Upgraded to a DELL Inspiron 13 7000 8th Gen i7

For the last four or so years my main computer has been a Microsoft Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 2 has a 4th generation 2xCore i7 1.7GHz with 8GB of RAM.

It has been a great PC and I have done a lot of photo processing on it.

But, as I am getting close to retirement, I decided to upgrade. After a lot of ‘research’ I landed on a DELL Inspiron 13 7000 8th generation 4xCore i7 1.8GHz with 16GB of DDR4 RAM.

Now I realise that the DELL Inspiron i7 has a relatively short battery life for a modern ultra-light 2-in-1 laptop. It is only good for about six hours on battery—depending what you are using it for. But, when it comes to being docked, the performance-for-dollar ratio for the Inspiron is the best. And, as I do almost all of my hard work—such as photo editing—when docked, then the battery life was not that big a consideration.

Another very important consideration for me was that it could be docked and that the dock would support at least one 2560x1440 resolution monitor, and in the future when 4K colour-correct 10-bit monitors get into my price range, then I want it to also support 4K.

I have been using the Inspiron now for about two weeks now. I am very happy with it. The performance improvement for editing images using Lightroom, Photoshop, Skylum Luminar, and Skylum Aurora 2018 is excellent. It is at least twice as fast as the ‘old’ Surface Pro in all the tests I have done.

As a few example, opening a RAW from my Sony a7r III in Photoshop used to take 17.8 secs on the Surface but the Inspiron does it opens in 9.5. Doing a HDR merge into Skylum Aurora from Photoshop used to take 27.8 seconds, and now completes in 12.0 seconds. And the saving the HDR layer back to Photoshop previously consumed over 31 seconds and now completes in just over 14.

I am very happy with the speed improvements. By-and-large everything happens in less than half the time it took the Surface.

2019 Forester due in Australia in September of 2018

It sounds a little odd to say that the new 2019 Forester will arrive at Australian dealers in September of this year (2018). But that is due to the way Subaru name their model releases. The next Forester is the MY19 or 2019 model of the Forester—even though you will be able to buy one in 2018.

What we know for certain now is that the 2019 Forester will only have the one engine. The totally new 2.5 direct injection naturally aspirated petrol boxer motor. No diesel and no hybrid. Not initially anyway. There is some talk of an electric hybrid that might turn up in late 2019. Also, one review suggested Subaru's new 2.4 turbo engine might also find its way into the Forester either late 2019 or early 2020.

For the time being, this new 2.5 petrol engine puts out 182-hp or 135-kw ... if you prefer kilowatts. This is a useful 12-hp, or 7 percent, performance boost compared to the 170-hp obtained from the older 2.5 boxer. While I cannot find any 0 - 100 timings in any of the available reviews, reviewers do comment that this 2.5 Forester is noticeably quicker than the model it is replacing.

This engine is reported to deliver economy of 7.12 litres/100 kilometres on the highway, which is very close to 40 miles per gallon (using Australian gallons).

However, I for one find it sad that the class-topping 2.0 litre dual-scroll turbo 250-hp power plant will not be carried through in the MY19 Forester.

It also seems that there will be no manual transmission model. The only transmission will be an automatic transmission and is Subaru's award winning CVT. One review that I found reports that the CVT being used is the high-torque CVT which was only available previously in the XT model. I hope this is the case as the high-torque version of the Forester CVT is certainly a better transmission than the standard CVT.

The other bit of information I gleaned from hunting around the Web was that three new colours have been made available in the US, and can reasonably be expected to come to Australia as well. These are: Crimson Red Pearl; Horizon Blue Pearl; and Jasper Green Metallic.

As an aside: Apparently this is Forester's 20th year in Australia.

Gen 5 Subaru Forester released

Subaru's new 'from the ground up' Gen 5 Forester initially looks an aweful lot like the model it is replacing.

However, it is 'all new'—being built on Subaru's new global platform.

Gone is the turbo charged 2.0 litre engine. Based the information made available by Subaru at the New York Motor Show, all of new models have the 85 percent new 2.5 litre boxer engine. This updated 2.5 litre engine outputs 182 hp. This revised power plan is supposed to provide an average of 33 mpg US or 39.6 mpg Australian; which converts to about 7.2 litres/100 klms.

The G5 Forester is marginally larger in all dimensions except height. This gives more rear seat leg room, and, combined with the wider rear tailgate door, gives more room in the cargo area.

Due to it being based on the new global platform, Subaru are claiming the the new car exhibits reduced noise, vibration, and harshness.

Subaru seem to have dropped the manual transmission option, with the only transmission now being the revised CVT from the Accent. In the two top models the CVT has a 'manual' option where gears can be changed with column shifter paddles.

Subaru say they have given buyers what they wanted: Better fuel economy, a roomier cabin; and more useful technology.

Personally, I am sad they seem to have dropped the turbo model.

For a lot more information you can click over to the Motor1 site (here).

Toyota announces new Gen 5 RAV 4

Getting in first for the New York Motor Show, Toyota have just released details of their 5th generation RAV4.

Now, anyone who know me knows that I am a Subaru man. I have owned a Subaru Forester since the very first Forester was released in Australia around about 1990. I love Subaru's. They have never let me down. We have four Subaru's in our driveway right now—my son's, his fiancée's, and my two Foresters (my daily drive Gen 3 Forester that I take to work which has 271,000 klms on it, and my Gen 4 Forester).

But, I have to say, looking at the new RAV4, I might just be having a very good look at it when it makes it to Australia before I leap into the new Forester.

The Gen 5 RAV4 is lower, slightly longer, and slightly wider, than the model it is replacing. It will also have Toyota’s new 2.5-litre Dynamic Force DOHC low-bed in-line four-cylinder engine with VVT-iE from the Camry. This should give the RAV4 some much needed extra power. When I last test drove a RAV4 I found it somewhat under-powered.

This engine manages 133 kw in the Camry—which is somewhat underpowered for car the size of a Camry. But in the lighter RAV4 it might be a really nice match.

Another possible upside is that this engine runs on 91 RON petrol. If it turns out to provide the required performance, then you don't need to buy the highly over-priced 95 RON petrol—which used to be 4c dearer per litre than 91 RON when it first hit the pumps, but is now 12c dearer per litre.

The Gen 5 RAV4 is also likely to have the eight-speed Direct-Shift Automatic Transmission from the Camry in place of the current—much unliked (sic)—Gen 4 model's CVT. Unlike many modern automatic transmissions, Toyota's eight-speed Direct-Shift transmission does use a torque converter; however—as I understand it—the converter only operates during the change and then each gear has almost instant direct-drive lock-up (excepting the the first gear). This is likely to provide improved economy and, possibly, some additional improvements in performance.

Like Subaru, and unlike BMW or Mercedes, Toyota are in the Top 10 most reliable cars in the world based on distance travelled so, if I wear to move over to the RAV4, I should still expected to get the awesome reliability I have experienced with my Subarus.

[Images are from the Australian Motoring site (here)]