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Bought yourself a lovely new iPad mini? Well the range and the quality of the cases for your new device gets better all the time.

Here are our favourite new high-end iPad mini cases.

Even when times are hard, our commitment to 'proper coffee' is looking like it's here to stay, with many of us still willing to fork out the equivalent of your lunch budget for a cup of the ol' Joe each morning. However, as our addiction has set in, so has our increasing demand to reproduce coffee shop results at home. Any barista worth their salt will tell you making good coffee is an art, but results will only ever be as good as the technology you're using, so this means investing in a coffee machine to do the job.

There's a multitude of coffee machines on offer now: From retro stove tops to one-touch bean to cup do-it-all machines, with mind boggling features and budgets to match. Here's our top 10 machines for you discerning coffee snobs out there...

At the moment we love all things vintage, and find nothing more satisfying than stumbling across the perfect artefact that brings a bit of chic to an otherwise practical item, like a chair. However it takes time rooting through your local second hand furniture shops and auction rooms (fun though it can be), and the randomness of what's current can be frustrating if you're looking for a particular item.

Fortunately whether you are the down-the-line authentic vintage or open to replica variations, there's lots of cool retro desk chair choices to choose from. When opting for used vintage, there's the usual risks when buying second-hand anything, so be prepared to invest more than the purchase price to restore it to it's former glory, or upcycle further by selecting the fabric of your choice and getting it re-upholstered.

Beware of purely going for aesthetics with a desk chair, as we all know spending a long time hunched over your desk in a not-so-comfortable chair can result in 'vintage backache'. So, at the risk of sounding like your mother, the first thing to consider when shopping around for a desk chair is how much time you will be spending at your desk, as some chairs are more suited for longer use and comfort, ie height adjustment, padding and arms should be top of your list if you're the WFH type.

Tokyoflashrogue_wood_pair.jpgOur favourite - slightly bonkers- watchmaker Tokyoflash is back with a pair of newbies both of which are made from, wait for it, wood.

We especially like this one - the Kisai Rogue SR2 LCD watch, which is made from a combination of maple and sandal wood. And in case you were wondering it presents the time through a circle of connecting blocks.

You just have to get your head round how it works that's all.

The watch also sports an ever present LCD display in a choice of three natural colors, to help you read the watch at night time. night time.

It is a bit low on the feature count, but it does boast an alarm for waking you up.

Also new is Kisai Stencil Wood, which the maker says is an update on the popular Stencil watch, this limited edition design is made from natural wood with a genuine leather wrist band. It too has time, date and alarm."

Both are available for $99 (€77, £65) until Friday May 3rd at 16:00 (Japan time).

More on the watches and the idiosyncratic way in which they work here.

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Or dining Al Fresco as the papers refer to it these days, like we're all in some Manet painting. Comparing today's outdoor dining experiences is a whole world away from those jam sarnies with curled-up corners washed down with a warm bottle of pre-diluted orange squash from yesteryear (- I recall there being a distinct lack of lashings of ginger beer).

Now there's a whole host of must-have picnic equipment that you didn't realise existed, until you look around and notice infinitely posher picnics being devoured. Outdoor concerts can bring out the worst with this kind of one-up-personship: When candelabra's and Irish lace linen are laid out sur l'herbe, you know your yellowing tupperware maybe best kept inside that picnic basket.

There's no need to go spending your summer holiday budget on rustling up a tasty hamper, as picnic accoutrements don't have to cost the earth. Here's a selection of good looking ware that we'd like to pack up with us on our next sunny day out...

barbouripad -usehtis.jpgThe (accidental?!) reinvention of the Barbour brand from one that's forever associated with hunting, shooting, fishing brigade to one that even the coolest Shoreditch hipsters can wear is one of the most bizarre transformations of the past few years.

And if you can't quite get enough of quilted stuff then now you can give your gadgets the Barbour treatment courtesy of a deal with Proporta.

The pair have just launched a shed load of new accessories for all manner of gadgets ranging from the upcoming (it is tomorrow folks,) Samsung Galaxy S4 through to the Apple iPad 3.

Although quite a few of them are in classic quilted Barbour style, though there's tartan and tweedy stuff too. Prices start at £20 for an iPhone case through to £80 for the full on quilted experience for your tablet.

More here.

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The Shiny Shiny guide to Retro Desk Lamps

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We spend more time at our desks these days than ever before, and desk space are fast becoming essential 'zones' to be planned within our homes. However how much time do we spend actually styling our desk space as we do endlessly for other areas of our homes?

Essential office furniture - like a good desk chair are must haves, but looking slightly further at say a vintage globe or a retro desk lamp can make your work station somewhere that you actually enjoy spending time and proudly display, along with the rest of your treasured 'statement pieces' that say something about your impeccable taste for home interiors!

Here's a selection of some of the finest examples of retro lamps we like.

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Ever used Facetime on your iPhone when in the bath? Thought not. Someone is though according to some research from a UK online bathroom retailer.

Apparently as many as two thirds of us are happy to use our prized and pricey gadgets in the bath and not just receiving phone calls either.

The report by www.UKBathrooms.com, who polled 1,241 adults also says that 1 in 10 of Britons admitted to having damaged electronic goods by dropping them in the bath water accidently.

The survey asked. 'Do you ever use technological equipment whilst in the bath tub?' to which 67% said that 'yes', that they did use gadgets whilst taking a bath with the majority using smartphones, ereaders and tablets.

We are using those devices to keep up to date with social media, speak on the phone, text and even read novels and play games.

Peter Gregg, director of UKBathrooms.com, had the following to say:

"It seems that nowhere is safe from technology. The bath used to be for downtime and relaxation. Now it seems that it's used for Facetime and social media. It seems that these days, we're never switched off from the world around us."

"With the high cost of some of these products, it's surprising that so many people are willing to run the risk of getting them damaged and it seems that a number of people have suffered from it. We would never advocate the use of electronic goods in the vicinity of water, but I can understand the temptation to listen to some soothing music whilst relaxing in the bath. Facetime or Skype though is beyond me!"

There is of course one phone you can use in the bath.

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So you fancy taking images and recording video on the slopes - or whatever scary outdoor pursuit that takes your fancy - but you don't want to spend cash on an action cam when you have a perfectly good compact camera at home. What do you do?

Well a cool little accessory that is marketed in the UK by Proporta might just be what you are looking for.

The Camera Demon is a fuss-free way of attaching your camera to your helmet using a standard 1/4-inch thread (which makes it compatible with almost any snapper) so that you can capture that all footage. It doesn't look like much - it basically consists of a chunk of plastic with rubber washer and metal screw thread set on a 3M adhesive pad.

However I can vouch for the fact that it not only works but works really well.

Attaching the Demon to your helmet first involves ensuring that the helmet is dust free by giving it a quick clean. Then you attach the adhesive 3M pad to the helmet. And boy is it sticky! Once it is in place it is going nowhere.

You then place the thread mount with your camera on to the bracket and secure it by tightening it. This is the slightly tricky bit, but once in place it too is rock solid.

Then it is a matter of pressing record on your camera and off you go.

To test the demon we took it round a Go Kart track in Hertfordshire (see vid below) and in spite of the speeds and the bumps it worked brilliantly in enabling the camera to capture some high octane footage.

There are a few limitations. For example you could place a digital SLR on the bracket, but it isn't really advisable. It is also quite fiddly to move around once in place, in fact to remove the adhesive pad you need to blast it with a hair dryer.

Ultimately though this is £25 accessory and if you have a compact at that you want to take with you next time you hit the slopes or shoot off on your mountain bike then this represents excellent value for money.

More info here.


So you own a Samsung Galaxy S3 and you have big plans to take it out and about with you this summer. Might be time then to invest in a serious case for your precious mobile - one that will keep it safe, dry and free from dust and other nasties.

Here then are nine of the best cases available

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There are often products on Kickstarter which I think have huge potential and LinkMe is one of those. In keeping with the year's current hot trend of wearable gadgets LinkMe is a bracelet that can be used to receive and display messages from your nearest and dearest. Think of it as a mini personalised billboard

It is a pretty simple concept. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and when someone sends you a message - via a dedicated LinkMe app - the words pop up on the bracelet. You can also set it to receive social media updates too. I guess it would work best if you are in a situation where it is difficult for you to access your phone such as working or in a bike.

I guess it will be mainly be used for partners to share intimate little messages, but it also the potential for all manner of uses - maybe for getting sports news?

The bracelet itself is charged via USB and will apparently run for two weeks. It will work with Apple and Android phones and will sell for $150 when it goes on sale in the Autumn - though you can get one for $99 if you pledge now via Kickstarter.


Here's a couple more quick vids that Chris shot at The Gadget Show in Birmingham this week.

First up is a 47inch TV from Finlux. There's more details here.

Then Chris took a look at the latest Rat Stand for the iPad - the Z3.


This year's Gadget Show was chocka with companies selling headphones and speakers. None were quite as noisy though as US firm OrigAudio.

It displayed a range of personalised headphones, costing between £40 and £50 - think everything from Union Jacks to pics of your cat - as well some fun £35-£40 mini speakers called the Epishock.

Apparently you stick them on a window to enhance the sound as this fella is rather good (and entertaining) at demonstrating.


Sunnycam, great name, are the latest company to debut wearable gadgets. At The Gadget Show this week they paraded a pair of HD video recording glasses.

These are the budget variety in that they retails for £99, and as well as being suited to a spot of covert filming they can also be used in a number of more technical situations such as recording a football match (handy for referees) to filming customers on the door of a nightclub (useful for security guards).

In spite of their price they capture HD 720p footage, feature internet browsing, augmented reality and GPS and store what you record on a 16GB Micro SD card which will hold 2 to 3 hours of recording time.

Check out the video for more.

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I read the note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster earlier this week in which he plots Apple's upcoming year.

It revolves around tweaks to existing products - iPhone 5S, a cheaper iPhone and an upgraded iPad and iPad mini.

Munster believes that Apple will leave the innovation until the end of the year when it will unveil its core new product - the iWatch.

If Munster is right then I think that the iWatch could be a very important project for Apple this year and here is why they, along with Samsung, LG and lots of start ups, are eagerly eyeing up the smart watch market.

1 It is a market with huge potential

The phone may have replaced the watch for many people but it is still a massive market. If you are going to break into a new market then it is best to break into one (and even better innovate) where there is already a huge amount of business.

2 Smartphone sales are flattening

One of the reasons why Apple shares have tanked a little recently is that there is a fear that smartphone sales are starting to flatten. If you live in the western world and you wanted a smartphone chances are you would have bought one by now. The future is all about upgrades. With sales starting to slow to keep investors on board Apple, and to a lesser degree Samsung, need to be looking at a new market.

3 Locking people into platforms

With the sales of smartphones slowing it is imperative that Apple doesn't hemorrhage customers to Samsung and vice versa. It is important to lock people into using an operating system so that when it comes to an upgrade they don't desert your brand. If you create a watch that only works with one kind of platform and someone invests in it, then they are even more likely to stay with that platform in the future. The interesting question is whether the Samsung watch will be Android only. In theory they could produce a watch that worked with Apple iOS and Windows handsets.

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4 Possibility of new rivals establishing themselves

If we accept that the smart watch is going to be an important area moving forwards - as is the wearable gadget sphere - then Samsung and Apple both need to watch their backs.

They could face all kinds of competition in the space. Off the top of my head - Nike and other sports brands could deliver watches that work with handsets in a similar way to the Samsung/Apple offerings, but that major on fitness/health items.

Casio already has a smart watch on the go and has innovated in this space several times before. Who know what they have up their sleeves. Sony could produce a watch that majors on entertainment features as could Amazon. Then of course there are the watches that are onsale already from Pebble etc some of which are very good.

If Apple and Samsung want to dominate the smart watch space they need to move quickly

5 A need to innovate

As I mentioned in the intro this is essential, especially for Apple. With this year dominated by upgrade products it needs to show that it can still create something magical and new to wow the cynics and give its fan people something to brag about.

Samsung could in theory drive a road through Apple's 2013 strategy by getting there first with an impressive smart watch. Imagine if the watch went on sale before the iWatch, was better specified and more stylish and worked with iPhones as well as Android devices. Apple could look like an also ran.

Conversely if Apple can get the smart watch right and deliver somethign that is significantly in advance of what Samsung offers it will reclaim its crown as consumer electronics' key innovator.

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The Amazon Kindle HD has been one of the biggest gadgets of the last twelve months. So not suprisingly there has been a huge demand for cases for the tablet.

Here is our pick of the bunch

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Here's an interesting prototype from British maker Plastic Logic. The company, which these days specialises in high quality flexible plastic displays, have been parading a prototype of a watch that may give us a few clues as to what might be Apple's sleeve with its iWatch.

As you can see from the picture the flexible display means that the watch can curve around the owner's wrist - something that Apple is rumoured to also be working on. The maker also claims that the plastic which houses the screen is virtually indestructibile.

The prototype uses an E-Ink screen (like some of the Kindle range) which means that it can show any data that is fed to it, yet at the same time is low power, saving on battery life. In theory the maker claims that you could integrate Bluetooth into the device and then pair it up with a mobile phone and the watch could run for at least a week before it needed recharging.

Plastic Logic envisages that people could use the watch to make and receive calls, check info like the weather etc and offer other standard smart watch features,

So would you fancy one of these it it teamed up with your iPhone?

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The Breffo Adventure Camera Kit, which was unveiled at CES 2013 back in January is about to go on sale. The £20 tool is aimed at photographers who need to find a secure yet flexible grip that will keep their camera in place while they snap away action images.

The maker says that the kit will pretty much secure a camera to anything including bike handlebars, helmets, skateboards and more.

The kit features an octopod- which has eight legs - and sports a 1/4 inch threaded screw which the maker claims can accommodate virtually every camera, camcorder and action cam.

You can find out more here.


There were plenty of reported sightings of Samsung galaxy S4 cases before its launch last Thursday, but many were just mock-ups based mainly on conjecture than fact.

Now at last we know exactly what the S4 will look like and the deluge of cases and accessories has begun.

All the big names have been quick off the mark to produce cases and our selection ranges from budget number to a few luxury models that are creeping out.

Most will go one sale at the end of April when the S4 itself arrives


It is up there with the iPhone 5 as the most popular handset onthe planet - well until they launch the S4 anyhow.

So it is not suprising that there is a huge collection of high-end/luxury cases for the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

Here is our pick of the bunch. Prices start at around £40 and go up to very very expensive.

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