Tag Archives: entertainment

Bells & Whistles - Ford's in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

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Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

If you combine the words information and entertainment you get ‘infotainment’ – and this is exactly what you’ll get in the 2020 Ford Explorer. The Ford Motor Company has come up with the perfect combination of a car stereo with an information and navigation system – SYNC 3.

Anticipating your needs

Smartphones and tablets are becoming more intuitive and easier to use with each new generation. Up until now, infotainment systems have often seemed like an after-thought, and operating them seemed counter-intuitive.

Not only do these systems need to be secure, functional and seamless to use, but they also need to keep you, and your family, safe while driving. “The SYNC 3 has been based on customer feedback – by the same people who are driving and interacting with their Ford vehicles every day,” says Chuck Gray, director of electrical and electronic systems engineering at Ford.

This is the first version to be fully designed in-house at Ford, and was recently unveiled at the company’s high-tech Connectivity and Innovation Centre (CIC) in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

More than good looks

The SYNC 3 might seem familiar to use, because it’s based on Blackberry’s QNX operating system. It’s no longer a scavenger hunt to find functions, and you’ll immediately feel connected.

It has a thoughtful, common sense layout. You can identify things clearly and navigate efficiently. You can also adjust the screen’s brightness and font size to help avoid squinting, so that you never have to take your eyes off the road for too long.

Minimized multi-tasking

The number of steps that are required to complete a task have been minimized on the SYNC 3. Many functions can also be accessed via voice control. Some controls have been moved from the console cluster to SYNC 3. Everything is easier to find, and if you’re not sure how something works, there’s an animated visual indication or a video to explain it to you – no manual required.

All your radio audio presets (AM/FM/XM) appear on the main screen, regardless of the media stream. You can switch from an AM news channel, to a rock station on the FM dial, and then to the Beatles channel on SiriusXM.

SiriusXM radio enthusiasts will appreciate the smart favourites and tune start features. The former buffers the last 30 minutes from your XM favourites as soon as you turn on the engine, and the latter ensures that the song begins on the first note when you switch to your favourites.

A first on the 2020 Ford Explorer’s platinum trim package, is the 10.1-inch, high-definition, portrait display. Other models have an eight-inch-wide screen. It’s positioned vertically on the dashboard, at a height and an angle, that makes it easy to see.

Always improving

With the customer’s consent, the SYNC 3 can capture analytics in terms of how its being used. Real-live testing and improvements are ongoing. At Ford’s Accelerated Life Test Lab, the software stability team simulates the software running in a vehicle in order to detect any pain-points.

When hitting the road, it’s comforting to know that the practical application of ‘infotainment’ is as reliable as the technology that we’ve come to expect in our homes.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.



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Take Two: Oscar Commentary

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Take Two: Oscar Commentary

Between the misleading contents of the incorrect envelope, Warren Beatty’s bewilderment and Faye Dunaway’s loose lips, the 2017 Academy Award ceremony went so far off the rails that the emotional wreckage will be remembered forever.

Unfortunately, as is always the case with controversy and confusion on Oscar night, that might mean that people overlook, or even forget, the films. I am here to refocus your attention. The best films of 2016 remain inviting, regardless of the presentation debacle. With a mature audience in mind, these are my top three choices from the 10 titles that were nominated as best picture:

La La Land | Classy, sweet, romantic and old-school, this modern musical is a throw-back. It recalls the era when musicals were an integral part of the Hollywood landscape. Its Canadian star, Ryan Gosling, is linked in energy and muscular elegance to the likes of dance legend Gene Kelly (An American in Paris). I once spent a precious hour with Kelly for a Toronto interview and now, in interviews with Gosling, I see how the two men share a sly humour and engaging modesty. Damien Chazelle, writer-director of La La Land, has created something precious and timeless. Filmed on a sound stage to enhance a fantasy version of Los Angeles, it is gorgeous to behold. The music is inspiring. The performances are bold, leading to Gosling’s best actor nomination and Emma Stone’s best actress win. Overall, La La Land tied the record for most Oscar nominations with 14 (equal to All About Eve and Titanic), and won six.

Arrival | Denis Villeneuve’s masterful film took top place on my own Top Ten list. While this is a Hollywood science fiction tale about strange aliens who visit Planet Earth on an unknown mission, the film is really about humanity and the ebb and flow of life itself. Without embracing death, Amy Adams’ riveting character cannot move on. To me, that is a profound reminder of our fragility and our strength as humans. A note of caution – Arrival is non-linear. Go with the flow and figure it out later, preferably in animated conversations with family and friends who shared the experience. Meanwhile, watch for more films from Quebec’s Villeneuve, a quiet genius who has now excelled in a series of English-language productions. Arrival was nominated for eight Oscars, winning one (and deserving more).

Fences | Both directed by and starring Denzel Washington, this powerful film is a mission statement from Washington. It honours his respect for the late African-American playwright August Wilson. As one of 10 Wilson plays devoted to the 20th Century, it chronicles a metaphoric story that represents the black experience of the 1950s. In the sometimes terrifying, and always enthralling, intimacy of this fractured story of family, audiences sense the bigger picture. Washington is exceptional, both as the workmanlike director and as the fearless actor. Fences was nominated for four Oscars, winning one by the gifted Viola Davis as best supporting actress.

Film critic, Bruce Kirkland’s career spans more than four decades, working at The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Journal and for 35 years at the Toronto Sun. A life-long film buff, Bruce now shares his passion and insight with Active Life readers. bruce.kirkland@hotmail.com


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