April, 2013


30
Apr 13

Blackberry Z10

Blackberry Z10

I did snort when I heard that Alicia Keyes was made the global creative director of Blackberry and I laughed out loud when it was rumoured that she tweeted the news from her iPhone. Blackberry have been in crisis for a couple of years, once the pioneer of smartphones they took their eye of the ball by trying to ram their tablet down our throats and pushing out dodgy devices after device. With Samsung, HTC, Apple and even Nokia are made their mark on smartphone universe it looked like Blackberry had bit the dust. Suddenly their cute devices looked very dated compared to the lush iPhones, HTC X and Ssmsung Galaxies that had flooded the market. Something needed to be done and Blackberry retreated to strategise and emerged with a new brand name, new ambassador (cough Alicia, drop the iPhone) and new smartphone. Enter Blackberry Z10, the phone that would put the brand back on the map. Well I decided to check out the Blackberry Z10 to see what the big deal is all about.

The phone is powered by Blackberry 10 which is the now operating system, the Blackberry Z10 and offers you a seamless way in using your apps and features. Like the Windows Phone you can keep all your favourite apps in one place so you have instant access to them. Blackberry’s piece de resistance is the BlackBerry Hub which gives you instant access to your emails, text messages and BBM. Since those are the tools that I use most then I really love this feature. The keyboard is not bad; it feels easy to type ond has a punchy feel when you swipe the keyboard. It is made to understand and adapt to our writing style, so we can type faster and more accurately. I didn’t really see any real evidence of this but I did feel more secure typing on this model than my Samsumg. It did feel odd having to constantly swipe upwards in order to move from A to B and with no back button, navigating between apps and screens was a real pain.

Overall the Blackberry Z10 is a massive improvement from their recent models and if you are a real communicator then this is the phone for you. The Blackberry Hub is a real seller but as a regular Smartphone the cons are too much for me to consider it as an option. Lack of compatibility to Instagram and Pinterest is annoying but at least the Whatsapp tool is a lot better than the previous version. In terms of touch screen phones the Blackberry Z10 does not really offer anything dramatically different from the other phones out there but the Blackberry Q10 which is keyboard based may be a different matter.

The BlackBerry Z10 is available on all major networks and sold in from Carphone Warehouss.


26
Apr 13

The Designer Series

Griffin Designer Series

Those rumours about the release of the iPhone 5S are just getting stronger and once the new model drops I am sure we will be greeted with the usual Beatles like hysteria. And with every new phone comes a spanking new phone cover. While we await the release of Apple’s new baby, Griffin Technology have released a new collection of iPhone cases for iPhone 5 and 4/4S but with a difference. This collection is called the Designer Series and features cases that have been created by up and coming artists. The Designer Series range from an eclectic gamut, to organic illustration, clean graphic design and even tattoo artwork. The cases also have ethical attributes and a commitment to Fair Trade as they are produced by local printers in Nashville where Griffin’s headquarters are and the designers earn a set amount for each case sold bearing their artwork. If a design proves to be really popular then the designer may earn a distribution deal.

I love the idea of using emerging artists to design an accessories collection because I feel that it brings a fresh and funky vibe to what can be a saturated market. Some of the designs are really lovely with a real quirky feel. There are so many different phone cases out there that everyone is looking for that one case that stands out and makes a statement. It’s also good to know that Griffin are working on a collection for Android phones.

The Designer Series collection is exclusively available on the Griffin website


22
Apr 13

GetTaxi

GetTaxi

I do like the finer things in life and being ferried around in a taxi is one of them. You know that moment when you are feeling tired after work, bogged down with shopping bags or feeling worse for wear after a night out and you just want to get home but you cannot bear the idea of public transport. Well GetTaxi is the app for you. GetTaxi is the travel app that allows you to travel in style and with total convenience. You can order taxis on your BlackBerry, iPhone and Android smartphone or on the GetTaxi website. You also have the option of paying by card so no fretting if you do not have any cash on you. You can find out how long it will take for your taxi to get to you and the coolest thing about the app is that you can track exactly where your taxi is, you are supplied with your driver’s name and contact tel no in case there are any queries. Bookings can be made either for a specific time or spontaneously.

Armed with credit on my account courtesy of a kind PR I decided to give GetTaxi a go. The company proved to be as reliable as they stated; my journey was easy to book on the app and my taxi arrived on time. I was pressed for time on my second journey so I was clock watching and tracking my taxi on the app. The taxi was comfortable and the driver friendly and when I reached the end of my destination a message popped up asking me how I wanted to pay. Total class. All GetTaxi drivers are registered black cab drivers and takes passenger safety very seriously. They have recently launched their ‘Closed Door’ policy that ensures that the taxi driver, dropping off any women travelling in a taxi late at night, will not drive off until the passenger has safely closed the door behind them.

GetTaxi launched in 2010 with the mission of wowing passengers and drivers alike by giving them a more reliable, user-friendly and safe way to travel around their cities. Now they operate in major cities with clout such as London, Moscow, New York and Tel Aviv.

To find out more GetTaxi just go to their website.


17
Apr 13

The Canon – The Blogger Camera

CanonThere was a time when all a blogger needed to get started was a laptop, a notepad and a small point and shoot camera. Well those days are long gone and any decent blogger now owns a smart SLR. The one camera that I keep seeing out and about is the Canon. I was at a launch for Bourjois last year and all the bloggers took out their Canons and started snapping away putting my Fuji to shame. Since then I see them everywhere – press days, product launches and blogger events – to the point where I now describe the Canon as the Blogger camera. So why are they so popular? I interviewed three bloggers to find out what exactly is it that makes the Canon so special.

Sascha from Beauty Geek UK has a Canon 400D

Why did you choose the Canon?
Mainly because I’ve always had Canon cameras (although they were all point and shoot) and being someone who doesn’t get on too well with technology, I thought I stood a better chance of being comfortable using a Canon DSLR. I also involved a few of my Facebook friends who know photography and they recommended them too.

What do you love most about the camera?
Oh I love all of it; it makes me really happy! Being a photography novice I think it’s brilliantly set-up so that you can take pretty decent images even if you don’t know what you’re doing, but there’s also plenty of scope to advance yourself technically when you’re ready.

Why do you think that camera is so popular amongst bloggers?
For the above reasons; it’s the sort of camera that will improve anyone’s photography and for me it made a phenomenal difference.

Would you recommend the Canon to other bloggers?
Most definitely yes! Up until recently I had two cameras – one for products and one for swatching – both of which were Canon. The only reason that doesn’t remain the case is because I’ve lost the point and shoot :)

Rebecca-Monique Canon 2

Rebecca-Monique (above) holding her beloved Canon 650D

Rebecca-Monique from Blaque Pearl and has a Canon 650D

Why did you choose the Canon?
I like to present my blog posts in a photo-led manner, so it’s paramount that I use very good quality images. I had toyed with the idea of buying a DSLR for a while, and as my interest in photography (as a hobby) began to grow rapidly, I decided that a simple ‘point-and-click’ camera just wouldn’t suffice. Fortunately for me, I have a few friends and colleagues who are professional photographers, so I was able to seek their advice as to which camera would be suitable, given my experience and intended use. Canon and Nikon were the two brands mentioned the most, but there seemed to be more of a sway towards Canon. After searching on the web and reading customer reviews and recommendations, as well as seeing some impressive sample images, I had my eyes firmly set on the 650D. It was pricy: a brand-new one would set me back at least £500, but I knew it would be a well-cherished investment.

What do you love most about the camera?
I love how user-friendly the camera is, and also like the fact that it isn’t as bulky as some of its predecessors, so I can pop it in my handbag and take snaps whenever I’m out and about. I had previously used Canons, though not owned one, so I was glad that the settings were familiar. The lenses are very quick and easy to change – personally, I interchange between two (depending on the type of shot I want to achieve): the 18-55mm zoom lens, and the 50mm 1.8. The 50mm lens is my favourite because it makes every photo look breathtaking. I like that you have the option of manually or auto-focusing your lens, so you’re completely in control of how you achieve your shot. If you’re fairly new to DSLRs, it’s good to experiment a little with manual settings and observe how they affect photo output, for example aperture and shutter speeds are useful features to get to grips with. If you don’t want to get too fiddly with the settings or aren’t that confident, you can opt for the ‘auto’ option, which does the trick.

Why do you think that camera is so popular amongst bloggers?
I think this camera is so popular amongst bloggers because firstly, it’s reliable. Given that you know how to operate its features, you won’t be disappointed with the output. It also doubles up quite well as a video camera, which is great if you’re a blogger who has ventured into the world of vlogging or YouTube.
The flip screen comes in handy when recording videos or taking images you need to be in because you don’t have to rely on others to capture seemingly awkward or tricky photos for you. The flip screen enables you to make sure you’re positioned correctly in the shot and view exactly what you’re capturing. Additional accessories, such as a remote control or tripod, prove to be very useful because they act as an extra pair of hands.

Would you recommend the Canon to other bloggers?
I would definitely recommend the Canon to other bloggers, but my honest advice to them would be to do their own research to find the camera (make and/or model) that is best suited to their needs and experience. Like I said previously, using a DSLR is not the same as using a point-and-click camera; you have to know what you’re doing. There’s such a wealth of information on the Internet, so much of what you need to know can be self-taught, plus the camera’s manual is pretty straightforward. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with photography jargon too. Personally, I think Canon is a top brand, and this camera is a great investment – definitely worth every penny. Once you’ve mastered how to use it, the next step is to brush up on your technique in order to capture more creative and captivating shots.

Laura

Laura Byrne posing with her treasured Canon 600D

Laura Byrne from Belles Boutique and has a Canon 600D.

Why did you choose the Canon?
I chose to get the 600d purely because of word of mouth recommendations. The 600d seems to be a bloggers favourite and I suppose I kind of just jumped on the bandwagon. I was always impressed with the quality of the photos that they produced and loved that it filmed with good spec, which is something my previous camera didn’t offer.

What do you love most about the camera?
I really love how easy it is to use and love that it has a flip screen, which is perfect for both filming and “selfies” for my blog. I often like to shoot in manual too, and not being an expert at photography, the Canon has made it so easy with the brief descriptions of each setting, for example ISO Speed (Set light sensitivity, ambient brightness), which I have found to be super helpful.

Why do you think that camera is so popular amongst bloggers?
I think the 600d is so popular because it offers such great quality pictures and movies at a reasonable price point to start. I think the flip screen function and use of a remote is a bonus too. I know the 650d has become really popular amongst bloggers too, because it offers auto-focus on filming, although again, I enjoy using manual.

Would you recommend the Cannon to other bloggers?
Absolutely, I’m so pleased with my Canon 600d and am continuously recommending it to others. It’s a great SLR especially if you’re new to photography because as you continue to experiment, there are so many interchangeable lenses available. I’m looking into getting a new Canon compact too now, which I’ve heard are great for vlogging.

So if you are a blogger and in the market for a new camera, well you might want to consider a Canon.


16
Apr 13

An Afternoon with Holly Willoughby and Windows Phones

Holly Willoughby

Holly Willoughby posing with her Windows Phone

I am typing this post on my brand new Windows Phone. Last week I was invited to attend an event with Windows and Bounty mums. It was held at the Covent Garden Hotel and hosted. by TV presenter, Holly Willoughby. The aim was to promote how Windows Phones can help busy parents organise their lives by educating and entertaining kids and offering tools that allows them to manage their household chores. The brilliant feature, Kid’s Corner was praised a lot as it allows parents to share their phone with their child but while fully controlling what their kids can see on the screen. Kids Corner sops kids from making accidental phone-calls, misdirecting emails and making unapproved purchases. The format was a round table discussion where avid Windows Phone users shared their opinions about the model and the benefits. The room was full of Mummy bloggers, journalists as well as Bounty ambassadors and they all had something valuable to add to the. discussion. Holly kicked off the talk by telling us how valuable the phone is to her life; as a modern day lady she has to juggle career and family and she was a huge fan of the calender feature which allows her agent to see her itinerary and add meetings and events in for her. Other features that got the thumbs up were Sky Drive which allows you to access your files anywhere, the connectivity with Microsoft Office as well as the variety of games on offer.

We were lucky enough to be gifted a Windows Phone 8X for HTC to take away with us. I have been using Blackberrys for the last three years and I got my Samsung S3 late last year so I am not at all familiar with the Windows Phone. To me it is the phone with all the squares but what I didn’t know was that those squares are pretty dynamic. They are Live Tiles and essentially keep you up to date with what is going on in the lives of your family and friends. You can arrange your screen and decide on what updates that will appear on it. After hearing about all the wonderful features, I could not wait to get started on it and I was impressed with what I saw. The phone is a bit smaller than most Smartphones so that makes it a lot more portable and the keypad is a lot more easier to type on. The navigation of the phone is also a lot more clearer and simple – whilst with the Samsung you ended up with open windows every time you opened an app, that ate your memory, with this phone all you have to do to exit an app is press the back arrow sign. I love the interface of the Windows Phone because all the fonts on it is the same across all apps unlike the Samsung where the font is tiny on Whatsapp and Facebook yet microscopic on text messaging. However what I love about this phone is the camera. I adore the fact that you have easy access to it simply by pressing the button on the side. This is really useful for me especially at times when I want to whip out my camera and take a quick picture. This feature really kicks my Samsung Galaxy into touch. Looks like iPhone and Samsung have a real challenger on their hands.


15
Apr 13

Coloud Headphones

ColoudIt’s not just Dr Dre who is causing a stir in the headphones department, in a bid to keep up a lot of brands are launching exciting new products on the market. Coloud have launched The Boom and The Knock which are headphones available in a variety of different colours. The Boom is an overhead model that allows you to enjoy your music without outside interference, The Knock is a streamlined design that feels light as a feather around your head and The Pop are the type that you insert into your ear. All the headphones are crafted with minimal parts and feature a mechanical construction, making them extremely durable and built to withstand the pressures of everyday listening. Coloud is a Swedish brand that launched last year and their concept is to create dynamic headphones that provide no-nonsense sound. The emphasis is not on huge logos, funny gimmicks or unnecessary details, just reliable and functional headphones designed to deliver your daily dose of music. I tried The Boom and it was pretty cool, comfortable to wear and gives your music and extraordinary bass that would rival many and at £35 it is not too heavy on your bank balance.

At a price that won’t break the bank Coloud headphones are the perfect way to add a splash of colour to your everyday outfit.

For more information about Coloud, go to their website.


13
Apr 13

The Lomography Camera

Lomography Diana FYou would have to be under a rock not to realise that we live in a digital community. We do everything online; pay bills, watch TV, communicate with others, share content, shop and sell. So it’s only natural that digital cameras have taken more of centre point in our lives. Whether it is a camera that is part of your phone or full blown SLR we always need one to capture pivotal moments of our lives. However as popular as digital cameras are there is a massive community who still use analogue cameras. Take Lomography for a start – the brand is a magazine, shop, and a community dedicated to analogue photography. Lomography was founded in the 80s by Igor Petrowitsch Kornitzky, and Michail Panfilowitsch Panfiloff in a bid to create a better version of the Cosina CX-1, which was the premier analogue camera of that time. Boy did they succeed; the cameras are very bold, eye catching and very quirky. They look very good very good on the eye too and are often featured in magazine shoots or in the hands of celebrities. TV presenter, Alexa Chung has been spotted with a camera at a fashion show.

The cameras range from £25 to over £300 which makes it accessible to more or less everyone. They all have a retro look that is rather kitch and are such fun to play with. Their bestselling models are the Diana Mini and Flash, Lomo Lubitel 165, Diana F+ and Fisheye No2. I got to play with the Diana F+ Gold Edition for a few weeks. It was a bit of a challenge getting my head round using a camera that was not digital but once I had it was pretty smooth sailing. The model was created in 2007 as a tribute to the original Diana camera which was an analogue icon of the 1960s. It has original features of the late Diana camera; the lightweight plastic body, the simple shutter, the color-dripping lens and soft-focused surprises. But it also has brand new features like Pinhole and Endless Panorama options. It is a really cool camera to play with and would make a lovely present for someone if you want to give them something cool and original.

To find out more about Lomography cameras just go to their website.


6
Apr 13

Mischa Barton Range for UUnique London

Mischa BartonYou guys remember Mischa Barton right? She played troubled teen, Marissa Cooper in The OC. She was also touted as a teen idol and fashion icon of her generation. Since leaving The OC in 2006 Marissa has been pretty busy; starring in the short lived glossy drama, The Beautiful Life and doing some film work and theatre. However, it is the fashion and beauty scene where she has made her mark. She has been the face of various brands such as Chanel, Calvin Klein, Monsoon Accessorize and Neutrogena so it was only inevitable that she would try her hand at designing. In 2006 she created a handbag line for ASOS and two years later she followed that up with a line line of headbands for the Stacy Lapidus brand. Mischa now has an online boutique called Mischa’s Place where she sells her own line of clothing, accessories, cosmetics, and bath products. She has now jumped on the sexy tech wave by collaborating with UUnique London and launching a series of bespoke iPhone cases. Uunique By Mischa features a mouth watering selection of elegant cases. Whether you want a white plain one that will blend in, a sophisticated black one or a highly feminine case with all the frills they are all here ripe for the picking. The prices are pretty reasonable too ranging from £24.99 to £34.99. Makes me wish I had an iPhone.

For more information on the Mischa Barton range check out the UUnique London website.

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