03
Jun 13

Acer Inconia A1

Iconia A1_front_left_screen

A few weeks ago I was invited down to the W Hotel to celebrate the launch of Acer’s new tablet, the Inconia A1. As well as mingling with a mixture of bloggers, tech press, testers (customers who try out new gadgets ahead of release) and other media types I got to find out about the tablet. In tablet land there are three camps; Samsung, Kindle and the master all tablets – the iPad. With those three in sight they are a pretty hard nut to crack, rather like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. That being said, Acer have a real contender to the throne with the new Inconia. At 7.9′ it is aimed at modern day digital creatives who often have to work on the go. It comes in a sleek case that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. The internal aspects are equally impressive: it has a quad-core processors for faster media performance as well as vibrant visuals on 20.1 cm (7.9”) LED-backlit display with IPS(1) technology and 5MP camera.

Pros

The size is perfect, you can hold it on one hand and use it effectively. It is also dinky enough to fit into your bag.
The hook up with Google is a life saver, the Inconia was connected to my email, Instagram, Google Reader and other apps very easily. I love the fact that I get alerts about new emails, Twitter messages and updates as soon as they come in.

It fills the gap between a laptop and smartphone. This works perfectly for me for when I am out and about and do not want to carry my laptop about or when I am at home and I am too lazy to fire up the laptop. It also acts as an extension of my Samsung and makes it easy for me to read news and blogs on a larger screen.
Watching videos on the Iconia is a cinch because it just boots up instantly unlike the Kindle which takes ages to load.

Navigation between apps on is very easy and you can find whatever you want quickly.
The battery lasts quick a while – seven hours on the box – I haven’t actually tested this but I tend to to use it on and off for a good few days before it runs out of juice.

Cons

The elasticity feel of the keyboard makes it difficult to type on. I prefer a much sturdier keyboard.

The plastic case gives it a cheap feel which is a shame considering that the Iconia is on par with the Kindle Fire HD except the Kindle looks like a much more quality product.

Internet connection can be a bit iffy.

So as you can see there are a lot of positives about the Inconia and at £169 it is a pretty good steal.

The Acer Iconia A1 is available to buy now.

For more information please go to the Acer website.


30
May 13

The Olivia

Olivia_Black_Front

Face it being a blogger can be quite trying physically. You need all your kit, smartphone, charger (I never home without mine), tablet, laptop and camera so you need a trusty bag that will hold all your tech stuff. However, it can’t be any old bag, a rucksack just won’t do now will a battered holdall. Other brands have come to our rescue such as Knomo and Marshall Bergman and now Jill-e Designs have joined the club of classy tech accessories. They have launched a stylish new collection of leather bags designed specifically for Apple products. There are five bags in the collection which have been created using lush leathers and are available in a variety of chic styles. Whether you have an iPad, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, there is plenty for you to choose from. Interestingly enough, each bag also has its own name.

Emma is a cross-body model, made in blue and black which is perfect for the 11” MacBook Air and iPad. Olivia is made in black and is a perfect fit for your 13” MacBook. You can either carry it over the shoulder, at your side or like a backpack. Veronica is available in black and is a stylish messenger with on-trend accent quilting for the 15” MacBook Pro. Jeremy is a briefcase style with spacious, accessible zippered compartments for the 13” MacBooks and iPad. It is made in black. Bennett has that trendy messenger style that is very fashionable. It comes in brown and black and is perfect for the 15” MacBook Pro.

I was gifted the Olivia by the PR rep and I was pleasantly surprised to see how soft the fabric was. The bags does look very solid and and it has enough room to carry all your cables and accessories. This would be the perfect bag that I would take with me when I am travelling abroad because the intense padding really protects your laptop and I would feel very secure leaving it on the overhead baggage container on the plane. Jill-e Designs started off designing luxury bags in 2007 for photographers who were looking for the perfect bag that could hold their kit safely but also matched their creative style. This their first step into tech bags and tt can be safe to say that they have taken off with a bang.

For more information about Jill-e Designs visit their website.


24
May 13

Tech at Press Days

Marks and Spencer's press day

Marks and Spencer’s press day

Press days or previews are no longer about showing off your fashion and beauty collections for the up and coming season. These days you need a bit of a novelty in order to get the interest of the journalist or blogger. With several events on most days it is the press day that has the wow factor that will generate the most buzz. Last week Twitter and Instagram was full of images and comments from the Jo Malone launch for their new fragrance, Peony and Blush Suede. When I got there I could see exactly why. It was pure decadence otherwise known as Cologne meets Couture. The room was covered in thousand and thousands of peonies which had been flown in for the stunning installation creating a divine smell. I am still swooning. Brands are now using technology as a way of making an impact. There is the obligatory tweet screen which contains people talking about the brand but an effect that brings out the personality of the brand.

As well as a stunning A/W collection, Marks & Spencer boasted a café and a stacked fridge full of M&S goodies. They also had a tweet screen and a bar with iPads for journalists and bloggers to encourage them to look at the M&S website and stay and work in the cafe area. However it was their use of Twitter that caught my eye.

“The iPads in the cafe were set up in case any guests wanted to tweet, browse the Marks and Spencer website, browse our Style Edit ,” a spokesperson from M&S told me. “We wanted to create a comfortable environment where writers and bloggers could pick up some lunch, grab a coffee, stay and work, post blogs or file copy for their pages. The feedback we got is that press enjoyed seeing their tweets on the screen and were also interested in which pieces were popular with their counterparts at other publications. From an M&S perspective it was great for us to get a real-time feed of the pieces the press loved at our press day.”

At their last press day New Look knocked the ball out of the bag by hosting a Google Hangout in the middle of the event with Muse TV. Now how cool and trendy is that? This season they took things a step further by issuing a ‘like’ scanner to everyone and asked them to scan all the items that took their fancy so they can analyse trends. With summer on its way (fingers crossed) all the beauty brands are talking sun care and Boots are on it. They have numerous products on the market to suit every skin tone and type. At their press day a few weeks ago they were showing off their new app which helped you work out you sunscreen was the best match for your skin. As I am a bit of a divvy with sun cream I found this to be very useful.


19
May 13

HotelTonight

Snap Your Stay Cool Find favorited

Imagine that you are in a different city for a business trip or a lovely day out and you decide to spend the night. This means looking for a hotel. Normally you would go straight to Google but an exciting new app can save you a lot of leg work. HotelTonight is an app that shows you all the great deals on top class hotels in the area that you are currently located in. You are provided with a list of availability as well as the prices including all the hot deals. HotelTonight does all the work for you so you have all the information at your fingertips as opposed to spending time researching and comparing prices. Details on hotel rooms are updated each day at 12pm local time. Making a booking is very simple – it takes less than 10 seconds, just three taps and a swipe from app launch to get you a room. Rooms can be booked until 2 am local time and you can book up to a five-night stay on the app. All hotels are personally vetted by HotelTonight staff, given a style category (like Basic, Hip or Luxe) and illustrated by mobile-optimized hotel photos. Visitors can also leave comments about their stay and upload images while sharing them through Social Media.

Launched in 2011, HotelTonight is the leading last-minute hotel booking app and it is the only hotel booking app that’s made for mobile from the ground up. It is consistently a top travel app in the App Store and Google Play. The app has an average App Store rating of 5 out of 5 stars and 4.4 out of 5 stars in Google Play. It has proved so popular that they have added fifteen new European destinations to its roster. This brings the total reach of the app to 12 countries and 100 destinations worldwide.

HotelTonight is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and on Google Play for any Android device.


07
May 13

RHA Headphones

SA950i_01

The SA950i headphones from RHA is certainly a sleek piece of equipment. Black and sophisticated, it is contains all the ingredients you need to make the perfect set of headphones. The SA950i features 40mm titanium-coated drivers and dynamic neodymium magnets in a compact supra-aural design. The on-ear model may be lightweight but it is very effective as it is engineered to produce studio quality sound. The creators did not lie because the sound from the SA950i is amazing. Excellent bass and wonderful pitching. They are also very comfortable to wear with contour-forming ear cups attached to adjustable chrome sliders as well as a detachable, fabric braided cable with in-line remote. Unlike some other on ear headphones, the SA950i feels great on my head, there is no tugging and adjusting involved and the ear cups feel very soft and almost bouncy. I love the fact that the cable is detachable and that I can adjust the length of the cord.

The impact of the Beats legacy is that on ear headphones are now in vogue as opposed to inside headphones. You no longer look like a looney strolling down the streets listening to your favourite beats. In fact the first thing that comes to mind when I see someone sporting on ear headphones is what brand they are wearing. RHA is a small British audio company who design and engineer high-specaudio products from their Glasgow base. Their products are available in Apple Stores as well as amazon. The SA950′s come with a three year warranty.

For more information about RHA go to their website.


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.

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