The 2017 Honda Ridgeline – An automotive reboot.

Picture provided by Motortrend.co,

Picture provided by Motortrend.com

When Honda introduced the Ridgeline in 2005, it was the truck equivalent of Zima. Zomething different.  Not quite a truck, not quite a SUV.  It looked kinda like a midsized Chevy Avalanche, but didn’t carry the tough look.  Some would argue that it competed against the Subaru Baja as a modern four door El Camino, but it was chunkier in comparison.  Honda billed it as the truck for “Cool dads”, but the pitch fell too short. Honda’s Ridgeline was just too different.  The sales numbers proved this.

In 2006 The Ridgeline hit its sales peak at 50,193 sold in the U.S. When the original design ended in 2014 the Ridgeline sales struggled at 13,389. To put this in perspective, the Ford Ranger sold 92,420 models in 2006 and in its last year run of 2012, sold 19,366.  (Honda sold 14,068 Ridgelines that year.)*

With such low sales, Honda followed Hollywood’s latest trend and rebooted the Ridgeline.

First they stopped production of the previous design for two years. This let the memory fade a bit and allow a better reaction for the new version.

Second they made it fit the mold better. The original Ridgeline left you wondering what it was. The image of this Ridgeline is better defined.

Alas, as with other reboots, the traditions of the original are easy to spot. The New Ridgeline is of unibody construction just like the old one.  This is proudly acknowledged by the executive vice-president of American Honda, John Mendel.  He touts the rigidity of the unibody, while promising a smoother street ride than the traditional, body on frame trucks of Chevrolet, Toyota, and Nissan.

John is smart to point out that the Ridgeline in no way competes against the big boys of the full size team. No sir!  The Ridgeline is aimed squarely at the Colorado, Tacoma, and Frontier.

But, in a way, it’s not.

Even though Mendel boast that this is a tough truck, and that the payload and towing rates are right in the fight with the other welterweights, (Up to 1,600 pounds payload and an estimated 5,000 pounds towing as of this writing) he openly admits that contractors need not apply.

This truck “Isn’t about the jobsite” he stated during the Ridgeline’s introduction at the NAIAS, it’s “about the lifestyle.”

In short, the Ridgeline is for the hobbyists. People who need a truck for light duty projects and occasional hauling, but not a career building companion.  Campers, beach combers, motorcyclists, and kayakers are who Honda is aiming at; not landscapers, pool supply runners, and handymen.  Sure you can fit a sheet of plywood between its wheel wells in the bed, but you still have to lower the tailgate and have it stick out a little to have it lay flat.

Honda also insisted on keeping the spare tire tucked in a separate compartment under the floor of the bed. Not underneath the bed as other truck do, but in a mini trunk under the floor of the bed.  (The mini trunk also has a spot with drain plugs so you can turn it into a cooler.)  This would be such a hassle if you were carrying a load of gravel and you suddenly blew a tire on your way home.  But Honda thinks this will be a rare occurrence with its buyers.  This is reinforced by the addition of a new sound system for the bed and the vehicles front wheel drive layout.

Honda has found a way to turn its bed into a giant speaker using six of what it has named “Exciters”. The exciters vibrate the bed just like a magnet in a speaker, creating a large sound device.  Evidently Honda wants to be all about that base.

If that doesn’t shake up the market, the Ridgeline’s front wheel drive surely will. Besides being body on frame, all trucks have been designed with rear wheel drive as standard.  This is done so that when you put a load in the bed, it adds weight to the driving wheels and adds to their traction.  It also helps when towing. Truck purists are going to give the Ridgeline a long, sideways look before shaking their heads and moving on.  But, again, these are not the people Honda is aiming at.

The Honda Ridgeline is a recreational tool built for fun times. It comes with a six speed auto as its only transmission choice as well as an all-wheel drive option with a multimode terrain management system so owners don’t have to do any work in switching from front wheel drive to all wheel drive. It’s in bed 400 watt converter can power sawzalls and drills, but will more likely be used for margaritas and x-boxes.

Like every reboot, the Honda Ridgeline is high on gloss and shine. Only time will tell if it makes it into the heart of the buyers.

  • Sales numbers provided by left-lane.com
  • Quotes are from the 2016 NAIAS video on youtube

Should You Upgrade from a Galaxy S4 to a Galaxy S5 by Blaine Kelton

I’d like to introduce to you Thoughts, Ramblings, and Daydreams first guest blogger, Blaine Kelton. 

Blaine is a college grad with a degree in Journalism.  He found my sight and politely asked if he could guest post.  We passed e-mails for a while and I found him to be very sincere and a go-getter.

I’m not a big tech guy, but Blaine is.  He sent me this post about the upcoming Galaxy S5 and asks if it’s worth considering.  (I found a few things that made me go, “Hmm. Interesting.”)

So, please read his post and, more importantly, leave a reply.  let him know what you thing.  We all need feedback.  Let him know what you like and don’t like.  It’s all helpful.

So without further adieu, welcome Blaine.

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With the upcoming release of Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the question on the minds of many is whether it’s immediately worth an upgrade from a Galaxy S4 to the new flagship. The answer is unclear, and frankly it depends on what you want from your smartphone.

Everyone knows that a smartphone is only as good as its ability to accommodate current apps and technology surrounding the phone as well as its ability to interact with existing digital infrastructure. In those respects, both the GS4 and GS5 fully demonstrate proficient ability.

So what’s different? Taking a look at the physical dimensions and displays, the cameras, and the chipsets differentiates the phones for the most part.

Dimensions and Displays*

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The GS4’s screen is 5″ and makes use of Super AMOLED technology. The display shows with a resolution of 1080×1920 with pixel density of 441ppi.

In comparison, the GS5 doesn’t get much bigger in terms of display, which for Samsung is an unexpected upgrade given that from one flagship to the next we generally see a considerable increase in size. At 5.1″, the trend is pretty much broken. Still, the phone implements the Super AMOLED technology and maintains a 1080×1920 resolution with its pixel density at ~432, slightly less than the GS4 due to its larger display with the same resolution. Whether or not the display speaks to a worthy upgrade is yours to decide.

Cameras*

The GS4’s camera is a 13MP model with LED flash technology and its prominent features include image stabilization, autofocus, face and smile detection, panorama, and an HDR mode. The video recorder records video in 1080p and offers image stabilization at 30 frames per second.

Samsung hit the camera hard with the GS5. The full upgrade boasts a 16MP camera with LED flash technology and the added features include phase detection autofocus and improved image stabilization. The video recorder now offers 4K video recording at 30 fps and also includes improved image stabilization. The GS5’s camera and its capabilities are among the most talked-about features and should be a huge consideration in going forward with an upgrade from a GS4 to a GS5.

Chipset

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The GS4 always had a powerful processor, that being the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 at 1900MHz. The device is capable of running updates to the JellyBean operating system and includes an Adreno 320 graphics processor. The 9GB of user storage (of a total 16GB onboard storage) is expandable by microSD, microSDHC, and microSDXC for a total of up to 64 GB.

The GS5 hits the chipset pretty hard as well. The new flagship is super-speedy with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor operating at 2500MHz. The device runs on the newest Android OS for smartphones, KitKat, and includes an Adreno 330 graphics processor. The 10.7GB of user storage (of a total of 16GB onboard storage) is expandable by microSD, microSDHC, and microSDXC for a total of up to 128 GB.

Don’t forget that the GS4 can be updated to run KitKat. In addition, because of the potential of expanded storage, no one should have problems in that arena. If the above stats leave the GS5 a little underwhelming, consider the following additional features.

The GS5 comes equipped with the much-discussed heart rate monitor on the back side just under the camera. To that end, Samsung is really pushing health and fitness technology in its product line. On the inclusion, Verizon Wireless states, “Even your heart gets some love with the first–ever built–in heart monitor that checks your heart rate with just the touch of a finger.” And they’re not the only ones talking. Health in the mobile age has been a trending topic since the initiation of the S Health Partner in the Samsung product line.

The GS5 is also waterproof and dust resistant, with an IP certification at IP 67. Unless you’re a free-diver texting on the way down, that means you’re totally covered. Literally.

The inclusion of Galaxy Gifts for the GS5 will also be a major consideration for most in that they include subscriptions making use of the heart rate monitor and camera upgrades. Totaling just under $600, the options are nice indeed.

If you’re still having trouble deciding between a new upgrade or sticking with the older model until you’re ready, just be sure to remember that the choice ultimately lays with you and what is valuable to you in a smartphone. Keep your research thorough prior to the April 11 release of the Galaxy S5 to keep your options completely open.

Knife Fight – The second cut

Earlier I had talked about wanting a new pocket knife and the process I went through in deciding which one would be best for me.  Well Christmas came and not only did I get the knife I chose, I received two others!  Can anyone say comparison test?

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The challengers are the Ontario RAT Model 1, Ontario RAT Model 2, and Leatherman Sidekick.

The baseline I had chosen to compete against is the almost historic Buck 110 Hunter.  (My wife’s favorite large folding knife.)

To be honest, when comparing these three tools against each other, it’s not a fair fight.  Each one is a different size and has different strengths and weaknesses.

As you can see, they all fold nicely and will fit into a pocket no problem, and all have line locks to hold the blade in place. (More on this later.)  What did surprise me is that the Leatherman Sidekick had the smallest blade.  I expected it to be at least the size of the RAT Model 2.

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The advantage of the Sidekick is all the tools packed in it.  You can do so much more with it than the Ontario folders.

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But, of course, it is also heavier.  I can put both Ontario knives in a pocket to offset the weight of the Leatherman which weighs in at 7oz.  The blades are 420 high carbon (HC) stainless steel.  That’s a big plus living in Florida with the high amounts of rain and salty air.  I see the Sidekick coming along with me on bike rides, picnics, beach excursions, and possibly some shopping in other towns.  The bottle opener will come in handy if I ever have that urge to buy Sprite in a glass bottle again.  (They don’t twist open.)

The overall features of the two Ontario RAT knives are the same but the differences in size changes the character of them dramatically.   Both are made in Taiwan, use AUS-8 steel, have stainless steel liners inside the handle, have “jimping” on back of the blades, and have black handles.

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I should also mention here that the RAT in these knives stands for Randal’s Adventure Training.  It’s a woodman/survival school, but I really don’t care about that.  I just like the knives.

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The RAT-2 is the Gentleman’s folder of the two.  Lightest to carry and very discrete.  Its three inch blade is very maneuverable for projects like trimming a picture or cutting down an oversized straw.  Non-knife people won’t feel threatened if you use this to open boxes at work or cut string for a kite at a kid’s birthday party.  My wife balked at me bringing my old Smith and Wesson knife to the movies, but has no concern when I bring this one.  It is the best in a social setting.005

Its big brother, the Ontario RAT Model 1 is the woodsman of the bunch.  Its 3.5 inch long blade is the closest to the original Buck 110 Hunter as is its overall length.

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The blade of the RAT 1 is also a tenth of a centimeter thicker than the Model 2 as well. (0.3 cm/0.12 in for the RAT 1 vs. 0.2cm/0.095in for the RAT 2)

The blade is definitely wider than the blade of the Buck and gives a good, solid feel to the blade as you carve with it.  Chopping through branches is really easy with this knife.

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The AUS-8 steel is nowhere near as rust resistant as Buck’s hard chrome stainless, so you need to keep the blades oiled to prevent rusting in high moisture areas.  (I have a rule of oiling them once a month just to be sure.)

The blade is a flat grind which will make it easier for me to sharpen and while it does seep up to a point, it doesn’t have the hole punching point of the Buck  110.

There are a lot of differences between the Ontario RAT 1 and the Buck 110 Hunter, but two items were the most noticeable to my wife.

The first was the locking mechanism for the blade.

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The Buck uses the lockback design.  What this means is that a long piece of metal along the back of the handle pivots against the bottom of the blade to hold it in place.  Pressing a part of it, levers it open to allow the blade to fold into the handle.

The Ontario uses a liner lock design.  Here the metal on the liner of the handle pushes out against the bottom of the blade to hold it in.  To close the blade, you must push this lock back towards the handle and hold it as you start folding the blade back into its handle.

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My wife doesn’t like the liner lock design because she is concerned about cutting her finger while closing the blade.  I know that once you start the process of closing the blade, you can move your finger out of the way and not worry about cutting yourself.  My personal concern with the lockback design is that lint or dirt can get caught in the pivot point of the blade and locking piece of metal in the handle, preventing it from locking and allowing the blade to swing back into your hand as you are pushing down on the blade to cut.  (In fact this has happened to me a number of times with other folding knives.)

The other difference is in how they open.

The Buck uses the original “pull with your thumbnail” method while the RAT uses a thumbstud to flip it open.  The thumbstud is definitely faster and is easier to use.  Could it get caught in your key ring and open if you shove your keys in your pocket with it?  I guess it’s possible.  I keep them in separate pockets, so that’s never happened to me.  I will say that I personally prefer a knife that is easy to open one handed and takes more attention to close than one that takes attention to open and is easier to close.

So that’s my opinion of these great knives.

The Leatherman Sidekick is great for active days biking or picnicking.

The Ontario RAT 1 is a great camper/woodsman folder

And the Ontario RAT 2 is great for a night on the town.

You can’t go wrong with any of them.

What’s that?  You want to know which one would I pick if I could have only one?  “Sigh.”  I knew you were going to ask that.  Well, since I started this project by looking at my wife’s Buck 110 Hunter and wanting something comparable for me, I have to say I’d pick the Ontario Rat Model 1.  It does all the hard chores with ease and I’m not afraid to work it.  It is exactly what I was looking for.  (I’m still keeping all three though.)

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