Zara Stone

Zara hails from the cold city that is London Town, but finds the horrible weather a great excuse to stay in and play on her XBOX. She has been involved in the technology world for many years now, and finds that her day can be easily brightened by a (tastefully) diamante encrusted USB stick or a new Android device. She’s an expert on all types of gadgetry, with a particular penchant for eReaders, compact cameras and PMP’s. She believes the future of technology will be application based, and that social media is going to change the way that businesses behave. You can find her musing about non gadget related goodness on her blog AlmostZara.com or updating you on her dinner plans via her Twitter feed.

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    Top 10 Techie Hotels for Spring Break Madness

    Summer is on its way and that can only mean one thing- Spring Break craziness! Celebrate those body-shots in style at a hotel equipped with the latest in gadgety goodness, from intelligent room service carts which alert staff when they need collecting to fibre optic showers and smart rooms. OK, the price required for the […]

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    GeeknRolla 2011 : Celebrating Women in New Tech Start-ups

    GeeknRolla is an annual event held by TechCrunch which showcases new technology start-ups and allows entrepreneurs to meet investors in their field. They’ve just held their 2011 European conference in London, and a number of exciting tech start-ups pitched their products to a rapt audience of tech fiends and investors. I was going to tell […]

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    Thinksound ts01 Sport Headphones Review

    I like my workouts at the gym to be intense but I’m often halted by the lack of ruggedness of sports headphones. They fall out when I jog, slip when I sweat and quality is negligible. Would the Thinksound ts01 Sport headphones pass the workout sweat test? They pride themselves on offering bass ‘that never […]

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    Ten Simple Twitter Tools to Make you a Super Tweeter

    Twitter is a fabulous way of reaching out to people and gaining access to information from all over the globe. You can now peer inside celebrities minds (even if it is just nonsensical rants at times..) and catch up on what politicians are getting involved in. On a more personal level, you can use it […]

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    Ten High Tech Fashion Designers to Watch

    February is Fashion Week worldwide, and whether you’re enjoying the catwalk shows in New York, London or Milan you’ll notice a key trend. The rise of high tech fashion has never been hotter, and designers are using the latest in technology to create clothes that are more than just cool- they double as Bluetooth garments/ […]

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    How These Geeks Professed Their Love and Yes, We Know One of Them

    Do you heart me IRL as well as in R MMORPG? You and me have such a kinnect-ion. Ok, people don’t actually speak like this (hopefully|) but they do engage in all sorts of geeky phrases, and as it’s getting close to Valentine’s Day I’d like to take a look at the more heart-warming geeks […]

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    AMD’s Fusion Processor Encourages Businesses to Play

    Computer chips power the world as we know it, they make computers run, equipment work and processors make sure all our devices keep buzzing and beeping. The quality of the chip allows you to do different things however, and AMD’s Fusion range takes communicating to the next level.

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    The Boogie Board is set to replace Post-It Notes forever

    Remember those Magic Slates of your childhood? You’d doodle all over them, then one wipe and they were clean and ready to use again. Improv Electronics have created their own version of this, but given it a digital twist. The Boogie Board is a slim LCD screen which allows you to create digitized notes and […]

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    Stickybits stickers let you create custom content to share

    In jokes are great. Everyone loves a good meme or a viral Lolcat and it’s nice to share that with your friends. Sure, you can use the web for that, but sometimes it’s nice to have something solid. Stickybits stickers contain individual barcodes, which you scan with an Android or iPhone phone (one you’ve downloaded […]

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    Who iHeart’s this iPod jewelry box?

    If you grew up on a diet of Disney, waiting for your Prince to come this might be the jewelry box of your dreams, for others it’s a glittery piece of kit that brings a little vomit to the mouth. The iHeart Jewelry box combines a heart shaped jewellery box with an iPod dock and integrated speaker. You have a rather pretty mirror finish on the outside, and a heart shaped mirror situated within the lid.

    You get 2 2watt speakers, and you can also listen to tunes via headphones as there is a 3.5mm jack.

    The controls are very basic, but provide you with everything you need- and you use heart shaped buttons to control everything! It’s compatible with every iPod and iPhone product, all the way back to the 1st generation of Nano!

    Little girls will love it, everyone else might find it a little too bling.

    Available from Mono Concept- no sign of a US price or availability.

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    The Ectaco jetBook Oxford+ educational eReader

    I’ve always thought that the natural place for eBook readers resides in schools, if only to prevent kids from the terrible backache caused by heavy backpacks. Ectaco have just announced an eReader especially for schoolchildren, the jetBook Oxford+ / jetBook K-12 (they don’t seem to have made up their mind on the title). What immediately strikes you about this is the design- it comes in its own stand with penholders and the Ectaco C Pen arranged to its side. It’s quite an eye-catching design, and the finish is ruggedized, to cope with all those knocks and bumps in the playground.

    The jetBook Oxford + comes preinstalled with a selection of books from the reading lists of states countrywide and has a 5 inch TFT screen, is 15mm thick and weighs in at 220g. It has been designed with the education system in mind, and this is evident from the number of thoughtful features included in the device. The included Ectaco C=Pen allows you to scan printed text and upload it to the eReader, which will enable students to put the majority of work they get given on their device, and get rid of all those ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuses.

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    Hands on with the BlackBerry PlayBook

    Tablets might be a ten a penny at CES, but I was eager to have a look at the BlackBerry PlayBook, a new step in terms of business technology. Merging the functionality of a BlackBerry with a stylish tablet, the 7 inch PlayBook could potentially be a market changer, in terms of business conferences and office functionality. It features a 7 inch multitouch capacitative screen and is 10mm thick.

    The BlackBerry PlayBook was surprisingly comfortable to hold, far lighter than the iPad (it weighs 0.4kg compared to the iPad’s 0.68kg) and felt good in the hand. The gloss finish was attractive and the screen was beautiful to behold. The multitouch was a tad tricky to use, with a little display lag when zooming in and out of the pages- ‘it’s extra sensitive’, the spokesperson claimed, before elaborating that the model we had was still ‘unfinished’.

    We couldn’t look at document editing or spreadsheets as they weren’t yet installed, which was a shame, as that’s going to be one of the big draws for people.

    The PlayBook features two cameras, a frontward facing 3megapixel camera and a 5megapixel rear camera. Connectivity wise, you get an HDMI port, a micro USB port and WiFi. As well as Adobe Flash 10.1. You can play videos in 1080p on the screen, and what we saw looked great, with rich vibrant colours and it was easy to adjust controls such as volume and brightness with a finger swoosh.

    As the PlayBook is designed to cater for the business user, you have full BlackBerry support, from integrated calendars to Blackberry Messaging services. In terms of video conferencing, you’re able to use both cameras, and it has a 1GHz dual core processor for fast speeds, and 1GB RAM.

    There are more functions than just business to this device, as it provides an all round multimedia experience, with music, videos, pictures and games all as standard.

    Out later this year, price TBC.

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    The Pleo rb has a Jurassic Park moment

    Think this little fella looks familiar? Well you’d be right, as the Pleo has been knocking around for some years, but Jurassic Park style has just been rescued from extinction. This uber friendly tactile robotic dinosaur was canned last year due to poor sales, but thanks to some outside investment has made a comeback, and has a selection of upgraded features.

    The ‘rb’ stands for reborn, and the latest incarnation of this friendly dinosaur is an intelligent emotive robot, who actually builds relationship with its owner based on how it’s treated. Think Tamagotchi in 3D and you’ll get the idea. You interact physically with the Pleo, touching and stroking it, and you can upload various personalities to it via the included SD card slot.

    The Pleo rb features voice recognition, which allows it to directly respond to names, and motion sensors to help stabilize it. The multiple sensors it’s fitted with give it a very distinct personality; for instance, it’s temperature aware and will shiver if your heating is low. It can also register what time of day it is, and curl up for a nap or wake up accordingly. Well, in theory- the battery life is only 150 minutes, so there’s limited play time.

    You can also purchase accompanying packs full of Learning Stones, which are cute looking accessories (think leaf shapes) fitted with RFID chip, which you let the Pleo nuzzle up to, and they teach it new tricks or how to unwind.

    $469 from PleoWorld

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    Hands on with the Hanvon eInk colour Ebook reader

    For years the debate has raged- do you opt for the pretty (but tiring on the eyes) LCD eReader for eBooks, or do you go for the drabber but infinitely better eInk screen, which lacks colours. That choice just got easier with news of the Hanvon eBook reader which uses eInk AND has a colour screen. How does it achieve this? Very simply, actually- it simply uses a colour filter to display 4096 colours. They did look rather muted on the devices we got to play with, but we were told they can look brighter with different PDF’s.

    Hanvon hope that this option will change the way people choose which eReader to buy, as their reader will offer colour in combination with the 30+ days of battery time associated with most eInk readers.

    The eReader will play most common formats, including ePub, TXT and PDF files and will also display JPG’s. It features integrated WiFi to allow you to download easily from their eBook store, and their are plans for a 3G model in the works.

    The screen is 9.7 inches and has a digitizer touchscreen, and you can use your hands or the included stylus to flick through pages or surf. There’s seems to be quite a lag on the page turns however- we were quoted 2 seconds- which seems a long time to refresh, but hopefully this will be improved on. There’s an SD card slot so you can expand the memory, and a 3.5mm jack, as the reader can also handle audio.

    It comes preinstalled with a selection of games and books, and feels rather nice in the hand- substantial, but not too weighty.

    A release date has yet to be confirmed, but it will be on sale for approximately $500 from, Hanvon in China later this year.

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    Whirlpool Vantage washer and dryer feature Laundry Apps and a USB port

    Laundry is not a sexy subject. The weekly chore of throwing your dirty clothes in the machine, pouring in the liquid and then hanging it all up again is always going to be dull and mundane. Or is it? Whirlpool is trying to make the whole experience more entertaining/ intuitive. And this includes a colour LCD screen and a USB port. It gets stranger…

    The Whirlpool washing machine features a display screen with touch enabled laundry apps. Yes, really. These allow you to make sure you always wash your clothes at the correct temperature, so no more shrunken silks or ruined jeans for you. The animated graphic will help younger user do their own laundry as well, as kids will no longer be able to say they don’t understand the setup. There are 33 special cycles which cater to everything from stuffed toys to bath mats, shower curtains and swimwear-all the usual, and a couple extra just for fun.

    For the particularly useless, the LCD screen will even give you tips and tricks on how to deal with stubborn stains. The price point may be high, buy you’re actually going to be pretty energy efficient using this, as the washer can use as little as 11.5 gallons a load- well below the minimum requirements.

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    Toshiba Tablet gets a Honeycomb coating

    We don’t want to bore you with too many tablets today, but Toshiba’s latest venture is actually a pretty sweet piece of kit. It’s the first tablet to ship with built in Android Honeycomb, an interface designed specifically for tablet users with a greater functionality. You get a rather attractive 10.1 inch screen with 1280×800 […]

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    The MamiRobot Sevian Vacuum cleaner can handle all home terrain

    The Roomba has had a lot of competition in recent years, and we’ve just seen another contender for the crown of best robotic vacuum cleaner. The MamiRobot is a Korean brand that cleans your house using wireless charging technology, and returns itself to the docking station when its task is complete.

    The Mamirobot is fitted with anti fall sensors and light sensors to enable it to avoid stairs and the bumper sensors on the side make sure that it can avoid big obstructions. The twin charging station is interestingly designed, with the larger Mamirobot stationed at the base, and the handheld Zaaloo jutting out the back. The Zaaloo is a wireless handheld vacuum which is much smaller- great for getting into smaller areas, and meaning you can reach places that the larger Mamirobot can’t access. It can even be used on your computer to get tod of dust- a nice touch.

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    Share Autom: The Eyelash Batting Robotic Weightloss Coach

    January tends to begin with promises of detoxing and diets, and the Autom Weightloss coach offers you a way to make the calorie counting a little easier. It’s a robotic styled device that’s equipped with an interactive touchscreen that gives you diet tips and support and allows you to input your daily food intake. The […]

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    Pet the Paro: The robot that helps you recuperate

    Fluffy seals are always going to give us the ahh factor, especially when they react to your stroking with mewling and tail wagging. The Paro is a therapeutic robot which allows pet free people to enjoy the benefits of having an animal without the stress, and acts as a valuable therapeutic tool in places where animals are unwelcome- such as hospitals. TheParo is currently undergoing its 8th revolution as a therapy robot, and includes some updates and enhancements to its body. It remains the same fluffy harp seal you may have seen before, but within the antibacterial fur lies a wealth of tech goodness.

    Dual processors control behavioural software and a voice recognition system which allows the Paro to build relationships with its owners and makes it respond to sound, touch and light. In effect, these attributes help the Paro create a distinct personality, and create an artificial bond with its owner.

    The idea is that interacting with the Paro provides one with therapeutic social interaction and motivates and amuses them. A quick five minutes playing with the Paro was enough to have me filled very chilled, so I can really see the beneficial side to this robot.

    Fluffy seals are always going to give us the ahh factor, especially when they react to your stroking with mewling and tail wagging. The Paro is a therapeutic robot which allows pet free people to enjoy the benefits of having an animal without the stress, and acts as a valuable therapeutic tool in places where animals are unwelcome- such as hospitals. TheParo is currently undergoing its 8th revolution as a therapy robot, and includes some updates and enhancements to its body. It remains the same fluffy harp seal you may have seen before, but within the antibacterial fur lies a wealth of tech goodness.

    Dual processors control behavioural software and a voice recognition system which allows the Paro to build relationships with its owners and makes it respond to sound, touch and light. In effect, these attributes help the Paro create a distinct personality, and create an artificial bond with its owner.

    The idea is that interacting with the Paro provides one with therapeutic social interaction and motivates and amuses them. A quick five minutes playing with the Paro was enough to have me filled very chilled, so I can really see the beneficial side to this robot.

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