CVT gearboxes, how are they different from normal automatic gearboxes

With CVT gearboxes becoming a common feature on most cars that are being imported into Sri Lanka, specially after Toyota Japan has made it standard for all the common models (Axio, Allion, Premio, RAV4, etc).  However a lot seem unclear what is different from the CVT, specially since Toyota went to great lengths making many changes to the implementation of the CVT in Toyota’s to make it look and feel like a normal auto, hiding some of the characteristics that easily enabled a driver to know if the car had a CVT or not.

This tweaking has made many feel that CVT gearboxes are just like auto boxes, when in reality they are engineered very differently. A simple and quick guide that i would like to point out to people is  Hits the key points straight on such as the characteristics of a true CVT gearbox, and how manufacturers tweak it to hide the characteristics since most automatic users feel not comfortable with the normal jerky revy nature of the CVT gear ratio changes.

Important to note in CVT’s are,

1. There is no physical gear ratios, which in some ways makes it feel like a manual

2. The tiptronic buttons that say 5-speed, 7-speed simply are programing (software) implementation of ratios that gets applied as you change them, unlike in a true auto where it shifts into a different gear ratio

3. Though ATF oil was used in the past, issues faced by Honda with their CVT gearboxes and by Nissan in recent times have made auto makers develop a different gearbox / transmission fluid for CVT implementation.  However the gearbox itself has gone through changes, such as torque converters which were not used in early CVT gearboxes to reduce the loss in efficiency (some say 10%) were reintroduced, and the findings that the CVT gearboxes generated more heat has seen coolers being installed to maintain temperatures.  Hence the continued need for a higher cost CVT fluid maybe more marketing than fact, but with gearbox prices being high nobody wants to skimp to prove this 🙂

4. Implementations of the CVT gearboxes differ from manufacturer to manufacture, both in the physical as well as software.  Honda implementations seem to favor retaining the revvy nature of the CVT, as Honda owners feel they are driving something sporty.  However Toyota findings that their buyers preferred the automatics more smoother controlled changes has seen Toyota invest greatly to make the CVT gearbox mimic an auto.  Nissan one of the pioneer CVT implementers and a company that actually started using it in larger cars has never got much of the spotlight though they have many different variations of CVT.

However with the emergence of the dual clutch automatic gearboxes, which has shown that cars equipped with it could shift faster than a manual gearbox has made the CVT the second best auto implementation compared to the manual.  Dual clutch implementations are featured in many European cars, with VW group even having it on their cheap small cars such as the Polo. Sadly not seen much on this from the usual Japanese cars and companies.


Syncing up your contacts from a Nokia phone to an Android

Unless your phones PC connectivity solution comes with this capability (Sony Ericsson’s software does not as as Jan 2011), you have a long and rather complex option. However the Android Market has software that can do this, but they are not free.

  1. Save the outlook contacts as a CSV.  Problem, outlook cannot do that, and I had to track down a tool that worked as an outlook add-on but was very low on usability (You have to select each field you need).
  2. You then need to go to gmail and import the contacts
  3. Then you need sync the contacts from gmail to your phone
  4. However there is a bug, that some of the contacts have wrong phone no’s.  However the CSV file has the correct no’s, so problems with the google import process 🙂

UPDATE: Not a bug but google mail contact importer does not support all fields in outlook, and also expects the names of the columns to match its. The best way is to create a sample contact in google and export it to get the format!   Read to get more context.

From Symbian to Android – my experiences

Afters years of Nokia Symbian ownership decided i need to try out one of the more popular smartphone platforms.  If the Nokia N8 did not have the hardware failure, I was also set in purchasing it, since the legacy feel of Symbian3, weak app market (ovi) were not big issues, though the lower resolution screen was a bit of bummer.  The C7 is a decent lower model, but the full-focusing camera makes it not good since the ability for a camera in the phone to take picture of a whiteboard or a receipt is vital. Full focus while doing a good job with normal pics, can only focus beyond 50cm, so that means no macro at all.

While the IPhone 4 is a very appealing proposition, specially with the rich app store, the bordering arrogance (putting it mildly) of Apple on how they handle their sales put me off.   I also found from the official local agent for Apple that Apple has prohibited selling the IPhone in my country, and this is something i have not seen with any other vendor.  So off went the Apple IPhone no matter how good!

So then the option was to get into the more wilder Android market.  The Galaxy S was the choice, but with budgets, i took the Sony Ericsson X10 (yeah yeah, support is crap, no proper multi-touch, Froyo aint’  coming here……………………..) as the replacement for the Nokia N97 mini.

First impressions,


– The app store is definitely richer

– The apps are far more smoother than the N97mini. Then again this is running a processor that 2.5X of the N97 mini and has a dedicated graphic card, so i guess that not a fair comparison

– The higher no of pixels are definitely useful, as you see the difference when browsing and reading content such as pdfs, etc. Definitely a worthy improvement

– The multiple desktops, definitely helps customize the apps into groups, and the lack of restrictions on the size of the widget makes it even more neater


– Outlook sync:: NO OUTLOOK sync.  This really surprised me. Here i have synced my contacts with outlook, and were all ready to sync to find that i cannot.  The work around was messy and complex, unless you buy a commercial tool.  This is how i got around it without any special tool, but its a manual process based on reading the net and then doing some of my own experiments.  See  Quite surprising considering google must be having loads of users converting from nokia and and other phones and no having a Google tool for this is ridiculous.

– Tethering:: No built in tethering, i mean sure it supports it but its all via downloads from the market.  Things that Nokia gave free are sadly not bundled.  The sync app is super featureless, with only media transfers, and a file manager.  No wonder manufacturers love Android, their costs are  lowered in the investment on apps.

–  User Experience:: Maybe its the SE implementation but the touch interface is not smooth, i have tried the iPhone and this is no match for the iOS interface (yet).

– Usability:: who said Symbian was bad.  Just try going through the menu options on Android.  It is no good either.  Stevey J and the boys definitely have that end covered. My wife who had a time learning to use the N97MINI, simply used this and said, only for the techies, as its just to overly complex for a phone.  Can’t disagree with her on that, this is more like a desktop OS than a phone OS.

– Multimedia:: Woo.. seems like the video codec we took for granted is not available as yet for Android phones.  The Galaxy S is the first certified DIVX supported phone, which means none of the other phones have official divx support.  Add to it there is no Divx software for Androids as yet.  Seems the current Divx implementations are all software based, so expect heavy battery drain when playing Divx

– Camera:: Have you noticed that most Android camera’s have no proper flash.  The much famed Galaxy S for instance does not even have any sort of flash.  However don’ t think its because they use any great sensor, the Nokia N8 sensor rules in this arena.  The current camera capabilities are limited in Android, with very little control.  Most of what you see in the camera apps is thanks to the manufacturer, not Google Android.

– Free Apps drain power and increase data costs due to Ad download:: Apps are free on on the google app market, BUT.. a big BUT, most of them require internet connectivity to work, since they need to download ads.  This could be a no no for many users in our market since unless you buy a data package bundle you can end up with big bills.  So watch out.