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Editor-in-Chief/Publisher Damola Idowu Design DLI Copy Editor Daniwu Photography Banks Wil David Lanre’ Damola Staff Writers Damola Da Great Deity Dah Wole Idowu Daniwu Dr. Kunle Idowu
Lexus VP of Marketing Brian Smith W/ Damola We have lost our way because we have forgotten that success takes a collective. It takes collaboration; it takes ingenuity; it takes inspiration; and when all these forces unite the results could last over a century and bring prosperity to humanity, not just a country. I spent the past year working on this Detroit is Back special and was inspired most about the legacy of automotive manufacturing and how it propelled the industrial age. Most importantly, I was inspired by how humble the icons were who altered modern transportation. Henry Ford was the most successful and lived the longest, but we cannot forget others like the humble, David Dunbar Buick, who brought his casting expertise to engines or Henry Leland, who brought the machine craftsmanship he learned at Colt to the creation of American luxury, first with Cadillac and then with Lincoln. We can’t forget two humble brothers, the Dodge Brothers, who invested in Ford and for 11 years manufactured 60% of each vehicle. Ransom E. Olds is the true godfather of Detroit auto as he was the one who hired Leland, the Dodge Brothers and Benjamin Briscoe to make parts for the mass produced Curved Dash Olds. There are so many stories to tell including over 40% market growth since 2009. I call that money well spent. Enjoy and learn how an industry, 20 years behind Germany, worked together to be number one and saved humanity. Damola Idowu EIC Owners Illustrated Magazine President Owners College
Marketing & Promotions Damola Quincy Taylor Reginald Matthews Dawoud Shadeidu Brian Williams RW Collection Models MidWest Rep. Quincy Taylor Advertising Damola Quincy Taylor Sales Damola College Representative Kunle Idowu Intern Chris Barnes Newsstand Consultant John Blassingame
Ford CEO Alan Mulally GM CEO Dan Akerson & GM NA President Mark Reuss at NAIAS 2012
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“Now we are a college”
THE HUSTLENOMICS ACADEMY “I sponsored the movement.” BRING THEM TOYZ OUT!
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TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola TEST DRIVE » LEXUS LS LAUNCH EVENT
Photo by Damola Idowu
At a beautiful Ritz Carlton resort in the desert of Arizona, my colleagues and I descended upon the terrain to experience firsthand the mechanical automotive marvel that is the Lexus LS sedan. Lexus has been undergoing an entire lineup refresh that has enhanced their reputation for fine craftsmanship and innovation with the deceiving tastes of luxury customers in mind. I have driven the GS and have been highly impressed so the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the flagship was one I relished. The new LS carries over the design signature seen on the GS and ES but in the LS there is more mass to fill out the design interpretation and the silhouette is stunning. On the inside, the LS has the best materials and fit and finish in its class currently. Powertrain-wise there are two options, a 4.6L V8 that makes 386 HP and a 5.0 V8 plus electric motor that makes 438 HP. There is also an F sport model which bears sportier characteristics and braking components. Sadly, one of my favorite features, the auto parking option isn’t available as an option. There are countless ways to configure your LS, however, from a base price of $71,990 on the LS 460 to the LS 600h L which starts at $119,910. Lexus continues its relentless pursuit of perfection and there is no better example of their execution than the Lexus LS 460. For more info visit www.lexus.com.
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TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
AUTOMOTIVE » TEST DRIVES « CADILLAC ATS 2.5
Cadillac has truly adapted to the new marketplace and is taking all comers head-on, foreign or domestic. With the new ATS, Cadillac has taken square aim at the BMW 3 Series and the results have been remarkable as journalists have raved about the incredible driving dynamics found on the compact, luxury rear-wheel drive marvel. I spent time in the 2.5 L base engine model and was impressed by the fit and finish and the CUE system, which I find groundbreaking in ways others may not yet see due to the computing power of the system and the ability to add more functionality later. The CUE system is perfect to attract the younger, more tech savvy demographic Cadillac seeks to reach. The starting price on the ATS luxury model is $37,590, right in the middle of the pack in the competitive compact luxury segment. The ATS is a true sports car with four doors and superb handling, responding to the ZF-sourced electric steering wheel. The design on the ATS is also distinctive with sharp angular lines that give it an aggressive driving stature on the road. The 2.5L base engine puts out 202 HP with 33 MPG on the highway. A 3.6L V6 is also available making 321 HP as well as a popular 2.0L turbo that makes 272 HP. With the ATS, Cadillac has firmly planted itself in best entry luxury discussion, a feat unimaginable just 4 years ago. For more information on the ATS visit www.cadillac.com. AWD system. The XTS Platinum has to be the most technologically advanced Cadillac ever with the CUE system and with safety features like vibrating seats to alert drivers to objects in their path when reversing the vehicle. Sales for the XTS have been brisk so consumers have warmed up to this new Cadillac, part of a brand that now approaches 110 years since Henry Leland founded the company and in the platinum trim, Cadillac meets his high standard of craftsmanship. For more information visit www.cadillac.com.
« CADILLAC XTS PLATINUM I remember seeing the XTS in concept in Detroit and wondering how much of the gorgeous design would make it to production and whether the platinum fit and finish would make it. How about the plug-in powertrain? Would consumers even like the XTS or would they miss the DTS? What would they say about this combination of the DTS and STS in the Cadillac product line-up? I must say, in my week of driving the XTS Platinum AWD I was impressed and amazed at how much of the concept made it into production. Save for the plug-in powertrain, a whole lot made it into the final production car. The vehicle has a 3.6L V6 which makes 304 HP and gets 26 MPG on the highway when paired with the great Haldex AWD system. The XTS Platinum has to be the most technologically advanced Cadillac ever with the CUE system and with safety features like vibrating seats to alert drivers to objects in their path when reversing the vehicle. Sales for the XTS have been brisk so consumers have warmed up to this new Cadillac, part of a brand that now approaches 110 years since Henry Leland founded the company and in the platinum trim, Cadillac meets his high standard of craftsmanship. For more information visit www.cadillac.com.
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
AUTOMOTIVE » TEST DRIVES
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE Since Tata Motors has assumed stewardship of Jaguar and Land Rover they have done a masterful job of maximizing the engineering work that was afoot with Ford, and have managed the growth of both to newfound heights. A perfect example of the blend of new capital, engineering, management, and maximization of a great heritage brand is the Evoque, a stylish crossover SUV that comes in 3-door and 5-door iterations. The Evoque uses a front-wheel drive platform with an all-wheel drive system powered by a Fordsourced 2.0L turbo engine that makes 240 HP and 250 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed automatic system powering the permanent Haldex all-wheel drive system specially tuned for the off road king Land Rover you get unbelievable driving dynamics in the segment. The all wheel drive system has been tuned for terrain response and has snow, mud, and sand specifications. The Evoque is breathtaking in its design and features a blend of high strength steel and aluminum for a segment defining vehicle that has changed the sales outlook of the entire company. With a base price of $41,145 the Evoque is competitive in pricing. The 5-door with Prestige Premium packaging I drove topped $56,595. For more information visit www.landroverusa.com.
« MERCEDES BENZ S350 As the class standard for the flagship luxury sedan, the S Class comes with several powertrain options to suit the distinct tastes of its discerning customers. From hybrid S400 to the super charged behemoth S65 there are great options for a wide range of tastes. Surprising to me was that the S350 was the most fuel efficient with a 3.0L V6 with a 240 HP turbo diesel with a staggering 455 lb-ft of torque available at 2400 PRM’s. The 31 MPG on the highway and has a permanent AWD system making it perfect for the DC metropolitan area. MBUSA makes all comfort options available for all powertrains so the test model I drove had the P2 luxury package along with the rear seat package bringing the base price from $92,550 to $108,640. A favorite feature was the split-view which allows the driver to be focused on the navigation while the passenger can watch a movie simultaneously. For more information visit www.MBUSA.com.
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TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
DRIVE » LEXUS GS 350 AWD & LEXUS 450h
exus had an incredible challenge redesigning the new GS. The model had come to define the blend of luxury and sporty character people seek in the midsize Luxury sports sedan segment. I had the opportunity to spend some time with both trims the GS 350 AWD and the GS 450h. With the redesign of the GS Lexus made the decision to eliminate the GS 460 V8 model and instead focus on fuel efficiency and refined power of the GS450h. The GS450h gets a combined 338HP from the electric powertrain and the 3.5V6 engine. The base model the GS350 is powered by a 3.5L V6 which makes 306HP that makes 277 lb-ft of torque. The upgrade to the interiors are truly remarkable and invoke a nouveau technology loft in the trim of the GS 450h with its rich wood inlays a 12.3 navigation monitor and mouse to operate the info center and of course the Lexus Enform which has apps like Pandora, Bing, Yelp, iHeartRadio, Facebook and more. Using the data services from your smartphone the Enform system integrates these apps with voice command prompts and an ability to bring social media into the driving experience safely. The entire cabin of the Lexus GS feels modern in both trims and one can’t help but enjoy the soft leather and soft touches and also the swift response when you switch to sport mode. You can drive short distances in electric mode on the GS 450h which gets 29 Mpg in the city and 34 MPG in highway driving. The GS 350 AWD gets 19 MPG in city and 26 MPG in highway driving. The base price on the GS 350 AWD is $49,450 and the base price for the GS 450h is $58,950. The GS model again stakes it place at the pinnacle of the luxury sports sedan segment. For more information visit www.lexus.com.
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE OVERLAND 4X4 One of the first vehicles to be launched from the new Chrysler was the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Currently the most awarded SUV in history, the Grand Cherokee has several models and trims including the Overland model I drove. Willys-Overland is historic for Jeep, dating back to 1908 with its founding in Toledo, Ohio where Jeep’s headquarters still remains. The Overland trim adds upgraded materials and the 3.6L model I drove takes E85 fuel, gets 23 MPG, has a panoramic roof and retails for $45,990. It also includes adaptive cruise control and a Uconnect system and hard drive. I personally recommend the Jeep Overland for anyone seeking a premium SUV. For more information visit www.jeep.com.
« CHRYSLER 300 LIMITED AWD With an 8-speed automatic all wheel drive system, and rear wheel drive platform the 300 Limited is truly in a class of its own. With fuel efficiency of 27 MPG on the highway, a panoramic roof, premium materials, and soft touches, an 8.4-inch monitor and navigation, dual climate zones, you can go down the line, the 300 has re invented and defined its position in its class and truly has no peers in its offerings. An amazing journey considering where the brand was in 2008. The 300 Limited AWD starts at $34,320 for the 3.6 L V6 Penstar model. For more information visit www.chrysler.com.
«DODGE AVENGER SXT PLUS The improvements made to the entire Dodge lineup have been impressive. A quick glance to monthly sales numbers will show that consumers are responding. The Dodge Avenger underwent a total makeover of its interior and with the addition of a 8.4-inch monitor, it has some of the best technology and finishes in its class. With rumors of a new platform forthcoming, the Avenger currently has signaled a promising future for the Dodge lineup to come. For more information visit www.dodge.com.
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
VOLVO S60 T5 AWD I remember the commercial of the debut of the new Volvo S60 last year with amazing driving maneuvers showcasing the impeccable handling, acceleration and braking in the new S60. Certainly not my father’s old 240 DL, the new S60 has superb driving characteristics that I got to experience firsthand in the base powertrain. The T5 which gets 250 HP and 266 lb-ft of torque has best-in-class specs for a base model in the entry luxury sedan class. Though the S60 T5 makes 250 HP, it still gets 29 MPG in all-wheel drive form on highway driving, giving a great blend of fuel efficiency and power. I drove a premium trim which also had 17” alloys, a truck spoiler, heated seats, even heated windshield washer nozzles which would have come in handy on the many trips I have made driving through the Midwest in the winter. The base price on the S60 T5 starts at competitive $31,750 and as optioned topped $38,000. Volvo has been aggressive with their financing options so a great lease can be had at a sub $400 a month price for a well optioned model. For more information visit www.volvocars.us.information visit www.volvocars.us.
BUICK VERANO In the quest to retool the lineup and move the brand more upscale, Buick has mined the great design studios for vehicles that have defined their segment and gained popularity around a newer and younger segment of buyers. The Buick Verano is a great entry into the compact premium segment with a standard 2.4L I-4 that makes 180 hp and gets 32MPG on the highway. What I love about the Verano is that it comes standard with Buick Intellilink which connects to Pandora, Stitcher, and Sirius and features a great voice recognition system. The Verano begins at $23,785 and with great features like Bluetooth connectivity for phone and music along with a six-speed automatic and Intellilink standard, Buick should find success in reaching millennials. For more information visit www.buick.com.
KIA SOUL Made famous by the memorable hamsters and a hip sense of style, The Kia Soul has carved a niche for itself and for 2013 the model improves its standing. Starting at a price point below $15,000 the Soul features running LED’s, a UVO voice command media system, backup camera, six-speed automatic transmission, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD radio, a 350 Watt sound system, alloy wheels, and the functionality and cargo room that made the urban mover a hit. For more information on the Kia Soul visit www.kiausa.com.
TOYOTA PRIUS C Toyota has sold over 3 million vehicles featuring their Hybrid Synergy Drive system and with their expansion of the Prius line I anticipate they will sell many more. This past year the Prius line expanded with a new compact, the Prius c and a larger Prius V both of which I have driven. I have written about the Prius V previously, but was pleasantly surprised by the new affordable Prius c and the fun-lovability it offered. The Prius c One starts at $18,950 and as a 5-door compact it is priced pretty competitively in the segment. In the Prius c you get a combined 50 MPG and standard navigation. In the Prius c you also get a standard 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, HD radio, USB port with iPod integration, voice command and a long list of features for an attractive vehicle meant to introduce a new generation to the Prius brand. With the design and packaging of the Prius c, I foretell greater things in the future of the Prius brand . For more information visit www.toyota.com.
AUTOMOTIVE » TEST DRIVES
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
«TOYOTA PRIUS V Green technology has been polarizing in American politics, yet globally countries like Japan have seen its value and hedged their bets over a decade ago when they supported Toyota’s investment in the hybrid technology that makes the Prius special. The Japanese government gave strong rebate incentives to purchasers of the Prius in its infancy enhancing sales potential of the then nascent technology. Over a decade later and over 2 million hybrids sold the success has been outstanding. Toyota is now expanding the Prius line with more vehicle options and the V model I drove was fun and functional and larger than the traditional Prius. The V also gets 40 MPG on the highway and 44 MPG in city driving. The Prius V starts at $27,165. For more information visit www.toyota.com.
FORD FLEX LIMITED The 2013 Ford Flex limited has been refreshed while maintaining the great driving dynamics that make it unique in its segment. The 2013 Ford Flex features a base engine with 3.5L V6 which makes 287 hp and 254lb-ft of torque. What is great about the added power is that it doesn’t sacrifice fuel economy which was 23MPG highway in the all-wheel drive Limited model I drove. The active park assist remains a distinctive highlight in the premium crossover segment along with the Sony Sound system and SYNC with MyFord Touch. The panoramic Vista roof remains one of my favorite features as it gives a beautiful ambiance, more like an upscale loft to the interior of the Flex Limited. Adaptive cruise control and blindspot monitoring are also great features for a crossover that starts at $41,180 and topped $46,000 for the loaded model I drove. For more information visit www.ford.com.
INFINITI JX-35 As the battle for supremacy in the compact luxury crossover heats up, a new front is opening in the full-size 7-passenger category. All new for 2013, the JX is an entirely new product in the Infiniti lineup. A mechanical cousin to the all-new Nissan Pathfinder which eschews its historic truck body-on-frame architecture for more car-like driving dynamics. Both the Pathfinder and the JX35 are assembled at the flexible Smyrna, Tennessee plant and fuel efficiency is at the top of the class with 24 MPG on the highway from Nissan’s 3.5L V6 which makes 265 HP and 248 lb-ft of torque while mated to a CVT transmission. The interior of the JX35 is impeccable with superb fit and finish and plenty of soft touch materials. There is also great safety technology like Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Intelligent Brake Assist that can engage braking to prevent collision with a vehicle ahead or another object. There is a dual rear entertainment system as an option along with a Bose speaker sound system among many other comfort options. The JX35 starts at $40,000. For more information visit www.infinitiusa.com.
CHEVY AVALANCHE BLACK DIAMOND EDITION All good things must come to an end, yet the end is something I’m ready to accept in regard to the Chevy Avalanche. Since its 2001 debut, over 600,000 Avalanches have seen sold and here at Owners Illustrated, our legal council owns its mechanical cousin, the Escalade EXT. I personally have loved the times I have shared over the years driving the multi-function pickup/SUV. An occasion that keeps popping up in my mind, in particular, is when I drove a burnt orange model to the Funkmaster Flex car show in New Jersey. For the final model year, the Avalanche is going out in style with a special Black Diamond edition which features special badging along with a lengthy list of available features including a rear DVD player, an E85-capable 5.3L V8 that gets 21 MPG on the highway, 8100-lb towing capacity, blind zone alert, sunroof, 20” wheels and lots more in a one-of-a-kind multifunction vehicle. I doubt the EXT will continue without the Avalanche to defray costs so if you love these vehicles, get them while supplies last. The Black Diamond Avalanche starts at $50,750. For more information visit www.chevy.com.
AUTOMOTIVE » TEST DRIVES
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
AUTOMOTIVE > TEST DRIVES
« VW TOUAREG HYBRID The Auto Union is united again and the vehicle most likely responsible is the VW Touareg. An unusual at the time foray into the world of SUV’s, the Touareg was an SUV jointly developed by VW, Audi, and Porsche. To tout the success of the venture would be an understatement as the impact on sales volume was so definitive a series of merger moves took place with the eventual completion of the union just a few months ago. The joint engineering effort is evident in the new Touareg Hybrid. Featuring a 3.0L Turbo paired with an electric motor for a combined 380HP and 428 lb-ft of torque the Touareg Hybrid is the best blend of power and fuel efficiency ever found in a gasoline engine. With 20 MPG city and 24 MPG highway you get premium materials, superb technology, towing capability all wrapped in an SUV platform that serves as the base of the forthcoming Bentley SUV. For more info visit www.vw.com.
« TEST DRIVE KIA OPTIMA HYBRID It has now become commonplace in the past four years to find full-size vehicles that offer 40 MPG on the highway. The hybrid model is a welcomed addition to the exciting Optima lineup for stylish sedans with performance and and a slew of features. The Hybrid brings with it an Eco focus with real time monitoring of its fuel efficiency displayed through fun visual graphics. I especially enjoyed driving in electric mode and riding under the panoramic roof. With a base price less than $26,000 the Optima Hybrid represents a great value. For more information visit www.kiausa.com.
« HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID The Sonata Hybrid had my attention with the use of one of my favorite songs Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” in the commercial. 80’s nostalgia aside, the hybrid is truly an amazing car which with the new Blue Link technology brings efficient driving to social technology. With Blue Link you can match your driving habits to others via location sharing which enhanced my competitive nature to be more efficient with my driving habits. The Hybrid gets 40 MPG on the highway and 35 MPG in-city driving for a car that starts at $25,850. For more information visit www.hyundaiusa.com.
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
AUTOMOTIVE » TEST DRIVES INFINITI IPL G CONVERTIBLE I join my colleagues in anticipation of the new Infiniti promised debut at the Detroit Auto Show in 2013. Rumored to be the next G, journalists worldwide eagerly await what improvements and changes will become of what has been a highly awarded car that has been truly fun to drive. I recently spent time in the IPL G convertible and my drive in the Washington Metropolitan area drew tons of compliments of the gorgeous retractable hardtop that came in a beautiful malbec black color. The IPL version of the G comes with an IPL tuned 343 hp out of the 3.7L V6 which was mated to the smooth 7-speed automatic I have come to enjoy the past few years. The IPL model also adds a body kit and special badging. I hated to part with the IPL but I take solace in knowing I will witness the debut of the new Infiniti this January in Detroit. I will keep everybody informed. Until then, you can get more information on the IPL G convertible at www.infinitiusa.com.
« FIAT 500 ABARTH My mother used to tell me to take every disappointment as a blessing and Fiat can attest to that fact as they turned their disappointment of a failed partnership with Chrysler into a blessing of entire control of the company post the auto rescue of 2009. One of the benefactors of the deal was Chrysler’s extensive dealer base which has now allowed Fiat the locations to introduce the funky 500 to a new generation of customers. The 500 has been a dashing success and the result are several iterations including a Gucci Edition but my favorite is the performance-oriented Abarth model. The Abarth model I drove featured a 1.4L Turbo that makes 160 HP and 170 lb-ft of torque mated to a 5-speed manual. The 500 Abarth is a sensational machine to flog around. With a base price of $22,000, the Abarth is bound to find a ton of customers in fact the 2012 allotment is sold out. For more information visit www.fiatusa.com.
INFINITI G37 MT SEDAN
The G37 is always fun to drive especially in the form of the 3.7L V6 with 328HP mated to a six-speed manual. In a deep red beauty I re-familiarized myself with the G37 and as always I was delighted with the blend of power, technology, and handling in the steady beast which will be redesigned in partnership with Daimler in the coming years via a partnership between Renault and Daimler. The G37 I drove starts at $41,495 for more information visit www.infinitiusa.com.
KIA RIO SX The work that Peter Schreyer has done overseeing the design shop at Kia has been nothing short of masterful. The consumer response to his works is tremendous and the company continues to break sales records every month. The Rio 5 door was more than a pleasant surprise, it was an absolute delight with the styling that includes daytime LED’s, Voice command technology, and premium interior appointments that suggest a pricier option than a starting price of less than $14,000. There was even a backup camera with a display that pops up in the multi-media unit. I was very impressed by the 138HP and 123 lb-ft of torque in the 4-cylinder engine that was mated to a six-speed automatic. The fuel efficiency of the Kia Rio 5 door is also outstanding and at the top of the segment with 30MPG in the city and 40MPG on the highway. With the room, styling and technology the Kia Rio 5 is a must buy and an excellent first car for any Millennial. For more information visit www.kia.com.
MAZDA CX-9 Still highly capable, the Mazda CX-9 remains at the head of the pack of full-size crossover SUV’s. With seating for seven, you get exceptional premium interior finishes, a superb audio system and great riding dynamics. Power in the CX-9 comes from a 3.7L V6 that produces 273 HP and 270 lb-ft of torque and gets 16 MPH in the city and 22MPG on the highway in the AWD model I drove. The six-speed automatic was refined and responsive with the manual shift mode that allowed for fun riding up the hills on I-70. There are a lot of safety features like blind spot monitoring which I found helpful during my drive thru the congested DC Metropolitan traffic. Having seen the Takeri concept and the FODO design I would love to see the evolution of the CX-9 with Skyactiv. Starting at $29,725 the CX-9 remains a great value and a solid performer. For more information, visit www.mazdausa. com.
HYUNDAI GENESIS 3.8 The 3.8L V6 with Technology Package was an intriguing prospect during my week of driving in the greater Washington Metropolitan Area. With features like Lane Departure, Adaptive Cruise Control, heated rear seats, DVD navigation, a premium sound system, and more with a base price that begins at $34,200, the Genesis continues to be a class leader with rear wheel drive and an in-house built 8-speed transmission. The 8-speed transmission is smooth shifting and the 3.8L V6 is power enough with the 333HP, and 291 lb-ft of torque. What is also great is the fuel efficiency with 19 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. For the 2012 model year a number of cosmetic changes also come along with the powertrain boost with LED lights and more aggressive styling cues. I have already been a convert and my glance at the monthly sales numbers for Hyundai confirms I am not alone. For more information, visit www.hyundaiusa.com.
MITSUBISHI LANCER SE The pedigree of Mitsubishi in Rally Sports is world renown and that spirit is bore into the Lancer SE. With a 4WD system the Lancer SE is an economical taste of the Evo model with 168HP vs the 291 in the Evo. The SE starts at slightly over $20,000 and highly efficient with 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. At its attractive starting price you get heated seats and side mirrors, a 160 Watt sound system, stability control, ABS, and a slew of other options standard. Driving the Lancer was a great experience with its CVT and AWD. In the midsize sedan market the Lancer SE AWC offers a unique choice at a very competitive price and its own dynamic character. For more information visit www.mitsubishicars.com
»»»» 14• Toyznation.com
AUTOMOTIVE » TEST DRIVES
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
AUTOMOTIVE > TEST DRIVES
« KIA OPTIMA SX LIMITED As a monthly habit, I take a glance at auto manufacturers’ monthly sales figures to get a pulse of which cars are moving volume and get an indication of consumer tastes. The KIA Optima continues to be a pleasant surprise, which as the current flagship of the Kia brand, continues to draw rave reviews and beat competitors in the sales department. The question then becomes: how do you improve on what has been working so great? I have driven several models of the Kia Optima and have consistently raved about my experiences so I was thrilled by my experience in the new Limited trim which adds Nappa leather seats, an electronic parking brake, new 18-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, daytime running LED’s and more. The Limited trim adds $3350 to the SX turbo package for a total price of $35,370 delivered. For more information on the Kia Optima SX Limited trim visit www.kia.com.
« HYUNDAI AZERA The premium full size sedan market has gotten very competitive. Hyundai which just had its best month of sales in company history has found a sweet spot in the segment with excellent product planning and building on the Fluidic Sculpture design language that has made the Sonata a sales hit. On the larger Azera the design language is allowed to fill out and the result is a full size sedan that stands out yet gives customers the best in technology with features like standard Bluelink, and a 3.3L6 that makes 293 HP and gets 29 MPG on the highway. The fit and finish is superb and is a substantial upgrade from past Azera. Leather seating is standard which is unique in the segment giving the Azera distance from competitors. Navigation also comes standard which again differentiates the Azera from other competitors in the segment. The Azera starts at $32,000 with only the technology package availible as an option bringing the total price for a fully loaded Azera to $36,000. for more information visit www.hyundaiusa.com
« MAZDA CX-5 What Mazda is doing with the SKYACTIV technology is truly ground breaking and the Kodo design philosophy is breathtaking. In their quest to truly carve a niche in the ever competitive US auto market, Mazda is delivering breathtaking design philosophy, groundbreaking fuel economy, a premium cabin experience and great infotainment technology while preserving exciting driving dynamics. With the 2013 Mazda CX-5, all goals are achieved as the new model is introduced and with its launch the, CX-7 was effectively replaced. I had a great time in the CX-5, especially enjoying the pause and play feature on the Sirius-equipped sound system. The CX-5 comes standard with a 2.0L I-4 that makes 155HP and 150LB-FT of torque which was more than adequate to power the compact SUV which was also equipped with an all-wheel drive system. The CX-5 also has a blind spot monitoring system along with other safety features like dynamic stability control and a traction control system. In the front-wheel drive model, the CX-5 is said to get 35 MPG on the highway which is phenomenal for an SUV, considering it does not have a hybrid drive system or a diesel powertrain, though a smooth 2.2L turbo is rumored to be forthcoming. The all-wheel drive model I drove got 31 MPG on the highway with 25 MPG in-city driving. For more information on the Mazda CX-5 visit www.mazdausa.com.
Toyznation.com • 15
TOYZ GUIDE TEST DRIVES by Damola
AUTOMOTIVE » TEST DRIVES
«VOLVO XC 60 T6 AWD Volvo has truly transformed its former image as a company that makes safe cars with boring designs and function. Volvo now boasts some of the best safety innovations like its pedestrian monitoring system. Volvo is one of the most exciting cars to drive with their use of turbo engines and AWD systems. I got a chance to drive the XC60 T6 which features a 3.0L V6 that makes 300HP and 325 lb-ft of torque. The Volvo XC60 has to be the most exciting crossover I have driven as the combination of power and handling was great during my week of driving. The ergonomics of the XC60 is unique as Volvo has its own way of utilizing space and placing control buttons. The XC60 I drove was a platinum trim edition which had a Volvo premium sound system. Fuel economy on the XC60 T6 was 23 MPG on the highway and the base price is $40,450 before options. For more information on the Volvo XC60 T6 visit www.volvocars.us.
« NISSAN ALTIMA 2.5 SL I can remember the grey Datsun 810 my dad had while I was in the 7th grade like it was yesterday. I think my uncle had it first, but we took a lot of family trips in that Datsun. Later on, my father owned the first generation Altima and I was fascinated by its unique design. A lot has changed since my 7th grade year with Nissan and likewise with the Altima brand. Several revisions have occurred with Altima and with the 2013 model, we truly have the best Altima ever with a standard 2.5L I-4 engine that makes 182 hp and gets 38 MPG on the highway. The new telematics in the Altima is also great with voice command that can read out your text messages and can auto reply to texts while you are driving. You can also stream music via Bluetooth and naturally integrate your phone and iPod with full control. The SL model I drove costs $28,050 and was quite loaded with leather seating, sunroof, heated outside mirrors, and much more. For more information visit www. nissanusa.com.
« DODGE RAM 1500 Since I moved to rural America, the Dodge Ram has been one of the most popular vehicles I have seen in my community. The Ram brand is venerable and it is renown for its toughness and dependability. The 2013 Dodge Ram delivers on its well-earned reputation and brings a lot of industry firsts into the full-size pickup segment. The 2013 Dodge Ram is the first 8-speed automatic with its 3.6L Pentastar V-6 engine, to get a class-leading 25MPG on the highway in the rear-wheel drive and 23MPG in the all-wheel drive model I drove. Also, the 2013 Dodge Ram features its own apps and also a WiFi hotspot provided by Sprint’s 3G network. The Uconnect system featuring an 8.4-inch touchscreen with apps and WiFi connectivity, can have a dramatic impact on worksites with the possibility of productivity suites in the app world plus permanent web connectivity for contractors. Fuel-efficient, technologically ground-breaking and true to tradition, the 2013 Dodge Ram is simply the best full-size pickup on the market. For more info visit www. ramtrucks.com.
TOYZ GUIDE OWNERS
TECH » MUST HAVE GADGETS
COLLEGE TOOLS by Damola ownerscollege.blogspot.com
« TOYZ PAD From the arcade to Atari to Commodore to Sega to Super NES to Wii to PS3 and Xbox 360, the evolution in gaming has provided countless hours of fun for millions and has allowed imagination and innovation to flourish. I recently met an engineer at Ford who showed me how video game technology is helping in the development of cars. Gaming has also gone social with the ability to make friends across the globe and engage in team work to conquer an imaginary foe. The Toyz pad is the next step in the evolution of gaming. Running on Android 4.0, the Toyz Pad combines mobile technology with the ability to play your favorite games in a handheld console with control buttons you have long been familiarized with. The Toyz pad allows you to customize your button options or simply use the touchscreen to play your favorite games. With the Android OS and a built-in camera you can now Skype, run your favorite apps, download content, check emails, use Facebook, and most importantly play against anyone around the world who has a Wi-Fi connector and is online. Toyz Pad is also a great educational tool with the ability to provide on demand educational curriculum to students who can engage by touching shapes and objects on the touchscreen and surf the internet to receive more instruction or interact with students around the world with the video chat capabilities. Learning should be fun and Toyz Pad is a tool usable by all ages globally to access information and engage in the advancement of humanity through discovery. This is a movement, a revolution in access that is affordable and possible to the many. Toyz should be available to everyone so without delay bring your toyz out and come out to play.
« TOYZ S POWER Everyone knows the frustrating feeling of running out of power on your mobile device and not having your charger with you or even worse, not having an available outlet nearby. What if you can always have backup power on hand to make those very important phone calls and better yet a power source that is stylish and sustainable. The Toyz S Power is a backup solar charger which can be powered from your laptop and sustained by the sun to provide on demand power to an iPhone and virtually any mobile device that uses a micro USB charging port. As more and more smart mobile devices proliferate the marketplace, the need to find reliable and efficient power sources increases as does the strain on one power grid eventually. The S Power is an introductory product, one of many, focused on efficient, sustainable sources of energy to power our mobile devices from a source that is ever abundant and free. Get your S Power today and join the sustainable power revolution!
« EMPOWER 7 Information should be available to all who seek as knowledge is the key building block for those that teach. With the advent of flexible mobile operating software like Android it is now possible to make access to information a bill of rights for people globally with access in the palm of your hands. The Empower 7 is a 7-inch tablet running on Android 4.1 that is affordable and highly functional. The user has the ability to expand the tablet’s memory for more data storage with a micro SD card, found in most mobile phones. Additionally, there are multiple cloud storage options such as Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox. With the camera, video chat is now enabled with options like Google Plus or Skype. The brilliance of mobile technology is the ability to combine the functions of other electronics and the Empower 7 is a scientific calculator, an MP3 player, a video player, a portable gaming console, a digital textbook, a word processor, and so much more! In light of what the Empower 7 can do, the price of under $150 could be considered a steal and with the access to knowledge it provides, the gift of learning can now be provided to so many more people. Digital textbooks are the future and affordable hardware is a necessity required to fully take advantage of the transformative power that innovation provides. Toyznation.com.17
TECH » MUST HAVE GAMES
CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS II
GOD OF WAR ASCENSION ZUMBA CORE
NINJA GAIDEN RAZORS EDGE
FABLE JOURNEY 18• Toyznation.com
NBA 2K13 DYNASTY EDITION
ASSASINS CREED III
TOYZ GUIDE VIDEOGAMES by Damola Hitman Absolution
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: IO Interactive Platform: PS3, PC, Xbox360, Cloud Genre: Action Adventure
Rating: M Release Date: Out Now
Publisher: Activision Developer: Eurocom Platform: XBox 360, PS3, Wii U
Genre: 1st person Shooter Rating: T Release Date: Out Now
Agent 47 has had a long storied history. He is simply the best there is at what he does as a genetically fabricated assassin. Since its debut on PC, Hitman has been a sensation and soon a colllector’s edition of the best-selling game will be released. Hitman has even been adapted into a movie and I admit I saw it in theaters and also own the DVD. I remember vividly the gigantic poster of Hitman at E3 some years ago and I even love the Audi S5 because I saw Agent 47 drive it in the movie. One can say I’m a Hitman fan and I was ecstatic at the release of the new Hitman:Asolution game.
The release of the new Bond movie Skyfall has reinvigorated the franchise and that fact shouldn’t be taken for granted. MGM studios, which produces the Bond franchise, was almost no more and with that, the legacy and legend of James Bond would have suffered a crippling blow. Whew! All that was avoided and now Activision, which has been doing an incredible job of bringing the Bond franchise to gaming consoles, has recently released Legends which covers 6 great classic Bond films. Moonraker, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Die Another Day, License to Kill and Goldfinger are all films featured in Legends whose release also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise. Having personally driven Aston Martins, I relish the ability to use Bond cars, gadgets and weapons in the game. The iconic DB5 which also made an appearance in the Skyfall film has always been my favorite. I remember the secret trigger in the gearshift from my youth. One great feature I enjoyed is that you can also play missions from the new Skyfall movie which really ties the Bond legend from past to the future. There is also a multi-player mode which also enhances the experiences. You can add up to 12 players to your experience. With many playing options 007 Legends gives you an opportunity to live out your Bond and MI6 fix. For more information visit www.007legends.com.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Image courtesy of Square Enix
Absolution starts with Agent 47 getting a contract to kill his leader, Diana, who has betrayed the agency secrets. The plot thickens, however, with a young girl, Veronica, whom Agent 47 must protect. Absolution is a totally immersive experience which should satisfy true Hitman fans. You can also purchase more weapons and the Deus Ex suit. Absolution is available for Xbox 360, PS3, OnLive and PC. For $59.99. For more info visit www.hitman.com.
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TOYZ GUIDE VIDEOGAMES by Damola Hip-Hop Dance Experience
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: INIS Platform: Xbox 360. Wii Genre: Music
Rating: T Release Date: Out Now www.ubisoft.com
I remember the days of my youth in the 80’s like it was yesterday. Before Yo! MTV Raps there were hip-hop TV shows like Ralph McDaniels’ and others that aired on Saturdays and showcased hip-hop videos, many of which featured MC’s and dancers. As a former member of the Zulu Nation and an attendee of Rock Steady events where I saw the legendary Crazy Legs and Pee Wee, hip-hop dance has been integral in my life as it has been for millions of others who grew up in my era. I loved trying to mimic moves I saw in the videos but was wise enough not to try to duplicate anything I saw Crazy Legs doing. Finally, there is a video game that allows me to relive that part of my youth,The Hip Hop Dance Experience, featuring many top 40 hit songs which have catchy dances like Terror Squad’s Lean Back, Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot, Lil Wayne’s Lollipop, Chris Brown’s Look At Me Now and classics like Rob Base and D.J. E-Z Rock’s It Takes Two. The Hip Hop Dance Experience maximizes Kinect and allows you to shake your tail feather, do the rockaway and tons of other moves developed by top choreographers. I especially had fun dancing to the iconic Too Short song, Blow the Whistle, among others. Beyond great exercise, the game brings nostalgia and even displays the music videos in the background. There is so much fun for all and it can get embarrassing trying to keep up which makes for even more laughs. To get more information visit http://hiphop-dance.ubi.com/en-us/index.aspx.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Publisher: Microsoft Studios Developer: 343 Industries Platform: XBox360
Genre: 1st Person Shooter Rating: M Release Date: Out Now
The end is always painful, but what do you expect from the brilliant team at Epic as they bring the best out of their proprietary Unreal Engine 3 in their stunning conclusion to Gears of War with Delta Squad’s last mission against the venerable Locust and Lambert hordes. There are different levels of play with a different setting for those who have done several campaigns, a “hardcore” setting and an easier, “normal” setting to acclimate newbies. The four player co-op is especially thrilling as you can now have your own real life Delta Force with new female member, Anya. Beast mode kind of functions in an opposite way where you can form five-person teams of the Locust army and attach the Delta Force. Gears of War 3 is simply an awesome experience and with multiple DLC available you can savor the last chapter of this epic. For more information, visit www.gearsofwar.com
TOYZ GUIDE VIDEOGAMES REVIEW by Damola Madden 13
Publisher: EA Developer: Tiburon Platform: PS3, PC, Xbox360, Wii U Genre: Sports
Rating: E Release Date: Out now www.ea.com
Publisher: EA Sports Developer: Tiburon Platform: XBox 360, PS3, IOS, Android
Genre: Sports Rating: E Release Date: Out Now
With NCAA 13 EA again partners with ESPN which really brings the ESPN game day broadcast experience to life and makes for a truly realistic experience. For 13 you get 80 more stadiums and mascots over 233 new uniform pieces, better game quality, more passing control, and a new Heisman challenge feature. With the Heisman challenge feature you can relive the college careers of Heisman greats like Barry Sanders in Oklahoma State or even new winner RGIII from Baylor. There is also some great back story video. Go to www.ea.com/ ncaa-football for more details.
Image courtesy of EA
Image courtesy EA
Madden is not just a game, it is a culture. And for Madden 13 the culture grows stronger with most realistic edition yet. Narrated by Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis, Madden 13 features the new Infinity Engine that accounts for player mass, speed and body type. The collisions are realer and the gaming experience is impressive with a quality of video bordering on an actual game broadcast. On play calling you can go with different styles of defenses for the situation or run pass for offense. You can also switch out and call your own plays as usual. The online franchise, regular franchise and superstar modes are now connected in a new Connected Careers feature that allows for multi-player online action for up to 32 players where a player or coach can be built from scratch, a current player or coach can be used or even a legendary player or coach. Madden 13 is truly the best yet and for true fans it doesnâ€™t disappoint. Go to http://www.ea.com/ madden-nfl for more information.
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TOYZ GUIDE Reviews by Damola Skylander Giants
Publisher: Activision Developer: Toys For Bob Platform: XBox360, PS3, Wii, WiiU, 3DS, PC
Skylanders Giants is here! The most awesome gaming experience has returned and even larger than before as it combines gaming with collectible figurines, trading cards, and the world of fantasy. Skylanders Giants is pure family fun as your figurines come to life in the game as you lace them on the the Portal of Power. The battle has gotten more fierce since Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure so now the Giants are needed to save the Skylands. All of Spyro’s Adventure characters work in Skylanders Giants so if you can combine the three characters that came with Spyro’s Adventure with the three you have with Skylanders Giants you have
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Epic Mickey 2
Genre: Action/Adventure Rating: E Release Date: Out Now
six warriors ready to save the Skylands. There are 42 characters you can collect, each with unique powers. You can also purchase battle packs to make your Skylanders experience even more awesome. I dig the entire concept behind the Skylanders series. Skylanders Giants costs $74.99 for the starter pack, $24.99 for the battle pack and $14.99 for each character. For more information visit www.skylanders.com.
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios Developer: Junction Point Platform: XBox360, PS3, Wii, Wii U
Genre: Action/Adventure Rating: E Release Date: Out Now
I have long been a fan of Mickey Mouse and the World of Disney. As with many people of my generation and older, the love of the characters created by Walt Disney and carried on through the generations is like a rite of passage. My son is also a huge fan of Disney, having also visited the various amusement parks multiple times. Epic Mickey 2 is a perfect way to bring the magic of Disney to life by allowing you to play as Mickey and rescue Wasteland. A sequel to the Wii exclusive original, Epic Mickey 2 expands the gaming experience to all platforms including Wii, Wii U, PS3, and Xbox 360. The new game is called the Power of Two because now you can co-op play with the ability to play as the first Disney cartoon star, Oswald the Rabbit. The game makes great fun for the entire family as Mickey uses the power of paint and Oswald uses the power of electricity. Every adventure is unique as choices you make alter the world and have different outcomes so the game has an enduring effect in its ability to keep the experience engaging . For more information visit www.epicmickey.com
TOYZ GUIDE HOME THEATER Review by Damola A 2310 5.1 HTS Home Theater System A Series, Boston Acoustics Since 1979, Boston Acoustics has been a stalwart in audio excellence and their home and car audio systems have been consistently some of the best. Low frequency sound fidelity has always been an exact science requiring the precision of sound to ensure the aural environment created by the content producer comes across accurately and puts the listener into the environment with crisp realism. This was my experience with the A Series subwoofers as I played several video games from Madden 13 to Gran Turismo where I was able to download the new Corvette C7 DLC. Watching movies was also great as I enjoyed action features like Fast Five and a movie that is still my favorite, Inception. For less than $500 you can get either the ASW 650 Subwoofer ($499.99) or the ASW 250 Subwoofer ($349.99). For more information visit www.bostonacoustics.com.
HMDX Bluetooth JAM Wireless Speakers
www.hmdxaudio.com We are in a blessed era of technology innovation and our quality of life is much the better because of it. An under-discussed innovation is the benefits of Bluetooth technology and beyond the great advancement in automotive safety and the millions of lives saved by hands-free calling, there is the pleasure of Bluetooth audio streaming which I have been delighted to enjoy with the HMDX Jam speakers. With a brilliant and catchy marketing plan HMDX audio has created a great compact Bluetooth speaker that is packaged to fit in a “jam” container yet contains great and powerful sound fidelity that carried through rooms in my home as I paired it to my iPhone. The Jam speakers aren’t an exclusive iPhone accessory however as they work with virtually any Bluetooth device and are easy to pair. The Jam wireless speakers cost $49.99 and can be purchased directly at www.hmdxaudio.com. They come in a variety of vibrant colors and can work from as far as 30 feet away. The Jam also has rechargeable lithium ion batteries so you can recharge it with your computer. Visit the aforementioned website for more information. LENOVO PORTABLE SPEAKER M0520 www.shop.lenovo.com Sound fidelity is so important as content is becoming more accessible and abundant across multiple platforms. It is with this backdrop that I tried out a pair of Lenovo portable speakers for laptops. I played songs like Thea’s Baby Boy in addition to playing games like Batman Arkham City on my laptop and was impressed by the crispness of the sound. I especially like the mid-range fidelity. Many speakers don’t get the mids right but the Lenovo M0520 was just about perfect. This was most evident in the cinematic sequences in Batman Arkham City. The speakers are easy to set up. They are powered by the USB cable so it’s basically plug and play and you can increase or decrease the volume through a knob. The Lenovo portable speaker M0520 costs $29.99 and makes an excellent companion for any laptop. You can get more information and purchase the Lenovo M0520 speaker at shop.lenovo.com.
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OWNERS ILLUSTRATED TOYZ GUIDE GADGETS REVIEW by Damola SAMSUNG GALAXY S III It is hard for most consumers to understand the scale of Samsung the corporation, but for those that are aware, the fact that Samsung is the largest corporation in South Korea and makes everything from electronics to home appliances, is common knowledge. The point is Samsung has scale so one should not be surprised at how they have leaped ahead of their components’ client Apple to become the largest phone manufacturer in the world. What has surprised many is the ground-breaking Galaxy S III. The Galaxy S III is simply a revolution in mobile technology that captures the potential of flexible operating software like Android and integrates technology components like NFC to create a user experience like no other product on the market, save for Samsung’s own. Features like S Beam through NFC technology, allow you to share videos by simply tapping your phone to another’s S Beam-equipped phone. You can network your phone to share content via AllShare Play and you can even share presentations and documents via AllShare Group Cast. You can share pictures via Share Shot. Your camera can edit your pictures and keep the best shots out of a burst of 20. You can edit videos. You can give voice commands as well. Quite simply there are endless things you can do with this groundbreaking piece of technology that has a 4.8” HD Super AMOLED screen in a lightweight design that runs Android 4.1 depending on your carrier and has a 1.5 GHz dual core processor with 2GB of RAM. The Samsung Galaxy S III is simply at the head of its class, second to only the Galaxy Note II which I also tested. Pricing starts at $199.99 for 16GB models under most carriers. For more info visit www.samsung.com/mobile.
SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE II In the current legal battles between Apple and Samsung, something not covered adequately in the media is that the technology in dispute is obsolete and the products covered are not reflective of where Samsung is now and where their products are headed in the future. Samsung is simply making the most ground-breaking mobile products that are re-defining possibilities of how people can share media, connect with each other, and be productive with their suite of productivity functions I enjoyed on the Galaxy Note II. The Note II is like a laptop in that with its 5.5” HD Super AMOLED screen you can edit documents or sign PDF documents like I did and emailed them to business contacts. The Note II is revolutionary because of its writing pen among other things which allows you to draw or write notes and convert them to text. By now you may have seen the Lebron James commercial where he is able to watch videos, have his son color his picture, and keep his schedule. You get the point. Samsung debuts its own Quad core chip, the Exynos 4 Quad 1.6 GHz with 2GB RAM which is actually also manufactured in Austin, Texas. It does everything I raved about with the S III just on a bigger screen with a faster processor and the ability to write and draw. I could tell you about its 1.9 MP front facing camera or the rear 8 MP camera that shoots in full HD which I did for my weekly auto reviews. You can also edit these videos on the Note II by the way. The Note II is simply the best phone on the market bar none. It is the ultimate tech companion and illustrates the best Samsung has to offer. Numerous carriers carry the Galaxy Note II. For more information visit www.samsung.com/ galaxynoteII.
HTC ONE S HTC has been a company on the move over the past 12 plus months. From the acquisition of 51% of Beats Audio to the integration of the unique sound equalization into a slew of phones like the One S with T-Mobile, their excellence in mobile technology has carved a niche in the market. T-Mobile itself has been quite busy and has rebounded nicely from the attempted merger with ATT into a new partnership with Metro PCS that will provide the new company with tremendous scale in the prepaid market and also allow more options to provide value for customers who want great products at an affordable price. I spent some time with the HTC One S and truly enjoyed the device. It is slim and sleek with a rich 4.3in qHD Super AMOLED screen that has crisp video playback. You are able to watch live video streaming with T-Mobile TV. The One S comes with Android 4.0 and HTC Sense 4.0 along with 25GB of additional storage with Dropbox. The S One comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with 1.5G dual core and 16GB internal memory. You also get a 8MP camera with video editing software to edit and create movies from your phone. The One S has a Quad-Band 4G antenna that connects to T-Mobile, fast HSPA+42, and also has a Quad-Band global GSM antenna. There is access to apps from Google Play and content from Amazon Mobile. You can also make WiFi calls from the One S and save on your data plan and minutes. With its great features and form factor the One S is a must-have phone. For more information, visit www.t-mobile.com
TOYZ GUIDE GADGET REVIEW »»»»»»» »»»»
BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK AND BOLD 9930 I have always relished being a contrarian so for the past year while reviewing many other mobile phones, I chose to give a long term look at the Blackberry Bold 9930 and the Blackberry Playbook. Both devices have to be used in tandem to get the full impact of the underestimated Blackberry 7 platform and evaluate the potential of the forthcoming Blackberry 10. What is great is how seamless Bridge software is and how it facilitates the synchronization of data between the phone and the tablet, primarily mobile data. The best aspect in my opinion is that with Bridge you can basically tether your phone to your tablet and use your mobile data plan to get online. Another great aspect is the ability to read your emails and access your content from the phone on the tablet. Palm pioneered the handheld personal assistant. Blackberry took it further with their innovation in enterprise. In the latest battles they lagged behind Android and iOS, but with Bridge and a new platform with BB10 there are promising applications with which Blackberry can revolutionize the market as they had accomplished before with enterprise. Overall I have had a great experience with the Bold 9930 and the Playbook. I especially love the ease of a real keyboard and the option of the HD touchscreen on the Playbook. For more information on forthcoming Blackberry products visit www.blackberry.com.
So you have just gotten this most prized possession, this impossible-to-live-without piece of technology that responds to all your desires to let the world know where you are, what you are doing, who is with you, and who your friends are, all while doing its most basic function, making a call. Smartphones represent everything to their owners so the issue of how you protect them from damage becomes essential. Case-Mate is one of the best companies in the accessories arena and their approach to cases is innovating and stylish. I tried several cases for various smartphones I was reviewing and each case took a different approach. I use their Marvel partnership case for the Blackberry Bold and have adored it. I have received compliments ad nauseam. I use the Wolverine case, in particular, and to be honest the case is one of the primary reasons I haven’t upgraded my Bold. The case has been durable and over the months has still retained its vibrant colors and enamel finish. Another case I reviewed was the case for the Samsung Galaxy S II on T-Mobile. The case for this phone is a well-built leather case that has the phone protected in a pouch that is highly resistant to slack and also has stylish red, white and blue stripes. The manufacturing quality is exceptional and exemplifies the superior approach Case-Mate takes to cases. A third case I reviewed was a sturdy rugged plastic case for the original Galaxy Note. This case transformed the utility of the Galaxy Note and in fact I would love to see cases like this for 7” tablets. It made use of the Galaxy Note possible virtually everywhere. The case fit perfectly and the rugged rubber had great grip while allowing full utilization of the Galaxy Note. Everything from the S Pen to the vivid AMOLED screen to the rear camera and flash were all readily accessible yet protected from wear and tear. Case-Mate is at the top of the heap in protection and their cases are also affordable. For more information visit www.case-mate.com and make sure to check out their other products. Toyznation.com • 25
TOYZ GUIDE GADGETS REVIEW by Damola »»»»»»» LIFEPROOF ARMBAND
So you have your LifeProof case and your iPhone is protected, but you live an active lifestyle - maybe you love jogging, snowboarding, biking or surfing or are in the military. You get the point. How do you carry your iPhone everywhere? LifeProof has come up with another solution, the Armband, which is weatherproof, durable, and comfortable, making it an essential item for those with active lifestyles and a great accessory for those who seek to be more fit. The Armband costs $49.99 and is available at www.lifeproof.com. Visit their site for more info and check out other great accessories.
LIFEPROOF LIFEJACKET The iPhone is a very cherished possession. Those of us who own one can’t imagine life without it yet the iPhone is also a very delicate piece of hardware. LifeProof as a company, bar none, has provided the best solutions to allow you to take your iPhone any and everywhere safely. One LifeProof product I enjoyed testing was the LifeJacket. It’s amazing other mobile devices don’t have this accessory available. The LifeJacket is just that, a durable jacket for the iPhone that allows your phone to float on water and withstand pressure and shock. The LifeJacket allows for more functionality with the iPhone with little worries about damage, especially for people in tropical areas. The LifeJacket costs $39.99 and is available at www.lifeproof.com.
»»»»»»» KUEL F60Q BATTERY PACK As the great benefits of mobile technology become available to billions of people on the planet the challenge of having continuous power sources remains. I met a company at CES that has an innovative approach and one of the best solutions on the market. Kuel has made the F60Q battery pack which stores 6000mAh of power, enough to charge an iPhone 4 times and can almost fully charge every iPad other than the 4 which now has 11,666mAh of power. Having that much power as a backup is incredible and to charge the battery pack you simply plug the included USB cable to your computer. The Kuel F60Q costs $124.99 and can be purchased at www.spigen.com.
The 7” tablet has fully replaced the portable DVD player regarding the functionality of watching movie content. With apps like Netflix and Hulu, cable providers like Comcast with Xfinity, Amazon Prime, and so many more, now all you need is a high-speed internet connection or enough memory on hand to watch countless hours of video entertainment. Sounds great, so what is the problem one may ask? How do you prop up your tablet in a comfortable position to watch what you want? Crimson has come out with a great solution, a portable stand that can work with virtually any device. The pocket-eAzl is just that. It fits in your pocket in a nice velvet pouch and it’s made from metal so it’s durable and sturdy for hours of viewing pleasure. The pocket-eAzl costs $39.95 and is available directly on the Crimson website www.crimsonav.com. Crimson is an AV mounting solutions company so check out their site for other great products. 26• Toyznation.com
TOYZ GUIDE GADGETS REVIEW
KINGSTON HYPERX 3.0 64GB Kingston has built a well-earned reputation in the area of storage. Their innovation and quality in storage devices and solutions is second to none. I have been testing one of their USB storage devices and in my opinion this device is a game changer. The HyperX flash drive has a capacity of 64GB which can make any tablet comparable to netbooks and laptops when paired together. A 32GB Android tablet with USB ports paired with the HyperX gave me almost 100GB of storage and I was able to access my files and data easily, especially media content like video, music, and pictures. The HyperX is very durable and reliable and is also very fast as it can read files at USB 3.0 speeds with USB 3.0 equipped computers and ports. Many manufacturers don’t offer USB ports for their tablets which I view as a mistake but, with the HyperX the future will be modest internal storage capacity and the portable HyperX as a flexible drive to carry your cherished content. The HyperX is also available in 256GB and 128GB options. The 64GB HyperX 3.0 retails for $164 but could be found at great discounts online including Kingston’s website. For more information visit www. kingston.com.
LG OPTIMUS G In the intensive premium smartphone market, LG has presented a competitive option that should head the list for anyone in the market for a device. I’ve had a chance to try out the LG Optimus G smartphone for a few weeks while connected via Sprint’s expanding 4G LTE and have been quite impressed with the 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, the 2GB of RAM, and the 4.71-inch IPS display One great feature is the ability to multitask. For example, you can watch videos and change the opacity while running apps. You can also write notes on the screen with your fingers and save them. The LG Optimus G also comes with a 13MP camera which is great for taking pictures and shooting video. I like the form factor and design of the Optimus G with Gorilla Glass 2. It is very durable and has a very solid feel. With its long list of features including he ability to zoom-in while playing video the Optimus G is a more than worthy competitor in the ultra-competitive smartphone market. For more information visit www.lg.com or www.sprint.com.
SAMSUNG 830 SERIES SSD 256GB I must admit I have had the Samsung 830 Series SSD in my possession for a while, but with the pending release of Windows 8 and Adobe 56, I had thought it prudent to wait until both were released so I could get a true measure of the capabilities of the SSD 830 Series. I must say it was well worth the wait as the SSD 830 and Windows 8 are a match made in heaven. The load speeds are quick as are the navigation and interaction through the Windows 8 tile interface. Downloading apps was seamless and installation went without a hitch. Also, once installed, opening the apps from the main screen was quick. In essence, all basic functions that are performed in laptops occurred faster and were stable without any process errors thus far (knock on wood). I installed the included Batman Arkham City, too, and was able to play without a hitch. Assassin’s Creed III now gets included which should provide added incentive to get this great drive. My true test, however, was in running the Adobe CSG Suite and I got the best results of any drive I have had with the fastest load and not a single crash of the software. I ran Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign simultaneously without a hitch. For more information on the SSD 830 Series, visit www. samsung.com/ssd.
MANHATTAN STEALTH TOUCH MOUSE
The Manhattan Stealth Touch Mouse is a 2.4GHz wireless, buttonless mouse which features revolutionary Curve-Touch technology. It can be easily connected to a laptop or desktop with a small USB receiver which stores neatly at the base of the mouse and is powered by two “AAA” batteries. The smooth surface and sleek design of the Stealth Touch Mouse allow it to be handled easily whether you are right-handed or left-handed. While the buttonless aspect may take getting used to, once adjusted the mouse can be freely used with a light touch, tap or swipe and doubles as a presenter for Powerpoint or PDF presentations. The Stealth Touch Mouse is priced at $49.99. Visit www. manhattanstealth.com or www.manhattan-products.com for additional info about this remarkable product.
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TOYZ GUIDE Headphones Review by Damola »»»»»»» Audio-Technica Solid Bass ATH-WS55 Over-Ear Headphones
The Solid Bass system in these over-ear headphones boasts a dual air chamber system which enhances your bass and enriches your overall audio experience. These are excellent headphones for listening to hip hop and rock music. They also provide adequate depth for classical and jazz compositions. They are not noise canceling, but you still get a very intimate listening experience. These headphones are sleek, fit comfortably and are not heavy. You will truly enjoy your purchase of this product at a very affordable price. -Dr. Kunle Idowu Go to www.audio-technica.com for more info.
HOUSE OF MARLEY STIR IT UP ON-EAR HEADPHONES Through his passion, his music, and his message Bob Marley has become a legend that has positively impacted generations of people globally and will inevitably influence many more to come. Part of his legacy is being continued through House of Marley, a company founded by the Marley family, which offers collections of audio products like headphones and speakers and accessories for the eco-conscious consumer and music lover alike. I tested the Stir It Up on-ear headphones from the Freedom Collection and while the headphones competitively deliver premium sound, the aesthetic quality is also very appealing. The Stir It Up headphones feature natural and renewable materials with Beech wood-covered earpieces that have the House of Marley logo nicely etched into them, a stylish, canvas-covered adjustable headband, and a single, fabric-covered, tangle-free wire donned in green, gold, red, and black. The Stir It Up model includes a mic with volume and pause buttons, specifically compatible with Apple devices that can also be used to answer or end calls on most smartphones. I was delighted to try the headphones and operate these special buttons with the MacBook Air and though this feature is not compatible with other devices I still enjoyed the sounds of Marley on my Kindle Fire as well. The Stir It Up on-ear headphones can be stored in their own canvas carrying case which is included. In addition to offering amazing products, House of Marley donates five percent of its annual profits to 1Love.org which supports causes focused on their core values of “youth, planet and peace”. The Stir It Up headphones are priced at $199.99 and can be purchased directly at the House of Marley website. Check out www.thehouseofmarley.com for more information about these and other great products.
»»»»»»» Audio-Technica ATH-PRO700MK2 Professional DJ Monitor Over-Ear Headphones These headphones are specifically designed for disc jockeys and professionals who require great depth and excellent sound quality. They have a lightweight design, a detachable cord, and swiveling earpieces which provide great comfort and convenient storage capabilities. The headphones also come with a storage bag. Listening to music using these headphones provides a live audio experience. If you are a DJ, these headphones will be your confidant and trusted friend. Don’t leave home without them. They are fairly priced and are often rated better than their competitors. -Dr. Kunle Idowu Go to www.audio-technica.com for more info.
INPIRATION HEADPHONES BY MONSTER Over the last few decades Monster has become well-known for engineering and producing high-quality, reliable audio technology. In continuation of their successful expansion into headphones, Monster has introduced Inspiration over-ear stereo headphones. They are available with passive noise isolation or with active noise cancelling. Not only do these headphones deliver incredible sound, they come with three different cables to make them compatible with multiple mobile devices, allowing the user the ease of controlling smartphone features for talking or listening to audio. The headphones conveniently collapse and easily fit into their own compact case and can be enjoyed whether relaxing at home or commuting for work or pleasure. For added fun, Inspiration also comes with interchangeable headbands to match one’s mood or style. The Inspiration headphones with passive noise isolation are priced at $249.95 or with active noice cancelling at $299.95. For more information go to www.monsterinspiration.com or www.monstercable.com.
TOYZ GUIDE Headphones Review by Damola »»»»»»» GRATITUDE IN-EAR HEADPHONES BY MONSTER
MONSTER DELIVERS PREMIUM AUDIO SOUND THROUGH A SMAller medium with the Gratitude in-ear headphones, featuring amazing noise-cancelling technology. Inspired by the legendary music group, Earth, Wind & Fire and named after their popular 70’s album, these headphones are technologically adept, catering to the avid music listener who desires a clear, detailed sound. The headphones are stylish and compact and come with a variety of Monster SuperTips for sound insulation and two protective cases to store them in. Gratitude in-ear headphones are priced at $199.95. For more information, go to www.monstercable.com.
»»»»»»»»»»» VOYAGER LEGEND BLUETOOTH HEADSET BY PLANTRONICS In the age of hands-free devices, the Voyager Legend stands out with its ease of use. Its Bluetooth technology integrates well with your cellphone, tablet, or computer. The speakers delivers rich noise canceling audio while the microphone is very clear. While listening to music you are given voice commands to answer or ignore incoming calls. You can utilize voice command to call people in your contact list, and use Vocalyst to hear emails, news feeds, and traffic updates. Other pros include its extensive talk time and wide Bluetooth range. The Vocalyst service is free for your first year which is a $24.99 value. The Voyager definitely proves to be legendary and worth your buy. -Dr. Kunle Idowu Go to www.plantronics.com for more info.
»»»»»»» DEOS In-Ear Headphones DEOS in-ear headphones deliver great, quality sound in a small package, allowing the listener to enjoy a full range of frequencies. These headphones fit most media devices and include a mic, great for use with smartphones or the iPad. They come with an additional set of eartips and a set of interchangeable aluminum covers to add flash and style. The DEOS In-Ear Headphones are affordably priced at $60. Go to www.deoslive.com for more information on these headphones and check out the extensive selection of fashionable headphone covers.
»»»»»»»»»»» YURBUDS INSPIRE PRO SPORT EARPHONES Yurbuds Inspire Pro earphones are an innovative product “developed by athletes for athletes”. They are designed to fit securely in the ear and guaranteed to stay in place with a special ear horn and Yurbuds’ TwistLock technology while delivering optimal sound. Whether you are an athlete on the move or a commuter like myself who carries multiple bags and steps on and off several commuter vehicles in a day, these earphones are great! The Inspire Pro earphones are sturdy and water-resistant which is great for one with an active lifestyle and conveniently include a mic which is iPhone, iPod, and iPad compatible. These innovative headphones are priced at $59.99. Visit www.yurbuds. com for more info.
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TOYZ GUIDE GADGETS REVIEW by Damola ENERGIZER RECHARGE BATTERIES Sustainable forms of energy are the future and in the case of Energizer Recharge batteries the future is now. Energizer boasts the distinction of being the number one selling rechargeable battery brand in the world and I got to test some AA and AAA Recharge Universal batteries in a variety of electronic products. I used the the batteries to great effect in my wireless keyboard, my Xbox 360, my wireless mouse, the remote control for my TV and virtually everything I could put the batteries in and I got great results. Recharging the batteries took minutes with my older Energizer battery charger. The Recharge batteries cost $19.99 for a pack of 4 and $14.99 for a value charger unit. Many stores offer sales from time to time so it’s common to get both items for cheaper. For more information visit www.energizer.com.
LENOVO THINK PAD 11W SLING CASE www.shop.lenovo.com As we start accumulating multiple personal gadgets the issue of how to efficiently transport them comes forth. Carrying a smartphone charger and tablet can be cumbersome with traditional backpacks so Lenovo came up with a sleek and brilliant solution, the sling case. Light and compact with multiple compartments, the sling case can carry a netbook, a tablet, and multiple phones while being easily slung over your shoulder for efficient travel. You can carry your keys, ID cards, credit cards, and your accessories such as headphones and flash drives safely in this durable and lightweight case. The 11W sling case costs $29.95 and can be purchased directly at shop.lenovo.com.
TiVo Premiere XL4 TiVo was the pioneer in digital video recorders. In fact, the word TiVo has earned verb status. Now DVRs are commonplace and TiVo has even had to go to court to sue over their patented technology. Ever staying ahead of the pack, TiVo has released their Premiere 4S receiver but I am testing their Premiere XL4 which features an amazing 4 tuners with the ability to record 4 shows simultaneously for up to 300 hours of HD programming. Yes 300 hours of HD! You can also stream on demand video content like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon, all in THX quality. Look out for our review on our sites www.toyznation.com and www. ownersillustrated.com. Until then, visit www.tivo. com/XL4.
KNO www.kno.com I have to confess that digital learning is a huge passion of mine. In fact, digital learning played a huge role in helping my son graduate high school at age 15 because he was able to take courses online. The next phase in digital learning is accessibility and experimentation to improve efficiency and outcomes. With Secretary of Education Arne Duncan setting a 2017 goal to replace hard textbooks with digital versions, companies that can fulfill that vision and execute deployment efficiently will be key. I can’t say enough good things about the team at Kno. Kno facilitates digital textbooks for high school and college students with the ability to view the books on iPads, Android tablets by Samsung, Nexus and HTC, Windows 7 and 8, desktops, and through the web. On the Galaxy Note 10.1, you really see the potential as you can highlight a section in a paragraph on one side and go interactive and get online with the content on the other side of the page. Kno has a great team of educators and advisers from a variety of educational institutions including the venerable Khan academy. Learning has evolved and with companies like Kno, no kid should have to have an outdated textbook again. For more information visit www.kno.com.
TOYZ GUIDE GADGET REVIEWS »»»
TiVo STREAM www.tivo.com With content on demand now the norm, taking content on the go is a must and having access to your shows on your phone or tablet is a prerequisite for many in this hyper-connected world. Having your show on your tablet while you cook or even watching a recipe being made via YouTube on your iPad while other family members are watching their show on the road and two others are watching shows in two rooms all became possible with the TiVo Stream. You can also download shows to your devices. The Stream is a must-have addition to your TiVo receiver. For more information visit www.tivo.com/stream.
Duo Gamer Controller for iPad www.duo-games.com
Relive your days at the arcade by playing this incredibly captivating game. You will find yourself glued to your iPad for hours. The console works using Bluetooth technology which is easy to configure and requires only three AA batteries. The interface makes you feel like you are actually in front of a pinball machine and the high-definition is a definite plus. One to two players or teams can play and other pinball games can be downloaded for use with this console. Games are appropriate for all ages. Priced at just $59.99, this a great gift or purchase for yourself. -Dr. Kunle Idowu For more info go to duo-games.com.
Why waste money on an expensive game console system when you can purchase the Duo Gamer for $39.99 This device is for wireless use with your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch and works using Bluetooth technology which is simple to set up. A wide variety of Gameloft game applications can be downloaded to your iPad for use with this controller. You will find yourself captivated by the competitive games and the ease of use. What an affordable way to feed the inner gamer in you! -Dr. Kunle Idowu For more info go to duo-games.com.
Duo Pinball for iPad www.duo-games.com
SEIDIO –SURFACE COMBO
www.seidioonline.com Based in Houston, Texas, Seidio has been making phone accessories for over 10 years. In their mission statement they claim, “We have a passion for innovation” and I can attest to that being true with the iPhone 4/4S case I tested. The case is multipurpose and functional with a scratch-resistant no-adhesive screen protector that fits perfectly. There is a durable highstrength case that protects the iPhone 4/4S against shock and damage. I like the detachable clip which locks the case firmly and allows you to transport your iPhone anywhere. Once locked into the clip the iPhone is sturdy and can go along with you jogging or on a construction job site. Seidio makes several other great accessories which can be found on their website at www.seidioonline.com.
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TECHNOLOGY » INTERVIEWS by Damola Idowu
One on One with
The late 70's in Northern California was an innovative and transformative era in American history. The technology introduced and the companies formed then are influential to this day. Personal computing, software development, and electronic hardware became well advanced to the benefits of humans worldwide. Companies like Apple, Oracle, and an electronics company, Monster which is now making electronics, cables, wiring to electronic products like headphones and automotive accessories, were founded in this burgeoning period What Monster founder, Noel Lee, has done is of legend and is the essence of American exceptionalism. Noel Lee designed and engineered the Beats by Dre headphones and together with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine quadrupled annual sales of the headphone industry. The decision to partner with a “ gangster rap” producer was risky for a company that once owned naming rights to Candlestick Park in San Francisco where the 49ers play Football on Sundays. Noel Lee had the insight and vision of the future where the influence of hip-hop can be commercialized and transform the technology industry. The partnership with Dr. Dre created $600 million in value over approximately 4 years as electronics manufacturer HTC paid $300 million this year for a 50% stake. That deal has since been restructured but other companies like HP and even Chrysler have generated billions in revenue partnering with the Beats brand after the credibility the Monster deal provided. Noel Lee has also influenced his son to create his own headphone company, Sol Republic targeted towards DJs. I was fortunate to get time with the Silicon Valley legend who is also a staple at CES, moving around on his Segway and known for the incredible concerts Monster hosts for the attendees. Our fascinating dialogue is as follows.
TECHNOLOGY » INTERVIEWS by Damola Idowu
Head Monster Noel Lee OI: So...introduce yourself. I mean you have such a storied history and...kind of show that off too but introduce yourself and...what we’re learning here today at Monster.
NL: Well, I am Noel Lee, the head Monster, founder of Monster Cable in the old days. We’re now known only as Monster ‘cause we make so many products and a recent venture - the headphones has been like game changing for the whole industry. We created the fashion, lifestyle, gotta-have product along with our friends at Beats With Dre and with Jimmy Iovine. We really popularized the concept of headphones as a must-have lifestyle product. Now we’re on our own and we’re introducing our first Monster-only headphone with Inspiration launching here in New York City today. OI: So now kind of let’s take a journey back because looking at your history ‘78, coming into cable, seeing this connectivity of electronics. How did you see that, the profitability and the margin to be in the wires and connecting these electronics, especially in a time where all these electronic pieces were nascent. Everything was kind of new. You know, systems were bulky. Kind of give us that...background. NL: Well, if told you it was all planned I’d be lying. That’s one thing. You know...I’m an audiophile. I designed the first Monster Cable because I wanted to get better-sounding music. You know, I’m a recording engineer...I’m a musician so I work with bands. I know what the real thing sounds like and I wanted to improve my speakers. You know the last thing left was a cable. I had good amplifiers, a good phono cartridge in those days, good preamps, amplifiers, but the speaker cable just looked lame. How do you get all the sound through that? That’s why I took my engineering knowledge and I introduced the first Monster cable. So every step of the way through Monster Power, through our speakers that we designed in the old days, now through our headphones, it’s all been about better quality music, a better experience, being closer to the musician, you know, hearing what the audio engineers and producers intended. OI: You’ve been very effective actually, getting there, so kind of talk about that, like the evolution of how did you start seeing these opportunities to take a cable company and actually now make that more of a brand out front because you actually pioneered using that word Monster into lifestyle. Talk about that evolution and what you saw. NL: Well, you know in the old days when I first started nobody had the name Monster. I mean you wouldn’t name a company called Monster. And you gotta remember in the old days everything was pretty straight and pretty corporate so Monster was a ridiculous name and Monster, people didn’t get it. Monster? What do you mean, Monster? Now, Monster - that’s cool. So every step of the way we’ve thought about how we evolve our journey and so even PowerCenters was to get the better quality sound in picture. If you filter out the dirty noise, then you get better quality sound especially with the wide bandwidth amplifiers in those days. So now that we’re into the headphones Monster is really appropriate okay, ‘cause it’s Monster sound. It’s big sound. It’s great sound. So very seldom do you have a company that started 30 years ago, 30 plus years ago, 1978, that’s still relevant today. When I think of all of the audio companies when I first started, you know, 95% of them aren’t around anymore. OI: Especially in technology. NL: Especially in technology. You’ve got all these new names, new startups which is just great. You know we feel like an old company. We also feel like a new company. And so those who knew us in the old days, hey, Monster is evolving. We’ve got kids who buy our product who don’t know we make cables so, you know, it’s a great place to be. And the name Monster when we first started was a very strange name; today it’s a relevant name. It’s happening and people love it. The kids still love it so God bless. OI: Now segueing now to - you took a big risk and always seeing you. You’ve always been a person on the cutting edge. Monster events, always, the performances always kick off CES in Vegas. You’re always riding on the Segway. You always have this evangelism of this technology culture. And when I say you took a risk, doing the Beats by Dre at that time even though it’s so huge now, nobody could have foresaw that partnering with a hip-hop producer to launch a line of headphones would actually quadruple the market so talk about how did that come about?
we had to get into headphones in a way that other people weren’t in headphones and so although we felt very confident that we could do the game-changing product, it’s really about the marketing and lifestyle marketing so hooking up with...the folks at Interscope, with Jimmy and Dre, was that formula. So they were looking for something else to do in the music side of things so we just started talking and the very similar cultures and similar passion for music and you know, combining a record company with a artist of stature, Dre, you know, a marketeer like Jimmy...we put it all together and it just blew up and it became... really explosive and viral. At the time, nobody knew it. It was a vision for them. It was a vision for us and we were thinking, you know, what if we put this together and I would say there are very few companies in the world that could have done that. So we were the first and now everybody is following in our footsteps. OI: But getting even deeper there, when I dissect the strategy, the tentacles...at that partnership spread ‘cause I remember you had Lebron James having his own semi-brand so that got into the athletes, the Olympic team 2008. You had Lady Gaga. That was an international launch with the product. You had Diddy. That got into the lifestyle - into the clubs. You had Dr. Dre. It’s like you had this brand, but then you had ambassadors and partners in that subset that kind of allowed the lifestyle to engage people in different demographics that a typical corporate company wouldn’t seek out. Like how were those decisions...I mean I’ve been fascinated. I’ve been wondering actually like, wow, they took a risk, but you were actually ahead of the curve. NL: Well, first of all it was a tremendous risk because we didn’t know if...I’m not...I don’t even want to call this an endorsement. It wasn’t an endorsement. It was really a partnership and be able to bring the music to audiences that sounded like Dre and Gaga and Diddy here in the studio like nobody ever heard before; it was the first time it ever happened. We had the technology to do it and the manufacturing expertise so I have to give as much credit to Jimmy’s vision as anybody because his vision was to leverage his power with tastemakers, the right people in sports, the right people in the music industry to bring them into our world, the audio world, you know, to let them hear what their music sounds like ‘cause they never heard their music horrible like this. I mean they go into their studio and a tiny, tiny fraction of the people that listen to music get to ever be in a recording studio with Dre or Gaga so they never hear it that way so the quest, the vision was to bring that to everybody, bring that to the masses and that’s what we focused our technology on. So it took a long time to engineer the first headphone with Beats studio, but when we did it, that was the quest and we accomplished it. OI: So when you say a long time, about how long were you developing the product? NL: Uh, it took over two years. OI: Over two years. NL: Yeah over two years and lots of trial because we had to break new ground. I mean there were a lot of headphones out there already but we couldn’t copy them and you know Monster’s mantra, if you will, on product development is, always lead and never follow. So we’re always looking for innovations and we never copy the trend because if we copy the trend we’re just a me to. It can’t be me to. We want everybody, if they are gonna come in, to copy us. We always want to be the leader so we’ve been able to demonstrate that time and time again. That innovation, entrepreneurial spirit permeates throughout Monster. Every person you talk to at Monster is always about pushing the envelope. OI: Now...to say the success was massive would be an understatement. You actually wound up quadrupling the whole market for headphones? NL: I don’t know where you got that number, but that’s close to right. OI: When they look at estimates, the industry was roughly around six hundred million, now it’s a multi-billion dollar – at least over a billion so the multiplier effect...Obviously the recent acquisition of 51 stake by HTC kind of shows the value that was built...So I’m just curious to your insights as this has been a remarkable growth. You launched that brand. It’s sort of like here is a child. They’ve grown up. But now you’re bringing new lifestyle products so kind of talk about that. Your’e doing things with Earth, Wind & Fire. You have - you’re launching new products in the lifestyle realm. So kind of talk about that segue, the maturation of Beats and then new products that you’re launching and new partnerships. NL: Well what we did with Beats was in a specific lifestyle, you know, a very urban, very hip-hop, very cutting edge in terms of music, but it wasn’t conservative. Okay, so it was edgy so this is – spans both. Okay. So you’ve got great, great sound that we’ve been able to accomplish but also you can see it’s rather plain. It’s understated. For more of our facinating interview visit toyznation.com or http://ownersillustrated.com/ profiles/blogs/exclusive-interview-with-head-monster-noel-lee-detroit-is-back-se
NL: Well that came about you know, first of all, on our vision to get into headphones but Ownersillustrated.com. 61
TECHNOLOGY » INTERVIEWS by Damola Idowu
United Heathcare VP of Innovation Nick Martin With an impact on over 16% of our economy, the issue of healthcare and managing its costs has long plagued public policy and its effects on Americans reverberates from all segments. Most Americans obtain their health care through their private employer and in industries like manufacturing, where the legacy of care-taking for generations of workers carries a legacy load on balance sheets, the results have been definitive and were instrumental in the collapse of GM and Chrysler. The longterm health obligations of the workers of GM and Chrysler reached into the billions and a huge consideration in the restructuring of these companies was how to account for overlooked workers’ healthcare and pension benefits. A solution came in the form of a conversion of workers’ pension benefits into equity in the then bankrupt companies, a testament to the risk the American worker contributed to the iconic American companies. Earlier this year, GM offered retirees a pension buyout and under a mutually beneficial agreement, GM transferred its pension obligations to Prudential Financial Inc. in a $29 billion deal. Policy argument aside, as issues of pre-existing conditions, treatments, and delivery converge, the essential issue in America is that the insurance industry is how we pay for healthcare. By financing our healthcare treatments through insurance we essentially create risk management where companies pool customers and manage the risk of payment. In essence, if 100 people pay insurance but only 2 need service at a given time, then if the cost of service is less than the collected payments of 100 customers the companies can operate at a profit. With catastrophic patients or pre-existing conditions, the risk is high for companies so the goal is to mitigate the risk or cap how much expenditure outflows for services rendered by the healthcare professionals. This here becomes the rub. The services received by majority of Americans is financed by companies and to be profitable they must manage risk. The objective of the PPACA (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was to ensure a larger pool of healthy paying customers, hence the individual mandate. The flip-side is to also reduce risk of illness which is where wellness and fitness come into play. I had a chance to interview a senior executive of one of the largest healthcare insurance companies, UnitedHealthcare, which boasts over 70 million customers. Our discussion follows. OI: We would love for you to introduce yourself and kinda give us a little background of your journey at UnitedHealthcare. NM: ...Thanks for speaking with us...I’m Nick Martin...I’m the Vice President of Innovation and R&D at UnitedHealth Group. We help to facilitate innovation in research and development across all of our business segments from OptumHealth to Ingenix to UnitedHealthcare Prescription Solutions and many others... OI: ...Talk a little bit about research development. Obviously, when you’re talking about apps, you’re talking about the next generation of Americans who are using more mobile technology. They’re more on the go. They have different lifestyles so talk about some of the R&D and the solutions you guys have to kinda help them manage their health and wellness better using technology. NM: Sure...At UnitedHealthcare we recognize that not every individual is gonna have a mobile phone or certainly want to interact with their health and well-being via mobile phone, but there is definitely a segment of individuals that do choose to not only manage their health but their life through mobile devices. So we’ve developed a number of different applications that have helped enable individuals to get access to health information as well as an application...specifically that application, DocGPS allows individuals to search out a facility or a specific physician that’s near them or maybe even in a remote city if they were away from home, being able to find a provider that is in-network to help them with their care when they’re on the go. That app also allows you to map out how to get to that location, single click to call as well as services at UnitedHealth Premium Designation program, which you know is the quality and cost efficiency of our providers and the application will allow our consumers to make good decisions on not only quality of care which is the utmost important stuff at United, but also the cost as well. So, in addition to that application which is available on a number of different mobile platforms, we recently launched OptumizeMe as a mobile application for encouraging individuals to live healthier lives through healthy challenges. Those challenges could be fitness based. They could be health based. They could be eating based as well, encouraging individuals to eat foods that help them keep their caloric intake down and things of that nature. That app also pulls in a concept of social networking and as certain folks recognize, the social aspect of health is very important. Individuals tend to hang out in groups of individuals of similar health status and so getting people to encourage you in your social network is a very important piece to getting success in the health and wellness type program. OI: Yeah and that’s pretty interesting...Now with social networking, you are able to put a goal there; people could encourage you on the goal. Also, I’ve seen a lot of interaction with entertainment. For example, there are games such as EA Active, the Wii Fit. So talk about...do you guys have any solutions to integrate gaming with health wellness?
TECHNOLOGY » INTERVIEWS by Damola Idowu
NM: Currently we don’ t have any in market solutions for gaming. Certainly I’ m excited to see some of the products that are out there that are encouraging people to get active and stay healthy and looking forward to the opportunities that may arise from those types of applications and technology that you saw are quite pervasive throughout CES. OI: Of course, and then I guess another thing that we were kind of curious about, we hear a lot about medical technology, medical records...Can you kind of give us an overview on some of the things that UnitedHealth is doing to be able to aggregate a lot of people’ s information with medical technology and what are some of the innovations to now be able to provide a more efficient healthcare service for your members? NM: ...We certainly have one of the largest data structures in our health and wellness through our Ingenix business unit and we have products and offerings that allow us to mine data in an anonymous fashion to find patterns around the Natural History of Heart Disease and those solutions. Not only those solutions, but solutions around clinical trials inside our Ingenix business unit also help – help us gather analytics on what types of individuals are getting types of diseases and how we might take that data and put in clinical care plans around it to help them live a healthier life. OI: ..The new Census data is going to be coming out. America is getting a lot younger and then it’ s getting also a lot more diverse and we talk about communication, so kind of give me an idea as these demos are changing - obviously new things are coming into play. You’ re having new communities coming online and the medical challenges that might be coming online might be different so...what are some of the solutions that you guys have to kind of alert [policy] holders or your members to be able to better manage their own individual health ahead of time, especially with younger people that think they’ re invincible? NM: You know...you may not have the right person to go the level of depth that you’ re looking to explore here...but certainly we have a significant amount of data in our eSync Platform that allows us to do somewhat of clinical surveillance and put in clinical care plans for individuals and via then our nurse channel as well as our portal capabilities, we are able to help individuals, give them information that they want at the time that they want it and allow them to make the decisions about their health based on the mining of the data that we’ ve done in our eSync Platform. OI: Martin talk about small business then and some of the innovations I guess NM: Currently we don’ t have any in market solutions for gaming. Certainly I’ m excited to see some of the products that are out there that are encouraging people to get active and stay healthy and looking forward to the opportunities that may arise from those types of applications and technology that you saw are quite pervasive throughout CES. OI: Of course, and then I guess another thing that we were kind of curious about, we hear a lot about medical technology, medical records...Can you kind of give us an overview on some of the things that UnitedHealth is doing to be able to aggregate a lot of people’ s information with medical technology and what are some of the innovations to now be able to provide a more efficient healthcare service for your members? NM: ...We certainly have one of the largest data structures in our health and wellness through our Ingenix business unit and we have products and offerings that allow us to mine data in an anonymous fashion to find patterns around the Natural History of Heart Disease and those solutions. Not only those solutions, but solutions around clinical trials inside our Ingenix business unit also help – help us gather analytics on what types of individuals are getting types of diseases and how we might take that data and put in clinical care plans around it to help them live a healthier life. OI: ..The new Census data is going to be coming out. America is getting a lot younger and then it’ s getting also a lot more diverse and we talk about communication, so kind of give me an idea as these demos are changing - obviously new things are coming into play. You’ re having new communities coming online and the medical challenges that might be coming online might be different so...what are some of the solutions that you guys have to kind of alert [policy] holders or your members to be able to better manage their own individual health ahead of time, especially with younger people that think they’ re invincible? NM: You know...you may not have the right person to go the level of depth that you’ re looking to explore here...but certainly we have a significant amount of data in our eSync Platform that allows us to do somewhat of clinical surveillance and put in clinical care plans for individuals and via then our nurse channel as well as our portal capabilities, we are able to help individuals, give them information that they want at the time that they want it and allow them to make the decisions about their health based on the mining of the data that we’ ve done in our eSync Platform. OI: Martin talk about small business then and some of the innovations I guess with the new emphasis on getting small businesses to start using more of the health care plans? Can you kinda give us an overview about the small business angle and some of the solutions that you guys are creating for small businesses? NM: ...You know and I hate to keep coming back to the same thing over and over but honestly, individuals managing their health and understanding what they can do to make themselves healthier is gonna be a critical component to the overall success of small business health insurance so the OptumizeMe Platform again would be a huge asset for small businesses where they can encourage the members of their employee base to go out and challenge themselves to health and fitness goals and to manage them through their social network and their peer groups to really bring down those costs of health care for small businesses. The individual managing their health and fitness is a critical component to understanding and bringing those costs down for small business in my mind. For more of our inteview visit www.toyznation.com or http://ownersillustrated.com/profiles/blogs/exclusiveinterview-with-united-healthcare-vp-of-innovation-nick-
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Published on Mar 20, 2013
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