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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Review: Panasonic HC-V550 Full HD Camcorder

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Panasonic Brit Bloggers, Product Reviews, Tech Review | Posted on 21-08-2014

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As a Panasonic Brit Blogger I was really excited to see what product I’d be reviewing for them after my trip to their headquarters earlier this year. I’d been really impressed by so much of what I saw, but I was not-so-secretly hoping to receive one of their camcorders to test out, so I was thrilled when the brand new V550 HD camcorder arrived on my doorstep.

Right lets start with the technical stuff. The V550 is a full HD camcorder with Intelligent 90x Zoom and Optical 50x Zoom. It comes with 10MP High Sensitivity Sensor and Crystal Engine PRO, and a 28mm wide angle lens. It has image stabilisation and level shot, which all combined makes sure your footage is pin sharp and clear. It has a fold out 3″ touchscreen and is WIFI enabled – which is probably my favourite feature but more on that later.

So what does all that mean? It means the box contains a pretty epic camcorder.

Panasonic Camcorder V550

In the box you’ll find the camcorder itself, your charger, a USB cable, a HDMI cable, and 2 CD’s – one with operating instructions and one with editing software on. Now setting up your camcorder is easy enough. You pop your battery in, stick your memory card in, plug in the charger and ideally leave it to fully charge. If you’re like me and keen to make the most of 5 minutes with both children occupied, you can turn it on straight away and have a quick play!

The power button is located beneath the fold out screen, where you will also find the WIFI button, the HDMI and USB cable sockets, and the battery release button. The first thing I wanted to play with was the WIFI connectivity, so by pressing the WIFI button I was presented with a selection of options on the touchscreen. I’d already got the Panasonic Image App on my phone – available on Android and Apple devices – so I turned that on and followed the on screen instructions. I found the easiest way to ensure a good connection was to use the QR code or WIFI option. With my smart phone the QR code was best as I could use the camera on my phone to connect. With my Android tablet which doesn’t have a camera I had to use the WIFI option and manually type in a password. The QR code method was by far the fastest option, but between my initial play with the camcorder and the next time I had chance to use it I changed phones to a Windows phone and the Panasonic Smart App is on there yet, so I currently have to link it to my camera-less tablet. Once your phone or tablet is linked to the camcorder you can remotely view what your camcorder is pointed at, and you can control it. On its own you can zoom in and out, record footage and take photos. You can also set it up as a home security camera and as a baby monitor. Little Dude is 13 weeks old and we haven’t had to use a monitor with him yet as he’s never left unattended, but I’m really looking forward to testing out this function at length soon. I think the remote access feature is amazing and the App is very usable.

Now logic would tell you to include video footage within my review wouldn’t it? Well sadly I’m not going to do that for this review. To be honest the only footage I have is of Little Dude sleeping and that’s not really fascinating to anyone but me, and doesn’t do the camera justice I’m sure. There will be further reviews of this camera throughout the year as I show off its recording skill as well as its baby monitor function. I’m also keen to provide readers with what they want so if you have any questions about any of the camera’s features or functions let me know and I’ll do my best to help you out.

This is a quality little camera, which fits snugly in your hand. Its extremely versatile and I think it would be perfect for filming holidays, family events, as well as brilliant for all you vloggers out there. During my time as a Panasonic Brit Blogger I am going to put this to the test as best I can so expect footage galore to appear on the blog soon. Get your requests in now!

The Panasonic V550 is available now from all good electrical retailers, as well as direct from Panasonic.

Review: Chalkee Stylus

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Information, Product Reviews, Tech Review | Posted on 04-09-2013

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If your children are anything like Little Man they are no doubt infinitely more tech savvy than you were at their age. In a world of mobile phones, tablets and laptops children are becoming more tech capable at an early age. Little Man isn’t quite 3 yet but has been happily working his parents and his grandparents mobile phones for a long time, and can operate both his Acer tablet with incredible ease. He can also use my husbands Apple computer AND his laptop which runs on Linux. You can imagine my husbands pride at having a child who can use any operating system you throw at him. You can no doubt also imagine my despair!

The problem with Little Man using his tablet – or anyone else’s for that matter – is the sticky fingers. I am cleaning my mobile phone daily with antibacterial wipes to get rid of random food stains and marks. His tablet is just as bad, with finger prints and what I think is probably chocolate and/or squished fruit dried onto the screen. Its not ideal. I can’t imagine its doing the screen any good and its probably hideously unhygienic. At the recent Amazon Christmas Event I spotted something which I thought would be an ideal solution to this problem, and the team sent me one over to test out.

The Chalkee Stylus is designed to look like a crayon, instantly making it appeal to children and encourage them to use that instead of their fingers. Its bigger and chunkier than the average crayon, but its a good size for toddlers and older children to hold. It claims to help improve control when using apps and is marketed for use with Amazons range of Kindle tablets.

I love the idea of it, and I expect if you gave your child one before they used the tablet for the first time you’d be on to an instant winner. Sadly my son has been using his tablet for a long time, and wasn’t interested in using a stylus after happily using his finger for so long. The soft nib works great with our tablets – none of which are Kindles – and its really comfortable to hold, even as an adult. My only concern with it is the design. Yes, its aimed at children therefore a crayon is a logical choice. I do wonder however how many parents will find their children using REAL crayons on their tablet screens?

The Chalkee Stylus is available now from Amazon in Pink or Blue.

 

Guest Review: Acer Iconia B1

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Reviewer, Tech Review | Posted on 24-06-2013

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This review was written by my husband. We received the Acer Iconia B1 on loan for the purpose of this review.

The Acer Iconia B1 Android tablet costs £99.99.  That’s right £99.99 and currently Acer are offering £20 cash back on this model.  So what do you get for your money? I bet you’re thinking not much?  Well you’d be wrong.  I have played with my fair share of electronic gadgets and I admit to being pretty sceptical when my wife handed me this Acer B1 to review.  When you first pick it up if feels a little light, a bit plasticy but at the same time surprisingly substantial.  The case has a little bit of flex to it but it doesn’t feel like it will fall apart if you drop it.  The fact of the matter is you’re more than likely to buy a case for any tablet you purchase so the case was “good enough”.  It also has a little bit of blue styling to it that I think makes it stand out from the rest of the black slab crowd.

On powering the device up you get a small animation and then you are straight into Google’s android operating system.  Acer haven’t messed around too much with this version of Android which those that class themselves as a bit geeky will be pleased to hear. Manufacturers have a habit of trying to “improve” Android and invariably end up making it worse.  This is pretty much pure Android with only a slight modification to the notification area which has some settings options available.  The screen is plastic but is nice and bright at the top most setting and responds well to input.  There is a slight lag on some inputs when swiping around the interface but nothing to get upset about.  Talking of performance this tablet is has a dual core 1.2Ghz CPU and 512mb RAM which is enough for most activities.  It pushes along most games (Angry Birds, Talking Tom, Where’s My Water?) without any problems.  Web pages load quickly enough, Youtube videos play smoothly and it just gets on with most tasks that you throw at it.  The Acer only has a low spec front facing camera for video chats and poor quality “selfies” but I wouldn’t use a tablet for taking photos with anyway so this didn’t worry me.

The sound is a bit tinny but loud enough from the small rear facing speaker.  This is probably the one area I would have liked to have seen a better component used.  A speaker that could produce a little bit more bass would have improved the package considerably.  On saying that there is nothing to stop you sticking a pair of headphones into the 3.5mm headphone jack and the problem goes away.  There is a standard micro usb port for charging and data and a micro USB slot for expanding on the 8GB storage.  I know the fashion is to stream music and videos off the internet these days but I still prefer to have all this data locally under my control and not eating up my internet bandwidth.  Because of this the addition of a micro USB slot was a welcome feature.

To summarise this is a nice little tablet. It’s great for not really worrying about if you give it to your kids, especially if they have sticky fingers or drop it in the way you might panic if they were using your iPad.  It lets you run all your favorite apps, plays your music and videos, links in with your google account and does pretty much all the basic tasks you could ask of it.  Lets not forget the asking price for this is £99 and with the £20 cashback you’re talking about £80.  It was too good a bargain for this reviewer to let pass.  No sooner had the review unit gone back I went and bought one and that I suppose is the highest praise I could give!

Acer Iconia B1 Used By Toddler

Product Review: Packard Bell Easy Note TV Laptop

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews, Tech Review | Posted on 02-10-2012

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As a busy blogger my laptop is probably the most important piece of kit I use. Yes I use my phone to take photos and send and receive emails, but when it comes to sitting down to do the major parts of my work – writing the blog posts, researching products, making first contact with PR’s, scheduling tweets – that is all done from my laptop. So you can imagine my distress when my laptop slowed to a practical stop a few weeks ago. Thankfully my in-laws had a spare laptop they weren’t using – don’t ask my why – so I’m currently using that until we sort out a new one for me. In the mean time I was contacted by the team at Packard Bell asking if I’d like to review one of their new models. This seemed an ideal opportunity to try-before-you-buy, or at least take a look at what is out there.

I was sent a black Easy Note TV laptop to test out. When it comes to choosing the best laptop for me it needs to be comfortable and easy to type on. The keyboard is nicely spaced out – no danger of hitting the wrong keys when typing at speed – and the palm rest area is a good size. The touchpad is 20% bigger than on other laptops of this size and is “multi-gesture” which gives you complete control.

The screen is 15.6″ HD display which makes it bright and clear which is essential when you’re staring at text on a screen for hours on end. Its not the greatest screen for videos or gaming, but websites and text documents are beautifully clear. The sound isn’t the best I’ve heard, but if you want a bit of music playing whilst you work, its absolutely fine.

As a blogger I am a keen and frequent user of social media, so I must admit that the feature which excited me the most was the “Social Networking Key.” Just one tap of this button and you are instantly connected to your social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube. Social media is an essential tool for bloggers so this is a great function.

If you are after an all-singing and all-dancing high-tech piece of equipment which you can do multiple things on at once and play the latest games on, this might not be the right choice for you. If you are a blogger like myself who needs fast internet access, a good clear screen for reading text and writing, a comfortable keyboard, and super fast access to your social media, then this definitely is the laptop for you. It was a joy to use and work on and is one I may well consider getting myself when we take a proper look at whats out there in the new year.

The Packard Bell Easy Note TV has a RRP of £399 and can be found at all good laptop retailers.