• The Zeppelin flies high again!

    by  • October 8, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Zeppelin Wireless speaker | girlabouttech.comBack when everyone had iPhones and docks were the default way to listen to the music stored on it, Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin speaker ruled the roost with its signature sound and looks.

    Then along came Android phones and tablets, and wireless streaming via WiFi and Bluetooth, and suddenly this Apple-only speaker had some serious competition – cue a brief sabbatical.

    Zeppelin Wireless speaker 2 | girlabouttech.comBut now there’s a new Zeppelin Air Wireless in town. It has a Control app for Android as well as Apple devices. It can stream music via CD-quality aptX Bluetooth and WiFi, as well as AirPlay. It has Spotify Connect, so if you use said streaming service, the music doesn’t have to stop when you take a call.

    But most importantly of all, the sound has been re-engineered. I was lucky enough to get my hands (and ears) on one a few months ago, and was treated to beautifully balanced bass, detailed mid-tones and twinkling treble.

    Will this Zeppelin fly off the shelves? I think so. Sure, it’s an investment buy at £500, but I reckon it’s worth every penny. Want one? It’s available now at John Lewis. Amy

    Read more →

    How to buy a fridge-freezer

    by  • October 7, 2015 • 0 Comments

    How to Buy a Fridge-Freezer | girlabouttech.comNo other kitchen appliance is shown quite as much love as the fridge freezer – well it is ‘home’ to the kids’ favourite yogurt drinks, Dad’s secret stash of ice cream and Mum’s ‘emergency’ bottle of wine.

    So if you’re looking to upgrade, you’ll be pleased to hear that the latest models are working harder than ever. You just need to make a few key decisions first…

    Read more →

    The best smart lightbulbs

    by  • October 2, 2015 • 0 Comments

    Next lighting | best smart lightbulbs | girlabouttech.com©Next

    My personal ‘smart lightbulb’ moment occured when I was lying in bed six months ago. Until then, I’d not been overly fascinated by app-controlled bulbs. Whisper it quietly, but I thought the colour-changing ones were a bit tacky. Did I really care if my lighting matched my curtains. Did I really think my bedroom would be enhanced by a seductive red glow? Erm, no…

    So what changed my mind? Well, in a word, laziness. I simply couldn’t be bothered to get up and turn off what Peter Kay would refer to as “t’Big Light”. ‘If only that pesky bulb could be controlled by my phone’, I thought to myself.

    ‘Oh, and perhaps it could pop back on again in the morning to wake me up – do one of those sunrise simulation thingies.’ And so it quite literally dawned on me that app-controlled lightbulbs were a good idea after all.

    Since my conversion, I’ve tried out quite a few – my favourites are below. Some use ‘bridge’ units that plug into your WiFi router. This gives them more functionality and lets you integrate more bulbs (usually around 50) into the system.

    Others link directly to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. This generally makes them more affordable and slightly easier to set up, but you’ll be limited to what you can do with them – for example, you probably won’t be able to program them to wake you up.

    Philips Hue starter pack, £149, John LewisPhilips Hue starter pack | best smart lightbulbs | girlabouttech.com

    Girl About Tech loves… ‘Possibly the best known smart lightbulb, Hue uses a bridge unit, which connects to up to 50 bulbs over WiFi. You can get various types, including bayonet and screw fixings, and even strip lighting.

    ‘As the name suggests, you can colour-match most Hue lightbulbs to anything from a favourite photo to a cushion or your wallpaper through the app. There are also preset modes like ‘Relax’ and ‘Reading’, and you can program them to come on and off as you please. There’s even the option to have a sunrise simulation wake you up.

    ‘Also check out the new Hue wireless dimming kit, £29.99, launching on November 30th. Rather than being controlled by an app, you can link up to 10 bulbs wirelessly to a dimmer switch that sticks to the wall. They don’t change colour but they offer an affordable alternative to other wireless lighting options. Plus, if you get on with them, it’s possible to integrate them into a full Hue system.’

    Sengled Pulse starter pack, £149, SengledSengled Pulse Starter Pack | Best smart lightbulbs | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘As well as lighting up, these JBL-powered Bluetooth bulbs can play the music stored on your phone or tablet. While the sound quality won’t fully rival a state-of-the-art speaker, it’s a fun space saver and great for a teenage bedroom.

    ‘The starter pack contains two bulbs, but you can buy extras for £64 each and link up to eight together for light and sound in every room. The red finish a bit too loud for you? They also come in more refined silver and white.’

    Osram Lightify gateway, £40, and colour bulb, £35, both TescoOsram Lightify gateway and colour bulb | best smart lightbulbs | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘Once you’ve invested in a single Lightify gateway – a small box (bridge) that plugs into your router – you can control up to 50 bulbs from a single app over your home WiFi.

    ‘The keenly priced range includes colour bulbs, £35, white bulbs that let you adjust their brightness and warmth, £30, and standard white bulbs you can turn on and off, £25. Indoor and outdoor spotlights and plug adapters for older fittings will be available shortly.’

    Lifx Original smart light bulb, £79.99, MaplinLifx WiFi Intelligent lightbulb | best smart lightbulbs | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘Unusually for a WiFi bulb, this super-bright fixture doesn’t need a bridge. It also works with other Smart gadgets, including the Samsung SmartThings system and Nest. So if, for example, your Nest Protect detects smoke, it will flash red, or if you put your Nest Thermostat into holiday mode, it will turn on and off regularly to make it look like you’re at home.’

    Playbulb Garden, £39.99, MiPowPlaybulb Garden | best smart lightbulbs | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘Bring millions more colours into your garden with this solar-powered light. OK, it’s not technically a bulb but it works along the same principals – it can be controlled with the free Playbulb X app or you can rely on the built-in sensor that detects how dark it is and automatically turns the bulb on or off accordingly. Oh, and it’s waterproof, so should survive a British “summer”…’

    Read more →

    The perfect fridge-freezer for Christmas

    by  • September 30, 2015 • 1 Comment

    NRC6192TX ConvertActive fridge freezer | Gorenje | girlabouttech.comIt might be three months away, but I’m already panicking about how I’m going to fit the ingredients for Christmas dinner for 12 people inside my fridge. If only I had this beauty from Gorenje. Its freezer can be converted into either a zero-degree zone for meat and fish or a full-on fridge in under two hours.

    All I’d need to do is ditch the frozen peas and half-eaten tub of ice cream (how long has that been in there?), and load it with my turkey and trimmings. Crisis averted. Then a few days later, when the leftovers are ready for freezing, I could just switch it back.NRC6192TX ConvertActive fridge-freezer in fridge mode | Gorenje | girlabouttech.comThat’s not all it has going for it – for starters, it’s a great option if you like to be organised. The freezer’s XXL drawer is big enough for a huge bird or several pizzas, the Multibox is designed to store butter and cheese, and there’s a metal rack to keep bottles neat and safe while freeing up shelf space.

    Meanwhile, a combination of technologies works hard to keep your food fresh, like the ultra-fast freezing compartment designed to seal in freshness and nutrients, or the humidity controlled vegetable drawer that will keep wimpy salad items like tomatoes or peppers fresher for days longer.

    Finally – and most spookily – the fridge actually learns how you use it. I’m assured it’s not going to take over the world, but it will analyse your habits and use this data to predict when you’re next going to open the door. Then, just before you do, it will decrease the temperature by a couple of degrees so your food isn’t affected by the sudden blast of warm air, which would otherwise cause it to perish sooner.

    Availability and stockists for the NRC6192TX ConvertActive fridge freezer have yet to be announced, but it will cost around £619 – as son as I hear more I’ll update you but you can also check out the Gorenje website.

    Need even more storage? This model from Haier gives you American style without hogging lots of space in your kitchen.

    Read more →

    Roberts Radio goes multiroom

    by  • September 25, 2015 • 0 Comments

    R-Line multiroom speakers | Roberts | girlabouttech.comIt’s not often I quote taglines used by companies to promote their products – but I have to bow to the genius of ‘get your music running, head out to the hallway’, used by Roberts to launch its first ever line-up of multiroom speakers, called R-Line.

    I had a sneaky look at the new range last night, and was mightily impressed with both the variety of products and their powerful sound – even if their names are slightly confusing…R-Line R1 and R100 multiroom speakers | Roberts | girlabouttech.comAbove we have the R-Series, which are two ‘portable’ speakers with up to 12 hours battery life. In reality, they are more ‘take them out to the garden’ portable rather than ‘slip one into your handbag’ portable, but I love their slightly retro look and leather-like strap.

    The main difference between the two is that the R100, £250, has a screen.R-Line multiroom speaker screen | Roberts | girlabouttech.comThis can be used to control the music and its source, so you don’t need a phone or tablet loaded with the UNDOK control app to hand. This sets it apart from other multiroom systems from Sonos, Samsung, Pure and so on. It’s also a DAB/FM radio, and you’ll be able to stream your favourite stations throughout the house.

    Its little brother the R1, £180, lacks the above features but is otherwise the same. You can stream music from your own library, any streaming service or Internet radio via Bluetooth or WiFi; it has Spotify Connect, so phone calls won’t interrupt your music when you are using said service; there’s a USB input so you can playback music stored on a hard drive, and you can set it up as a single stereo speaker, or as a left/right speaker in a stereo set-up.R-Line S1 S2 and S300 multiroom speakers | Roberts | girlabouttech.comNext, we have the S Series (which is, name wise, where they lost me!) – more contemporary looking speakers in black and a polished metal finish. The S300 base station, £300, is a beast, with impressive and deep bass delivered by two built-in subwoofers.

    R-Line S Series multiroom speakers | Roberts | girlabouttech.comAlternatively, the compact S1, £180, is ideal for smaller spaces or if you like the idea of pairing two together for a left/right stereo effect. The aux input at the back means you could even plug them into an old turntable and stream your vinyl around your home!

    There’s also a medium-sized S2 speaker, £250, if you’re after a Goldilocks-style full set.

    SB1 soundbar | Roberts | girlabouttech.comFinally, we have the SB1 Soundbar, £400, which is another hefty bit of kit encased in wood – it’s both strong and wide eough to support your telly should you want to sit it on top. Again, the SB1 has a colour display and a built-in subwoofer, so you don’t need any extra boxes/gadgets to use it, but is also controllable with the UNDOK app. And like teh R100 and S300, there’s a DAB/FM radio on board.

    The R Line multiroom speakers will be launched by Roberts in the Spring – I’ll let you know when a firm date is set!

    Read more →

    The best steam-generator irons

    by  • September 25, 2015 • 0 Comments

    The best steam generator irons | girlabouttech.comThe beauty of a steam-generator iron is the powerful, continuous steam it creates through its separate water tank. This blasts through creases – so rather than ironing both sides of a shirt or duvet cover, you’ll only need to give it the once-over, reducing ironing times by at least half. Trust me – try one, and you’ll never be without it again. Here are some of my favourites.

    Effectis GV6720 steam generator iron, £150, TefalTefal Effectis GV6720 | Best Steam Generator Irons | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘If you’ve had your eye on a fancy steam-generating iron but are short on space or cash, you’ll be as excited as I am to see this ultra-compact and well-priced design.

    Its footprint of just 33cm x 20cm compares to the 44cm x 23cm of Tefal’s largest model, and is thanks mainly to its smaller boiler and 1.5ltr water tank, which can be refilled as you go for non-stop ironing.’

    GC7619/04 PerfectCare Pure steam generator iron, £160, PhilipsPhilips GC761904 PerfectCare Pure | Best Steam Generator Irons | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘It can iron everything from denim to silk brilliantly and without you having to touch the dial as there’s just a single ‘magic’ setting that works with everything.

    You won’t have to wait for the iron to cool or get hotter as you move between different fabrics, so you’ll get through the ironing pile faster, and it’s even Woolmark approved, so you can use it care-free on your favourite jumper.’

    Auto Clean Power Steam Elite steam generator iron, £199, Morphy RichardsMorphy Richards Auto-Clean Power Steam Elite | Best Steam Generator Irons | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘Morphy’s self-cleaning iron is relatively compact, but with no compromise on features. There’s a big 2.2ltr water tank and it fires out steam at a high 6.5bar pressure. The iron also locks to the base, so it’s safe to carry.’

    SI11010N steam generator iron, £49.96, Swan at AsdaSwan SI11010N | Best Steam Generator Irons | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘A decent first steam-gen iron, and you’ll be hard pressed (sorry!) to find another at this price point. It has a 1.5ltr removable water tank, a long 3m power cord and a separate carry handle attached to the base.’

    IS5042 CareStyle 5 steam generator iron, £140, BraunBraun IS5042 CareStyle 5 | Best Steam Generator Irons | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘Another one-setting wonder. Its ‘heat variation technology’ lets you move from one item to the next without touching a temperature dial, and the tank holds enough water for a two-hour ironing session, yet only takes two minutes to heat up.’

    Read more →

    How to look after your new-season wardrobe

    by  • September 21, 2015 • 1 Comment

    How to care for clothes| girlaboutech.comIt’s London Fashion Week, and time for a quick wardrobe assessment, which got me thinking – I’m sure I’m not the only one that has a dry-clean-only top lurking forgotten at the bottom of the laundry basket, or a dress I’d wear far more if it didn’t need quite so much ironing. Nor am I the first to have the colour run from a new pair of jeans and wreck the rest of the wash.

    Read more →

    Start the ‘new term’ with a pretty laptop bag

    by  • September 18, 2015 • 0 Comments

    The best laptop bags 2015 | girlabouttech.comWho else has noticed the decidedly ‘back to school’ vibe on their commute this week? I’ve already spotted quite a few new-term coats, coffee flasks and lunchboxes – by the way, what is it with people eating their sandwiches at 8am? Have they not heard of Weetabix? Or self control?

    But I digress. What’s making me most envious are the pristine laptop bags. I’m not sure I’ve been this jealous since Natasha Simkiss pulled out a musical magnetic pencil case on the first day of second-year juniors, so I’ve decided to go shopping for new one. Which would you pick?

    1. Winter Rose backpack, £45, Cath KidstonWinter Rose backpack | Cath Kidston | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘…the pretty print, cushioned shoulder straps and the padded pocket for your laptop inside the main compartment. There are plenty more prints to choose from if this doesn’t take your fancy.’

    2. R15 RiutBag, £70, Riut at KickstarterR15 RuitBag | Ruit at Kickstarter | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘There are no outer zips – all the fastenings are against your back. That means cheeky pickpocketers taking advantage of a crowded tube or bus can’t get to my stuff. Ha ha! The cushioned holder inside can take 15-inch laptops, and there’s a bottle holder at the side for water… or an M&S Mojito in a can. I won’t judge.’

    3. Curzon shoulder tote 15″, £149, KnomoCurzon shoulder tote | Knomo | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘I’m aware not everyone’s a ‘rucksack’ person, so this is a preferable option if you’re more of a designer handbag kinda’ gal. It’s still super practical though, as it’s made from water-resistant nylon (with a leather trim) and has an internal pocket for laptops up to 15 inches. I like this antique bronze colour (so there!), but you’ve the added choice of black, navy or grey.’

    4. iStay women’s non-slip laptop bag, £55, Notonthehighstreet.comiStay women's non-slip laptop bag | Notonthehighstreet.com | girlabouttech.comGirl About Tech loves… ‘If your meanie of a manager insists you cart about The World’s Oldest and Heaviest Laptop TM, this bag’s rubberised strap will at least hold steady on your shoulder. Oh, and inside there a techtastic two pockets for up to a 16-inch laptop and a netbook or tablet up to 11 inches, so you don’t have to entirely rely on the floppy disk drive-bearing behemoth that takes two days to load up an Excel spreadsheet. Phew!

    Read more →

    Vote Girl About Tech!

    by  • September 15, 2015 • 0 Comments

    I’m not usually one for begging, but *gets down on knees and clasps hands together, desperately*…

    Girl About Tech | Amara Interior Blog Awards…please vote for me in the Amara Interior Blog Awards!

    I’m honoured that little ol’ me has been nominated in the Best Interior Magazine Blog category and would be even more chuffed if you, my amazing readers, could lend me your support by clicking on this big sexy blob!

    vote-now-1 I’m up against some great bloggers, so competition is bound to be fierce. But if I do pull off a ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ and get to the awards ceremony being held at the posh new Ham Yard Hotel on the 28th October, I promise you that I will scrub up as best as I can, dress in my favourite Girl About Tech red frock and do all you tech lovers proud. I’ve even practised my most gracious I’m-just-happy-to-have-been-nominated smile, should I lose!

    The voting closes this Friday, 18th September, so time is of the essence. Oh, and if my grovelling hasn’t swayed you, you’ll also be in with a chance of winning a luxury holiday in Amalfi! Amy x

    Read more →

    Wireless speakers with style

    by  • September 15, 2015 • 0 Comments

    BeoPlay A6 WiFi speaker | Bang & Olufsen | girlabouttech.comLast week, as I patrolled the halls of IFA 2015 (aka Europe’s biggest tech show), I spotted a plethora of beautiful new speakers. I couldn’t decide on my favourite, so I’ll leave that up to you…

    1. Play A6 wireless speaker from Bang & Olufsen

    BeoPlay A6 WiFi speaker in blue | Bang & Olufsen | girlabouttech.com

    The latest edition to B&O’s (relatively) affordable Play range is this smart multi-faceted speaker, designed to send sound to every part of a room whether you position it in a corner or against one wall. You can stream music to it through Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth or you home WiFi network, and it’s controllable through both the accompanying app and by swiping your hand back and forth across the top of the speaker. You can also link it up to other A6 and A9 speakers to create your own multiroom music system.

    I love the wool cover by Danish textile designers Kvadrat. It comes with a pale grey finish, but if you get bored you can swap it for one of the optional covers in dark grey, dark rose or dusty blue.

    The A6 will be available at B&O stores and department stores from mid-October, and will set you back £799.

    2. R1, R3 and R5 Wireless 360 speakers from Samsung

    R3 Wireless 360 speaker | Samsung | girlabouttech.comIt may be a while until we see them in the UK, but Samsung’s next trio of speakers will be additions to its new 360° multiroom range. Designed to sit in the middle of a room, each has a ‘ring radiator’ to fire out sound in all directions – hence the name. However, they look a little different to the egg-shaped R6 and R7 currently available in plain old black and white, as Samsung has been collaborating with different designers to produce a prototype Vitrine collection in different colours and patterns.

    Sadly, I suspect these designs are unlikely to make it into shops, since monochrome is a far safer bet. Still, it’s good to see Samsung having a bit of fun.

    R1 R3 R5 Wireless 360 speakers | Samsung | IFA 2015 | girlabouttech.comAnother difference between these speakers and the R6 and R7 is that there are physical controls on top of the speakers so you don’t need your smartphone at the ready if you want to skip tracks or whack up the volume. But like their big brothers, you’ll be able to link them to other Samsung soundbars, speakers and even TVs, and play different songs in each room or the same song everywhere via the Multiroom 2.0 app.

    The speakers will be available before the year is out – UK prices are yet to be announced, but they range between $199 and $399, suggesting they’ll be more affordable than the £400 R6 and £500 R7.

    3. Boost TV speaker from JBL

    Boost TV speaker | JBL | IFA 2015 | girlabouttech.comMy final pick is this cute mini soundbar from JBL, called the Boost TV. It’s coming out in October, costs £169.99, and is ideal if you want to improve your TV’s sound but have limited space (it’s only 38cm long). Not only that, you can use it as a Bluetooth speaker to stream music from your smartphone.

    OK, so it’s perhaps not as pretty as the other speakers I have seen at IFA, but one thing I LOVE about the 30W Boost TV is that it’s clever enough to automatically switch audio between devices. So, if you’re watching TV, but suddenly get the urge to watch a hilarious YouTube clip on your tablet, it will instantly swap across without you having to turn the TV down. It’s also go built-in Dolby Digital and virtual surround sound to make movies sound that much more exciting.

    Last but not least, it’s compatible with other JBL Connect speakers – this means that you can link several Connect-compatible speakers together and stream the same song to all of them in sync. So you could set up a multiroom system, albeit, you wouldn’t be able to stream different songs to different speakers from one phone.

    Read more →

    The washing machines of the future are here

    by  • September 4, 2015 • 0 Comments

    WW8500 AddWash washing machine launch | Samsung | girlabouttech.comSo you thought the delay start on your washing machine was pretty snazzy? Then prepare to have your mind well and truly blown by these ground-breaking laundry appliances, which I’ve spotted at this year’s IFA technology fair in Berlin.

    Which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments box!

    Read more →