As most major home appliance manufacturers now offer time machines in their current catalogues, my dedicated team of product testers and I had hoped to take a thorough survey of the field.  However, those priced at ten thousand credits are most likely to sell to inexperienced purchasers, so we decided to limit our tests to two of the models below that limit.  These machines were purchased anonymously through regular retail outfits.

The Asimov T3000 Astrolabe got off to a bad start; one of the door handles came off the first time it was used.  A standard-size flathead screwdriver will do the job in a pinch, but we recommend purchasing both a replacement handle and a quality toolbox before making any trips in this machine.  A tool of this nature may not be readily available in many of the eras most commonly visited, and since the machine is rendered both invisible and intangible as long as the doors are shut, there is no question of asking a helpful native to let you out.

Overall, we found the oversized ergonomic controls of the Astrolabe thoughtfully placed and easy to use, even in the dark.  The interior features overstuffed leather chairs, a quality entertainment system, and a small cooler built into the rear console, which could easily hold enough rations to sustain a hungry crew for a week.  The cooler is not a factory standard option, however, and available only on the T3000 series.

Warp field tests of the Astrolabe were highly successful. It should be noted that, due to the machine’s sleek design, normal turbulence is almost nil, and we were able to carry on a normal conversation without shouting.

There was one minor flaw with the Astrolabe, however; when he finally regained consciousness, our pilot suggested removing the emergency ejection switch from the overhead.  As it stands, it is easily confused with the switch for the overhead map light.

In comparison, the controls of the Slipstream Excelsior were too small to be of use, and, in some cases, were flush with the console.  When we finally pried open the dashboard access panel, we discovered many of the outlets were dummy plates. While measuring the radius of the warp field, it collapsed to half its size during a test jump to 1776, leaving the pilot’s head in that year, and his feet in the present. Repairs were quickly brought to hand, but the pilot was forced to take a paid leave of absence while he came to the grips with the fact that the colonies were, in fact, now free.

Upon closer inspection, we discovered one of the restraining bolts under the driver’s seat was missing, which might have resulted in bodily injury during a more difficult reentry.  The seat fabric aroused our suspicion, and we sent a piece of it to our labs for testing.  It turned out to be the hide of an animal high on the endangered species list.  Also questionable: the flimsy bolts used to secure the fusion drive cowling, the instruction manual written in every language except Standard English, and the bone dry fire extinguishers.  Repeated calls to the customer service department were not returned, and so this model was immediately stricken from our testing.  We do not recommend it for purchase under any circumstance.  When we attempted to dispose of ours with a reputable scrap dealer, we received less than 10% of its dealer value in return.

Aside from the incident with the ejection seat, the Astrolabe performs well, easily meets the standards we applied to it, and lends itself to D.I.Y. repairs in a pinch.  We therefore name it our “Best Buy”.

Those prepared to sacrifice performance for greater comfort may prefer the Astrolabe to the more expensive iTraveler (not reviewed).

As always, we advocate the purchase of a full-coverage re-temporization policy, and remind prospective buyers that they must first be licensed time-pilots, and registered as such with their local board.

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