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:

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.


Tomb Raider looks great in 4K – but is that enough?

Jun 15, 2018 — Jim Bray

Tomb Raider looks great in 4K – but is that enough?
Warner Brothers’ 2018 Tomb Raider release is a remake, reboot, rethinking of the Lara Croft films that came before it. It’s also an origin story, as well as yet another girl power movie in which the only real alpha being around is on the distaff side of the humanity ledger.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. But wouldn’t it be a laugh if Hollywood had given the new Lara Croft the gender bending Ocean’s 8 or Ghostbusters treatment and made her an Asian heterosexual male? I can imagine the heads exploding!

On the upside, Tomb Raider is also another great example of how good a film can look when given the 4K UHD HDR treatment. It’s just too bad the writing and some of the production values don’t match up to the 4K HDR quality.


Up-engined Mazda 6 sports even more ‘Zoom-Zoom’

Jun 10, 2018 — Jim Bray

Up-engined Mazda 6 sports even more 'Zoom-Zoom'
Truth in advertising gets even more truthful for Mazda with the release of the 2018 6 sedan and its optional choice of a turbocharged engine.

The engine, which comes from the company’s big SUV/Crossover CX-9, ups the 6’s entertainment/engagement ante substantially, which I imagine is the entire point behind Mazda’s move.

I’ve never driven a Mazda that didn’t put a smile on my face (well, their old pickup truck was pretty ordinary, but that was quite a while ago), and even though I’d have preferred a bit more oomph from the current generation 6 when I first reviewed it back in 2013 I still liked the car and found it to be a rewarding driving experience.


Tired of Twitter censorship? Gab claims to offer an alternative

Jun 10, 2018 — Jim Bray

gab
In our increasingly divided and partisan society, it appears that some forces are stepping up their efforts to silence others, shutting down debate rather than taking part in it. It’s a mark of folks who know they have no winning argument, so therefore have to project, obfuscate and name call rather than actually address issues.

Snowflakes!

This is nothing new, but in the Trump era – in which the losing side of the 2016 presidential election still thinks of itself as the side of goodness despite increasing evidence to the contrary – U.S. President Trump’s efforts to drain the deep state swamp seem to be causing new and ever more ominous fits on that side of the ideological ledger. It’s quite entertaining to watch!


No spring this year? No problem – it’s still time to clean up your tech stuff

Jun 4, 2018 — Jim Bray

spring cleaning
Despite a winter that seems to have pushed spring out of the way to make room for an early summer, the usual stuff you do during spring still need to be done.

This could be the first car wax job of the year, the final throwing out of all that Christmas wrapping you were hoping to use for re-gifting, or just the first mowing of the lawn. And according to IT security company ESET, there’s some stuff you can and maybe should be doing to help ensure your technology is brought into the new year as well, whether it be kicking and screaming or not.


New Accord offers plenty of reasons to like Hondas again!

Jun 4, 2018 — Jim Bray

New Accord offers plenty of reasons to like Hondas again!
The Honda Accord, all-new for 2018, provides substantial evidence that the Japanese carmaker does indeed listen to its customers (and maybe critics, too!). That’s because, after a few years of making vehicles that are nearly as annoying as they are pleasant, the new Accord is a lovely breath of fresh air.

I used to love Hondas and always looked forward to driving them. Then the company seemed to go off the rails, doing things that defied logic (as defined by me, anyway) such as removing the volume and tuning knobs from the audio system, forcing you to use a touch screen that wasn’t particularly usable – especially while the vehicle was in motion, even if you could figure out the interface.


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.