• The best Black Friday deals

    by  • November 26, 2015 • 0 Comments

    You’ve still got a few hours to go until Black Friday officially begins, but I’ve been picking out a few of the best deals already online or going live very soon! Enjoy, but remember, when they’re gone, they’re gone!

    1. ‘Graded’ PS4s for £199.99 and PS4 with Uncharted 500GB bundle for £249.99 at ArgosPS4 with Uncharted game bundle | Argos | Black Friday | girlabouttech.comThese deals will go live from 1am on Friday morning – the latter bundle saving you £50.

    ‘Graded’ means the products might have marks and scratches on them and/or include non-original accessories and packaging, but they will still be in full working order. If you’re buying them for a clumsy teenager this Christmas, we doubt they’ll even notice.

    As the deals aren’t yet live I have no links, but to search by product number, enter ‘4824141’ for the graded PS4 and ‘4532842’ for the Uncharted bundle.

    2. Miele Complete C2 Cat & Dog cylinder vacuum cleaner, reduced from £269 to £149, AO.com
    Miele C2 vacuum cleaner | Black Friday | AO.com | girlabouttech.comMiele vacuum cleaners are tested to last 20 years, and this powerful bagged option is great if you suffer from allergies. All the tools are stored on board and it even has a replaceable charcoal filter to absorb nasty smells.

    3. Bang & Olufsen H2 headphones, reduced from £169.99 to £99.99, EE.comB&O H2 wireless headphones | Black Friday | EE.com | girlabouttech.comI love these headphones – they’re super comfy, stylish and sound beautifully balanced, and with £70 off the marked price, they’re a real bargain!

    4. HTC One M9, Samsung Galaxy S6, iPad Air 2 and more for £1, O2
    O2’s unique take on Black Friday sees the company dropping the price of a range of phones, tablets and wearables, potentially to just a pound!

    To take part, log on to Facebook, and connect for one of the sessions starting 8am, 12pm and 6pm on Black Friday. When the countdown ends, the price of the product will start to tumble. The longer you wait the further the price will fall. Hit the ‘Buy now’ button when the price is right for you.

    There will be 20 crashes in total over the weekend with 3 products up for grabs in each, and 3 crashes where you can grab special bundles. You’ll have to grab a price before anyone else, but if you do, O2 will take your contact details and then get in touch to arrange payment and delivery.

    5. UE BOOM 2 wireless portable speaker, reduced from £169.99 to £129.99, CurrysUE BOOM 2 Bluetooth speaker | Currys | Black Friday | girlabouttech.comThis speaker was only launched a couple of months ago and sounds HUGE for its size – the quality of the audio is stupendous to boot. It has an excellent 15-hour battery life and would get any Christmas party rockin’, so save yourself £40 and earn yourself some cool points at the same time!

    Delonghi Nespresso Lattissima coffee machine, reduced from £270 to £135, House of FraserDelonghi Nespresso Lattissima coffee machine | House of Fraser | Black Friday | girlabouttech.comThe silver has already sold out so grab this quick. I’m a big fan of Nespresso machines as they deliver really tasty coffee in a wide selection of blends without the faff – and this one also froths your milk for you.

    I’ve seen other pod coffee machines on sale for knockdown prices, but I’d go for a Nespresso or Dualit system every time!

    If these bargains don’t grab you, read my post on finding the best Black Friday deals. Amy

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    How to bag a Black Friday bargain

    by  • November 25, 2015 • 1 Comment

    How to get the best Black Friday deals |  girlabouttech.comLove it or loathe it, Black Friday is upon us again. Personally, I’m not one to fight complete strangers for the last mysteriously branded TV in the aisles of my local supermarket, but I do love a good deal. That’s why I thought I’d put together this quick guide to bagging a bargain!

    TOP TIP 1: Write a list
    Before you start shopping for tech, write a list of what you actually want, and stick to it! It’s all to easy to be distracted by – and waste money on – reduced-price gadgets that, in reality, you’ll barely ever use.     

    TOP TIP 2: Do your research
    ‘Wow – a 4K, 40inch TV reduced to £80! I’ve not heard of the brand but surely I’d be MAD not to buy it?!’

    OK, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you should always ask yourself why the item is so cheap. If the picture or sound quality of that £80 TV is so poor it’s unwatchable, you’ll only have to replace it with something more expensive down the line, and all the while you could have missed out on a really good deal on a really good set.

    So whether you’re in the market for a TV or a blender, read reviews beforehand and jot down the names or numbers of the models that most impress you, along with their average pre-Black Friday prices or RRPs. That way, when you come to shop, you’ll know that you’re getting a great product and genuine deal.

    My pals at Trusted Reviews can help you out here!

    TOP TIP 3: Use a deal website
    With so many big retailers pushing out offers and promotions, it can be hard to find what you’re looking for. That’s why sites like HotUKDeals can be invaluable – here, members of the public and industry insiders can list the details of live and upcoming special offers.

    If you’re looking for a specific item – say, a Playstation 4 – just enter PS4 as a keyword, then sign up to receive alerts via the HotUKDeals website or app. You’ll get notified of any relevant deals either by a notification on your smartphone or by email, saving you having to trawl the net.

    TOP TIP 4: Question the discount
    Some naughty retailers will increase the price of an item before a sales event to make the sale look better. Legally, they will need to have sold the item at the higher price for at least 28 days consecutively at some point in the past.

    TOP TIP 5: Be quick
    Some online deals will sell out in seconds, so be prepared to make a quick decision and have your payment details to hand.

    TOP TIP 6: Register with a cashback site
    You can get money back on your spend if you click through a cashback website like Quidco or Top Cashback before making a purchase online. They might also offer codes for free postage or gift wrapping.

    TOP TIP 7: Don’t be scammed
    Spotted a deal on a website you’ve never heard of? It could be a fake site that will take your cash and never send you the goods.

    If you’re in any doubt, check that an address, phone number and/or an email address are displayed somewhere on the website. This is a good indication that a company is genuine. If you’re still unsure, call them up or email to put your mind at ease.

    Also, when you enter your payment details, look to see that the web address starts with ‘https://’ – the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure. A padlock should also appear either in the browser frame or the address bar. If you’re in any doubt, navigate away and definitely don’t enter any personal information on the site. Amy

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    The new Sky Q box : everything you need to know

    by  • November 20, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Sky Q | girlabouttech.comThis week, Sky announced its most significant update since it launched the Sky+ HD box way back in 2006. I’m not sure whether the name was inspired by James Bond’s gadget guru, but it seems to have a similar number of bells and whistles, if my early hands-on session was anything to go by. Here’s all you need to know…

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    The best range cookers with induction hobs

    by  • November 17, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Best range cookers with induction hobs | girlabouttech.comMaster the perfect Béchamel sauce – or, at the very least, beans on toast – with these cool bits of kit. Each of the range cookers below features the latest kitchen must-have, an induction hob, which uses electromagnetism to heat up your pans rather than the cooking surface.

    Not only is this safer, but you get very precise control over the heat – important if you are attempting cheffy techniques like tempering chocolate or simmering a consommé.

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    The apps that will save Christmas…

    by  • November 15, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Has the pre-Christmas panic set in yet? Fear not, as I have the apps to help you get your seasonal planning back on track.

    Wisher | The best Christmas apps | girlabouttech.comWisher, available for iOS and Android
    The subject of Christmas gift giving isn’t without controversy, but if you are planning to treat your loved ones this year, this app might just spell the end of unwanted and duplicate presents.

    Set up a Wisher account and you can create a list of things you like – just snap a photo of it, scan its barcode or find it online and tag it (much like you would with Pinterest). You can also follow everyone else in your family to see their ‘wishes’. When you buy something on another person’s Wisher list, everyone but the wisher will see its been granted, so no one else will buy that gift and it remains a surprise.

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    Cleaning just got glamorous

    by  • November 9, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Swarovski Ergorapido handheld vacuum cleaner | AEG | girlabouttech.comEntertaining is never easy if you’re the sort of person whose blood-pressure rises at the sight of a few crumbs. I once had to sit on my hands to stop myself reaching for the vacuum when a few girlfriends arrived for coffee with flakey pastries in tow, so imagine what I’m going to be like at Christmas, a time of table glitter, mince pies and  – *shudders* – pine needles.

    However, I think I have an idea that won’t see me branded a ‘neat freak’ this year – I’m going to get myself one of these limited-edition Ergorapido vacuums from AEG. Each one is encrusted with 20,000 Swarovski crystals, so when I whip it out to deal with seasonal spills, my guests will be too busy admiring it to be irritated. Do you think my tactic will work?

    Swarovski Ergorapido 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner | AEG | girlabouttech.comAs you can see, the Ergorapido is a bagless 2-in-1 ‘stick cleaner’, so you can use it to cover large areas of carpet or hard floor, or pop out the handheld from the body of the cleaner to deal with localised clusters of crumbs or to give stairs the once over.

    The brush has a special design that makes it easy to remove tangled hair, and LED lights in the base let you see under the bed or sofa so you don’t miss any dirt or accidentally suck up the cat/errant Lego.

    The vacuum has a battery life of 35 minutes, and is available at John Lewis for the princely sum of £229.95. Think of this way – even if you’re averse to cleaning, it will give your home some extra sparkle. Ha! Amy

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    Hate keys? You’ll love this…

    by  • October 28, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Noke Bluetooth padlock | Firebox | girlabouttech.comNever again will you have to fumble around with a slippery key as you unlock your bike in the rain, or stand clueless in front of your gym locker, trying to remember the combination after a particularly head-spinning Zumba class. To open Noke – the world’s first Bluetooth padlock – all you need is your Apple or Android smartphone.

    Once you’ve downloaded the free Noke app, the padlock automatically looks for and pairs with your phone via Bluetooth. To unlock Noke, press the shackle, and if your phone is within a few feet, Noke will instantly unlock so you can be on your way – you don’t even need to take your phone out of your pocket or handbag.

    Noke Bluetooth padlock app | Firebox | girlabouttech.comOf course, you might not want Noke to unlock whenever you’re in range, so you can always set it up to unlock only if you press a button in the app. You can also get the app to tell you whenever Noke unlocks – in case you open it accidentally – and set up a unique series of ‘Quick Clicks’, so should your phone battery die, you’ll still be able to access your lock manually.

    Oh, and don’t worry if anyone else in the vicinity has the Noke app, as they won’t be able to unlock your padlocks unless you give them permission to do so.

    However, if you do want to give friends or family one-time access, you can. So the next time a neighbour asks to borrow your lawnmower, you can let them use their phone to open the Noke padlock on the shed, and be alerted when they’ve returned old Flymo safe and sound.

    Noke padlock | Firebox | girlabouttech.comHmmmm, so what else might you want to know about Noke? It’s weatherproof, takes a standard watch battery that should last you about a year, and is available to pre-order now from Firebox, for £59.99. I’ll definitely be getting one for my bike-riding brother for Christmas… I just hope he’s not reading this. Amy

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    What is a smart meter and why should you get one?

    by  • October 23, 2015 • 0 Comments

    What is a Smart Meter | girlabouttech.comWhat are smart meters? They’re a new generation of gas and electricity meters that will bring energy billing out of the dark ages. Rather than have old-school analogue counters that need to be read by an engineer, they are able to send automatic meter readings to your energy supplier using special wireless technology.

    How do I get one? The plan is that every household in Great Britain will be offered smart meters ­– to be supplied and fitted for free – by 2020. They’re already being trialled in a small number of homes, as EDF Energy’s Shwezin Win explains: ‘To make sure we get the new technology right first time for our customers, we¹re currently just installing the meters in small numbers to test our approach.

    ‘We have installed around 35,000 first generation smart meters in our customers’ homes; and we are waiting for the industry wide shared systems to be place before we start our own rollout.’

    When the nationwide rollout begins in earnest, your energy supplier will get in touch to arrange a convenient time to fit your new smart meters. How quickly you’ll be offered them will depend on your supplier, where you live and what type of property you have, but if you’re really keen, you can contact your energy company to get the ball rolling.

    In-Home Display | Smart Meter | girlabouttech.comHow is it fitted? Fitting your new meters shouldn’t cause too much disruption, but you need to be at home during the fitting and your power supply will be turned off, usually for between 30 and 60 minutes.

    When your smart meter is installed you’ll also be given an In-Home Display similar to the one shown above, which your engineer will show you how to use. It shows in real time how much energy you’re using, how much it’s costing you and – if you have a pre-pay meter – how much credit you have left.

    Again, the Display has its own wireless connection to your energy meters, so it won’t matter if you don’t have an Internet connection at home.

    Is it secure? I asked this very question to Claire Maugham, Director of Policy & Communications at Smart Energy GB, and she explained to me how the process will work.

    ‘Smart meters send data directly to your energy supplier, and from next year, this will happen via a secure, national communications network called the DCC (Data Communications Company),’ she says. ‘This is a bespoke network developed specifically for smart meter. Smart meter data will be sent over this secure, dedicated network – never over the internet.’

    What are the benefits? There are several – some immediate, and others that will be introduced as the technology develops, but all of them pose a strong argument for saying yes when you’re asked if you want smart meters in your home.

    1. Say goodbye to estimated bills Unless you’re using a pre-pay meter, you’ll currently be paying a bill based on an estimate of how much energy you will use. Energy providers will look at your spending for the previous year and possibly the average spend for a same-size property, but these estimates can be way out, especially if you’re not having regular meter readings.No Estimated Bills | Smart Meters | girlabouttech.comShould you not be paying enough, you could be stuck with a huge bill to pay at the end of the year, while if you’re over-paying, they are holding onto you’re hard-earned cash unnecessarily.

    With a smart meter, however, your energy company will be able to receive real-time updates on how much gas and electricity you are actually using, so they will no longer have to estimate your bills. In other words, you’ll only ever pay for what you actually use. And because you can see this amount on your monitor, you shouldn’t be in for any nasty surprises!

    2. Switch suppliers more easily In a recent survey, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that 34% had never considered switching energy supplier, and that 70% of us are on an expensive standard variable tariff. And no wonder – what with the difficulty of working out exactly what you’re paying, then having to work through a long list of tariffs, with prices that vary depending on where you live and how much energy you use!

    Smart meters will make switching more straightforward as all the information you need to compare tariffs will be available on your In-Home Display. Also, by 2020, when the roll-out is complete and all energy suppliers are using smart meters, the process of switching should take just a day, rather than the weeks required now.

    3. Pre-pay without the hassle If you want to or need to pre-pay for gas and electricity, smart meters will make this as easy as using a Pay as You Go phone. For starters, it will be harder to unknowingly run out of credit, since the amount you have left will be shown on your In-Home Display, rather than you having to look at a meter hidden away in a cupboard.Prepay Smart Meter | girlabouttech.comWhen you are running low, you’ll be able to top up online, via an app, over the phone or via a text, as well as in person at any participating store – so if the heat cuts out at bath time, you won’t have to run to the corner shop in your towel. Better still, you won’t have to use a card or key to physically add the extra credit to your meter – it’s all done automatically.

    Finally, should you ever decide to switch from pre-pay to regular billing or vice versa, you’ll be able to do so without having to get a new meter.

    4. Save more with the ‘Smart Grid’ Smart meters are just the beginning of what’s being termed ‘the smart energy grid’, whereby energy suppliers will be able to see when demand for gas and electricity are high, and offer cheaper tariffs at off-peak times. This should reduce the strain that’s put on the grid when everyone is making dinner or having a morning shower.

    Smart Grid | Smart Meters | girlabouttech.comI’m particularly excited about what this means for WiFi-connected appliances, which are already a reality, but will come into their own when hooked up to the smart grid. Imagine, setting the dishwasher or washing machine to run a cycle only when the energy is cheapest, or getting an alert from your fridge suggesting you to put it into Holiday Mode when you go away. Amy

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    What’s the must-have colour for kettles and toasters?

    by  • October 21, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Much as I’d like to change my kitchen units, tiles and appliances every year or two to reflect my favourite trends, it just isn’t going to happen. Thankfully, I can turn to the humble kettle and toaster for a guilt-free injection of style. Here a few of my favourite new pairings in the shade of the season – white – but which is your cup of tea?!

    MUJI KETTLE AND TOASTER | girlabouttech.comThere’s a reason why MUJI isn’t just big in Japan. Its simple and understated designs look stunning in almost any setting, and now take the form of a cute kettle and toaster. Both £49.95, they’re available exclusively at MUJI Tottenham Court Road.

    Studio kettle | Dualit | girlabouttech.comDualit’s kettles and toasters are up there with the KitchenAid as the most covetable of small appliances, but their traditional looks (and lofty prices) aren’t for everyone – hence the launch of the Studio collection. I love this understated modern style and the way the lever on the kettle complements the button on the toaster.Studio toaster | Dualit | girlabouttech.comThey’re affordable, at £49 each, yet still have key features that make Dualit breakfast sets so loved, like the kettle’s easy-pour, non-drip spout and and the browning dial on the toaster that can be set on or between the nine levels for really precise results. The range also comes in black if that’s more your thing, and will be available – initially exclusively at John Lewis – from November.Delonghi Distinta Pure White kettle toaster and coffee maker | Debenhams | girlabouttech.comIf you’re finding white too stark, Delonghi’s Distinta Pure White collection has the teensiest bit of a cream tinge to take the edge off, and also includes a espresso machine. The 1.7ltr jug kettle costs £110, the four-slice toaster is £110, and the coffee maker is £200, all from Debenhams.

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    What will the cars of the future look like?

    by  • October 18, 2015 • 1 Comment

    HYUNDAI IDEAS FESTIVAL | GIRLABOUTTECH.COMAnnyong haseyo! Or for all you non-Korean speaking folks out there, hello! I’ve just returned from a trip to Seoul and Namyang where, when I wasn’t over-indulging on kimchi and soju, I checked out Hyundai & Kia’s annual Ideas Festival and got a sneak peek into the future of driving…

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