Archive | Technology and gadgets RSS feed for this section

Baby, you can drive my car

11 Dec

photo 4 (2)

Our son Sam is nearly three and, being a ‘big boy’, he really needs a ‘big boy’ car seat. But anyone who’s ever tried to buy a child’s car seat will know that there’s not a huge amount of choice out there – most are boring black in colour, and you often have to choose between one that clips into the ISOFIX points between the seats; and one that works in any model of car (but that may not feel quite as secure).

So, I was really excited to be asked to try out a new breed of car seat from trendy company Cybex. Winning rave reviews almost everywhere, the Group 1 Juno 2-Fix model (above, being modelled by Sam) not only includes a unique, specially-designed safety lap cushion, which works a bit like an airbag; plus extra side impact protection, but also comes in a whole host of cool colourways:

unnamedAt £185, it’s not the cheapest on the market, but it will last from nine months to four years’ old (9-18kg, way longer than many other car seats) and what’s more, the lightweight design can be used with or without ISOFIX, meaning it’s great for taking away on holiday or using in Granny’s car when she’s doing babysitting duty.

So, what did Sam and I think? The seat was ridiculously easy to fit and took under a minute – you either clip it into the ISOFIX seats, or simply place it on the back seat of your car (below left). Then, once your child is sat down in it, you slot the safety cushion in front, and thread the rear seat belt through the slots in the cushion (below right):

photo 3 (2)

While Sam took a bit of coaxing to try the new seat out, he could climb into it by himself, and soon got the hang of the ‘special table’ cushioned section. In fact, he seemed quite snug and cosy, as you can see below. My only reservation is that the lovely cushion with its fancy embroidery may not look quite so pristine after he’s rested his grubby paws on it a few times!

Now we’ll just just have to see whether he’s still happy in it after a three-hour trip to see relatives in the New Year. Fingers crossed…

photo 1 (2)

PS: Cybex make other designs too, including two rear-facing designs, the Aton Q (below, left, from birth to 18 months) and the award-winning Sirona (below, right, from birth to four years), which, like other rear-facing car seats, reduce the risk of injury in a head-on collision by more than 80% when compared to a conventional forward-facing seat with harness. You can read more about them and several other cool designs at cybex-online.com

Autumn Gold Aton Q, £185 - CYBEX

NB: Thanks to Cybex for providing the Juno 2-Fix car seat for Sam to try out!

 

It’s about time

24 Oct

habitat clocks

If you live in the UK, you’ll be pleased to hear you get an extra hour in bed next Sunday when the clocks go back.

Personally – although I reckon you never need an excuse to go shopping – I also think it’s the perfect time (sorry) to buy a new clock.

This Autumn, the most stylish ones by far are from Habitat, above, who have a huge designer-look selection at not too eyewatering prices.

I also really love this very stylish black and copper Acctim wall clock from Tesco Direct, £30…

CITY Acctim copper wall clock £30 Sainsbury's (angle shot)…this friendly wooden owl clock from Next, a steal at £16…

THREE OF A KIND Owl wall clock £16 Next…this Kaleido Geometric clock £25 from Hunkydoryhome

SONY DSC…or this fun Milk Bottle clock £12 from Asda, which currently has pride of place in my kitchen:

THREE OF A KIND George Home bottle clock £12 Asda

 

 

 

Sounds amazing

15 Sep

photo (54)

As regular readers will know, I’m a sucker for anything retro, so I’m more a little in love with the latest addition to my home office – this ViewQuest Retro DAB+ Radio.

In lovely mustard yellow leatherette, with chrome and cream details, it’s a radio, clock, alarm clock and iPod/iPhone dock all rolled into one…

photo 2 (5)

You can choose between a model with a traditional Apple dock, or one with a future-proof ‘lightning dock’ (for iPhone 5s). It runs off the mains or batteries, and is so simple to use even technophobes like me can have it up and running within minutes. What’s more, the sound quality is great – even if, ahem, you’re only listening to cheese, like yours truly. I was given it to review for a magazine feature, and I’m properly impressed – not surprisingly, it’s also been given five stars by What Hi-Fi in their Sound and Vision reviews.

01_Retro_ColourGen_Red_lightning

Don’t like yellow? It’s also available in a rainbow of other shades, including red, pink, cream, pale blue, teal, brown, black and gorgeous emerald green, as well as three limited edition Emma Bridgewater prints. Quite honestly, I’m having to fight my other half over which room it’s going to go in – it’d look just as lovely in a bedroom, living room or kitchen as it would in a study.

Tempted? Check out the full range at www.viewquest.co.uk and buy one here for £99. Considering a similar retrotastic Roberts design would cost you upwards of £160 or more (and that’s without an alarm or dock), it’s practically a bargain!

13_Retro_EmmaB_Black_Toast_Lightning

 

Who you gonna call? Dustbusters!

16 Jan

Dyson DC59 with pole upright

The problem with most vacuum cleaners is that they’re bulky, heavy… and if like me you store them under the stairs, they involve a lot of faffing about before you get anywhere near the dust you’re trying to bust.

And handheld ones aren’t much better. While they’re lighter, smaller and more portable than ones with cords; they have such a feeble amount of suction you often end up getting the bigger model out of the cupboard anyhow.

At least, that’s what I thought, until I was asked to test out ten of the newest vacuum cleaners for a newspaper recently (read about it here). One of the models I borrowed to test was the Dyson DC59 Animal – a handheld vac that claims to be as powerful as a Formula One racing car, with as much suction as a ‘normal’ other-brand vacuum cleaner:

Dyson DC59 walking with it

So, did it live up to expectations? Surprisingly, yes. In fashionable purple and silver, it looks like something from Star Trek, and lives in a charging/docking station you can fix to a wall in your kitchen, hall or understairs cupboard. When you want to start cleaning, you simply pick it up and go. It has several attachments, including a handy pole-like extension (pictured above, for cleaning while you walk and reaching cobwebs); a crevice tool for getting into nooks and crannies; and a brilliant brush that cleaned two flights of stairs in a matter of minutes (it honestly revolutionised my life!). It picked up an amazing amount of debris and emptied at the flick of a switch afterwards. I loved it so much I even found myself cleaning places like the car and behind the sofa, just because it was so satisfying!

Dyson DC59 on a sofa

In fact, I only have two complaints. Firstly, I needed to poke a pencil or chopstick into the bin section to get the last bits of dust and fluff out (not a big deal, but still…) and secondly, the price. It costs around £349 at places such as Curry’s and John Lewis. Ouch. Mind you, with good ordinary corded vacuum cleaners coming in at around £200 or upwards, maybe that’s not so bad after all. One for this year’s Christmas and birthday lists combined, perhaps?!

PS: I also tried out the Gtech Multi handheld vacuum cleaner, below:

Gtech multi with pole

It does a very similar job to the Dyson handheld and even has an exciting light on the front to help you see under the sofa/behind the TV etc. It hasn’t got a docking station (you just plug it into the mains to charge) and doesn’t have as much suction as the dirt-gobbling Dyson; however at £149, it’s a good, cheaper alternative for spot cleans and quick spruce-ups. You’d probably still need to use an ordinary vacuum for bigger areas or more thorough dust-busting session though (in fact, Gtech recommend you buy a Multi and one of their handy cordless AirRam ‘normal’ vacuum machines together – I know, they would, wouldn’t they?! – for £299. saving £79 on buying them separately). You can read more and/or buy one from Gtech direct here or from John Lewis here.

Gtech multi with AirRam

Sounds fun

8 Jan

John Lewis spectrum radio purple

Just over a year ago, I featured the Spectrum DAB digital radio from John Lewis on this blog – it was dinky-sized, had a lovely rubbery exterior, and came in several eye-popping colours. But after it sold out that Christmas, they stopped selling it.

Well, now I’m pleased to report it’s back – and in a fabulous array of on-trend shades including orange (trust me, it’s going to be HUGE this year); a beautiful cobalt blue; and one of my favourite hues, bright purple. Chic yet fun and modern, it looks great out on display, and at just £29.95 it’s about £120 cheaper than a Roberts radio, the only other really stylish option available.

What’s more, it’s the same cute size as before (11cm x 15.5cm x 4.7cm); and runs on both mains and batteries, making it perfect for almost any room in the house. It’d make a great present for anyone who’s tricky to buy for; or just a cheeky little treat to cheer yourself up this gloomy January.

John lewis spectrum radio pink

Don’t judge a book by its charger

9 Oct

pride and prejudice booksi phone charger

Phone chargers – not the sexiest of items, are they? Mine hides away beside my dressing table, almost apologetically, looking functional rather than fabulous.

Which is why these ‘booksi’ chargers from Rich Neeley Designs on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RichNeeleyDesigns) are such a clever idea. Fashioned from real new leather or cloth bound versions of classic novels (or one-off vintage books), a charging dock is built into the pages, so that when you plug in your smartphone, it looks like it’s sitting casually on top of your bedtime reading material.

peter pan booksi 2

There are loads of designs to choose from – I particularly like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland  – and at around £20-£35ish each, they’re just about affordable. Available for iPhones and iPads, they’ll even custom-make you a booksi with the volume of your choosing. Genius!

bleak house booksi phone charger

the hobbit booksi

%d bloggers like this: