Jim Bray


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:

Mitsubishi’s small SUV tries to Eclipse its many competitors

Oct 12, 2018 — Jim Bray

Mitsubishi's small SUV tries to Eclipse its many competitors
Mitsubishi’s new Eclipse Cross SUV is the Japanese automaker’s entry into the entry level compact SUV market, a niche currently occupied by such other Japanese models as the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Qashqai. How does it stack up compared to that competition?

Well, I haven’t driven a Qashqai, but I have driven the Honda, Mazda and Toyota and the Mitsubishi compares with them fairly well. And to sweeten the deal, owners get Mitsubishi’s extensive warranty policy: a 10-year, 160,000-kilometre limited warranty on the power train, a five-year 100,000-kilometre new vehicle limited warranty with five-year unlimited kilometre roadside assistance.


Kia’s sporty Stinger is definitely no stinker

Oct 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Kia's sporty Stinger is definitely no stinker
Kia’s new sporty flagship is a nice four door hatchback – a sports sedan that isn’t quite a sedan but which looks, acts, and (even better!) drives like a sports sedan.

Move over BMW? Probably not, though there’s sure a lot to like about the Kia Stinger, including interfaces that are easy to figure out and to use – something to which a lot of the competition should take notice.


Roku’s streaming stick gets upgraded with 4K and more

Oct 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Roku's streaming stick gets upgraded with 4K and more
It’s getting hard to ignore Roku’s effect on the home electronics market. Not only does the company make a wide variety of devices that can turn your dumb TV into a smart TV, but the technology is showing up built right into many TV’s these days.

Clearly, the company must be doing something right – or at least something that consumers like – with its products.


Mazda’s little bundle of joy powers up for 2019

Oct 1, 2018 — Jim Bray

Mazda's little bundle of joy powers up for 2019
It’s amazing how the simple shot of oomph Mazda has added to its wonderful little MX-5 gives its driver an even bigger shot of adrenaline.

Yet there it is:  a car that has always been a joy to drive, yet has never been accused of being over powered, still isn’t overpowered - but it’s powered enough, and for this reviewer that’s the best news since the demise of the turbocharged Mazdaspeed Miata of years gone by.


Solo Blu-ray looks and sounds great – but there’s more to Star Wars than that

Oct 1, 2018 — Jim Bray

The second Star Wars spin-off movie since Disney bought the universe from George Lucas – not to be confused with the two “Episode” movies that have come out as well – is a flawed attempt with a troubled gestation. Yet it’s still well worth watching.

If only the filmmakers hadn’t bitten off so much that they didn’t need to chew (no Wookiee joke intended).

Yet even with its issues, and in its final form as found on this otherwise great Disney Blu-ray (alas, no 4K disc was sent for review), it’s better than the last “official” Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. It isn’t nearly as good as Rogue One, however, which in my never humble opinion is the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy.


IKEA Swedens its product line with a Bluetooth speaker

Sep 2, 2018 — Jim Bray

IKEA Swedens its product line with a Bluetooth speaker
One may not think of IKEA as a place to shop for audio equipment, but the Swedish company best known for its furniture is throwing caution to the wind and introducing a new Bluetooth speaker system anyway.

It’s the ENEBY line of speakers which, as of the August 1 kick off in Canada, consists of two models, both of which are available for under $100 CAD. The smaller of the two (called the 20x20) includes the capability for wireless power as well as wireless tunes – as long as you buy the optional ($20) battery pack for it.


Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV puts in a plug for green driving

Aug 30, 2018 — Jim Bray

Outlander PHEV leads the plug-in hybrid segment with more plug-in hybrids
Mitsubishi has unleashed its plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander and I have to admit it’s the nicest Mitsubishi SUV I’ve driven to date.

Not that a plug-in hybrid is near the top of my list of things to look for in a new vehicle, but judging by the number of plug-in hybrids available these days it seems clear that a) people either want such a vehicle or b) car makers are being pressured to add such vehicles to their offerings whether they sell or not (otherwise, why would we need government incentives that force your neighbours to help you pay for your purchase through their taxes?).


LG channels Professor Harold Hill with its ‘ThinQ system’

Aug 16, 2018 — Jim Bray

LG channels Professor Harold Hill with its 'ThinQ system'
Music lovers who use their cell phones as a source for their tunes have a nifty new tool at their disposal in LG’s newest smart phone, the G7 ThinQ.

That’s because its innards are also designed kind of like a transmission line speaker, enhancing the bass output from what you might expect from tiny little phone speakers. LG says "the G7 ThinQ uses its inner space as a resonance chamber to amp up the bass and deliver a premium, loud, and room-filling audio experience."


Armor All collection can help keep cars fresh with no sweat

Aug 13, 2018 — Jim Bray

Armor All collection
I’ve just washed my car from top to bottom without using water, a pail, or a hose. Or by using someone else’s efforts on my behalf, or someone else’s washing facility.  It was really cool!

And while I think I’ll still use the touchless wash down the street a lot of the time, I’ve learned that you really can get your car clean just by wiping it with a cloth. If it’s the right cloth.


Roku ups its content offering with its own channel

Aug 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Roku ups its content offering with its own channel
Roku customers who can’t find enough stuff to watch and/or listen to on the platform have a new weapon in their search for stuff: the Roku Channel.

The Canadian version of the channel went live on the morning of July 23 (the U.S. version has been available for a while) and offers a selection of movies, TV shows and the like in one location – kind of like about a thousand other channels you can put onto the Roku, such as Shout! Factory TV and ,many, many others. And the content is all free!


Long Lexus RX lets you add passengers

Aug 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Long Lexus RX lets you add passengers
Lexus’ top selling SUV, the RX series, has received a boost for the 2018 model year in a move that instantly makes it competitive with three row luxury people haulers.

It, as you probably guessed, is the RX 350 L, the L indicating that the vehicle has been stretched a few inches (about four, in fact) to allow for the installation of a third-row bench. It isn’t a third row like you’ll find in a minivan, but it’s in line with some of the competitors whose Steerage class seating is more of the “emergency-public-transit-alternative-type” of vehicle.


Rampage 4K disc a monster movie-lover’s delight

Jul 22, 2018 — Jim Bray

Rampage 4K disc a monster movie-lover's delight
Ray Harryhausen would undoubtedly be smiling.

Rampage, the 2018 Warner Brothers release starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is an old time, rock ‘em sock ‘em monster flick that hearkens back to such glorious titles as King Kong, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Godzilla and many others.

I loved it!


Mazda CX-3 AWD: an entry level SUV that’s fun

Jul 22, 2018 — Jim Bray

Mazda CX-3 AWDCompact SUV’s are a dime a dozen, but if you’re looking for one that’s not only capable, roomy and efficient, but is fun to drive as well,  the list gets decidedly shorter.

Small and fun SUV’s are available, but most of the lower end ones I’ve driven – the mainstream stuff from mainstream companies such as Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai and the like – seem to focus more on the “UV” (Utility Vehicle) than the “S” (Sport), which is perhaps why the term “crossover” has become so popular.


Tron meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Spielberg’s 4K treat

Jul 22, 2018 — Jim Bray

Ready Player One
Ready Player One is a real home theatre treat, and the best way to catch it is on Warners’ new 4K UHD disc with HDR.

As the headline says, it’s kind of a blend between Tron – in which we’re treated to a fantastic virtual world – and Roald Dahl’s chocolaty morality tale in which contestants are bent on finding a golden ticket (keys,  in this case) that will give the winner a huge reward.

Steven Spielberg’s 2018 virtual reality flick also shares a bit of DNA with James Cameron’s Avatar, in that we have real world folk using alternate personalities (and bodies, though in this case they’re virtual) to interact with others from around the world. And, like Avatar, the villain of the piece is a huge corporation (IOI, which looks suspiciously like LOL on their logo) bent on maximizing their profits at all costs.


Acura’s 2019 RDX an interesting and fun compact luxury SUV

Jul 13, 2018 — Jim Bray

Acura's 2019 RDX an interesting and fun compact luxury SUV
It’s being touted as Acura’s new direction and, as such, it’s an interesting case study in how a company responds to the ever-evolving competition.

I was on Acura’s junket to San Francisco when the original RDX came out. It was Acura’s first turbo four, and it was a wonderful SUV that featured what at the time was probably the best audio system I’d experienced in a vehicle.

That ELS audio system is still around, kind of, but it has also marched along with the marketplace—which to me is a double-edged sword.


The Quick and the Dead a number one 4K disc with a bullet

Jul 13, 2018 — Jim Bray

The Quick and the Dead a number one 4K disc with a bullet
Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead is an interesting yarn featuring some tight writing and fine performances from an ensemble of very good thespians. It also sports a really good 4K HDR transfer that makes it even better.

The Western drama stars Sharon Stone (who also co-produced), Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio. All are, or were, gunslingers who congregate in a nondescript one-horse town called Redemption for a gunfighting competition in which all comers shoot it out with whoever challenges them, the winner taking home a huge pot (well, chest) of money.


OnePlus wireless ear buds offer good sound and value

Jun 30, 2018 — Jim Bray

OnePlus Bullets Wireless
Cord cutters are referred to usually as people who’ve dumped cable TV, either going only with off the air signals or using alternative services such as Netflix, YouTube and the like as ways to get their programming fixes.

But there’s another type of cord cutting that could be quite attractive to some consumers, and that’s the cutting of the cord between your smart device/music player/whatever and your headphones. It’s a legitimate cutting if, like me, you tend to get your cords tangled and twisted all the time.


When the heck is the flying car going to get here?

Jun 30, 2018 — Jim Bray

When the heck is the flying car going to get here?
We’ve been promised them for years, and periodically we get to see an interesting new supposed prototype appear in the media, or as a “character” on TV or in movies. But the real, consumer-friendly flying family car never seems to actually come to market. Why is that?

Well, it’s a pretty tough nut to crack, and there are questions of what infrastructure would be required (if any) and of course there’s also the question of whether or not we want to inflict a bunch of bad drivers onto the sky as well as the roads. I mean, if you think automated cars are a challenge, expand that to three dimensions!


Missing the Matrix? The Corolla iM might fit the bill

Jun 25, 2018 — Jim Bray

Missing the Matrix? The Corolla iM might fit the bill
What do you do if you loved your little Toyota Matrix hatchback and want to get a new one, only to sally forth to your local Toyota store and find that, like the Pontiac Vibe with which it shared its DNA, it’s no longer available?

Well, you could check out the Corolla iM, which right now is the closest thing Toyota offers to that great little wagon. It started life as the Scion iM, but once Toyota decided to say sayonara to the Scion era (sorry…) it dumped all that line except for this little hatch and the wonderful little FR-S sports coupe that’s now known as the 86.


Toyota’s Sequoia may have been treemendous once – but it’s time for an upgrade

Jun 15, 2018 — Jim Bray

Toyota's Sequoia may have been treemendous once – but it's time for an upgrade
Maybe it’s Toyota’s way of ensuring the long-term viability of “old growth” forests, but the Tundra-based Sequoia SUV seems more like a blast from the past than a state-of-the-art “people and stuff hauler.”

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a great vehicle – it’s a Toyota, after all, and so if nothing else the thing’ll probably serve its owners forever – but it’s a vehicle that, to make a Sequoia analogy, seems to have a few more rings in its trunk than some of the “new growth” gigantic SUV’s with which it competes.