• Must-have Christmas gifts for music lovers

    by  • November 21, 2014 • 0 Comments

    As Paul Young – and, more recently, One Direction – once sang: ‘It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid’. Well there isn’t if you’ve got a good gift list to work from, so if you’re stuck for inspiration on what to buy the muso in your life, I’ve come up with some perfect present ideas.

    RETRO MINI DAB RADIO | VIEWQUEST | girlabouttech.com
    They say good things come in small packages, which might explain the recent influx of ‘Mini Me’ gadgets – whether it’s a 60cm AGA or a dinky version of your favourite smartphone. This is my pick of the bunch – a Mini version of ViewQuest’s Retro radio.

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    Reclaim your worktop with Caple’s built-in microwave

    by  • November 18, 2014 • 0 Comments

    Pop into the kitchen when I’m cooking a Sunday roast and you’d be forgiven for thinking I was in training for a Giant Jenga tournament, as plates and pots pile up across every spare inch of worktop. So before I get taken out by a falling frying pan, I think it’s time to free up some space by swapping my freestanding microwave for a built-in beauty like this one from Caple.

    CM120 BUILT-IN MICROWAVE AND GRILL | CAPLE | girlabouttech.com

    With a depth of just over 320mm (including the casing), the CM120 700W microwave is designed to slot into a 300mm-deep wall unit. Siting it at eye level means there’s no bending over to lift things in and out, or to peek at what’s inside, which is extra good news as it also incorporates a powerful 1,000W grill. Making cheese on toast has never been easier!

    The 17ltr capacity is perfectly adequate if not spectacular, while the stainless-steel finish both inside and out makes cleaning less of a chore. Oh, and the front also has a mark-resistant coating.

    You can defrost by weight or time, there’s a child lock and several foolproof auto programmes and it costs £279. With Christmas just around the corner and our kitchens at full capacity, it could prove a savvy buy.

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    Friday Find: Breakfast bling from Dualit

    by  • November 14, 2014 • 0 Comments

    24-CARAT GOLD CLASSIC TOASTER | DUALIT | girlabouttech.com

    You’ll have to be seriously upper crust to afford Dualit’s latest toaster – a 24-carat gold-plated version of its Classic design. It’s available exclusively at Selfridges for £1,000, and while it won’t slice your loaf and butter it for you afterwards (as you might expect at that price), it is handmade in the UK from nearly 170 repairable and replaceable parts. These include its tough ProHeat elements, built to survive knife attacks and heavy toasting sessions.

    COPPER CLASSIC TOASTER AND KETTLE | DUALIT | girlabouttech.com

    Those with a little less ‘bread’ might prefer the above copper version, available at John Lewis for a fraction of the price (£199.99), as is a coordinating copper kettle that has a replaceable element, anti-wobble feet and a whisper-quiet boil, which costs £129.99.

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    Christmas gift idea: Lavazza pod coffee maker

    by  • November 11, 2014 • 1 Comment

    I hate to mention the C-word, but Christmas is almost upon us. AGAIN. I know! And apparently it’s all about giving gifts, not just receiving them or accidentally ‘re-gifting’ the ones from last year to the person who gave them to you in the first place (which of course I’d never do, ahem).

    I’d better get shopping then, possibly for this pod coffee maker from Lavazza, which has a present-friendly price tag of £74.99.

    Minu pod espresso machine | Lavazza | girlabouttech.com

    Called the Minùthis teeny machine is Lavazza’s most compact to date at just 12.1cm wide, and takes yummy A Modo Mio coffee pods – available in 10 good blends from most good supermarkets. It’s a doddle to use – turn it on with the button at the top, load the capsule into the tray below the Lavazza logo, then twist the dial at the side to make your espresso.

    As you may of noticed, however, the Minù doesn’t ‘do’ milk. So if the giftee is partial to a cappuccino and your generosity knows no bounds, you might want to splash out on the matching A Modo Mio milk frother, £59.99 from www.lavazzamodomio.co.uk – it’s your call.

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    A dishwasher that dries your plastics

    by  • November 7, 2014 • 1 Comment

    ADP900 IX freestanding dishwasher | Whirlpool | girlabouttech.com

    I love my dishwasher, but when it comes to plastics it’s far from fantastic. Plates, cups and lunchboxes come out lined in condensation every time, and drip down onto the crockery and pans below, meaning I need to give the whole lot a good going over with the tea towel. It just seems so, well, unfair!

    Thankfully, Whirlpool’s new 6th Sense PowerClean dishwashers are here to put an end to my Tupperware-based temper tantrums. The PowerDry system inside uses a humidity-condensing fan and improved airflow to get even plastics bone dry, and without the unwanted steamy facial you usually get on opening the door. It will save you time, too, getting a full load washed and dry in an hour if you choose the Wash&Dry programme.

    The cleaning performance promises to be just as impressive, with 28 jets at the back of the dishwasher targeting caked-on casserole and the like. You can choose to wash just the upper or just the lower basket to save energy, or remove the upper basket completely to make way for the tall tins and trays.

    The freestanding version shown will cost £599, and there’s also an integrated version for the same price if you’d prefer to hide it behind a unit door. Both hold 13 place settings, use as little as 6 litres of water per cycle and have 10 programmes in total, including one for glass an an ‘overnight’ cycle that runs quietly.

    Need more space inside? Check out my post on large-capacity dishwashers.

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    You rang, m’lord?

    by  • November 4, 2014 • 0 Comments

    iDect Eclipse Plus Phone | The Apprentice | girlabouttech.comGranted, I may not have ‘a whole field of ponies’ like Stuart Baggs ‘The Brand’, or be able to do a ‘reverse pterodactyl’ impression worthy of Lee McQueen, but I’d still love to be a candidate on The Apprentice. The only thing putting me off are those crack-of-dawn wake-up calls.

    They beg so many questions, like what time does Lord Sugar’s PA have to get into the office to actually make them? Did the camera crew stay the night? And how would I have time to shower, blow dry my hair, apply a full face of make-up and gobble down a bowl of Sugar Puffs in the 20 minutes before the cars arrive?

    But I digress… today’s post concerns the snazzy phone that is the hotline to The Apprentice house. If you’ve been coveting it, as I have – especially after last week’s BOMBSHELL call after THAT triple firing – you might like to know that it’s called the iDect Eclipse and comes in black and white.

    More sculpture than handset, it incorporates a 30-minute answering machine, and stores 200 numbers for those all-important business contacts. It will also record the last 10 numbers, has a talk time of up to 13 hours, and a standby time of 230. Go for the black and you’ll currently find it reduced to half price (around £50) at John Lewis and Argos. That’s a deal even Lord Sugar would be impressed with.

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    Brighten up TV nights

    by  • October 24, 2014 • 1 Comment

    Crystal limited-edition NOW TV box | Sky | girlabouttech.comIs your TV Smart or ‘Stoopid’? If it’s the latter, the good news is you’ll soon be able to update it with a groovy limited-edition NOW TV box from Sky.

    Available in Lightning, Glitter, Penguin, Crystal and an extra-special Lego Movie design, they cost £9.99 each.

    Limited edition NOW TV boxes | Sky | girlabouttech.com

    A Now TV box – in case you didn’t know – is a handy bit of kit that you attach to your TV to make it smart. Just hook it up to your set with the cable provided (it will connect straight to your wireless network), then create a Now TV account on your computer. Finally, sign in and choose what you want to watch.

    You’ll get free access to catch-up services from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5, plus apps like Facebook and Spotify. You can also enjoy Sky shows without a contract through NOW TV passes – the Entertainment Pass, for example, costs £6.99 a month and you’ll get instant access to the new series of The Knick and The Walking Dead and box sets of Lost, The West Wing and Hannibal. There’s also a Movie Pass (£9.99 a month), and day and week passes for Sky Sports (from £6.99).

    The boxes are available to order from 24th November at nowtv.com/christmasbox.

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    Ditch the dishcloth for a large capacity dishwasher

    by  • October 21, 2014 • 1 Comment

    Maxi Plate Dishwasher | Candy | girlabouttech.com
    It seems a simple concept to grasp. We have a dishwasher. We have dirty dishes. So where to the dirty dishes go? IN THE DISHWASHER. Not on the kitchen worktop above the dishwasher. Not on the floor next to the sofa. Not in the sink. IN THE DISHWASHER.

    Sadly, it’s a task that Boy About Tech just can’t seem to get his head around. Perhaps he believes in some sort of dishwasher fairy. Or perhaps he can’t find room. Unlikely, and he’d certainly have no excuses for not squeezing his used cereal bowl into Candy’s new cavernous cleaner.

    The CDIM3653 Maxi Plate can hold 15 place settings – three more than most standard 60cm-wide models. That’s the equivalent of 15 dinner plates, 15 side plates, 15 bowls, 15 knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons, 15 glass tumblers, and 15 tea cups and saucers, as well as a couple of serving dishes. What’s more, eight larger dinner plates of up to 34.5cm in diameter will sit happily in the bottom basket, as you can see. It’s fully integrated, and costs £399.

    Or how about this model from CDA?

    WC600 Integrated Dishwasher | CDA | girlabouttech.comThe WC600 is another 60cm integrated design capable of holding 15 place settings. Available for around £389, it sprays water at three different levels for more efficient cleaning, and has a separate cutlery tray at the top, rather than a cutlery holder in the bottom basket.

    An LED interior light makes loading and unloading easier, and you can set the energy and water-saving half load wash to target either the upper or lower baskets individually, depending on where you’ve stacked your dishes. That’s a lot of clever ideas for your money.

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    Friday Find: Cornishware range cooker

    by  • October 17, 2014 • 0 Comments

    To demonstrate exactly what its bespoke Colourange service is capable of, Britannia Living has produced a one-of-a-kind Cornishware version of its Wyre 90cm cooker.

    Cornishware Range Cooker | Britannia Colourange | girlabouttech.com

    I think it would look splendid in this coastal-themed kitchen/diner…

    Coastal kitchen | girlabouttech.com

    The Colourange service is available across all of Britannia’s range cookers and the options are endless – just promise me you won’t pick anything too garish, as you’ll have to live with the results. Prices are on application but you can click here to find out more. Or you could go with the cream version of the cooker, which costs around £1,600.

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    Three looks, three radios…

    by  • October 15, 2014 • 0 Comments

    As the evenings draw in, the rain comes down and my newly landscaped garden is no longer the inviting nightspot it was a few weeks ago, redecorating the flat has become my top priority. But what look to go for? I’ve narrowed it down to three… and picked out a brand-new radio that will suit each one perfectly.

    Revival-iStream2 internet radio | Roberts | girlabouttech.com

    The serious ’50s styling belies the Revival iStream2 radio’s modern features – for example, you can hook it up to your home WiFi and access radio stations from all around the world. It’s also got built-in Spotify Connect so it will play music straight from your Spotify account, or you can stream music from your smartphone or laptop to its speakers.

    Evoke D6 DAB radio | Pure | girlabouttech.com

    Launched today, the latest in Pure’s Evoke family of radios has doubled up on speakers, giving it a stronger stereo sound, while its rounded corners and real oak-veneer finish are perfectly in keeping with my favourite decorating trend. The radio has 30 presets (15 FM and 15 DAB), and two alarms, which you can silence with a tap of the touch-sensitive SnoozeHandle, so it’s the ideal bedside companion.

    It also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, and you can buy an optional rechargeable battery pack for up to 65 hours of wireless listening.

    R2 DAB MUSIC SYSTEM | Ruark Audio | girlabouttech.com

    My final pick is smart, sophisticated and sounds superb. The revamped Ruark R2 is more than just a DAB/FM radio – it’s got Bluetooth and WiFi so you can use it as a speaker, access to thousands of Internet radio stations and Spotify Connect. You can also link it to other R2s – they come in matt white and walnut, too – and create a rather beautiful multi-room music system.

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    Print every day? Save money with Epson’s Eco Tank printers

    by  • October 6, 2014 • 1 Comment

    Your printer has run out of ink. AGAIN. It probably didn’t help that you printed out the 126 comments that followed that pic of Cheryl’s new ‘do, en route to the hairdressers last week. And it would happen the night you need to print the boarding passes for tomorrow’s 5am flight/little Johnny’s big school project/the posters for your best friend’s charity coffee morning that you promised her two weeks ago. Typical.

    L355 Eco Tank printer | Epson | girlabouttech.com

    Sound familiar? Then you might be interested in Epson’s new Eco Tank printers. Rather than fit those pricey little cartridges that only tend to last a month or two, you’ll need to fill it up with ink yourself. Each printer comes with four bottles – one each of black, cyan, blue and magenta – and you’ll need to carefully peel off each bottle’s seal before replacing the lid and decanting it into its corresponding tank.

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