Four months ago I leased a 2014 BMW i3 with a range extender. I currently have 2100 miles on the car.

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It’s an electric car, that’s just how it works

The car’s range will vary greatly depending on how you drive, what electronics you have on in the car, and the weather. It’s summer now and with the AC running I can go about 70 miles on the battery. Last month I didn’t have to run the AC so hard and I could do 85-90. I understand from other drivers that winter weather will decrease the range to 50-60 miles depending on how cold it is. At highway speeds (70+) range is about 60 miles. With a gas car, steady speed on the highway is your best fuel economy. With an electric with heavy regen braking like the i3, in the city hitting some stop lights is the best for battery economy.

Range anxiety… I was so worried about getting stranded that I paid $5K for the range extender; a motorcycle engine in the back of the car that will charge the battery giving an extra 50 or so miles of range. I’ve used it once. In a gas car having 30 miles of range left warrants an immediate stop at a gas station, in the i3 it’s all good. It’s a weird attitude to have.

You’ll need to install a 220V L2 charger in your garage. The L1 charger that comes with the car will charge it from empty in 18 hours. An L2 charger will charge from empty in four hours. Between the charger and the electrician this was an extra $500 expense.

The i3 is an around the town car. It’s not the best choice for a weekend trip to grandma’s house.

What I don’t like

In the four months I’ve owned the car it’s spent 18 days at the dealer being worked on. I’ve had trim pieces come loose, BMW Assist stopped working, the rear seat came loose,  a drive train malfunction warning/vehicle stall, and awful tire noise. BMW of Northwest Arkansas has been good about getting everything handled under warranty and keeping me in a loaner car. Even so, wondering if my car is a lemon tickled the back of my brain often.

The i3 has very aggressive regenerative braking, so much so that’s its not often the brakes are used. This means that when you do use the brakes it sounds like you’re braking in a car that hasn’t been driven in a year. Lots of grinding and some squeaks.

The car forgets settings. Every time you start the car the radio volume defaults back to just slightly too quiet. The zoom on the nav will sometimes default out. The driving mode always defaults to comfort.

With blue tooth audio playback there is no way to play/pause from the steering wheel or iDrive. This is a thing with every BMW I’ve driven. Edit 8/21/15: An anonymous person was kind enough to point out that pushing the ‘power’ button on the radio will pause Bluetooth. The left and right rocker switch on the far right of the shortcut buttons is a previous/next track button.

The trunk is pretty small. It doesn’t look that way but you’ll have a hard time fitting an entire cart of groceries into it. The rear seats fold down though, giving you a ton of room to work with. You get more road noise with the seats down so you can’t keep them that way all the time.

The front trunk, the frunk, is a joke. It’s smaller than a case of beer and not water proof. I put the L1 charger that came with the car in a ziploc back inside of the frunk. I opened it up the other day and there were some old leaves inside. This is a $50,000 car.

The beep when you lock the car via the key fob is ear piercing. It is really loud.

Things I didn’t like that I fixed

You’re able to change a lot of settings on BMWs by ‘coding’ them. You connect to the car’s on board computer and change some settings. I’ve increased the size of the fuel tank (yes really), enabled turning on the gas engine at will, and changed the keyfob to open the trunk instead of the frunk.

The car came with white carpet floor mats. They looked great until the first day it rained. I replaced them with some all weather mats.

What I like

It’s fast. I always win the zero to the speed limit stop light race. The throttle response is instant. Acceleration is smooth, no gears to change.

One pedal driving. With the regen braking all I do to stop is let off of the accelerator.

The i3 drives like a proper car. It’s hard for me to put into words exactly what that means. If you’ve driven a proper car before you know what I getting on about.

I like the design of the car inside and out. Some people say the outside looks dorky or that the inside looks like it was made by Ikea. I would agree with those people. I like the way it looks. There is a lot of room on the inside.

I like that I don’t have to stop at a gas station once a week. I don’t care about the environment so much as I care about not wasting the time to stop and gas up.

You can fit two rear facing car seats in the back without the driver and passenger having their knees touch the dash. You would be surprised at the cars you can’t do this in; pretty much anything that isn’t a mini-van or full size SUV.

TL;DR

I like my i3. It’s not perfect, but then again I’ve never seen a car that is. I’m happy with the purchase and I have a lot of fun driving it.

ipega9023

 

The IPEGA 9023 is a bluetooth controller that allows you to mount a phone or tablet into it. The sides of the controller telescope out and then spring back in to grip what ever is in the center.

I bought my IPEGA 9023 for use with my Samsung Tab 10.5 tablet. I mentioned in my emulator review for it that I didn’t like the IPEGA because of button placement; turns out I was wrong about  that. It’s not the button placement I dislike, when you use the IPEGA 9023 with a device that’s heavy you (or at least I do) hold it in such a way that makes it uncomfortable. I figured this out while trying the IPEGA with a Samsung Galaxy S3. When using the smaller device the IPEGA works very well and I was happy with it.

Since then I’ve tried the IPEGA with an iPad Air and a LG G Tab 8.3. Both tablets fit into the IPEGA and are able to use it as a controller. Both tablets are heavy enough that I hold the IPEGA awkwardly and end up uncomfortable in a short period of time.

I’ve also tried the IPEGA with an iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S3, and a Samsung Note 4. All three of those phones work really well with the IPEGA. I’m able to hold it comfortably for long periods of time.

Having your screen in the center of the controller does take a little getting use to though.

As a controller the IPEGA 9023 works well. Its definetly not on par with a PS3 or NVIDIA Shield controller, but it gets the job done. I’ve read some reviews online speaking about dead zones in the analog sticks, my controller either doesn’t suffer from this, or I’m not one to notice it.

All in all the IPEGA 9023 is a good solution to the problem of holding your phone and controller at the same time while playing games. Its not good for holding a tablet. Considering I bought it just for use with a tablet I’m a bit let down.

 

Samsung Tab S 10.5

NES: Great
Gameboy: Great
SNES: Great
Genesis: Great
Gameboy Advance: Great
N64: Good – the hardware is more than enough to run the games, the emulators available are the problem.
Playstation/PSX: Great
NDS: Great
GameCube and above: Poor – games are unplayable. (Emulator problem as much as a hardware problem)

I’ve had my Tab S 10.5 for about three weeks now. I bought it as a replacement for an iPad 3. It’s been rooted and all of the Samsung junk turned off. I use a PS3 controller via the Sixaxis app.

I’m very happy with the tablet as a tablet. As an emulator machine its really good. My only complaint is the same complaint I have with emulation on any tablet; how do you hold the tablet and the controller at the same time? I tried an Ipega 9023 telescopic controller, the mount was good, but the controller had poor button placement for my hands. That made the controller difficult to use. Next I tried to DIY solution using a Gameklip and a car tablet mount. The Tab S was too heavy for the Gameklip. I end up propping the Tab S up via its case and setting it on a lap desk. This works, but I would much rather to have it mounted on the controller.

Having such a large screen makes emulating Nintendo DS games much more enjoyable than on a Shield Portable or phone. You have plenty of room to see both screens at the same time. The downside of the big screen is that games will look bad unless you apply a filter. Once you apply some HQ filters though, the games look amazing.

My favorite emulation device is still the NVIDIA Shield Portable, if for no other reason than the screen is mounted over the controller. The Shield is pretty dedicated to one task though.The Tab S is a great choice when you need a tablet but you also want to play some games. The screen on the Tab S is amazing and when you use emulators that support filters, your old games never looked better.

Since the Tab S 8.4 has the same hardware as the Tab S 10.5, all of the above should equally apply to it.

Crabby Wallet

The Crabby Wallet was one of the first Kickstarter wallets around. It managed to get $300,000 over its original pledge request of $10,000. Typically such a large amount over the original request spells death for a Kickstarter, but the folks behind Crabby managed to pull it all together and deliver the wallets pretty much on time.

I received my Crabby Wallet about a week ago and immediately put it to use as my day to day wallet, replacing a Ridge Wallet.

The first thing you notice is that the Crabby Wallet isn’t the prettiest girl at the dance. It’s black elastic with an elastic strap that comes in a few different colors. Going purely by looks I would pick my Ridge Wallet any day. The second thing you notice about the Crabby Wallet is that it’s small and thin, oh so very thin. The crabby is slightly longer but slightly shorter than a credit card. Cards in the top slot stick out a bit. This makes it very easy to put cards in and take them out, at the same time an elastic strap holds them in so there is no danger of them falling out. With four credit cards inside the Crabby Wallet is roughly the same thickness as a Ridge Wallet empty. It is by far the slimmest Wallet I’ve owned.

The Crabby Wallet solves my one complaint with The Ridge, pocket feel. The Ridge is smooth aluminum, it would slide around my pocket and end up at odd angles. Sometimes my key fob would get involved and sit on the wallet making it very uncomfortable. The Crabby Wallet is made out of elastic, it doesn’t slide around in my pocket. Its thin enough that if my key fob does sit on top of the wallet its not a big deal.

For the ease of use and comfort that comes with the Crabby Wallet I can get over any problems I have with its looks. I really like the Crabby Wallet and it will be the wallet I use for a long time.

You  can buy a Crabby Wallet from http://www.crabbygear.com/

2013-12-16 Update: The elastic began to wear quite a bit and fray. On a recent trip I was pulling cards in and out of the wallet seemingly constantly and it just about did the little guy in. As it is now, the wallet still looks alright, no holes or anything glaring. The elastic band is noticeably frayed. The wallet is very loose. If I dropped it I think the contents would spill out.

It’s the first wallet I have ever worn out and it only took a few months. It’s sad because I really like it.