, which would make it a "receiver." And as popular as receivers are, I can’t see why many folks would care about that in 2017, since the RAP has Bluetooth capability by which you can stream your favourite radio stations from around the world via a smart device and the Internet.


Fusion Sport and MKZ offer sporty variations on a mid-sized them

Aug 11, 2017 — Jim Bray

One is the sportiest version of Ford’s mainstream mid-size sedan, while the other’s Lincoln’s variation on the theme. So, when it comes to a choice between the Fusion Sport and the Lincoln MKZ, which is the better car?

Waffle time (syrup, anyone?)! As is so often the case, the answer is a clear “it depends.” Mostly, it depends on your budget, I suppose, because the loaded Ford Fusion sport Ford loaned me to wring out for a week is priced at $42,388 (sans taxes, etc.) while the MKZ stickered for $59,300. That’s a pretty big spread for what beneath the surface are two cars who share a lot of their DNA.


Lincoln MKC and MKX - Ford’s upmarket brand Escapes its roots and hones its Edge

Aug 6, 2017 — Jim Bray

If you’re looking for a compact or mid-sized crossover from Ford but want something a little more exclusive, Lincoln just may have what you’re seeking.

The MKC and MKX, which are up market versions of the Ford Escape and Edge, respectively, are both comfortable and luxurious vehicles that drive well and will coddle your bones nicely. I spent a week in each of these vehicles recently and came away quite impressed. I think they’d be even more impressive if the manufacturer would integrate more completely the terrific new interior found in the excellent Continental, but in the meantime you get a better and nicer Ford for a not-too-unreasonable premium over the garden variety Fords.


Three old dudes go out with a bang - while Unforgettable and Arthur blow up in their own faces

Aug 6, 2017 — Jim Bray

A remake of an old comedy and two movies I hope are never remade are on tap for this week’s Blu-Ray releases. “Going in Style,” “Unforgettable” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” come from Warner Brothers (“Going in Style” is being released this week, while the other two appear to have escaped, rather than been released).

Let’s tackle the old dudes first, since it’s easy for me to identify with such seasoned folks. This new 2017 version stars Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin in the roles first occupied by George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg. I never saw that first film but, since Hollywood seems to have difficulty remaking a successful film these days without adding left wing dogma, I went into this one anticipating very little worth recommending. But I was surprised.

Oh, I get the politically correct stuff here, in that these three musty steers are at their financial wits’ end and are being screwed royally by a big bank, and I understand how rewarding it could be to stick it to the Man in such a way as the guys here do.