31 Jul 2001 steve   » (Master)

I've fallen a bit behind on my news lately. Most of July went by in a flash. We were very busy at NCC. I've gotten email from a couple of loyal readers asking what's new, so I better try catch up on news for July.

One of our projects at NCC during July was building a new web site for Frames Per Second, a local video post facility. The web site update was planned to coincide with an open house event they were having. Susan and I attended and got to see quite few friends and acquaintances from the video world that we hadn't seen since Susan got out of the business. After the open house we went with some friends to hear a Celtic band at The Tipperary Inn.

We also saw a couple of movies during July including AI, which was an unfortunate combination of the worst aspects of Spielberg and Kubrick with none of the good. After AI we saw Atlantis, an animated Disney film copied (surely not plagiarized?) from a 1990 anime series called Nadia: Secret of Blue Water. It was an okay film and much more anime-like than most Disney stuff. It also fullfilled the important role of making us forget about AI.

You may recall that I've been planning on getting a new car and to that end have been doing test drives of cars that made my short list based on acceptable mileage (they had to get at least 30mpg), good looks (obviously a subjective measurement), and reliability. I already posted my feelings on the test drive of the Honda Insight back in January (basically it's really cool but I don't want to buy one until the second generation comes out - maybe this will be Susan's next car). During June and July, I test drove the remaining cars on my list, including the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Volkswagon Jetta, and the new Acura RSX. So anyway, here are the reviews:

The newest Mitsubishi Eclipse is a big improvement over prior versions but still not good enough for serious consideration. Like previous versions of the Eclipse, it's a bit cramped inside. The radio had an overly complex system of soft-keys and up/down buttons rather than straighforward knobs, making it much too time consuming to use. It does look nice but doesn't seem to rate as well for reliability as the other cars on my list. So, while possibly a fun car to drive, it's off the list.

The Volkswagon Jetta was next. (I almost bought a Volkswagon GTI back in the early 1980's but opted for a Honda CRX instead. I've never regretted that choice and that first CRX was my favorite of all the cars I've owned.) The new Jetta was one of the few cars that meets my gas mileage requirements but only in the 4 cylinder model. After a test drive, it became clear that the 4 cyclinder Jetta was too underpowered. I did a second test drive in the 6 cylinder Jetta and it, on the other hand, had plenty of power but got crummy gas mileage. The power/mileage dilemma was really my only serious complaint with the Jetta but was important enough that I couldn't make this my first choice. I decided the V6 Jetta would be the runner-up if I couldn't find anything better.

The 2002 Acura RSX was the last car to test drive. Like the Jetta this was really two test drives - one for the RSX and one for the RSX Type-S. The RSX Type-S was first and it was immediately apparent that this was likely to be the number one choice. The 4 cylinder engine got just over 30 mpg while still putting out 200hp, it looked good, had all the latest safety features like side airbags, and was definitely fun to drive. The regular RSX was almost as nice and got a few more miles per gallon at the cost of a few hp but had one serious flaw. The regular RSX doesn't handle as well as the Type-S; particularly on curves at higher speeds.

So in the end I decided on the RSX. Problem is, it may be hard to get one. The RSX is both very new and highly anticipated so there's a waiting list.

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