Technology Reviews

Technology Reviews

These days kids are very much in touch with the internet. My son will often be found talking to his friends via wifi, taking advantage of video calling. For them the internet is very much a big part of life, gone are the days when it took ages to dial in and if someone used the phone the connection was lost. The problem is that children take tablets and phones very much for granted. They don’t seem to realise that these devices can be expensive and leave them lying around. Recently Currys PC World sent me an  Amazon Fire, 7″ to try out. This tablet costs £50 (or if you buy five you get one free) and I thought it would make an ideal device for my son to use.

Amazon fire

Amazon Fire Specifications

The Amazon Fire is thin and light with rounded edges. It feels reasonably chunky in the hand and is comfortable to hold. The back is smooth plastic and the tablet feels sturdy, as if it could take a knock or two. The tablet comes with a plug and a USB cable. The on button is on the top as well as the buttons for volume control and the port for the USB. This means that you tend to hold the tablet in landscape mode which is more suitable when viewing media.

Amazon fireThe seven inch display is 1024 x 600 which is certainly clear and bright enough for most uses. The device has a 1.3GHz quad core processor which makes it reasonably fast and comes with 8GB storage space. This can be expanded with a microSD card to 128 GB. Free unlimited cloud storage is also available for Amazon content and photos taken with the device. The Amazon Fire has wi-fi and bluetooth connectivity allowing you to get online easily. There is also a front and rear facing camera.

Amazon FireSetup and Use

Setting up the Amazon Fire tablet is easy. Charge it up, switch it on and you are taking into setup mode. Choose a few settings like language and timezone and you are good to go. If you are not sure how to use the Amazon Fire you are then given access to a tutorial which shows you how to navigate around it.

Amazon Fire

The Amazon Fire tablet is tied to Amazon so to access the media you do need an amazon account. This gives you access to your books and media. You also get access to Amazon’s app store which allows you to download apps.AmazonThe home sceen is very much designed to allow you to browse Amazon easily with shop Amazon, Amazon video and offers prominently shown. Sliding to the right you get access to other Amazon content such as books, videos, games, online shopping, apps, music, audio books and magazines/newspapers. If you do not have an Amazon prime account it may be worth considering to enable access to the videos. The Prime subscription costs £79 per year, and you get unlimited access to Amazon’s TV, movie and music streaming platforms, as well as the Kindle free e-book lending library.

Amazon FireI quite like having access to my books and audio books easily like this. The speakers are reasonable quality, sufficient for listening to books. You also have access to the Silk browser, calendar, email and file manager apps allowing you to browse the internet, send email and schedule your appointments. While the Amazon app store does not have the same range as the Google play store, I managed to find all the apps I wanted.

Camera

The Amazon Fire tablet has both front and rear facing cameras which are 5MP. The options for taking shots are limited with very few special effects to choose from. The camera performed adequately but to be honest I rarely use the camera on a tablet, much preferring my phone. The quality is adequate for video calls via skype which is what my son would use it for.

Amazon FirePerformance and Battery Life

While the performance does not match that of an ipad it is more than adequate. The performance is consistent and you are rarely left watching the screen waiting for long. The internet browser runs smoothly and books can be read without having to wait for the page to move. The battery life is reasonable as well, it lasted around six hours which was more than adequate.

Summary

Whilst it is an entry level tablet the Amazon Fire certainly provides everything you need to browse the internet and access multimedia. It seems to be reasonably sturdy and the performance and battery life are adequate. You do need an Amazon account to access all the features but if you don’t mind this then the Amazon Fire is the perfect tablet. I would be quite happy letting my son use this and I know that he would enjoy watching videos and listening to music on it. It is a good tablet for the price.

 

 

 

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These days’ phones do so much more than just make calls. I know I would be really lost if I misplaced my phone. As well as using as an address book and diary it stores all my phone numbers and contact information. It is handy to grab my phone when I want to take a quick photo of something when I am out and about and it is also useful for browsing the internet and catching up with my emails when I am on a bus. The kindle app allows me to read a book when I want and if I want to relax with a game there it is on my phone. I usually play plants vs zombies but those pesky zombies tend to end up eating my brains.

With a phone being such an essential part of our lives there is nothing worse than being out and about and finding it has run out of charge. This happened to me the other day, I usually charge my phone up at night so it is ready for the day. Just as I was leaving the house I noticed it hadn’t charged. I need my phone to keep in touch with my son so I know he is on his school bus so this was a bit of a disaster. Luckily Trendz had recently sent me a couple of their products to try which saved the day. A USB Bullet Charger which allowed me to charge my phone in the car using the 12v socket and a Micro USB Data and Charge Cable which I could plug into it and charge my phone. Both of these would make a perfect Christmas gift ideas for phone addicts who need to have their phone on all the time.

Trendz Phone Charger and USB cable

2.1A Single USB charger

USB phone chargerThis worked really well, just plug it into the car and plug in the USB cable and you are ready to charge your phone. What I loved about it was the funky polka dot design; most of these chargers are white which is a bit boring. The polka dots are really cheerful and make it more interesting to look at. If you do not like polka dots there are two other designs to choose from, Ditsy and Vintage Bird. RRP £6.99

Micro USB Data and Charge Cable

Trendz charge cableIt is always a good idea to have a spare phone cable in your pocket or handbag just in case you need to use it. This charge cable fits perfectly into my bag and is a lovely funky pink colour making it easy to find. If you prefer a different colour it also comes in blue and white. It works perfectly with my android phone, charging it in no time. I currently use a Samsung K Zoom which I love for its camera, find out how I put it though it’s paces on a trip to Flamingo Land. RRP: £9.99

Trendz products are available in most high street and on line retailers. You can also find out more information on their website.

Trendz USB Charger and Micro USB Data and Charge Cable Giveaway

If you would like a USB Charger and Mircro USB Data and Charge Cable for yourself, Trendz have kindly given me two sets to giveaway to my readers. If you want a chance to win one of these sets then comment below and let me know about a time when you really needed your phone but ran out of charge. When you have done that come back and fill in the rafflecopter widget so that your entry is registered. This is mandatory. If you can be bothered there are other entries available for following on twitter, tweeting and visiting facebook but these are optional. Good luck!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Rules

  • There are two prizes of a Trendz USB Charger and Micro USB Data and Charge Cable – the prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
  • Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Dragons and Fairy Dust and Trendz
  • Closing date for entries is on 11:59pm GMT on 3rd Dec 2015
  • Only one entry per person
  • Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment on the blog answering the question.
  • Optional entry methods are to follow on twitter, visit facebook and tweet on twitter
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
  • Automated entries will be disqualified.
  • The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The winner’s name will be available on request.
  • Trendz is responsible for prize fulfilment. The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
  • This is a joint promotion between Dragons and Fairy Dust and Trendz
  • Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions

 

 

 

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Have you noticed how everything these days needs to be attached to the internet? In the past the internet was slow to load and could be accessed via a dial up modem. Your computer needed to be near the telephone and you would wait while you got a series of bings and bongs indicating the internet was being connected. Once it was you would fire up Netscape and search for a short time to find things out, often being cut off when someone picked up the phone to use it. These days access to the internet is faster, all homes have a router and more than your computer can be connected. Smart televisions, x-boxes, play stations, dvd players all need internet access. Smaller things are now getting connected as well, it is now possible to control your heating system via the internet and you can even buy kettles that can be turned on via your smart phone. This technology is great, we can now access on demand tv, information twenty four hours a day and keep track of our bank accounts on-line. The only problem is that in order to have this technology in the house everything needs to be wired up.

My house has cables everywhere. I have the router in the dining room and have Ethernet cables going into two internet plugs that disperse the internet using electric cables. There is also an Ethernet cable that feeds into the living room and behind the TV cabinet. There you will find a right mess of cables with two nearly full extension plugs and an internet switch that allows me to plug in several devices. Not only is it a mess it is a dust trap. Upstairs the internet plug takes the internet to an internet switch which takes the internet to the tv and other devices in the bedroom. The other internet plug is in the spare bedroom with an Ethernet cable to the computer, which again has a mess of cables behind it.
Recently a local company, D-Line  got in touch and asked me if I wanted to review their cable tidy products. Based in Tyne and Wear D-Line have a range of products for getting rid of the mess of cables and hiding them away in a tidy but accessible way. They sounded perfect for my cable infested home and I was happy to try the products out. I was sent an assortment of different products from the extensive range and got started dealing with the mess of cables in the house.

D-Line products

Dealing with wires from the router.

The router is situated in the dining room, balanced on top of a model railway set as this was as far as the wire reached. The wires from the telephone stretch along the floor, as does the Ethernet cable into the living room. The mess of wires hanging out of the router looks unsightly. There is also an extension plug on the floor.

D-Line cables

The first thing I dealt with was the wires on the floor. These were trailing everywhere and getting in the way. I used some D-Line trunking which is a clever idea. It is a semi circular shaped bit of plastic with a flat back. The wires go inside and the trunking sits neatly against the skirting board. It can even be attached to the wall with the sticky strips on the back. The trunking opens up allowing you to insert the wires easily and access them when needed.  The trunking opens up allowing you to insert the wires easily and access them when needed.D-Line TrunkingD-Line trunkingWhen I had finished it looked really neat and it will also be much easier to clean along the skirting board. The trunking can be easily cut to the length you need using a hacksaw and if you need to go round a bend there are clever connectors to allow you to do this. It can also be used vertically on walls to hide keep the cables tidy.

WiresD-Line Trunking
To deal with the wires hanging down from the internet plugs I used some Cable Tidy Spiral Wrap. This is just wrapped by hand around the cables and keeps them together which makes them look much tidier. The wrap can be cut to whatever length you need.

D-Line products
Dealing with the internet switch

In my bedroom I have an internet plug that feeds into an internet switch. Whilst this is a simple way to get the internet to several devices it creates a mess of cables on the floor and makes it hard to clean. The wires are also a great fur trap, catching loose hairs from the dog.

internet switch

To deal with this clutter I used a D-Line cable tidy unit. These come in two sizes to hold four way or six way extension cables and have three slots to allow cables to enter though either side or the back. It was perfect for hiding the internet switch as well as all the cables and also catches less dust. I still need to install the D-Line Trunking to hide the rest of the cables but this simple change made everything much neater.

D-Line cable tidy
Sorting out the computer

My computer is in the spare room and as you can see there is a great mess of cables hanging down behind the desk as well as round the wall.

computerI used a D-Line Cable Tidy pre-split tube to deal with the clutter and this simple change made it look much neater. I also managed to remove some of the cables that were not needed. It was really easy to install, the spit in the tube allows you to wrap it easily around the cables. I will also use some D-Line tubing around the edge to get rid of the clutter on the floor to compete the job.

D-Line spilt cable tubing
I found the Cable Tidy bases incredible useful. I fed though the wires for the computer microphone and my mouse which had a habit of descending to the floor and getting lost. They now stay on my desk and I can always find them.

D-Line desk tidiesThis cable plug and id kit came in useful as well, I was able to colour code my wires and label the plugs so I know what they are for. This stops me pulling out the wrong one by mistake and losing my unsaved work.

cable-tidies-15
D-Line have many other options for tidying away cables, you can find the full assortment in their on-line catalogue. It does take time to get everything installed but it really is worth doing. The cable tidy products have made a big difference to my home and made it much easier to clean without having to move cables. I was impressed with the quality of the products and the thought that had gone into the design.

If you want to take a trip back in time and find out what life was like before technology you can read about what I discovered at Game On at the Centre for Life

I was provided with some products to get rid of the cable clutter in my home and see how the products worked. I was not obliged to say anything nice. The mess in the house is all my own.

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Do you ever find there is nothing you want to watch on telly? Many a night I have spent ages flicking from channel to channel trying find something to watch. TalkTalk are now making it easier to find great shows by offering the Sky Movies Boost for half price for three months. It is now £7.50 a month instead of £15. By adding the Sky Movies Boost to your account you get access to thousands of on demand movies.

Sky moviesThere is plenty for the whole family to enjoy with the latest blockbuster movies like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy or How to Train Your Dragon 2. There is also a great selection of other films with eleven  movie channels to choose from. I watched Enemy of the State again the other night, which I really enjoyed. It is good to catch up on movies you may not have seen for a while.

If you are looking to keep your children entertained the Kids Boost is also half price at only £2.50 a month. This adds 16 channels to your television including Disney Channel, Nick Jr, Disney Junior and Cartoon Network. Your kids can happily watch shows like Transformers Robots In Disguise, Star Wars Rebels, Peppa Pig Golden Boots, and teen favourites Jessie and Austin and Ally.

The great thing about the TV Boosts from TalkTalk is that you can add them for a month at a time and if you decide you don’t like them you can remove them. This allows you to add extra channels for school holidays or Christmas as a treat. You are also in charge of your bill spending as little or as much as you want.

If you want to watch the latest blockbusters these are available from TalkTalk Box Office. With films like Paddington, Interstellar and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 there is plenty to choose from. Films are available from £4 and stay on your box for 48 hours giving you plenty of time to watch them.

I am a TalkTalk Family blogger.

 

 

 

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Have you ever had a phone ruined by water? My son was on a school trip and had his phone in his pocket on a rainy day. When he came back it refused to work, the rain had damaged it. Luckily it was not an expensive phone but we still had to go to the expense of replacing it. These days phones can do so much and are often expensive. On rainy days I worry about using my phone to take pictures in case the water damages it. It can even be a problem when you visit theme parks, like the splash zone in Flamingoland. Luckily help is at hand with Splash, water resistant spray from Reviveaphone. You spray it on your phone and it creates a water resistant barrier around your phone which helps protect the insides from damage. It does not make your phone waterproof so you won’t be able to use it while swimming, but it will protect it from accidental spills and rainy days.

Splash water resistant sprayWhat do you get in the box?

The box is quite small and contains a bottle of Splash water resistant spray, a microfibre cloth, a small plastic card to help you apply the Splash and a comprehensive set of instructions. The bottle of Splash contains enough to cover one smart phone.

SplashApplying Splash

I was a little bit worried about applying Splash to my phone. To apply it you need to spray it on all the opening and buttons around the phone and also inside the battery compartment. The spray is allowed to dry and then the excess can be removed with the plastic card. The  splash is applied to the screen using the cloth. Application was actually very simple and I had no need to be worried at all. Splash have a video that shows you how to apply it in great detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The splash proof coating will last a year and then it should be reapplied. I am happy to have the extra protection on my phone and it had made me more confident about using it on rainy days. The Splash water resistant spray is RRP £14.99.

Giveaway

If you would like to win a bottle of Splash water resistant spray Revivephone are hosting a giveaway on my blog where you can win one. The giveway ends on the 3rd May 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I was sent some Splash for the purposes of this review, my opinions are my own. The giveway is run by Reviveaphone and is being hosted here.

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