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:

Decades into the digital age, the paperless office still eludes humanity

May 21, 2018 — Jim Bray

Decades into the digital age, the paperless office still eludes humanity
Do you still print stuff out? If so, you’re undoubtedly like most of us who, at least periodically, still need to print out a hard copy of some digital document – whether for archiving, legality, to put into a cookbook, or whatever.

Yet we’ve been promised for years that all of us using computers would mean that all those beautiful trees could be saved, presumably so we can hug them and live in them in the green paradise envisioned by some.

What happened?


Lexus NX hybrid a winner despite a couple of annoyances

May 19, 2018 — Jim Bray

Lexus NX hybrid
The good news is that my favourite Lexus has received some tweaking for 2018, and the Japanese luxury brand has wisely refrained from messing too much with the successful NX SUV/crossover.

The bad news is that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to whine about, which comes in handy for a reviewer who doesn’t want to seem overly hyperbolic about a vehicle. And in this case, one of my complaints is easy enough to correct: buy the turbo gas engine version rather than the hybrid, with its whiny continuously variable transmission.


Reborn VW Jetta is a terrific small sedan

May 12, 2018 — Jim Bray

Reborn VW Jetta is a terrific small sedan
It may be German inside and out, but VW’s new small sedan makes me think in French.

French, as in “Je t’adore” because (putting it into pun-dit English) “Jetta adore” is how I came away from my week with the new, 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. This probably surprises no one who reads my columns regularly, because you know that I’m a big fan of VW’s, just about any VW – and that includes Audi and Porsche as well (and would probably include such other VW brands as Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley, if I were ever lucky enough to get seat time in them).


Saving Private Ryan in 4K: easily the best way to watch Spielberg’s war epic

May 12, 2018 — Jim Bray

Saving Private RyanTalkin’ ‘bout their generation…

Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan got a lot of good press when it came out, for its tribute to those who fought and died to save our western civilization from the German Nazis. It also garnered praise for its powerful and graphic depiction of what it was probably like (Hollywood influences notwithstanding) to have made that deadly but vital beach landing on June 6, 1944.

This is the perfect time of year, approaching America’s annual Memorial Day celebration and the anniversary of the Normandy invasion, for Paramount to reissue a 20th Anniversary edition of Spielberg’s film with an absolutely spectacular conversion to 4K disc with HDR – a UHD treatment that’s a very pleasant surprise, indeed.

It’s a pretty good movie, too, though it would have been better if they’d forgotten the “saving mission” aspect of it and just continued to document Tom Hanks’ group as they fought inland after establishing their beach hold. That opening (actually the second sequence after a bit of a narrative hook) is probably the best look at the horrors – and heroes – of war that I’ve seen, an unforgettable bit of movie making that puts those men’s sacrifices into perspective for those who’ve never had to endure what my father’s generation did in order to make the world safe for us.


TP-Link router a solid streamer

May 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Archer C2300 router
Wi-Fi is everywhere these days, it seems, and that’s a great bit of convenience. But as much as we may like free Wi-Fi when we go out and about, it’s even more important to have a fast and reliable connection at home, where many of us do most of our personal computing, surfing and/or streaming.

Your router performance can depend on such things as bandwidth, number of antennae, and the location you set it in your home. This is why you need a good router, though finding one can be a chore because there are so many models available.


Big Navigator a cushy and plush drive

May 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Big Navigator a cushy and plush drive
This was certainly the nicest bus I’ve ever driven!

Lincoln’s new Navigator, redesigned for the 2018 model year, is a really nice vehicle for those looking for a motorhome-sized SUV that coddles with the best of ‘em.

It isn’t a motorhome, of course, just a reasonably conventional LARGE three row SUV for the luxury-minded buyer.


Paddington sequel a very bearable family movie

May 2, 2018 — Jim Bray

Paddington sequel a very bearable family movieIf you decry the lack of quality family entertainment these days, you really should fire up a copy of the new Blu-ray release of Paddington 2, from Warner Brothers.
Paddington is an animated bear who I understand is a staple of British culture via a series of books I never read. Heck, I never saw the first Paddington movie from 2014, either, and never really felt the urge to. Then Warner Home Video sent me the new Blu-ray of the sequel and I put it on hoping it might be something I could watch with my grandsons.

And boy, is it ever! I enjoyed Paddington 2 so much that I’m going to seek out the original flick as well because, well, sequels as a rule are generally not as good as the original (in my experience), and so all things being equal I should enjoy the original even more than this sequel.

Watch that blow up in my face!

Anyway, Paddington is a recue bear – rescued initially by a pair of adult bears just before he and the log on which he’s hanging get swept over a huge waterfall in South America (do they really have bears there?). Action then picks up in “present day”, with the little bear now settled happily in London with the Brown family, where he has carved out a niche and become a very popular member of the local folks - spreading, as Warners’ PR stuff says “joy and marmalade wherever he goes”.


Ford’s biggest and (until recently) littlest SUV’s offer a lot to like

May 2, 2018 — Jim Bray

 Ford Escape
Ford continues to expand and update its line of SUV/Crossovers for 2018, with a minor refresh of the Escape but also with a brand new Expedition.

The two units bookend the Edge and Explorer, ensuring there’s a model for every person’s size preference, from small to absolutely humongous. And they’re pretty nice vehicles as well. There’s one smaller, the just-out Ecosport, but that isn’t covered here..

I spent a week with each of these units, an Escape wearing the Titanium trim level and an Expedition Limited, both of which come with about as much tech and toys as one can want. Of the two, the Escape would be my personal choice because, as a small person, it’s much more a size I’d find useful – but that doesn’t mean that larger folk (or folk who need to carry more folks and/or stuff) won’t find the Expedition worth a look.


Goodbye to an honoured and excellent brand

Apr 23, 2018 — Jim Bray

Oppo Digital
Perhaps you could call it a coda to an outstanding symphony of audio/videophile tech.

Oppo Digital, the company whose products have won it many awards over the years – and which deserved them – has announced it’s winding down its operations.

Say it isn’t so, Oppo!


Toyota Prius a surprisingly driveable hybrid

Apr 23, 2018 — Jim Bray

Toyota Prius a surprisingly driveable hybrid
Who’d have thought a Toyota Prius could be an engaging vehicle to drive?

I never did, until this current generation came along a year or so ago, and after having a second kick at the car a couple of weeks ago I came away liking the Prius even more. Heck, if it didn’t have a loud and obnoxious continuously variable transmission, and such a strange-looking exterior, I might even think about putting one in my garage.


Medialight’s new tech bias lights make TV watching easier on the eyes

Apr 1, 2018 — Jim Bray

MediaLight 6500K Bias Lighting
If you’ve ever found your eyes tiring by the end of a movie in your home theatre – and it has nothing to do with the writing, acting, or production – you may want to look into something like a bias light.

I knew about bias lights once but over the years, and through several changes in TV’s over the years, I had forgotten just how much a bias light can improve one’s enjoyment. Back then, I had (among other TV’s) a 57-inch CRT rear projector, but while watching it I noticed that the picture would tend to dazzle my eyes, and not in a good way.


Honda brings Clarity to the plug-in hybrid market

Apr 1, 2018 — Jim Bray

Honda brings Clarity to the plug-in hybrid market
It’s loud. It’s whiny. Its interfaces are incoherent. But it’ll help you save the world, and you might be able to make other people help you pay for it!

It’s Honda’s new Clarity, in this case a plug-in hybrid model. Honda calls it the newest member of their “completely redesigned lineup,” even though it sports exactly the same dashboard abomination – as in no knobs for tuning the stereo or tuning the volume up or down - that the company is finally moving away from with its new Accord and other models.

Claritys (Clarities?) start at a Canadian MSRP of $39,900 and if you want to step up to the top line version – the Touring trim level – it’ll cost you and/or your peers $43,900 (your peers, according to Honda, thanks to “up to $13,000 of government incentives”). For that price you’ll get what Honda says is “a big step forward for the company’s electrified fleet, entering the Canadian market with the best overall combined range and interior volume in its class.”


Browser and search engine team up to help you stay private on the internet

Mar 27, 2018 — Jim Bray

Vivaldi Technologies
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you.”

I don’t know, or care, who said that originally, but in this age of hacking and cyber corruption – and the deep state trying desperately to defeat the forces of light - it’s becoming increasingly clear that there appears to be folks out in cyberspace who don’t have your best interests in mind.

Indeed, you may have heard about how Facebook and Google have been revealed as corrupt data miners more interested in raking in cash and helping their fellow political travellers than in providing the benign platforms for the people they’ve purported to be.


Mustang Bullitt looks like more than just a fun movie tie in

Mar 27, 2018 — Jim Bray

Mustang Bullitt looks like more than just a fun movie tie in
It’s green and powerful, and it isn’t the Incredible Hulk. Instead, it’s the new Bullitt edition of Ford’s legendary pony car, the Mustang. And it looks like it’ll be a heckuva ride!

The tie-in comes as the iconic Steve McQueen cop film Bullitt celebrates its 50th anniversary, assuming a movie can celebrate its own birthday, so what better time than now to exploit, er, honour, a dead actor and what’s undoubtedly his most famous movie vehicle other than his LeMans Porsche and the motorcycle with which he leapt tall barriers with a single bound in The Great Escape.


Justice League 4K - doing justice to the DC comics universe?

Mar 17, 2018 — Jim Bray

Justice League 4K - doing justice to the DC comics universe?
Warner Brothers’ ongoing attempts to play catch-up with the Marvel cinematic universe continues with Justice League, their version of The Avengers, in which a group of superheroes teams up to fight a super villain bent on mayhem, conquest and destruction.

The question is, is it any good, and how does it stack up to the Marvel movies? And in the case of this sparkling new 4K version of last year’s Justice League film, the answer is a decidedly firm “meh.”


Thor Ragna-rocks in its 4K disc incarnation

Mar 17, 2018 — Jim Bray

Thor Ragna-rocks in its 4K disc incarnationMarvel’s third Thor outing is one “Val-helluva” way to get into the 4K disc market, and it’s also the best of the Thor outings to date.

And it’s a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously and even imparted quite a few laughs on its audience.

I was never a Thor comic book reader and thought Kenneth Branagh’s first Thor movie was visually lovely but nearly as forgettable as the second Thor movie (“the Dark World”). The best thing about both movies (and this one, too) is Chris Hemsworth as the title God. Whether he’s being tossed out of Asgard or driving a star ship or Formula 1 car, the Aussie is a very good actor and he inhabits the Thor character very well, indeed.


Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – a bargain hot hatch?

Mar 17, 2018 — Jim Bray

Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – a bargain hot hatch?
South Korean carmakers have come a long way in a relatively short time. And they’ve earned their current success by offering cars that are built well, competitive in price and even more competitive in features.

Hyundai, the subject of this particular rant, has developed from the old and unloved Pony and Stellar of the 1980’s, and their later and rather bizarre “relax, you’ll get there someday” jingle I took to mean that, undoubtedly unconsciously, Hyundai was admitting their cars were lacking in oomph. Yes, Hyundai used to be a joke, automotively speaking.


Home theatre not rumbling enough? Here are some ways to tweak your system

Feb 28, 2018 — Jim Bray

Home theatre not rumbling enough? Here are some ways to tweak your system
You’ve shelled out good, after tax disposable income on a home theatre setup but instead of that room-rattling bass you’ve been promised you’re only getting a thin gruel oozing its way to your ears. Did you get ripped off?

That’s always a possibility, but even an inexpensive “home theatre in a box” can deliver good, room filling sound with chest thumping low frequency effects, so before you box it up again and toss it back across the counter at the retailer from whom you purchased it, take a while to do some tweaking to ensure it’s performing to the best of its capabilities.


‘Electric-ish’ BMW X5 is a fine ride that could save you some premium fuel

Feb 28, 2018 — Jim Bray

'Electric-ish' BMW X5 is a fine ride that could save you some premium fuel
BMW’s first SUV - though they refer to it as an SAV - has been given the plug-in hybrid treatment and the result is a large utility (er, Activity, in BMW-speak) vehicle that might even save you some gas money.

The X5 xDrive40e is the first plug-in hybrid production model from BMW’s core lineup. Starting at an estimated MSRP of $74,950 CAD, before options, it’s a darn fine vehicle and equipped well even at that trim level (it’s a premium vehicle, after all). And BMW seems to be listening to some of the folks who’ve whined about its interfaces in recent years. That would include me, who has muttered maledictions about the iDrive system, the complexity of merely storing a radio station preset and the annoying folly of having to pull door handles twice to get out of the vehicle and the start/stop button twice to get the thing to actually shut down.


The 2018 Canadian Car of the Year is a Honda - and the Best Utility Vehicle is a minivan

Feb 18, 2018 — Jim Bray

Honda's all-new Accord sedan
Looks like Honda might be wise to buy a bigger display case to hold all the international awards its new Accord is receiving.

That’s because, after being named 2018 North American Car of the Year at the car show in Detroit, as well as scoring its way onto the Car & Driver 10 Best Cars list yet again (for about the 1,000th time) Honda’s all-new Accord sedan has won the 2018 Canadian Car of the Year award, presented under the auspices of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).