• Friday Find: Panasonic’s built-in ovens and induction hobs

    by  • August 22, 2014 • 0 Comments

    BUILT-IN OVEN AND INDUCTION HOB | PANASONIC | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    I know. Stunning, aren’t they? Panasonic certainly wasn’t messing around when it came to designing the new additions to its built-in appliance range. They don’t just look the part, either – the new induction hobs and built-in single ovens (there are two of each) are chock full of features to help you achieve culinary perfection – or at least turn out a passable Sunday roast.

    Both ovens have a not-to-be-sniffed-at 65ltr capacity, while the top-of-the-range HL-CK644 has three shelves that slide out on supportive telescopic rails, so you’re less likely to burn yourself in a juggling act with a hot casserole dish.

    If you find touch controls temperamental – as I sometimes do – you’ll also appreciate the pop-out dials that command the temperature and function. You’ve no excuses for a dirty oven, either, as the CK644, £699, and its little brother the CL614, £499, have enamel liners and a steam-cleaning function.

    As for the induction hobs, they’re both made in Britain – just outside Cardiff, to be exact – and are safer than teddy bear swathed in bubble wrap. That’s down to gizmos like a child lock, an auto shut-off that kicks in if a pan boils over, and a control-panel lock that disables the control panel for 20 seconds for quickly wiping off spills during cooking, without affecting the settings. You’ll never have to worry if you’ve left the hob, either, with a timer that counts down from a set time and switches off the zone when it reaches zero.

    Star of the show though, is the aptly named Genius Sensor, which notices a sudden change in cooking conditions caused by food being turned over or ingredients added to a pan, and ups the power until the contents reach the set temperature again.

    The superior KY-B64CG induction hob, £699, boasts Genius Sensor+, with low-temperatures settings (65-120C) for sauces and so on, and an Autoboil function that will bring a pan of water to the boil with one touch.

    The two ovens and two hobs, including the KY-B64CA induction hob, £499, are available now from Very.co.uk. Prefer a freestanding look? How about this stunning cooker from Rangemaster?

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    Great British Bake-Off appliances: Class of 2014

    by  • August 19, 2014 • 1 Comment

    SLIDE AND HIDE SINGLE OVEN | NEFF | GBBO | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    An Alpine village – complete with ski lift – made of biscuits. Controversy surrounding whether to score a Swiss roll or not. An ice cream cone declared by Sue Perkins as having ‘all of the fun and none of the typhoid’. It can only mean the return of the Great British Bake Off.

    I’ve drawn ‘Stormin’ Norman Calder in the Ideal Home sweepstake, and things initially looked promising, with some ‘scrumptious’ mini cakes and perfect farthing biscuits. But he clearly didn’t have his lucky spoon with him when his showstopper based on a single variety of shortbread left him in danger of being Baked Off. Let’s hope Paul Hollywood’s straight talking and icy stare will encourage him to ‘raise’ his game in time for Bread Week.

    Anyway, to satisfy any GBBO cravings between shows, I’ve compiled a list of the star gadgets used by this year’s baker’s dozen. Thanks to the lovely Jen Owen and Emma Jackson for providing the cute cupcake illustrations!

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    Friday Find: BeoPlay H6 headphones

    by  • August 8, 2014 • 0 Comments

    BEOPLAY H6 OVER-EAR HEADPHONES | Bang Olufsen | Girl About Tech

    What are they? BeoPlay H6 over-ear headphones, £329, Bang & Olufsen
    Why I love them: I do like a pair of over-ear headphones – they sit around your auricles (the flappy bits), enveloping you in sound and making sure your neighbours can’t hear any especially guilty pleasures. And because they can incorporate larger, quality speakers, they’re perfect for using at home with top-quality hi-fi equipment.

    These rather shiny examples have been designed by a chap called Jakob Wagner for Scandi audio experts Bang & Olufsen, and come in Blue Stone, Bronzed Hazel and Graphite Blush real-metal colourways, all complemented by a leather headband that makes them lightweight and comfortable enough to wear all day. And as you’d expect from B&O (and that price tag), they sound as good as they look.

    They’re available shortly with a free three-year warranty at the Apple store.

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    How To: take better photos

    by  • August 3, 2014 • 0 Comments

    Are you packing a camera in your holiday suitcase, or just planning to rely on your tablet or smartphone? Either way, I have some great tips to help you get brilliant summer snaps…

    1. Work to a theme It could be a person, a colour, physical things such as ‘doorways’ or ‘signs’, or something more ‘arty’ – say, examples of nature clashing with the urban sprawl. You could snap plants growing up through cracks in the pavement, or trees juxtaposed against modern buildings. When you display all your shots together, it will have a more professional impact.

    TZ55 COMPACT CAMERA | PANASONIC | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    Girl About Tech recommends: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ55, £200, John Lewis
    Use this camera’s One Point Colour mode, so as you’re taking your shot you can highlight one colour (for example red) and then capture everything else in black and white. It’s great way to take photos with a coherent theme.

    2. Get in the right position Move around and try different angles to get the best background, avoiding any bright colours or busy patterns that could distract from your subject. Use a mixture of portrait and landscape styles to create interesting images and hold the camera above your head or low to the ground as well to create different pictures. It might help if your camera has a movable screen so you can do this and still frame up your shot accurately, such as the TZ55 (above) or the Olympus PEN E-PL5 with interchangeable lenses, £325.

    3. Be at their eye level ’There’s a reason why people’s eyes are referred to as the “windows to the soul”,’ says Canon photography expert David Parry. ’They’re the most important part of a portrait, so it’s important to focus carefully on them. If you’re photographing babies or children, get yourself on eye level with them for a more engaging and natural picture.’

    4. Zoom in It will blur out the background, so your subject stands out.

    5. Don’t use the flash unless it’s really dark. Try to get by without it and you’ll be rewarded with much more flattering images without a ‘red eye’ effect. It is trickier to shoot without a flash in low light, as with less light entering the camera, the slightest wobble to make for a blurry shot, but a camera or smartphone with a good Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) system will help with this. You could also think about getting a small tripod for your camera to help hold it steady.

    NOKIA LUMIA 1020 | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    Girl About Tech recommends: Lumia 1020, £400, Nokia
    Simply the best camera you’ll find on a smartphone, with a full OIS system that uses ball bearings and magnets to compensate for your shaky hands, so you won’t get blurry shots. The 41MP sensor delivers incredibly detailed shots, and you can adjust the focus, shutter speed, exposure, ISO and white balance like a pro with the Nokia Pro Camera app.

    6. Avoid direct sunlight. You’ll get more attractive pictures if shoot in the shade – the light is less harsh and no one will be squinting.

    7. Hone your skills with an app Canon and Nikon both have ‘companion apps’ primarily designed to introduce you to the settings of particular models and teach you how to use them. But even if you don’t have the kit, they are still worth downloading, as they’re full of tips for photographers of every level – for example, if you slow down the shutter speed of a camera, you can get some fantastic out-of-focus shots of cars, buses, bikes, lights and people as they whizz along.

    1200D DSLR CAMERA | CANON | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    Girl About Tech recommends: 1200D with 18-55mm lens, £350, Canon
    Download the dedicated app to get the most out of this affordable DSLR. It features some great video tutorials and step-by-step exercises.

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    Friday Find: Dualit hand stick blender

    by  • August 1, 2014 • 0 Comments

    HAND BLENDER SET | DUALIT | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    What is it? Hand blender set, £80, Dualit
    Why I love it: As I’ve said before, I’m not the greatest cook in the world, but I’ve decided that needs to change – mostly because I can’t bare the idea of Boy About Tech taking all the glory at every dinner party we’ll ever hold. Apparently, there’s only so much praise you can receive for picking some snazzy napkins…

    Anyway, I think this updated Dualit hand blender might be the perfect helping hand I need, especially after watching it being expertly demoed by Monica Galetti of Le Gavroche and Professional Masterchef fame when she visited Ideal Home HQ a couple of weeks ago. Here are some of her (and my) favourite features:

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    Friday Find: Morphy Richards steam iron

    by  • July 25, 2014 • 2 Comments

    Breeze Ceramic Black Steam Iron | Morphy Richards | Girl About TechWhat is it? Breeze Ceramic Black steam iron, £29.99, Morphy Richards
    Why I love it: When you’re writing about smartwatches and Wi-Fi washing machines and the like, it’s hard to get excited about a straightforward steam iron. But then this little black number came along and really grabbed my attention – not because it can do the ironing for you or makes the tea at the same time. Nope, I like it simply because it offers excellent value for money.

    For under £30, you get a quick-starting iron with an easy-glide ceramic sole plate that emits an impressive 45g of constant variable steam. There’s also a powerful 120g steam shot to target creases, auto shut off for safety, and an anti-scale feature and self-clean function to keep maintenance easy. Ooh, and that black finish means business.

    Granted, you’ll find a lot of these features on similarly priced irons, but it’s unlikely you’ll get all of them, particularly not that crease-busting steam power. You’ll be able to buy it from November at the Morphy Richards website.

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    Friday Find: Kitty DAB radio from Roberts

    by  • July 4, 2014 • 1 Comment

    RD60 KITTY DAB RADIO | CLARKE AND CLARKE | ROBERTS | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    What is it? Kitty Revival DAB radio, £200, Clarke & Clarke for Roberts 
    Why I love it: For any cat lovers that felt left out following the launch of Roberts and Clarke & Clarke’s dog-inspired collaboration, there’s now a fine feline version. The limited-edition design features the latest DAB technology for crisper and clearer listening, as well as good old FM tuning, and can be powered by the mains or four D batteries, should you fancy taking it out on the prowl.

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    News: Google Glass Explorer launches in the UK

    by  • June 23, 2014 • 0 Comments

    GOOGLE GLASS EXPLORER | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    What is it? Glass Explorer, £1,000, Google
    Why I love it: A lot of fuss has been made about Glass – a lightweight frame and screen you wear close to your eye, allowing you to browse the net, take photos and more on the move. While it remains a prototype, this new beta test lets you buy your own headset and shape the way the finished article will look, and I’m very excited for the following reasons…

    1. You can get information quickly just by talking to the headset. Ask Glass to translate a phrase into another language, or for directions, and the answer will appear almost instantly on screen.
    2. Some incredible apps make the most of the display’s unique placement. With Star Chart, you can look up at the sky and it will guide you through all the stars, planets and constellations above you, and there’s a fun narrated running game – Zombies, Run! Twitter, Facebook and Evernote are also among the 40 available.
    3. Google Now ‘cards’ provide you with handy on-screen updates, such as diary appointments, traffic update or the latest football score.
    4. Stylish accessories include different coloured frames, styles of shades and earbuds for listening to music, so you can personalise your Glass to suit you.
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    Friday Find: Rob Ryan radio

    by  • June 13, 2014 • 0 Comments

    Evoke D2 DAB radio by Rob Ryan | PURE | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    What is it? Evoke D2 DAB radio and Bluetooth speaker, £119.99, Pure
    Why I love it: Rob Ryan’s delicate papercut illustrations have been seen on everything from cups to cushions, but never on a piece of tech… until now. His illustrated story, Listen to the World, adorns both sides of this whimsical wireless and is all about a musical journey, which you can soundtrack using the D2′s DAB/FM radio or by streaming music to its speaker via Bluetooth.

    I caught up with Rob at the launch this week, and I found him to be as charming and inspiring as his work. He explained to me that he’s always excited to apply his designs to different mediums, but that a radio holds a special place in his heart because it ‘reminds him of summer days as a young man, listening to 10CC while laying in a field with the sun on his face.’

    Listen to the World is adapted from a piece of prose Rob wrote in one of the notebooks he’s compiled over the years, capturing his thoughts, feelings, doodles and daydreams. The illustration of a man on one side and a woman on the other symbolises the romance of radio and the fact ‘a man can be at one side of the world and a woman on the other, yet both are falling in love with the same piece of music, or have the same voices to keep them company’.

    The radio is available now exclusively at John Lewis and Rob’s shop, Ryantown, which is well worth a visit if you’re in the vicinity of London’s Columbia Road. As a shopping experience, it’s as fabulous as Mr Ryan!

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    Friday Find: La Cornue’s colourful range cookers

    by  • June 6, 2014 • 1 Comment

    1908 90cm range cooker | La Cornue | Girl About Tech

    What is it? 1908 90cm range cooker, £6,700, La Cornue
    Why I love it: The 1908 is everything you could want from a range cooker. It’s sturdy, stylish, small enough to fit into an urban kitchen like mine… and now it comes in three luscious, Mondrian-inspired enamel finishes – red, blue and this sunny yellow. There are five burners on top, and your choice of a gas or electric version of the famous vaulted oven that circulates the hot air to retain natural moisture.

    For something a little less conspicuous, check our Rangemaster’s sultry new Nexus range cookers.

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    Sneaky Peek: AEG’s small appliances

    by  • June 3, 2014 • 1 Comment

    I’m not very good at eating breakfast. Occasionally, I’ll try to wean myself back into the habit by making an ever-so-slightly-sloppy Eggs Benedict, or a bowl of Ready Brek with extra lumps. Jamie Oliver I am not.

    7 SERIES TWO-SLICE TOASTER | AEG | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    Anyway, it seems AEG have cottoned on to the importance of this whole breakfast thing, too, if the launch of its very first set of ‘breakfasty’ small appliances is anything to go by. It’s kicking off with an awesome foursome of a coffee maker, kettle, blender and this handsome two-slice toaster, all packed with the smart features you’d expect from a premium brand.

    What is it? 7 Series two-slice toaster, £69.99, AEG
    Why I love it: If – unlike me – you’re particularly militant about breakfast, you’ll like the DigitalVision timer that counts down the time left until your slice of toast pops out. Also, because as with any toaster, the element gets hotter the more slices of bread you toast, this smart timer automatically reduces the toasting time slightly with each progressive round, so you won’t get a barely browned batch followed by burnt bread the next.

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    Friday Find: AEG’s new UltraOne vacuum cleaners

    by  • May 30, 2014 • 0 Comments

    ULTRAONE VACUUM CLEANER | AEG | GIRL ABOUT TECH

    What is it? UltraOne vacuum cleaners, from £239, AEG
    Why I love them: Did you know that 3% of Brits vacuum naked or in their underwear?* OK, so perhaps you’d rather not have known… and let me quickly point out that I’m not one of them. I prefer to wear a dress with a full skirt, so that I can do a bit of twirling as I’m cleaning. And I think I may have found my perfect dance partner in the new UltraOne range from AEG.

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