• The Magimix gets a bakeover

    by  • January 27, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Patissier Multifunction food processor | Magimix | girlabouttech.comWatch out kMix and KitchenAid – Magimix has just come up with its answer to the stand mixer. The Patissier Multifunction has been specially developed for baking, so while it’s still capable of traditional processor functions such as slicing, grating and blending, the addition of a 4.9ltr stainless steel bowl apparently makes it possible to produce perfect meringues, bread and pastry every time.

    Given ‘Queen of Cake’ Mary Berry is partial to whipping up a sponge in a food processor, the Patissier is definitely worth consideration. And while it’s pricier and not quite as pretty as its aforementioned mixing rivals, it is more versatile and will take up less space on your countertop. Touché!

    One argument against using a processor for cakes is that they don’t incorporate enough air into the batter. But Magimix promises that a special smooth blade ‘effortlessly kneads pastry and bread as well as aerating sponge mixtures for light and fluffy cakes’. The Patissier also comes with whisks for whipping up cream and egg whites, as well as standard processor attachments and the excellent BlenderMix, which can be used to make soups and smoothies.

    The Patissier Mulitfunction will be available exclusively at John Lewis from March, in the delicious-sounding Vanille (cream) or Framboise (raspberry pink), plus red, black and satin (chrome). It then arrives at leading department stores from September onwards, priced £500.

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    LG’s magic cordless vacuum is under your spell

    by  • January 24, 2015 • 0 Comments

    CordZero vacuum cleaner | LG | Innofest | girlabouttech.comOn first inspection, LG’s new vacuum looks much like any other cylinder cleaner – until you realise (a) it’s cordless and (b) it’s on motorised wheels.

    Yes, like a loyal hound, the CordZero follows you around – but it won’t be nipping at your heels. That’s because, due to its unique RoboSense technology, the CordZero ‘watches’ you, maintaining a contant distance behind you as it moves along on said wheels. Given Boy About Tech won’t let me have a dog, this could be the next best thing.

    With no power cord to repeatedly plug and unplug, you’re free to roam from room to room without any tangling or hassle, saving yourself a bit of time in the process. You’ll be able to clean for about 40 minutes, and there’s no drop off in suction power thanks to the lithium-ion battery on board.

    Nor should it trouble you too much if you have to haul it up the stairs – LG says its Smart Inverter Motor is, on average, 28% smaller and 22% lighter than conventional vacuum motors, and also 13% more efficient. And although it’s bagless, it’s even easy to empty, since the CordZero has a motorised compresser on board. This packs dirt into compact, easy-to-manage wedges that are less likely to break up or create a cloud of dust as they are dropped into the bin.

    CordZero is part of a new cordless vacuum cleaner range that also comprises a 2-in-1 stick cleaner, a handheld cleaner for bedding, and the existing HomBot Square robot. Like everything I’ve seen at Innofest this week, prices and availability will be announced shortly.

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    Wardrobe meets washing machine – LG’s updated Styler

    by  • January 23, 2015 • 0 Comments

    I’m in Lisbon, Portugal, where – when I’m not attempting to eat my own bodyweight in nata – I’m checking out LG’s latest appliances and gadgets at their annual ‘Innofest’. First up we have their updated Styler, the love child of a wardrobe and a washing machine.

    STYLER | LG | INNOFEST | girlabouttech.comNow the Styler is nothing new – LG has demoed its original version at many shows over the years – but this update is 30% smaller and a lot prettier, with rounded edges, a black glass door and touchscreen controls.

    So what exactly does it do? Well LG calls it a ‘one-of-a-kind clothing management system’, designed to refresh clothes without detergents. It’s essentially made for those hard-to-maintain outfits that would normally linger in the wash basket until you remember to take them to the dry cleaners. We’re talking coats, cashmere sweaters, silky dresses and so on.

    Among the Styler’s programmes are ‘Odour Removal’, which gets rid of smokey, foody or sweaty pongs and replaces them with a choice of two fragrant aromas, and a Quick Refresh function that uses steam to keep your clothes looking and smelling fresh. Steam can also be used to eliminate any germs and bacteria lurking deep inside clothes and soft toys, by way of a 90-minute Sanitary Cycle approved by the British Allergy Foundation.

    A Moving Hanger Action gently shakes the clothes after they have been steamed to remove any wrinkles (see below), and a Gentle Dry cycle generates warm air but keeps it at a low enough temperature that your favourite delicates aren’t in danger of shrinking.

    The Smart Diagnosis and NFC Tag On features found on LG washing machines are on board the new LG Styler, too. You can use the former to find out if anything is wrong with the machine, and the latter to update the Styler with more programmes as they become available.

    The Styler’s price tag wasn’t confirmed in Lisbon, but it’s likely to be high. I had a quick chat to LG’s UK commercial director, Andy Mackay, and he thinks it’s going to be a hit with premium hotels, who would no doubt see it as a great draw for busniess travellers living out of a suitcase. I agree – I’m sure they’d make use of the Easy Pants Crease Care feature on the inside door. It removes creases at the back of knees while maintaining perfect pleats up front.STYLER IN SITU | LG | INNOFEST | girlabouttech.com

    But what about having one at home? With a capacity for four outfits in total, the Styler won’t be replacing your wardrobe any time soon, but if I had unlimited space and a healthy bank account, I’d consider getting one. Well, anything that means I don’t have to iron or remember to pick up the dry cleaning is a winner in my book.

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    LG adds new speakers to its MusicFlow multi-room system

    by  • January 22, 2015 • 0 Comments

    LG’s MusicFlow speakers offer almost everything you could want from a multi-room system – they come in lots of different sizes; they’re easy to use; you can ‘take’ a song from one speaker to the next just by bringing your phone or tablet within 30cm; they happily play high-resolution audio tracks and stream music from Spotify, Napster, Deezer and the soon-to-be-launched Google Cast… the list goes on.

    But not ones to rest on its laurels, LG thought there was something missing, and has duly announced some new additions at its ‘Innofest’ in Lisbon, Portugal.H4 Music Flow multiroom speaker | LG | Innofest | girlabouttech.com

    Among them is the H4, the company’s smallest model to date. This works happily with the rest of the range when it’s linked up to your home WiFi, so if you’re in ‘Party Mode’, it will play the same song as other speakers around the home.

    However, there’s an added bonus in that it’s powered by an in-built rechargeable battery, so if you liked you could take it outside and turn your garden into an additional multi-room zone. Or you could venture even further afield and use the H4 as a regular Bluetooth speaker to play songs from your smartphone. Talk about versatile!

    The battery life on the H4 is quoted as ‘around six hours, although an LG insider told me they are already looking to extend it.

    Incidentally, grab yourself a couple of H4s and link them in with another new MusicFlow product – the HS9 soundbar – pop them into Home Cinema Mode and you’ve got yourself the ideal surround-sound setup for watching movies.HS9 Music Flow multiroom soundbar | LG | Innofest | girlabouttech.comThe 700W HS9 is top dog among two new MusicFlow soundbars, and capable of playing studio-quality High Resolution audio. I’m rather taken with its ribbed design…

    Both the speaker and soundbars are set to work with LG’s new HomeChat feature, which will allow people to control these and other LG devices by sending a text-message command – for example, “play songs for a party” or “turn off the music after one hour.” With HomeChat, your
    Music Flow system could even act as a wake-up alarm or alert you to upcoming events.

    All prices and launch dates are TBC, but I’ll be updating the post as soon as word gets out.

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    CES 2015: Apple-friendly noise-cancelling headphones from Philips

    by  • January 20, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Fidelio NC1L on-ear headphones | Philips | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.comTrust me – a 12-hour flight to Las Vegas sat in economy is the ultimate test of a pair of headphones. Although mine were comfortable enough to doze off in, and did a fine job of bringing the in-flight movies to life, they ultimately failed at blocking out the drone of the plane and the chit-chat/snores of my fellow passengers.

    Trying out a pair of Philips’ new Fidelio NC1L on-ear headphones on the stands at CES 2015 only confirmed this. Their active noise cancelling technology uses four tiny microphones that identify the noise around you, then emit an opposing signal to cancel out ambient sounds.

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    CES 2015: Snap, print and share selfies instantly with Polaroid’s Socialmatic

    by  • January 16, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Polaroid Socialmatic instant camera | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.comFujifilm’s Instax Mini 8 camera was a big hit at Christmas, even making it onto my six-year-old niece’s list for Santa – in pink, obvs. So it made sense for the trailblazer of the instant print, Polaroid, to respond with its innovative new Socialmatic.

    Unlike other instamatic snappers on the market, the Socialmatic is armed with a 14-megapixel front and a 2-megapixel rear camera, so you can easily use it for selfies.

    Once the image is captured, it will appear on the camera’s 4.5in touchscreen, where you can add text, icons and clip art. You could even add a QR code and turn your snap into a business card or party invite.

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    CES 2015: The TVs worth watching this year

    by  • January 13, 2015 • 1 Comment

    For some, it’s the centre of their world. For others, it’s the ugly black box that’s taking up too much space in the living room. But TVs are about to get sexier, with skinnier screens, brighter, more life-like pictures and a smorgasbord of Smart content that’s easier to access than ever.

    SAMSUNG SUHD TV | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.comLet’s start with Samsung, and its new SUHD TVs that, like Harry S Truman and JK Rowling, have an initial that officially doesn’t stand for anything.

    I thought the S might be short for Super, Smart or Samsung, but the official line is that it is there simply to differentiate it as a top-of-the-range Samsung product, like the Galaxy S smartphone or Tab S tablet.

    One thing that Samsung SUHD LED TVs do have, however, are vibrant and accurate colours, created by a better processor and a special ‘Nano Crystal’ display. Apparently, a combinaton of these two factors allows the LED light to be transferred more accurately into red, green and blue on the screen, for an effect that wowed me even from the back of a crowded press conference.

    As you can see below, it’s quite astounding up close! Incidentally, no models were harmed in the making of this video…

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    CES 2015: Bellabeat brings a natural touch to fitness tech

    by  • January 9, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Among the glossy black screens and smartwatches, Bellabeat’s stand at CES 2015 was a sight for sore eyes. Its ‘naturally smart tech for women’ is a small range comprising a wearable fitness tracker, a WiFi bathroom scale and a baby monitor. Nothing new there… until you see what they look like.

    Leaf fitness tracker | Bellabeat | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.comBellabeat co-founder Urska Srsen started working on the designs after being frustrated that most fitness trackers seemed to be designed ‘for fitness fanatics around 20-30, and mostly for men’. So she developed the Leaf fitness tracker specifically for women.

    Priced at $129 (around £86), it’s designed to be worn as a clip broach, bracelet or necklace, and is made from medical-grade steel and European ash. The latter is water-resistant rather than waterproof, so you won’t be able to wear in the shower, but on the up side the Leaf doesn’t need regular charging – you’ll just need to replace the battery every six months or so.

    Just put it on, and simply wake it up once a day to sync all your data to an app on your phone via Bluetooth. You’ll be able to track physical activity, calories burned, nutrition, sleep quality and stress levels, and set realistic goals with updates and encouragement on your progress. It will even wake you in the morning by vibrating gently.

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    CES 2015: Hands on with LG’s G-Flex 2 curved smartphone

    by  • January 8, 2015 • 0 Comments

    A year on from the release of its first curved smartphone, LG is back at CES with its updated G Flex 2 – and not surprisingly, given my love of the G3, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.G FLEX 2 curved smartphone | LG | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.com

    Ain’t she a beaut? This hot Girl About Tech Red– sorry – Flamenco Red finish is my favourite, but there’s also a more sedate Platinum Silver option. It should stay looking good, too, as a special chemical treatment has been applied to the back cover. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe, and will ‘self heal’ any minor nicks and scratches within ten seconds, although it doesn give the phone a slightly glossier look than the G3, with its convincing faux metallic casing.

    As was the case with the original G-Flex, the eye-catching curve of the handset isn’t just intended for show. It brings the mirophone closer to your mouth so calls are clearer, and makes the 5.5in Full HD screen easier to hold when watching video. It’s apparently gentler on the eyes, too.G FLEX 2 curved smartphone profile | LG | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.com

    Under the ‘bonnet’, Qualcomm’s new state-of-the-art processor makes sure that your apps will load in double-quick time, and that videos run like a dream. There is a new feature in Glance View, which will display the time, recent messages or missed calls when you swipe down on the screen, even while the display is off, while the fast-charging battery can reach 50% full in under 40 minutes.G FLEX 2 curved smartphone stand | LG | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.com

    The camera has the same fast Laser Auto Focus and image stabilisation as the G3, with Gesture Shot that lets you take a selfie by making a simple hand gesture from up to 1.5 meters away, and Gesture View that allows you to check your last shot, again without touching the screen.

    The G-Flex2 will be available in the UK in late February/Early March, with a price to be confirmed.

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    CES 2015: When is a lightbulb not a lightbulb?

    by  • January 7, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Sengled multi-purpose lightbulbs | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.com

    When it’s also a speaker, a WiFi repeater or a camera, obviously. All of Sengled’s special bulbs can be controlled by an app, and to save you clogging up plug sockets around the home, each serves a dual purpose.

    The Pulse is a dimmable LED light that also serves as a Bluetooth speaker made by JBL. A starter pack comprising a master and a satellite bulb costs EUR179.99, and comes in three colours – red, white or silver. Once paired, you can dim and brighten all the bulbs simultaneously, and play songs from all the bulbs at the same time.

    Just twist the bulb into any standard light socket, and adjust the brightness and volume from the iOS/Android app.

    Alternatively, the Boost, EUR50, is another app controlled and dimmable light, but it can also increase the range of your WiFi. Just place it where you have a reasonable signal and it can throw it into ‘dead zones’ up to 100ft away.

    Finally, the yet-to-be-released Snap incorporates a camera, microphone and speaker into the bulb. Snap records video and stores it in the cloud, so you can use it as a home monitor either inside or outside. Available in March 2015, it’s priced at $200, with European and UK pricing yet to be confirmed.

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    CES 2015: A Smarter cup of coffee

    by  • January 7, 2015 • 0 Comments

    App-controlled filter coffee maker | Smarter | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.com

    You might remember last year’s iKettle – the first you were able to turn on and off from under the duvet or on the sofa with an app. Well now the team behind it – Smarter – has come up with a WiFi connected bean-to-cup filter coffee machine to join it on your worktop.

    Smarter’s coffee maker has some awesome tricks up its sleeve. For example, use the app’s Wake Up mode and when your alarm sounds in the morning, you’ll get a prompt asking if you want to pop the coffee maker on. Its Home mode, meanwhile, will get a brew started when you get within a certain distance of your house.

    The app also lets you check there’s enough water in the tank, and select the strength and number of cups of coffee you want to make from the comfort of your armchair. And so you won’t have to leave ground coffee in there overnight, the built-in ceramic burr grinder will churn up your beans as you need them to guarantee the freshest brew.

    The Smarter WiFi coffee maker will be available from March at Amazon and Firebox, priced £129.99, with skins on offer shortly afterwards so you can update its stainless-steel body with a blue, red, grey, red or black finish.

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    CES 2015: Smartwatches just got pretty

    by  • January 6, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Activite Pop smartwatches | Withings | CES 2015 | girlabouttech.com

    I’ve been in a bit of a sulk lately about the lack of ‘pretty’ smartwatches, so you’ll understand why Withings new Activité Pop watch put a smile on my face when I tried it out at CES on Sunday.

    Lightweight and rather lovely, it’s one of the first designs that I can see myself wearing long-term, not least because it’s powered by a regular watch battery. So rather than having to remember to recharge it every few days or even hours, you can look forward to around eight months of use before you’ll need to change the battery.

    Don’t be deceived by the Pop’s regular wristwatch look – it’s also a fitness and sleep tracker that syncs with the easy-to-use Withings HealthMate app, and is waterproof to 30m so you can take it swimming. On the face, you’ll see a smaller 0-100 dial that shows you how far you’ve gone towards hitting your daily goals.

    Activité Pop has a silicone strap available in azure, shark grey, and sand, and will set you back a relatively modest £119.95. You’ll be able to buy one from Currys/PC World and Harrods at the end of January.

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