Category: Blog

FIRED UP PODCAST – Drinking and cooking with beer on the FireDisc

Here we go. Latest edition of FIRED UP WITH GARF – the official podcast of FireDisc Cookers. This month we are touring (and sampling) freshly-made beer from Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company in Houston. Come along for the ride and also check out the recipe for a smoked Philly-style cheesesteak using beer on a FireDisc.

If you are ready to cook outdoors anywhere, use GARFIELD as a promo code and save $50 and free shipping.

Auto Review: 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Man it has been a looong time since I was behind the wheel of a Toyota for an auto review.  I haven’t forgotten about Texas-based Toyota USA but maybe they forgot about me.  Either way I was not about to turn down a week-long ride in the company’s newest Highlander, one of the top-selling CUVs in the country.  And with gas prices creeping higher this summer, why not play with the Hybrid Platinum version?

The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes in four trims levels—LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum.  All are upgraded with a new 2.5-liter,  4-cylinder engine that pushed 186 horses.  The battery portion sports either two (FWD) or three (AWD) electric motor generators with power routed through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).  But enough with acronyms; how does it look and feel?

The outside is tweaked a bit this year and the first thing I noticed was the front grille.  Toyota added a shiny, horizontal bar near the top of the grille that gives off a Cheshire cat-like grin complete with a big, blue (hybrid) Toyota badge as its front tooth.  The roof slope line is sleek and the whole shape of the vehicle looks downright aerodynamic for a crossover.  But my first step inside the Highlander is what took me by surprise.  Toyota finally upgraded its infotainment system!

A 12.3″ touch display caught my eye and almost brought a tear to my eye.  Standard in its top trims now, Toyota seemed to take the hint from other manufacturers and utilize more of the dashboard real estate with a useful and interactive command and connectivity center.  It is easy to operate, quick to program your favorite radio stations, and connect to a phone.  The last time I played around in a Toyota I don’t think they had Apple CarPlay.  Not only is that included but Android Auto is in here along with Amazon Alexa compatibility and a wireless phone charger.  Welcome to the 21st century!  For even more technology-rich features, in-cabin WiFi and remote access can be added through the Connected Services app.

The fit up front is comfortable especially with the leather-trimmed, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.  The second row captain’s chairs were easy to fold down and crawl back to the three-seat third row.  Adults or long-legged passengers will have a tight squeeze when sitting in that third row, though.  The Highlander can also be configured with a second row 60/40 split bench that allows for 8-passenger seating though that may be a little close for comfort even in this large CUV.  The interior capacity is decent with 16 cubic feet of space behind the third row but expands to a large 84.3 cubes when the second and third row seats are laid flat.

The basic LE can start just under $39,000 and escalate to over $50,000 on the Platinum with all the bells, whistles, speakers, and cameras.  Toyota estimates 36 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.  Looking at comparative vehicles such as the Ford Explorer, Subaru Ascent, Kia Telluride, and the Honda Pilot, the Highlander Hybrid is a bit pricier but many buyers will probably lean on Toyota’s solid brand name, reliability and safety features.

Hear my thoughts from my recent radio show heard across the country on iHeartRadio:

 

VIDEO: Summer Outdoor Cooking & Grilling Ideas

Outdoor cooking is the way to go, especially in Texas.  Here are some ideas and items I featured during a recent appearance on Great Day Houston (CBS).

Whether it is propane or charcoal, there are many accessories and items that can enhance your cooking experience.

FireDisc Cookers – GARFIELD promo code for $50 and free shipping

Auto Review: 2021 Lexus ES 350 F-Sport

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a Lexus and it’s good to be back.  It was also a pleasure to drive the 2021 ES 350 F-Sport for a week as I put it through a few tests, not just on the road but inside the cabin.  It is luxury sedan with a lot of comfy features although it would be nice if Lexus does one upgrade.

Listen to my review heard on iHeartRadio stations across the country and take a look at the drive here (thanks also for subscribing to my YouTube channel):

The Garfield Auto Report (iHeartRadio):

Review: Securam Fingerprint Door Lock

One of the simplest gadgets to make a home a smart home is an electronic door lock.  They are quite easy to install (over/under 12 minutes) and allow for a number of security features that can add functionality to your home.  Many are WiFi-enabled that let home owners control the lock remotely with an app or through home controllers like Alexa and Google Nest Hub.

I replace the lock on my front door probably about once a year as I test and review units from various companies.  Traditional lock companies like Yale, Schlage, and Kwikset offer several models while new companies have entered the market with unique designs like August, Ultraloq, eufy, and Friday.

I recently installed the Securam Touch Fingerprint Deadbolt Lock on my front door.  This unit is distinct as it offers a biometric fingerprint sensor along with a typical numeric keypad.   There are multiple unlocking methods including one-touch access fingerprint authentication, code access, and remote control through the Securam app (an additional Smart Hub is required for remote operation).

Here is my take on the Securam lock as heard on “The High-Tech Texan Show” and podcast.

VIDEO: CES tech products (CBS)

I popped on Great Day Houston (CBS) with some products unveiled at CES.  Very first look at the new Samsung Galaxy S21 phones and Buds Pro.  Also a UV-C light sanitizer that doubles as a speaker/alarm clock and a powerful new WiFi router.  And how about the Oculus Quest 2 VR goggles? Watch below:

REVIEW: Maskfone

When life gives you a pandemic, make a mask phone. Yep, Mother Necessity (actually UK- based Binatone) just released the MaskFone, an interesting mashup of both high- and low-tech.

No more muffled talking through your mask as there is a Bluetooth headset and earbuds sewn into the fabric. The fabric mask takes N95 or PM2.5 disposable filters. A mic is strapped in the face piece via hook-and-loop fasteners and two earbuds hang on wires by the ear loops. The buttons on the mask front need to be aligned with internal mic/volume controller but you can also answer and hang up calls on your phone.

The sound is actually very good when I played music and it alerts you of an incoming call. The mask is comfy with a bendable nose bridge and adjustable ear loops.

 

VIDEO: Smartphone, Tablet Gift Ideas (FOX26)

Fresh off an appearance on FOX 26 Morning News (Houston), here are some unique new smartphones and a tablet on the market.  Products courtesy of AT&T.

More suggestions and discussions on the next “High-Tech Texan Show” – Saturday 11a CT on iHeartRadio app.

  • Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G
  • LG Wing
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Holiday Gift Ideas as seen on Houston CBS-TV

I recently popped on “Great Day Houston” to share some ideas on what to give your friends and loved ones this holiday season.  I will continue to yap about them on my radio show so tune in weekly for more ideas.

If interested in any of these items, here are the websites along with a few DISCOUNTED PROMO CODES just for you.  Enjoy!

HP Pavilion x360 Laptop
Samsung Z Flip 5G and Z Fold2 5G smartphones
ScanMyPhotos – Promo Code 30off2020 (30% off)
FireDisc propane cooker – Promo code GARFIELD ($50 off + free shipping)
Turtlebox bluetooth speaker – Promo code GARFIELD ($30 off)

Mattress Tech Continues To Evolve

The sleep tech industry will grow to a $27b business by 2025. But the secret to a good night’s sleep could start with a high-tech mattress. Here is a close-up look at the ReST Bed which uses five separate air chambers and controlled by an app.