• Posted on July 21st, 2014

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    Sennheiser MOMENTUM On-Ear Headphone Review

    Being a big fan of in ear headphones and a Sennheiser fan I was excited to be able to have a good play with the latest MOMENTUM on-ear headphones in the Brazilian World Cup colours.  After all you can’t help but get swept up in what was World Cup mayhem!

    I’m not usually one for on-ear headphones as they are usually too big, heavy and bulky however these are not all that heavy and look pretty stylish. I don’t have a big head so usually on-ear headphones and especially over ear headphones just look silly on me. My husband has the opposite issue they tend to press too hard on his ears as his head is wider than mine. So headphones that work for me don’t usually work for him. These were different.  Their flexible metal frames flex outwards and you can extend them down in the usual way too.

    When I first opened the box of these headphones the immediate thing that grabbed my attention was the tactile nature of them from the metal frame to the well made comfy band over the top.  The detailing of the finish is excellent and these headphones feel really hard wearing. They come with a protective storage bag and a solid case both in soft tactile materials. I thought the storage case would mark and wear with time but it’s actually pretty hard wearing. I’ve taken them about all over the place for the last 3 weeks or so and still the case looks as good as new.

    The headphones come with two different cables, one for use with your iPhone so you can make and take calls through them and another that is just straight through sound without the distraction and weight of the phone remote. Both cables fit neatly into the case so you don’t have to be without either.

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    So that you can see what I’m talking about I’ve grabbed the video of the headphones from the Sennheiser website. Whilst the video is very marketing it does give a really good overview of the headphones look and feel.

    Price wise these are pretty competitive at £169.95 and when you compare the build quality to other brands I’d choose these hands down.  You never know you may even manage to get hold of the special editions a little cheaper now that the World Cup is pretty much done and dusted!

  • Posted on July 16th, 2014

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    The smallest phone charger ever…

    If you are anything like me then inevitably pretty much every time you are about to head out you check your phone and there is no charge in it. It’s a really common problem.  Even worse you are already out an you’ve just found that it’s low on charge and will run out before you will get home. You have that all important call and you just need your phone to be charged.  Yes I’ve been there a thousand times! Worse still they’ve just added the complication now that you have to power up your phone and laptop to prove they are real and work when going through airport security. No power and you’re phone/ laptop get taken away!!! :(

    Most people would say just carry an extra battery but to be honest I’m as bad at charging the spare battery as I am the phone itself.  If I could I’d carry the charger with me and plug into the nearest power point but the charger and cable are usually big and bulky.  Well a small and relatively unknown company called Nomad have come up with a couple of innovative solutions to the great big long charging cable issue. They have two offerings a ChargeCard and a ChargeKey.  When I got the email about them I thought really would they ever be that useful as there isn’t a plug with them but do you know what. I did end up with the ChargeKey on my keyring and I’ve already resorted to using it twice this week for one reason or another.

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    I opted for the USB to microUSB option rather than the iPhone version as most of my devices are non Apple devices so it will not only work with my tablet and phone but also my Kindle and pretty much every useful gadget I own. This has to be one of the single most useful gadgets I’ve had my hands on in quite some time. Now I just need them to bring out a laptop charger that is this small for those airport emergency situations. That or airports need to start having charging stations just before the security gates!

  • Posted on June 19th, 2014

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    5 Things to do when Facebook is down…

    Many of you are sat there wondering what to do with yourselves whilst Facebook is down… Well here are a few simple ideas:

    1. Try a new or different social media platform.  Most people have reverted to Twitter or G+ whilst Facebook sort out their site but why not also consider browsing a few pinboards on Pinterest or even taking a look at some of the free courses on Udemy.
    2. It’s sunny outside here in the UK… why not make the most of having a proper break and going for a short walk. After all Facebook is never down for long!
    3. Focus on the work that you were meant to be doing rather than procrastinating further. Yes I know that sounds harsh but many of us sit reading Facebook as a distraction from the mundane. Write your to do list and start working through it now before that distraction comes back on.
    4. Go and have a cup of tea/ coffee and network with colleagues in real life. It’s amazing how much you learn from real in person interaction rather than just the online stuff.
    5. Keep refreshing the page and wait for Facebook to return… after all you were going to do that anyway… right!

    If you liked these tips please share them with your friends and colleagues. Before you know it your favourite social network will be back up and running!

  • Posted on April 11th, 2014

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    24 Hours with the Acer Iconia A1 830

    We’ve recently got our hands on the latest tablet from Acer.  It’s been released quietly and without the usual fanfare of PR promotion but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is an insignificant device.  What is this device that we speak of… well it’s an 8″ tablet that looks VERY similar to the iPad Mini… And I do mean REALLY similar. If it wasn’t for the Acer badge on the front and the OS being Android you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for it’s fruity cousin.

    The Spec

    • OS: Android 4.2.2
    • CPU: Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz
    • Storage: 16GB ram + MicroSD slot for expansion
    • Screen: 7.9 XGA (1024 x 768)
    • Connectivity: Wifi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n & Bluetooth 3.0
    • Location: GPS integrated
    • Cameras: Rear Facing: 5MP Front Facing: 2MP (No flash on either)

    Price: £160.46 (Amazon)

    What we thought of it

    We compared this device to the Tesco Hudl and the iPad Mini both in terms of cost and value for money.  The Hudl comes in at £119 although you can buy it for £60 plus Clubcard points which is what most people do so this is the cheapest of the devices currently out there.  The iPad Mini is at the other end of the spectrum and comes in at £249.   As you might expect the finish and spec of these two comparables also varies with a cheap look and feel to the Hudl and a very sharp screen and finish to the iPad Mini.

    With the £160 price mark for the Acer Iconia A1 830 I would have anticipated it would look and feel closer to the Hudl than the iPad Mini but in actual fact it is a very very well built device with a finish that rivals the iPad Mini.  We took the Acer Iconia A1 830 down to our local Apple store and took a few pics to show you just how similar they really are.

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    Overall we love the Acer Iconia A1 830 as it certainly seems like the future and if Apple want to stay competitive in the small screen tablet market then they will have to drop their prices quite considerably.  This is a smart device with good battery life and a fast processor.

    If you are also in the market for a shiny new phone and are an Andriod fan consider looking out for the latest Acer phone, the Acer E3 which should (whispers from the Acer staff at the launch event…) be coming to Three on contract very soon…

     

  • Posted on November 27th, 2013

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    2 Weeks With the Nokia Lumia 1020

    I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Nokia 1020 for a couple of weeks to try it out and see what all the hype was about. Quite often with phones there is a lot of hype about a phone and it doesn’t live up to my expectations.  With the Nokia 1020 this was no different.  I’d already been using an HTC X1 so I’m pretty used to the Windows Phone OS so anything relating directly to the OS really wasn’t going to be anything new to me.  So in the case of this particular phone the key feature was the camera!

    Week 1.

    Setting Up:

    The first test that I did with the Nokia 1020 was to set it up as though it were my every day phone. Unlike on the Windows 8 PC’s and Tablets your mail, contacts etc aren’t stored against your Windows Live ID so the setup time was longer than I expected which was a shame but hey, I don’t know of any other phone with that functionality yet. Once I had mail, calendars and contact sorted and my favourite apps installed, fixed the colour theme and set my personalised background I was much happier with the device.

    First Impressions of the Hardware

    Taking the OS and software out of the equation I soon got to grips with the phone in my hand.  I have relatively small hands like many other females and I have to say the form factor of the 1020 is just a bit too wide to be able to use this for one handed texting and data input which is a shame.  The screen has quite a wide boarder of casing and that along with the thickness of the device make it just that little bit harder to use it one handed.

    Weight wise at first I thought it was pretty heavy but I soon got used to that and actually it meant I could find it easily in my bag as it was always there at the very bottom. The bright colour options for this phone mean that when you are fishing around in your handbag you can find it easily which is also a bonus.  Black phones just tend to blend in and are a bit harder to find. I’m not the biggest fan of the colour choices of this phone, they should really have brought out a Blue and a Purple edition, who knows maybe their next phone with have more colour options.

    The screen brightness was great and it’s clarity was just fine too. In terms of how black the black is, I’d say pretty good. I’m not exactly gentle with phones and I haven’t managed to scratch the screen or the casing even though it’s not been in a case since I’ve had it so it’s pretty well made. If you saw my bag you’d wonder how on earth it hadn’t got scratched in the process! What with keys, pens and other random bits in there just waiting to attack it!

    The biggest issue I had with my HTC was the buttons not being reliable and the build quality being poor.  I have no concerns about that with the 1020 at all.  The buttons feel sturdy and I’ve had no issues with them at all.

    Battery life… well for the size of the phone and the way that I use it I have to say it’s not lasted too badly. I have been charging it every other day which isn’t bad for a smartphone. My general usage patterns were WiFi browsing at home, checking email etc.  It got used a few times as a satnav but I did plug it into the car then GPS always drains phone batteries and once or twice I used it as a flashlight when in the garage.

    Overall my week 1 first impressions were it’s good, but not perfect.

    Week 2

    During week 2 I attended a few different events including one at Bletchley Park so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try out the camera features.  I did take a look at the camera a little bit during week one but only very quickly.

    In low light in and around home in an evening I thought it would be fun to try out the camera on the cats.  Moshi our grey cat is always the one who is hardest to shoot as he rarely sits still so I started there and I have to say whilst the images weren’t great they were a lot better than I get from most other cameras. (Fancy DSLR’s excluded!)  The pics can be seen below:

    Overall I like the Lumia 1020 but what I’d love to see is the camera technology from the 1020 in the 925 format so that it wasn’t quite as wide as the 1020. That and maybe add the waterproofing that they are doing on the Sony Xperia Z. :)

  • Posted on November 7th, 2013

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    Headphones to run in

    Whilst beginning to run this year I was using an app to help go from the couch to running a 5k, which gave me hints on when to run and when to walk as well as giving me the opportunity to listen to some motivating tunes. What I realised during this was two things –firstly I need music to run to and secondly to be able to do this I need a pair of headphones that don’t fall out.

    Headphones falling out was just the tip of the iceberg – trying to run when in mid-summer with temperatures over 30 degrees I realised two more things – headphones get sweaty and I like to pour water over my head. My current headphones just weren’t cutting it so I went on the hunt for a pair that would do two things – not fall out and deal with sweat/water.

    So off searching around I went for the best headphones to run in – in multiple reviews yurbuds came up time and time again – according to the reviews – they wouldn’t fall out, they could handle sweat and water and best of all for me – they let in noise around you. As I run near roads and on paths that are used by cyclists and walkers being able to hear what was around sounded like a great idea.

    yurbuds arrived – off for a run. First things first though do they fit my ears – Yes! yurbuds come with a variety of size inserts so I was able to find one that comfortably fit my ears (once I’d read the instructions on how to fit and lock them in), yurbuds twist when you insert so you are in a way locking them in – as I was trying these out for the first time I was getting some very strange looks as I was running trying to shake them out of my ear with no success – there was no way these were coming out of my ears until I took them out. First requirement passed!

    To test out the second requirement I needed a hot day and luckily one of those came not long after the yurbuds – 35 degree heat isn’t nice to run in but I wanted to give them a real test and with two bottles of water poured over my head during the run there was no detrimental effect to the earphone or the sound quality, can’t say the same about myself though. They were also not being affected at all by sweat. Second equipment passed!

    Running whilst listening to music but still be able to hear all the noises around you takes some getting used to is the first thing I’ll say and it’s not for everyone, some people like to completely zone out but being able to hear the cyclists ringing their bells means I can run safely. Due to the fact that they allow in ambient noise the sounds quality isn’t amazing – but you’re also not paying an extortionate amount for these.

    The yurbud in-ear part is made of a plastic like material which does collect dust and dirt if like me your headphones live with your other kit thrown in a bag and I find myself cleaning them before I use them something that could maybe be improved in the future.

    Model tested: Inspire for women (I liked the choice of colours)

  • Posted on November 5th, 2013

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    4 Interesting Small Companies with Great Gadgets!

    Last weekend was a bit of a geeky weekend and we decided that it was time to drop in on The Gadget Show Live (TGSL) Christmas event down at Earls Court.  Having been too the main Gadget Show Live event over in Birmingham I have to say I was surprised at just how small this event actually felt however there were a few hidden gems amongst the big companies that you’d expect to be there.

    When we popped down to TGSL we didn’t expect there to be many products that made us go oooh and wow but the best of what we saw came from a series of kickstarter projects and young start-ups.

    Limited edition iPad Bag by Loafer Co – for the way you work

    This was the first of the Kickstarter projects that caught our eye.  Why? Well the quality and design of these bags is brilliant. Honestly they are sturdy, solid and incredibly functional but at the same time stylish.  The designer totally gets what is needed with a gadget bag and I have to say I did persuade them to sell me their sample from the stand and I’ve been using it ever since! Honestly at £36 you’d be grabbing yourself a great bargain on these bags!  With only a couple of weeks to go on this project it’s one that is well worth funding!

    Take a look at the video below to find more about the idea and see the products for yourself.

    RockStix 2

    Literally right next door to the cool bags from Loafer Co we came across RockStix 2. Now whilst I was drooling over the bags my husband was testing out these little beauties. RockStix are basically light up drumsticks and for the kickstarter project you even get them with your name or your band name on them which is pretty neat. We got to see these in action being used by the Gadget Show team when they were doing their live show and in the dark they really do look awesome. (And are so much cooler when a pro uses them right!)

    This particular project has already reached it’s Kickstarter goal and actually met it well in advance of it’s deadline. The drumsticks have caught the attention of a few big name drummers in the music industry so look out for them being used at concerts in the near future!

    Halcyon Bulbs

    If you’ve seen the recent announcements around the latest Philips Hue lighting then you’ll know that networked home lighting is the big thing at the moment. Well rather than going with lighting that just changes colour based on what you set it to the Halycon bulbs change based on the time of day. Think of these a bit like the Lumie Light in terms of these bulbs providing lighting to make you feel more alert and awake. They change colour based on the time of day, providing their whitest light around mid day. You can also connect into your lights from your phone, tablet of laptop. We are hoping to get our hands on these to try them out and see how they work in a real home environment. As someone who works from home these could be just what is needed for those dark winter days!

    Tempo Heat Sensor

    Tempo

    Our final find was something really best suited to those who are a little sensitive to the cold. Tempo is a pretty looking heating sensor that tracks the temperature in the room that it is placed in. It’s great to find out where a draft is or if you have a baby whether the baby room is too hot or too cold. With a Bluetooth connection to the sensor and access to the device via your mobile phone you can get direct readings from any other room in the house and alerts if the sensor hits a high or low limit.

    From what we hear this little company has other products also in progress that we look forward to hearing more about in the future.

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