Still talk on the phone? You can make calls with this Viio Vezzo smart mirror

Image result for Still talk on the phone? You can make calls with this Viio Vezzo smart mirror

Need to call your friend while you put in your contacts? A company called Viio has created mirrors that let you chat through your mirror. Viio equips its mirrors with Bluetooth, so you can connect them wirelessly to your mobile device, tablet or computer. The built-in microphone and speakers let you make phone calls or play music directly through the mirrors. And if you’re just concerned with how you look, the Viio mirrors include LED lights around the perimeter.

The Viio mirrors come in three different models — the Vezzo, Vero and Vetta — that cost $395, $445 and $695, respectively. You can order the mirrors online and in a few Home Depot, Best Buy and Lowe’s stores in Canada. Home Depot and Lowe’s will begin to sell the mirrors in the US this spring. (The site doesn’t yet ship to the UK or Australia, but those prices range from £320 to £565, or AU$520 to AU$920.)

Smart mirrors might be the next hot category as tech companies begin to make health and beauty products. The company Simplehuman has its own line of smart mirrors that customize light settings based on selfies you save in the accompanying app. And an auto-sensing smart mirror called Juno has raised more than $425,000 during its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, thanks to features like light settings just for reading, makeup or selfies.

Viio features

  • Auxiliary cord connection
  • Anti-fog button
  • 6-hour battery or permanent plug
  • Wood backing to mount on walls
  • Vezzo: 24×32 inches, $395
  • Vero: 30-inch diameter circular mirror, $445
  • Vetta: 24×64 inches, $695

 
[Source:- CNET]

 

Best Blu-ray players 2017 UK: the most popular Blu-ray and DVD players you can buy in the UK, including 3D Blu-ray players | 3D Blu-ray player reviews

We reveal the best Blu-ray players you can buy in the UK in 2017. Blu-ray player buying advice. Most popular Blu-ray players to buy today.

Also see: Best Tech Deals

In a world of online catch-up TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube who needs a DVD player any more? Without the arrival of high-quality Blu-ray discs some time ago maybe watching content on disc would have died out by now but most of us still have enough DVDs and box sets to warrant that extra box below the TV.

And today’s best Blu-ray players boast streaming features themselves, with smart apps and access to BBC iPlayer, Netflix and the rest built in.

If you have a 3D TV then you need your DVD/Blu-ray player to be 3D compatible, too – so look out for players that work with 3D Blu-ray discs.

Here we highlight the most popular Blu-ray/DVD players on Amazon, which are considered some of the best Blu-ray players by their user reviews. We also take into account user reviews on Reevoo, and independent reviews from the likes of Which? and other testers. We haven’t reviewed these products.

Features to look out for. All these players will play both Blu-ray and DVD discs, but some boast greater features than others.

Best Blu-ray players: what is Blu-ray

Blu-ray discs can hold much more data than DVD discs, and so are great for high-definition TVs, where the picture quality can be much higher than you’d get from a DVD. All Blu-ray players can also play standard DVDs (upscaling the video to near-HD resolutions). Usually the Blu-ray player is preset to upscale a 480i recording (SD-DVD) to 1080P (full HD) output by default. This doesn’t mean that content on DVDs looks as great as on Blu-ray discs but it should noticeably improve the DVD’s quality. Some newer models of Blu-ray player can “up-convert” 1080p high def to 4K for the latest Ultra HD TVs.

Best Blu-ray players: Blu-ray specs explained

Best Blu-ray players – 3D: You might think that owning a 3D TV means you can play 3D discs, but you’d be wrong. Your Blu-ray player also needs to be 3D compatible, so look out for this feature if you want to enjoy 3D movies on disc.

Best Blu-ray players – Wi-Fi: Some Blu-ray players have Wi-Fi built in so you can stream or download movies and TV shows from the Internet without the need for a wired Ethernet connection.

Best Blu-ray players – Ethernet: If you want your downloads to complete faster than via Wi-Fi look for a player with an Ethernet LAN port. These are only useful if you have a wired connection from your router nearby, which most people won’t have near their TV. However, you can use your house’s electrical cabling as a proxy Ethernet cable by using Powerline adapters. You plug one in to a wall power socket near your router, and connect that via Ethernet (cables included with the Powerline adapters), then plug another adapter near your home-entertainment centre/TV/Blu-ray player. Then you connect thise devices to the Powerline via another Ethernet cable. Bingo, you now have wired internet access straight to your TV/player. See Best Powerline adapters.

Best Blu-ray players – Smart apps: Smart Blu-ray players include built-in apps that offer TV- and movie-streaming on services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix, catch-up TV on apps such as BBC iPlayer, and even social media on Facebook and Twitter.

Best Blu-ray players – DNLA: DLNA (which stands for the Digital Living Network Alliance) allows sharing or streaming content such as movies, music and photos over a home network – for example, from your laptop to your TV, or playing an MP3 on your phone.

Best Blu-ray players – USB: Some Blu-ray players include a USB slot so you can simply plug in a USB memory stick or hard drive to play movies, TV shows, home videos, photos and music on your TV screen.

Best Blu-ray players – 4K: If you have a 4K TV you’ll want a Blu-ray player that can upscale to super high-resolution 4K, so look out for this feature. If you don’t have a 4K TV (or aren’t planning on buying one in the next year or so) this feature won’t matter to you.

Best Blu-ray players: where to buy

In this feature we look at the most popular Blu-ray players, using data from Amazon. But the models listed here can also be found – sometimes cheaper – on other online retailers such as Tesco, Currys, PCWorld and Argos.

Samsung BD-J4500

Samsung BD-J4500

  • RRP: £45

The Samsung BD-J4500 is one of the most popular Blu-ray players on Amazon. It’s super cheap but garners great user reviews on many retailer web sites, although it’s a no-frills budget model that lacks a network connection or smart apps. That said, if you’re after just a Blu-ray player and none of the extras this is great value.

It plays both Blu-ray and DVD discs, but not 3D. It plays high-quality Blu-ray discs and upscales DVDs to Full HD for rich, sharp visuals and clear sound.

The BD-J4500 also lets you play your own multimedia from a USB memory stick or HDD. And AllShare lets you access movies, music and photos via DLNA, so you can enjoy your content wirelessly.

One of its big claims – aside from the super-inexpensive price tag – is support for the largest number of codec and file formats. Many popular video formats such as Flash and QuickTime are supported, as well as VOB files from DVDs. In addition to MP3 audio, you can listen to lossless FLAC files as well as .WMA, .OGG, .WAV and more. Pictures can be viewed in the popular JPEG picture format, as well as PNG files, GIF files and more.

3D: No          Wi-Fi: No          Ethernet: No

Smart apps: No          DNLA: Yes        USB: Yes          4K: No

Sony BDP-S1500

Sony BDP-S1500

  • RRP: £69.60

Another bargain Blu-ray and DVD player the Sony BDP-S1500 offers Full HD. Images are detailed and clear, and colours take on a rich intensity thanks to Sony’s TRILUMINOS colour technology. (Note this technology is exclusive to Sony and optimised for use with accompanying TRILUMINOS TVs, so you’d need a matched TV to get the most from it, although the player will work without it on other TVs.)

Like the other Blu-ray players the BDP-S1500 also upscales standard definition DVD movies to near-HD quality.

You can also stream content from a variety of online entertainment providers (BBC iPlayer, YouTUbe, Skype and apps made for your TV via the Opera TV Store), via the Sony Entertainment Network.

The BDP-S1500 boasts a quick start so will deliver fast loading times, and it boots up in less than a second.

3D: No          Wi-Fi: No          Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes          DNLA:          USB: Yes          4K: No

Sony BDP-S5500 3D

Sony BDP-S5500 3D

  • RRP: £100

The compact Sony BDP-S5500 offers not just Blu-ray and DVD playback, but also supports 3D Blu-rays discs. This Blu-ray Disc player also upscales 2D video to “simulated 3D” for enhanced depth and improved on-screen image detail.

With the BDP-S5500’s built-in super Wi-Fi Pro, you can browse the best online entertainment on the big screen. Smooth, fast streaming means you’ll enjoy Internet content with fewer interruptions and greater picture quality. Upscaled and native 3D Blu-ray movies also come to life in Full HD 3D for a more immersive viewing experience.

With Miracast you can view and share smartphone content on your TV, giving your photos, videos, and music the big screen treatment. Also you can use your tablet or smartphone (Android or iOS) to control your Blu-ray Disc player, and learn more about what you’re watching, with the TV Sideview app.

Like the BDP-S1500 it is compatible with Sony’s exclusive TRILUMINOS colour technology.

Enjoy all the fine detail of the original recording in clear, high-fidelity surround sound with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. DLNA allows you to share multimedia content across all supported devices in your home. The USB slot is handily positioned on the front.

3D: Yes          Wi-Fi: Yes          Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes          DNLA: Yes          USB: Yes          4K: No

LG BP250

LG BP250

  • RRP: £49.99

The no-nonsense, compact LG BP250 is a Blu-ray and DVD player that also allows you to play videos, photos and music via a USB drive (handy slot on the front).

Like the other players here it will also upscale your DVD collection to near-HD quality.

While it won’t work with 3D discs and doesn’t offer smart TV apps most people won’t miss these extras. It has an HDMI slot on the back, but no Ethernet.

3D: No          Wi-Fi: No          Ethernet: No

Smart apps: No          DNLA: No          USB: Yes          4K: No

Samsung BD-J5500

Samsung BD-J5500

  • RRP: £61.99

This is one of the cheaper 3D Blu-ray players, and also includes smart functions such as Opera TV apps so you can watch BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, You Tube, and Netflix among others.

The curved design makes this Blu-ray/DVD player stand out from the crowd, and mimics Samsung’s curved TVs and soundbars.

You can plug in a USB memory stick or hard drive and then use ConnectShare Movie to share everything from home movies and downloaded music to photos, with friends and family. The BD-J5500 is DLNA compliant, and has built-in Wi-Fi.

3D: Yes          Wi-Fi: Yes         Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes         DNLA: Yes          4K: No

Sony BDP-S7200 4K

Sony BDP-S7200 4K

  • RRP: £169

The Song BDP-S7200 might cost more than the other Blu-ray drives listed here, but it does upscale Blu-ray Full HD content to 4K for the latest, high-resolution TVs. Audio playback is super high resolution too.

Its dual-core processor enables faster streaming, quicker loading and smoother playback.

Download the TV SideView app to start using your smartphone or tablet as a remote control. And you can view and share your smartphone on your TV with screen mirroring.

3D: No         Wi-Fi: Yes          Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes          DNLA: Yes         USB: Yes          4K: Yes

Samsung DVD-E360 DVD Player with USB Host 2.0

Samsung DVD-E360 DVD Player with USB Host 2.0

  • RRP: £29

This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays

This Samsung player is as simple and affordable as they come. It has the clever functionality of being able to play videos stored on USB sticks. You can even convert audio CDs onto MP3 with the built-in audio rip feature.

Sony DVP-SR170 DVD Player

Sony DVP-SR170 DVD Player

  • RRP: £39

This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays

One of the best selling DVD players on Amazon, this Sony DVD player will do everything you want (apart from play Blu-rays – scroll up for those).

It’s only 270mm thick, meaning it’s a great space saver with the ability to playback a plethora of media formats for video, audio and images.

Panasonic DVD Player

Panasonic DVD Player

  • RRP: £29.99

This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays

Hassle-free, dust-proof design coupled with handy USB playback make this a slim, easy DVD player to use. You really don’t need much more than the basics if all you want to do is play films.

 

[Source:- PCA]

Kitchen extensions: All the inspiration and advice you need

Colour code kitchen zones

Make large, open-plan spaces work by using colour to define different functions. Try white, handleless cabinetry for a practical, easy-to-maintain cooking and food preparation area. Introduce a contrast shade on a breakfast bar island to signpost the change of function, but keep the worktop white to indicate that this is a dual-function surface. For dining, go unfinished wood – in keeping with its proximity to the patio, this table and chairs could be mistaken for garden furniture. Unify the whole with timber flooring, a wooden sideboard and a row of wooden bar stools.

 

 

[Source:- IH]

best NAS drives 2017 UK: The best network storage you can buy in the UK

NAS drives are like cloud storage: you can access all your files from anywhere, both inside and outside of your home or office. You can use them to store and play your music and video collections, as well as documents and other files.

Also see: Best Tech Deals

NAS drive buyer’s guide

NAS stands for Network Attached Storage and as its name suggests it enables you to have a large amount of storage connected directly to your broadband router. This storage is therefore available to all your devices. NAS drives are designed to be turned on permanently, which means you can have access to your music, movies, photos and documents at all times. Most have timers so you can set them to turn on and off during the hours you want.

One of the most popular reasons to buy a NAS drive is for media playback. Videos can be viewed on your TV, without having to connect a computer. A NAS drive will use much less power than a regular PC, too, making them much cheaper to run. For ease of setup and ease of use, a dedicated NAS drive is hard to beat.

So what should you look for when choosing one to buy?

Capacity

The first requirement is capacity. You’ll need one that has enough storage to meet your needs now and in the future. Plenty of NAS drives come with no disks at all – these are known as diskless or bare drives. The advantage is that you can choose the drives you want and how much capacity you need.

You can now get disks up to 10TB is size, though for each disk you’ll be paying at least £400 or so for the privilege. 4TB disks are arguably the current sweet spot, at around £120.

Disks for NAS drives

When you choose your disks, look for ones that have been designed to work specifically with NAS boxes. NAS-optimised features include more secure construction providing more resistance to vibration, which makes a lot of sense for a drive that’s designed to be on the whole time. They also offer power management so they can adjust performance based on their temperature. These drives also offer special features in firmware known by WD as TLER (Time-Limited Error Recovery) and by Samsung and Hitachi as command completion time limit (CCTL). This optimises the error correction for drives when they are installed in a RAID array (explained below) as is usually the case with NAS drives.

RAID

RAID, stands for redundant array of inexpensive disks. RAID can be quite complex but at a basic level you’ll want to use it primarily to provide redundancy so if a disk fails your data is still safe. There are many variants but three of the most popular are known as RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 6.

Most NAS drives will offer at least two bays, which means that you can set them up as RAID 1. In this scenario the second drive is a mirror of the first, so if one drive fails completely all your data is safe on the other. You then can replace the faulty disk, and rebuild the RAID array (this will take many hours).

RAID 5 requires at least three drives and offers parity data. That means a RAID 5 array can withstand a single drive failure without losing data or access to data. As data is ‘striped’ across three drives, reads are fast, but at the expensive of slower writes because of having to also write the parity data.

RAID 6 meanwhile requires four drives but offers both striped and dual parity, so two drives could fail and the RAID could still recover.

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Whichever you choose however, don’t consider RAID to be your only backup of your data. First, you’re relying on the RAID array rebuilding successfully, and while from experience we know that it does work, it is another point of failure.

If the box just dies, or of something catastrophic happens like a fire, you’ll still lose all your data. To mitigate this you’ll want another external backup, preferably to the cloud. Most NAS offer native applications for certain providers, but these will require subscription to the service and will not necessarily be from your preferred one.

Hot swap

Another feature to look out for is hot-swap capability, which enables you to take out or add a drive without having to power down first, which could be important if you’re running business applications off your NAS and want to maintain uptime when replacing or adding a drive.

Remote connectivity

You should also consider whether you’ll need remote access to the drive. Previously this required signing up to a third-party DNS service, but these days with most NAS you can just sign up for an account with your NAS manufacturer as you set up the drive. Login to the account and they’ll handle the connectivity to your box at home. If privacy is a concern you many not wish to go down this route, but for ease of use it’s the way to go.

Transcoding

It’s also worth considering how powerful you need your NAS’s processor to be. The dedicated operating system that NAS drives run are lightweight but a faster processor and more memory will enable features such as transcoding. This means that any media files will be converted on the fly into a playable format, so you don’t have to rely on your client device being able to play the files smoothly. For example, HEVC H.265 files are becoming popular due to the small file sizes, but devices (aside from the latest 4K TVs) that can play this back natively are still uncommon. Transcoding will deal with this for you if your NAS is powerful enough. However, if you have 4K files and want to play these on all your devices you’ll need a fast NAS.

Apps

Finally, you might want to consider to what use you’ll be putting your NAS. As well as media a small business user will want to know what applications it has to offer, such as setting it up as an email server, a VPN server, or using it to host a website.

Best NAS drives to buy in 2017 in the UK

1. Synology 216+II NAS

Synology 216+II NAS

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 29 December 16
  • RRP: £231.99 inc. VAT

All-in-all the 216+II NAS matched up to our expectations from Synology and will be a very good choice for home or small business use. If you aren’t confident about installing hard disks, then this is the box to get as it’s easy and doesn’t require tools. There’s a huge range of applications to choose from the processor SoC offers plenty of horsepower to run them on too and it all runs quietly. With its fantastically easy installation, setup, app support and general ease of use the Synology is a very solid choice. However, if you like the idea of direct hook up via HDMI you may be swayed by the slightly pricier QNAP TS-251A.

Read our Synology 216+II NAS review.

2. Asustor AS1004T

Asustor AS1004T

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 27 December 16
  • RRP: £239.99 inc. VAT

We liked the Asustor AS1004T for its ease of installation, it’s relatively quiet operation in normal use and its decent performance. It isn’t fast enough for hardware transcoding though, so you’ll need native support for all your files on all your client devices. Where it trumps the completion is that if offer a four-bay chassis where others at a similar price offer only two. If storage rather than performance is the priority then, it’s a great choice and while the ADM interface isn’t as accomplished looking as some of its rivals it’s got the apps you’ll likely need.

3. QNAP TS 251A

QNAP TS 251A

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 30 December 16
  • RRP: £249.99 inc. VAT

The QNAP is an undoubtedly impressive NAS drive. There’s plenty of power for virtually all tasks, and H.265 aside it will handle anything you throw at it. The range of apps is very comprehensive and the interface is excellent. The downside is the lack of support for MKV from its native app, which will mean having to pay for Plex to play files on mobile devices. The unit was also noisier than we would have liked in operation and while it’s good value – it’s not cheap. If you’re willing to stretch to paying this much for a diskless system, the QNAP TS-251A is the best featured NAS drive at the price.

4. WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 2 January 17
  • RRP: £239.99 inc. VAT

When it comes to ease of use the WE My Cloud Mirror is hard to beat. Initial setup is very easy and even sorting our remote access is simple too. For sharing music, movies, photos and documents it works a treat and performance is fine. The downside is that you don’t get the huge range of apps that are available for other brands. However, if you prioritise ease of set up and ease of use the WD is worth looking at and with 4 TB of storage included for the price, it’s a great value option.

5. Synology DS115j

Synology DS115j

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 18 December 14
  • RRP: £78 inc. VAT

Synology has made headlines with its new cut-price DS115j, and its recommended retail price of just £78. The performance has also been cut, along with useful features like USB 3.0, but if you need these the DS114 is still in the range for around £140. And if you really would rather not spend that, the cheaper DS115j will take on basic storage tasks, and still perform faster than some more expensive competition.

6. Netgear ReadyNAS RN212

Netgear ReadyNAS RN212

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 28 December 16
  • RRP: £250.98 inc. VAT

The Netgear’s physical design and is very impressive, but we were troubled by issues that meant it lacked the appeal of drives we’ve tested from QNAP and Synology. Not all disks can be installed in a tool-less fashion and the interface for installing and using apps isn’t the best we’ve seen, not is the range of choices. Performance is good, but the ARM processor doesn’t quite have chops to handle 4K transcoding. It’s a good NAS, but it would need to be cheaper for us to recommend it over the competition.

7. Synology DiskStation DS216play

Synology DiskStation DS216play

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 16 December 15
  • RRP: £190 inc VAT

The 216play will likely be a disappointment to 214play owners wondering about an upgrade. It makes sense only if you have – or will soon have – lots of 4K content that you need to transcode on the fly. Its performance is good, but if you don’t need real-time transcoding, you may want to opt for a different DiskStation (or indeed another NAS entirely) which has the extra ports and SD slot which the 216play lacks.

8. Synology DS414j

Synology DS414j

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 20 October 14
  • RRP: £267 inc. VAT

The Synology DS414j may not be the most glamorous of NAS drives, if indeed there is a candidate leader, but it is well-made and packs just enough power to not embarrass itself in basic benchmark tests for its file-serving speed. That it runs the same carefully wrought and versatile operating system as its dearer brethren is a definite plus, making it suitable for small-scale business use as well as being turned to home entertainment duties.

9. Synology DS415play NAS

Synology DS415play NAS

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 15 July 14
  • RRP: £372 inc. VAT

Synology’s RRP for the DS415play is £372 and at that price or the inevitably lower real shop prices the company should have a winner on its hands. The competing QNAP TS-469L is faster and has better specifications but is over £100 more expensive. When you combine the performance, price and the siren-like draw of DSM 5.0 this could be a crowd pleaser for the multimedia NAS market.

Read our Synology DS415play NAS review.

10. WD My Cloud EX2

WD My Cloud EX2

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 20 June 14
  • RRP: £479 inc. VAT

The WD My Cloud EX2 has a few minor faults, but it’s easy to use and provides good performance and reliability at an attractive price. There are more sophisticated NAS drives available for larger businesses, but the EX2 provides all the features that home users and small businesses are likely to need, and presents them in a straightforward manner that will appeal to people who might not have used a NAS drive before.

 

[Source:- PCA]

Are you looking to sell your home?

Image result for Are you looking to sell your home?

With slightly tougher conditions ahead Gary Warby, Managing Director Premier Windows, highlights ten home improvements to help you sell your home.

 

Recent reports show that while far from having a catastrophic impact on the housing market, house sales have taken a down turn while buyers wait for the Brexit situation to settle down.

This is certainly not a bad thing – house price affordability remains a big issue for the UK – but for anyone who needs to move, it makes things just a little bit harder.

Home maintenance plays a big part in your properties value. While a handful of buyers may find a ‘doer-upper’ appealing, the majority will be put off by peeling paint work, rotting timber windows or doors with poor secuirty. And even if you do find a buyer who’s prepared to take on the work, they’re going to want to push you down on price to cover the cost.

Maintaining your home, by contrasts, maximizes the appeal of your property and helps you stave off potential price negotiations at the point of sale.

 

 

10 tips to help you sell your home

1. Central Heating

A warm home is always appealing. Rising energy prices and the cost of heating means that prospective buyers are more switched on to home energy efficiency than ever. Central heating and an efficient, regularly serviced boiler are important to anyone buying a home and more so going into autumn.

2. Double Glazing and Triple Glazing

The same rules apply here. If they accept that they’re going to have to pay to heat it, prospective buyers will want to maximize their return on those costs by trying to keep the heat inside the house. Old windows can be loose 25 per cent of heat from your house. PVC energy efficient double glazed windows and doors can cut this heat loss by up to 75 per cent.

3. Outside space

Big or small, people like outdoor space. Make sure that it’s also looking its best. Even small spaces can look lovely with a few pots and a little bit of TLC.

4. Secure windows and doors

People want to feel warm and safe in their home. Rotting timber windows or old PVC-U or aluminium windows and doors can be easily forced. New multi-point locking windows and doors, will give prospective buyers a sense that their new home is also ‘a castle’.

5. Off-road parking

This always helps sell a home. This is something you’re either going to have or aren’t but if you do, make sure they look appealing.

6. Smart and well-maintained frontage

First impression really do count. Poorly maintained, windows, doors gardens and driveways can create a negative first impression to a potential buyer. If your house is painted make sure that you give it a refresh.

If windows are old, or worse an unsympathetic design, consider they’re replacement. The cost of doing so may be considerably less than you think and with a wide range of colour choices and finishes, you can pick the perfect design to give your property a wow factor.

7. Add square footage to your home

Creating a space the size of a double bedroom can add around 11% to the value of your property. Energy efficient glazed extensions and conservatories are a very effective way to do so. Add a new living-room, dining room, or kitched to your property for a fraction of the cost of a traditional ‘bricks-and-mortar’ extension.

8. A second toilet

If you’re selling a two-bedroom property or more, a second loo can be a deal-clincher! If you don’t have one, consider installation of under-stair and compact solutions or if you do decide to extend, build it into your design. Modern family life is just too busy to be queueing cross-legged outside a single bathroom!

9. A bath tub

Even if you don’t have time to take long relaxing baths, don’t be tempted to rip out your bath tub. Buyers like the option to take a bath, even if they then decide to rip it out.

10. Fall in love with your home again

A little investment in your property can change the way you think about it. Unless you have to, you may find that adding a little more space or new energy efficient doors and windows, a lick of paint and a tidy-up of the garden means you decide to stay after all!

 

Premier offers an extensive range of home improvement products including energy efficient and low maintenance, double and triple glazed windows.  We offer a wide choice of high security front and back doors, including police approved Secured by Design Specifications.

 

We can also help you to extend your home at a fraction of the cost of a traditional build.  Call 0800 854 353 or email enquiries@premwindowsanddoors.co.uk to find out more.

 

 

[Source:- premwindowsanddoors]

Orchids: 3 trends you need to know about this winter

Orchids - trends for winter gallery

Orchids can be relished all year round due to its wide variety in shades, shapes and sizes, and this winter, they are the perfect centrepiece for your home.

An orchid instantly adds atmosphere to your interior, and thanks to more than 25,000 varieties, there is always one to match the latest winter trends. For example, you can opt for a chic style with the stylish Cambria, or give your interior a bohemian boost by combining various colours of orchids.

TREND 1: BOHEMIAN WINTER

This winter, oust somberness and go excessive in your interior. We’re going to see a lot more of the bohemian trend in which unconventional colours are combined. The orchid is perfect to do so. For example, combine an old-rose pink Cymbidium with a lilac-coloured Dendrobium and yellow-magenta Zygopetalum. Gather your greens, and combine them with orchids. Such an incongruent botanical collection provokes a major explosion of colour during this drab period.

TREND 2: HOTEL CHIC

Whereas last year was marked by a sweet and romantic style, this winter will be characterised as chic. Rich materials such as gold and velvet bestow a luxurious and warm atmosphere upon your home. An orchid that fits like an evening glove is the Cambria. It radiates exclusivity, and the star-shaped flower petals instantly give your interior a chic twist.

TREND 3: CHRISTMAS, THE LEAN-AND-MEAN EDITION

Not everyone can accommodate a Christmas tree. Luckily, creative solutions for decorating your home with festive greens – without a confetti of shedded needles as a byproduct – are abundant. Consider decorating the Christmas dining table with exotic air plants, like the Vanda orchid. Put some Christmas lights in a glass vase and then put a Vanda in the vase on top of them. This is a simple, quick, and ambient Christmas decoration that doesn’t take up too much space. The Vanda is available in various vibrant colours and you will even be able to enjoy its magnificence as an air plant for various weeks, even after the Christmas celebrations have passed.

[Source:- Housebeautiful]

Xiaomi’s Air purifier 2: Lets you Breathe easy

Image result for Xiaomi Air purifier 2: Lets you Breathe easy

Diwali is just around the corner. While some may look forward to the festival, there are others who know only too well how the choking smoke is going to affect them. And how that night is a preview of what is to come all through winter. We do not wear masks, and so far, we buy barely any air purifiers. And yet, if we want to protect ourselves from the insidious effects of bad air, we should be really worried.

Believing that this country could really do with air purifiers, Xiaomi has launched the first of its connected home products in India. In China, Xiaomi has over 55 partner companies working on IOT products, but these will only be brought into India when the market for them seems mature enough. But, the Mi Air Purifier 2 is in, and even disregarding the startlingly low price, it seems a great product.

Does it work?

Most air purifiers do not bother with any kind of indicators. In any case, these can so easily be fabricated. The Mi Air Purifier connects to your smartphone via the Mi Home app, which is where you can see what is going on when it is functioning. No one can see clean air, but the changes in the indicators seem to make sense. When cooking begins or too many doors open up, the PM2.5 indicator goes up — in my case to 550. At other times, specially with a bedroom closed and ready for sleep, the count has been down to 009. You can also smell and sense the freshness in a room where the machine is on.

How air is filtered

The Xiaomi purifier is a little white tower of about two feet. It looks trendy enough and yet understated enough not to stick out like a sore thumb, the way some radiator heaters tend to. The air from the room goes in from all four sides. Once in, it is handled by a cylindrical filter set which includes a PET filter for large particulars, an EPA filter for small ones, and an activated carbon filter which catches the smallest, unseeable matter and odours. This set of filters works with two fans. The filters can be pulled out with one tug, but they are not intended to be cleaned by the user. Every six months or so, the filter just has to be replaced — it will be available from the Mi Store and other online outlets for ₹2499. You may be tempted to wash or vacuum clean it, but that would be defeating the purpose as these methods will not tackle the smallest and most dangerous particles.

Connected to Home

From the Mi Home app, for which you must register with a Mi account, you can see the dashboard of your device. PM2.5 index, temperature, humidity, turbo or sleep controls, and more can be checked and controlled from your phone. In sleep mode, the machine is so quiet, you will have to go up and check if it is working. The one thing that is distinctly upsetting is looking at the number of days to the next filter change reducing before your very eyes.

Price: ₹9,999

Love: Connectedness, with indicators

Hate: No hand-grip to carry device easily

[Source:- thehindubusinessline]

4 reasons why you should plan a garden redesign in winter

View of landscaped garden through open door

Often it’s in the height of summer – when the sun is beaming down and plants are blossoming – that we think about how we want to improve our garden. As we’re sitting outside, we can see what needs doing and what changes we want to make. 

But award-winning garden designer, Michael John McGarr of Warnes McGarr & Co, recommends planning ahead and actually booking in any garden design and landscaping work in winter.

Here are four reasons why:

1. IT’S LESS DISTURBANCE TO YOU AND THE FAMILY

Ensure you get to use your garden in the summer, because if it’s being landscaped, you definitely won’t be able to use your outdoor space. It’s unlikely you’ll be sitting outside in the sun that much in late autumn and through into winter, so it’s the perfect time to begin a redesign.

2. IT’S EASIER FOR YOUR GARDEN DESIGN TEAM

It’s much easier for your garden team to work with a garden when it’s not in full growth mode in the summer. Plants and shrubs will be dying back for the winter, and weeds won’t be growing voraciously. Generally, when there’s less foliage and greenery, it makes your landscapers’ job much easier!

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3. IT’S LESS DISTURBANCE TO WILDLIFE

It’s hard to be a garden designer and not have a love for wildlife and its place in the garden. It’s much better to do a big garden project over the winter when there’s not as much wildlife out and about to disturb.

4. IT’LL PROTECT YOUR PLANTS IN THE LONG-TERM

It’s much better to move and relocate plants and shrubs over the winter when they aren’t growing or flowering. You probably won’t want to keep every single plant, but it’s much kinder to those that you really do want to keep to be dug up and moved around in the colder months.

[Source:- Housebeautiful]

Flymo 1200R review: The robot that mows the lawn for you

Flymo’s 1200R is the most affordable robot lawnmower yet — and it’s pretty good at cutting grass, too

It’s easy to see why robot lawnmowers haven’t yet hit the mainstream – they’re expensive. Early models cost up to £3,000, which is around ten times the cost of a traditional petrol-powered lawnmower. Flymo’s 1200R, however, is looking to buck the trend. Priced at a much more affordable £650, this lawn-based robot is hoping to encourage more of us to make the switch.

Do I really need one?

If your first question is whether you really need a robot to do your lawn for you, then the answer depends on how much you value your free time. Or indeed how much you love doing the mowing. I’ve been testing the 1200R over the past month on my reasonably sized lawn (it’s around 330m2, give or take a few square metres), and let’s just say that I, for one, welcome our new robotic lawnmower overlords.

In short, the 1200R fulfils its billing; it keeps your lawn neatly trimmed with the minimum of fuss, giving you the chance to spend time doing more enjoyable things. If you’re the kind of person who spends more time looking out the window thinking about mowing the lawn than actually doing it, it’s likely to prove something of a revelation.

Setup is relatively straightforward, but can be a little fiddly. It involves pegging out the supplied “loop” wire (it comes with a 150m roll, which is more than enough for most gardens) around the perimeter of the area you want mowed. This process took about an hour and a half in my garden, but this only needs to be done once – and if you set the mower on charge  while you do this, you’re all set to go as soon as you’re done.

Word to the wise, though: it’s worth making sure the loop wire is pegged down securely, or buried. If it’s not, the mower blades can potentially cut the loop wire. Although this isn’t dangerous, it’s a bit of a pain to re-joint.

This loop of wire connects back to the “base station” – the docking port where the mower recharges itself, which is in turn connected to the mains. The mower returns to this docking station automatically when it needs to charge up its 18V/1.6Ah lithium-ion battery.

The mower itself doesn’t require any assembly whatsoever. Once its battery reaches full charge, it’s just a case of setting the cutting height, which is easily done by twisting a large rotary knob on the top of the unit (the adjustment allows for a grass height range of 2cm to 5cm), and setting the mower on its way by closing the control panel.

You can decide when, and how often, you want the 1200R to mow your lawn using its simple-to-use interface and menu system. This allows the owner to programme different mowing times or days using the large selection panel and LCD display above. Once set, the mower simply wakes itself up and gets to work at the appointed time.

And just like that, the little 1200R (or “Bob”, as our three-year-old named him) sets off about its single task, quietly and unobtrusively zigzagging across the garden. It travels at a slow walking pace, in straight lines, and comes to a stop every time its sensors detect the perimeter loop wire. At this point, it performs a graceful-looking three-point turn before setting off again in a new direction. And as the 1200R always mows the lawn in a random pattern, it doesn’t leave any unsightly wheel marks.

The mower doesn’t collect the grass clippings – because the intention is that it cuts your lawn little and often, it instead “mulches” them, cutting them into tiny pieces that disappear back into the soil and act as a natural fertiliser.

It’s worth mentioning that the 1200R isn’t a completely fit-and-forget purchase, though. The strip of grass between the perimeter “loop” wire and the boundary of the garden won’t be cut by the robot lawnmower, so depending on your garden layout – for instance, whether it’s cutting alongside borders or fences – you may need to tidy up certain areas manually. The 1200R does the lion’s share, but I wouldn’t sell your regular mower, or your strimmer, quite yet.

Is it safe?

Flymo has given a lot of consideration to safety issues for its robot lawnmower. First, it has lift and tilt sensors that stop the blades from spinning when the mower is lifted up, or if it reaches a tilt angle that could expose the blades. There’s also a large space between the housing and blades to ensure that errant fingers and toes are kept out of harm’s way. A large, easy-to-access stop button on the top of the mower allows it to be stopped at any time.

And the Robotic 1200R also has collision sensors built in. The marketing blurb says that these are to help the robot mower to avoid collisions, but this isn’t actually the case. In fact the mower doesn’t avoid obstacles at all – it trundles right into any objects left in its path, and once it has gently bumped into them, it pauses, reverses a few centimetres, changes direction, and sets off again. This only adds to its bumbling robotic charm.

The only exception to that rule is if you have a garden covered in kids’ toys, or tend to leave the garden hose out – the Robotic 1200R mower doesn’t detect “shallow” objects, so will run right over them. If you don’t want to risk your hose getting slashed, or end up shelling out for recently obliterated toys, then it’s worth making sure your grass is kept largely obstacle free.

The 1200R has one further benefit that may be of interest to the apiculture-inclined. As I have a couple of beehives in my garden, mowing around them with a traditional mower normally involves the faff of donning a beekeeping suit. The Robotic 1200R has no such concerns: it happily mows right up to them and navigates around them, and keeps the grass around them perfectly trimmed.

Verdict

The Flymo Robotic 1200R delivers all the benefits of a robotic lawnmower for (relatively) sensible money. It’s well built, can be used in all weathers, and is reassuringly packed with safety features. Most importantly of all, though, it performs its task without fuss, and leaves the lawn looking healthy and well maintained with minimal effort on your part.

Price-wise, it’s still a very expensive purchase compared to its traditional counterparts, but if you detest cutting the lawn – or simply don’t have the time – then £650 may not seem like such a hefty investment after all.

[Source:- expertreviews]

Basic Home Security Systems are Not as Safe as You Might Think

Many of us feel completely safe in a home protected by an automated security system, but security researchers Logan Lamb and Silvio Cesare found some easily replicated ways to get past some of the most popular security system brands.

Both researchers were actually working on their own in two different countries, but both still landed at the same conclusion: top-selling home alarm systems are easy to work around, so be careful not to rely on these systems and make sure you’re smart about other ways to keep your home safe.

Lamb looked at a few of the top brands and found that all of the wireless alarm systems relied on radio frequency signals between sensors at entryways, and that it was possible to intercept the data, decipher the commands, and play them back at will:

“An attacker can walk up to a front door and suppress the alarm as they open the door, do whatever they want within the home and then exfiltrate, and it’s like they were never there… All of the systems use different hardware but they are effectively the same, still using these wireless communications from the mid-90s for the actual security.”

Cesare, who tested more than a half dozen popular systems in Australia, found an additional vulnerability. He was able to discover the password stored on the devices that is essentially the key to whole system. All of this was done by the two researchers with about $1,700 worth of equipment, which is pocket change for any experienced burglar. Before you go rigging your home with booby traps Home Alone-style, keep in mind that protecting your home from skilled thieves doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.

 

 

[Source: Lifehacker]