Price Points: Universal USB charger cables

Universal USB charger cables | H is for Home

Do the chargers on your tech devices wear out after just a few years? Ours do! Currently, the one that charges Justin’s tablet is being held together with a thin strip of gaffer tape. My phone charger is literally hanging by a few wire threads.

If we were people that upgraded our devices every time a new version was released we probably wouldn’t have this problem – new device… new charger.

Needless to say, every device has a totally different connector… so each needs its own cable! A genuine iPhone charger from the Apple shop will set me back £19 and one for the iPad Mini, also £19.

The solution is one of those universal USB charger cables which fits up to 10 different devices. We can get one for less than £2 and it will charge both our phones AND Justin’s iPad.

  1. 4 in 1 multi-pin universal USB charging cable – Android, iPhone 4 5, Samsung Note3: £1.99, eBay
  2. 10 in 1 multi-functional universal USB charger/data cable for mobile phone/MP3/MP4/GPS: £4.91, MiniInTheBox
  3. Retractable charging cable, 4 in 1 multi-functional universal USB charger cable for iPhone, Android, MP3, MP4 etc (white): £7.99, Amazon

Cabling your new home for the future

Cabling your new home for the futurecredit

Home automation of today would have been considered magic just fifty years ago. Lights turning on and off as you move through your house, motorised blinds that adjust on their own, music of your choice being piped into the room you’re occupying and security, power and environmental controls being adjusted just as you arrive home after a hard day’s work. One system can take action based on the input or the status of another, all without any human intervention.

The mainstay of this magic is the wiring. If you take the right steps concerning your wiring when building your home, then you will be ready for most new technologies that will be available in the near and not-so-near future. With the proper cabling, upgrades to any of your systems won’t require you to uproot the existing cables from the walls to install new ones. You’ll just need to replace the equipment and devices on either end. Even if you don’t have the cash to create the systems of your dreams right now, you can install the appropriate cabling for it and take advantage of it when you have the funds. The most expensive part of any home automation system can easily be the labour costs involved with the installation of new wiring!

Before you begin laying down cable, it’s a good idea to develop a plan. It’s actually a good idea to develop a plan before doing anything in life, but that’s enough philosophy for now. It may also be a good idea to get the help of a professional at this point. Decide what you need and where. Electrical and mechanical automation, network communications, telephony, television, video, security and audio are systems that can be included in your plan, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Depending on the applications you’ll require, you must then choose the proper types of cables.

Any British cable supplier can provide the myriad of cable types for any and all home automation and smart home needs, so acquiring the cables should not be a problem.

You can begin your plan by making a list of all the rooms in the house and deciding what applications you want each to have. You can also make a list of functionalities that you want everywhere, such as audio and smart lighting. Think about the long term as well. How will your needs change over the years? How about when the kids grow up, or the guest room is converted to an office? Even if you install cable that you never use, it will still be worth it.

Future-proofing your house in this way will not only allow you to enjoy the benefits of home automation and smart home functionality, but just the very presence of the cabling in the walls will end up increasing its resale value.

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Christmas gifts of the day: Affordable tablets

Selection of affordable tablets | H is for Home

Technology has become a favourite Christmas present for many people. Tablets are gaining in popularity each year, not as small and fiddly as some smart phones can be, but not as large or expensive as laptops.

With a tablet you can store data, take photos, watch tv & films, listen to music, browse the internet and keep up with friends and current affairs on social media.

We’ve chosen to compare tablets that are of similar size and with, in most cases, similar storage capacities. Depending on what you’ll mainly be using it for will dictate the best one for you. For example, if your kids are going to be sitting in the back of the car watching films or playing games, you want something with a long battery life. If you’re going to be toting it around in your bag each day, you want something lightweight. If taking photos is your thing, you’ll want one with a 5 megapixel camera.

  1. Lenovo Tab 3 7″ 8GB tablet – black – £49.99
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 10 hours of battery life
    • 9.9mm thick, 300 grams
  2. Fire Tablet, 7″ display, Wi-Fi, 8GB – £49.99
    • 2 MP camera
    • up to 7 hours of battery life
    • 10.6mm thick, 313 grams
  3. HIPSTREET Titan 4 7″ Tablet – 8GB, black – £49.99
    • 2 MP camera
    • up to 10 hours of battery life
    • 10mm thick, 300 grams
  4. Huawei Mediapad T1, 7″ Android tablet, 8GB, WiFi only – black – £79.00
    • 2 MP camera
    • up to 8 hours of battery life
    • 8.5mm thick, 278 grams
  5. SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab A 7″ tablet – 8GB, black – £113.99
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 11 hours of battery life
    • 8.7mm thick, 283 grams
  6. ASUS Transformer Book T100HA-FU006T, 2GB 2-in-1 laptop – £179.99
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 12 hours of battery life
    • 8.38mm thick, 590 grams
  7. Apple iPad mini 2, Apple A7, iOS, 7.9″, Wi-Fi, 32GB, Space Grey – £219.00
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 10 hours of battery life
    • 7.5mm thick, 331 grams

Win a My Passport Ultra!

Win a WD My Passport Ultra external hard drive with H is for Home

You may remember back in March of this year, we reviewed the Western Digital My Passport Ultra 1TB external hard drive. Well, for our June competition starting today, we have a brand new one to give away to one of our readers.

You can use this handy portable drive to transfer, backup and save all your digital files from your smart phone, tablet or PC. Free up precious space and keep your smart devices running lightning fast, safe in the knowledge that your data won’t be catastrophically lost or wiped.

In order to enter, all you need to do is tell us in the comments section below which of your digital files mean the most to you. For me, it’s all the photos I’ve taken over the years of Mr H and Fudge our Weimaraner. 💕

Western Digital My Passport Ultra external hard drive

Shared on: Superluckyme | The Prizefinder | Loquax | U Me and the Kids

Our Smart Home

'Our Smart Home' blog post banner

Panasonic Smart Home starter kit

There was an interesting little something amongst the bills and junk mail this week. We took possession of this Panasonic Smart Home starter kit on Saturday. It’s a home monitoring and security system that lets you keep an eye on your home (and pets!) whilst you’re out.

Boxed Panasonic Smart Home box

The starter kit comprises a smart hub, indoor camera, two door/window sensors and a smart plug which allows you to switch on lights, radio etc from a remote location.  There are other components you can buy to extend the system including motion sensor, outdoor camera, siren and, soon to hit the market, a water leak sensor – something we’ll be investing in considering our history!

un-boxed Panasonic Smart Home box

Before attempting to set the system up, we watched the 5-minute video tutorial which made the process look very simple.

un-boxed Panasonic Smart Home hub un-boxed Panasonic Smart Home hub

Sure enough, five minutes was about right for me to download the app to my iPhone and link it to the house wi-fi network.

un-boxed Panasonic Smart Home hub

Within another five minutes, the hub and the camera were set up and ‘talking’ to each other.

un-boxed Panasonic Smart Home camera

In the case of the door sensors, all that was needed was to insert the batteries, attach the double-sided sticky tape, line up & attach the two parts of the sensor – one on the door and one on the door frame, press a button… and that was it – another five minutes per door!

un-boxed Panasonic Smart Home door alarm

We positioned the camera so that we could see into the sitting room, the kitchen and up the stairs to the rest of the house. For such a small, unobtrusive unit it gives a surprisingly wide-angled view and high-definition live video footage. It even allows you to take still images (see my example below) which you can save to your smart phone/tablet and share via text message or email.

un-boxed Panasonic Smart Home camera still

Our dog Fudge normally sleeps on that leather sofa to the right when were out (well, that’s where we usually find him on our return anyway). Evidence suggests that he gets up to naughtiness too – like jumping up at the cooker & work surfaces to the left. Soon we’ll have photographic evidence and he’ll be put forward for a doggy criminal trial!

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Gimme Five! Tech fashion accessories

'Gimme Five' blog post banner

Selection of five tech fashion accessiories

London Fashion Week is upon us again and it got me thinking about tech fashion accessories, or ‘wearable tech’. One of the first episodes of Tomorrow’s World which aired in 1965 included ‘Tomorrow’s Girl’. She can be seen modelling synthetic clothes made of plastic and paper which she accessorised with a pair of earrings that doubled as transistor radios!

  1. UP MOVE™: £39.99, Jawbone
    Get fit, lose weight and have fun doing it. Put it on and wear it anywhere. And with an LED display and Smart Coach to guide you, the UP MOVE™ tracker doesn’t just count your steps and track your sleep – it gets you over the hump and moving on your path to a better you. With Activity Tracking, Sleep Tracking, Food Logging and Smart Coach.
  2. Marylebone Tech tote: £895, Aspinal of London
    The first luxury tote specifically and cleverly designed to carry an integral mobile phone and iPad battery charger pack for use with all your mobile devices. Boasting extra internal pockets with cable paths to carry your phone & tablet devices, the tech charger pack gives you the freedom to recharge your tech gadgets on the go in style.
  3. PEBBLE Steel smart watch: £133.30, PC World
    The Pebble Steel Smart Watch works with both Android and iOS smartphones and gives you instant access to text messages, emails and more, directly on your wrist. You can even control and search for music right from your wrist – perfect for sports or travel. It connects via Bluetooth, so is compatible with most current smartphones and gives you the freedom to leave your phone in your bag or pocket without missing out on important information.
  4. Dive Bar, tourmalated quartz by Ringly: $195, FAB
    Ringly connects to your phone so you can receive subtle notifications about what’s important. Through the Ringly app, you can set custom colour and vibration patterns for different types of notifications. The accompanying ring box also acts as a charging station.
  5. Unpocket: £26, 1984
    The police-grade stealth fabrics on the inside physically block all RFID, GPS, WiFi and Cell signals. UnPocket makes you unhackable and untrackable and allows you to drop off the global surveillance grid and become invisible to Big Brother #GoDark.