Geared Up: Fitbit Ionic Review

Can it compete with the Apple Watch? That was the question on everyone’s lips at the recent European launch of the new Fitbit Ionic. Approximately 100 of us (press and influencers) were flown out for Majorca for 24 hours of high and low impact activity to test out Fitbit’s first step into the smartwatch market.  

We know that the Apple Watch is a juggernaut, having accounted for 80% of smartwatch sales last year so it’s no surprise that Fitbit’s latest product, the Fitbit Ionic, is clearly designed to go head-to-head with Apple. Having never owned or used an Apple Watch it’s difficult for me to compare, so this review is solely based on the characteristics of the Ionic.

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Design

The design of the Ionic is striking and unique, with a stylish, premium feel to it with a choice of three straps (classic, leather or sport). The watch screen is vibrant and colourful and easy to read even in sunlight. You can choose from a variety of watch faces within the Fitbit app, and there are currently lots of eye-catching choices. Personalisation isn’t possible yet.

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The Fitbit Ionic is a comfortable fit on the wrist and very light; so much so that you'll instantly notice how lightweight this feels on your wrist. As someone who has rarely worn a watch, I quickly adapted to wearing it while working out and throughout the day. It’s also waterproof, so you can take this in the shower or even go swimming with it.

I love the raise–to-wake feature on the touchscreen, even if it is a little slow at times. A quick raise/flick of the wrist and you van have a clear look at your stats during a workout or spin cycle.

Features

The Ionic features the heart rate tracker, which according to the company is even more accurate than on other Fitbits thanks to new algorithms and a design that means it sits much closer to the skin.

It’s suitable for running, cycling, swimming, weights and much more and comes with in-built workouts that you can follow on the watch. There’s built-in GPS and being able to look through your data after you’ve been on a long run or ride is a great feature. For running, the new automatic pause option is quite brilliant, which notices, for example, when you’ve stopped to cross at some traffic lights. It pauses your workout, then restart when you begin exercising again. That’s ‘smart’.

There are tailored workouts to show you exactly what to do, and every time you complete one you can supply feedback so Fitbit Coach can work out whether you need something easier or harder next time.

You can also upload music to the Fitbit Ionic, with 2.5GB of free space at your disposal, which allows for around 300 songs. The big plus to this is being able to listen to music on the go without having to take your phone to the gym or on a run but it’s irritating that you can’t integrate with some of the most popular streaming services, such as Spotify or Apple Music.

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Fitbit has also included mobile payments on the Ionic through its own service called ‘Fitbit Pay’ which will (it’s still to launch) allow you to use NFC to pay on contactless terminals with your wrist. Fitbit is partnering with Visa, American Express and Mastercard for this feature and ultimately it will be a useful extra way of being able to make payments when you’re out exercising.

Apps 

The Fitbit Ionic works alongside the Fitbit app on your phone, which is compatible with most modern iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices. Right now it’s unclear what third-party options will be included in the future – it’s only Fitbit services for now and the Strava and Starbucks Card apps. At launch, everything on the Ionic App Gallery is free.

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Performance

The Fitbit Ionic’s battery lasts an impressive four and five days with limited usage. If you’re going to be working out a lot with the watch it’ll be a lot less, and the battery gets hit especially hard when using GPS.

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Verdict

I use it every day and on the whole find it very impressive, but as someone who hasn’t used another smartwatch, I have nothing else to compare it with. Now quite iconic yet, but definitely worth a look.

The Fitbit Ionic is priced at £299.00 https://www.fitbit.com/uk/shop/ionic

The Gear You'll Need for Starting a Podcast

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Hi everyone, this is a simple no bells-no whistles post on all the gear I used for the 25 episodes of Menswear Style. In total the show enjoyed 77,000 downloads and we had esteemed guests from all walks of life, from ex-World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman to Irish fashionista and TV presenter Darren Kennedy.

So you want to start a podcast?

First you think about the end game. What are you hoping to achieve?

Money? Good luck. Only 2% of podcasters that average 1000 listens per episode generate any money, and even those big players are dependent on other revenue streams to plug their business, their live show, their book etc. These podcasts help build that audience.

Popularity? If you think just by setting up your own channel that all your mates are going to start listening to you then think again. Your mates are busy, your mates don't listen to podcasts, your mates are useless. I can tell you out of the 77k downloads I had over the course of two years, only two of my mates congratulated me on doing a good job. And that doesn't necessarily mean they listened.

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There's two right answers to this question.

Sounding off. If you just want to sound off, run your mouth, vent, then this is an awesome platform. I actually host another podcast where I talk about giving up the booze. I have a total of 6 followers now. But it's cathartic for me, I learn as I go and I love it.

To create awareness for your brand. Your brand might be YOU! Or it might be your vegan diet program you're trying to get off the ground. Imagine you’re Batman, maybe not Kilmer or Affleck Batman, and Robin is your Podcast. It will never have its standalone movie, it will never stand on its own two feet. If you make any money, I'll be shocked. If you do, good luck to you.

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Okay the Gear. This is what I use.

Hardware

Below is all the gear you'll need, I'd also recommend some noise reduction earphones, but for now you can get away with whatever you have to hand. The Soundcard will cater for two microphones, but I'd recommend just getting the one. You might have some ambitious thoughts on building a studio and getting people to join you. In truth, it's hard to get people to join you physically on a podcast. If you decide to fold the podcast after 7 episodes (which is statistically the number of episodes most people reach before giving up) then you'll be left with two surplus microphones that you'll have to bung back on eBay for half the price.

·      MacBook Pro
·      Focusrite external Sound Card
·      Rode NT1-A Vocal Recording pack (includes pop shield) shop here
·      Microphone Boom Scissor Arm shop here

But I want to interview people!! 

Cool we'll come to that part on the software section.

Software

As mentioned if you're recording on a Mac then just use Garageband. It's very straight forward and you don't need to attend night school to figure out how to record a couple of vocals. However, if you're struggling then you'll always find tutorials on YouTube

When it comes to interviews you'll need to convince people to do it over Skype. If you have a good broadband connection it will guarantee a better reception than over the phone. Plus, it's free, particularly useful if you want to interview people abroad. 

The ace in the hole

This is the best tool I've been using for a couple of years. It's called Ecamm Call recorder and enables you to record audio and video over Skype. If I were you I'd buy the package for £45-ish that enables you to record over Facetime also. (You won't believe the amount of people that don't have Skype, and if one goes down then you have a backup). 

With this you can export both tracks (your audio and your guests’ audio) in MP3 format and drag them right into Garageband. This enables you to edit efficiently, maybe your levels are too hot, or there's background noise you want to cut out from the other end etc. 

You can also export the file as an Mp4 and upload the interview to YouTube, although it's common courtesy to ask your guest if he/she is happy for you to do that. They may be unaware they're being filmed. 

If you're serious about podcasting you might want to do a little more research before you launch and there's tonnes of great advice from experts online

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Experience sound you can feel with the LG SJ9 soundbar

This week I managed to get my hands on the LG's SJ9 soundbar. Sounds wonderfully futuristic doesn't it? Well it kind of is. This slim-line speaker system is specifically designed to deliver three-dimensional spatial depth to the audio of whatever you're watching or listening to. 

The visuals

It has a sleek aesthetic and cosmetically it's just tailor-made to sit beneath a 55-inch TV – I tested mine with an LG OLED 4K TV. There's no ugly cables between components and having an LG TV made it a breeze to pair, I did so both on the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth option. I actually love the look of this thin soundbar. 

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The sound

This 5.1.2 channel system boasts total audio power of 500W so you won't be short of volume. It's almost magical how the separate wireless subwoofer takes care of the bass frequencies and you can certainly feel it reverberate. I'd love to hear what films you like to test your sound system on. Here's my list of films I like to use for testing audio. 

  • Bass: The intro to Top Gun as the F-14 Tomcats ignite and launch from the Navy Vessel. 
  • Mid-Range: The intro to Blade, club scene. 
  • Surround: Action scenes from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. Action coming in from all angles of your room.

How does it recreate surround sound? 

As well as the five speakers in the bar, two upward firing drivers bounce Dolby Atmos encoded signals off the ceiling to place sounds above and even behind you. Pretty neat eh? Certainly makes for an immersive experience, which was never more evident than when watching the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on my LG UP970 4K blu-ray player.  Throughout the film, Dolby Atmos bounced sound off the ceiling for totally cinematic and true-to-life sound that had me ducking for cover. And there’s even more good news: you actually get the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 DVD when purchasing the LG SJ9 soundbar online or in-store before 31st December, so you can experience the power of Dolby Atmos for yourselves.

Power? 

500w of music power was plenty enough for me. Imagining how dramatic those goals will sound with Dolby Atmos, I'm even planning ahead for sports experiences such as next year’s World Cup. (Not too soon to start picking my team is it?) The built-in Chromecast enables me to stream music whilst pairing up my smartphone through the Bluetooth, meaning I can switch over to my playlist and get the tunes on the go. Call me DJ Smart Phone. 

Final thoughts? 

I haven't really got a bad thing to say about this LG soundbar. It looks elegant, there's nothing superfluous on the settings, it's non-invasive and you don't have to ergonomically design your room to accommodate extra speakers.

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Extra tips: 

  • When setting up the LG Soundbar use the LG Music Flow app on your phone to connect it to the Wi-Fi and update it.
  • If gaming, set to movie mode and put the volume to 12 or higher. This will deliver crisp effects such as gunshots in Halo. 
  • The volume on the subwoofer ranges from -15 to +6. Your setting will come down to personal preference and the size of your room. But for a medium sized room keep it set to +3 or 4.

For more information on the LG SJ9 soundbar, make sure you visit: http://www.lg.com/uk/speakers-sound-systems/lg-SJ9.

My Sony A7SII Camera Settings | How to Setup your Sony A7SII

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I've had my SONY A7SII or A7S2 for about 3 weeks now and being new to Sony cameras, it was imperative that I learnt about each function and where to easily find each setting. When out on the streets of London shooting StreetStyle images you need to know exactly how to setup and change your camera settings based on the lighting, weather and subject promptly. Not only that but so often when shooting outside the lighting changes and therefore you have to make small adjustments to your camera settings to combat this. If you take 5 minutes to change settings, especially in London you would have missed the moment and the chances are the lighting would have changed again. So before using any camera, I recommend learning about each setting and what effect it has on your stills and video filming.

So here is how I currently setup my SONY A7SII Camera and I'll run through a few of the settings and why I have chosen those options. 

Currently I shoot RAW & JPEG. When I'm doing campaign work for brands I'll shoot and post edit in RAW however if shooting street style for other people and they are doing the editing, it is good to have a JPEG copy too. Image size as Large and Aspect Ratio 3:2 are pretty standard options if you have a large enough SD card to handle the extra space needed.

{Video} File format is XAVC S 4K for high-end 4K video production quality and a {Video} Record Setting of 25p 100M, although I would recommend a 128GB SD card when recording in these modes. Also it is worth noting that you'll require a U3 SD Card (UHS Speed Class) to handle the write speed and frame rate.

On page 3, my Focus Mode is DMF, which is basically Manual Focus, but I change from AF-S which is Single shot Auto Focus to DMF depending on the type of shoot I'm doing. Always manual focus for filming. The Focus Area is currently set to Zone, which is good for movement such as street style or sports although change this option to a fixed area if you need to focus on a watch or product for example. 

The SONY A7SII has a cool feature on page 4 of the Picture Settings which is Auto-ISO it is very accurate, although I normally leave mine on ISO200 (as I love to shoot this ISO if possible) and I have setup the Control Wheel to change the ISO quickly during shooting.

On Page 5, if the Picture Profile is set to OFF, I like to set the cameras' Creative Style option to Clear, as this gives the images more sharpness, so when photographing buildings and design, you'll get a great finish. Alternatively if I want the perfect image and I have plenty of time to colour correct in post production on Photoshop CS6, I will use a Picture Profile of PP7. In the PP7 profile I have set the Gamma setting to S-Log2 and the Color Mode to S-Gamut3.Cine. When using this mode, your images may seem very flat, cloudy, grey and desaturated although once you do the colour correcting in Lightroom or Photoshop, you'll end up with an incredible finish.

A lot of the other settings are pretty default, although on Page 5 again, I have left the White Balance as Auto although programmed my Custom (C1) button to easily change this which is especially good when shooting in dark, cloudy, grey days. You'll find out how to change your Custom Buttons in the section below.

Moving on to the next set of settings. On page 1, the Grid Line is Off, although a good option here would be to set it to Rule of Thirds if you have trouble with framing. 

On Page 2, I have set the Auto Review setting to 2 Sec, which when taking a photo it reviews on the monitor screen for a two second review or preview. 

On Page 4, change the setting Release w/o Card to Disable, this will not allow you to take photos without a memory card inserted - very handy if you are swapping SD cards between cameras and you might forget to put it back.

Finally I think the Custom Key Settings on Page 6 are personal to yourselves and totally depends on how you like to shoot. For me the main buttons to customise are the Control Wheel, Control Button 1 (C1), Control Button 2 (C2) and Control Button 3 (C3). As these are the easiest to access during shooting. I've set:

Control Wheel - ISO
Control Button 1 - White Balance
Control Button 2 - Focus Area
ontrol Button 3 - Focus Mode

If you have any other questions regarding my Sony A7SII camera settings, comment on this post and I'll get back to you.

What's in my Camera Bag?

In my eyes the single most important aspect of blogging is exceptional content creation, whether that is photography, videography, writing or creativity in general. The reason I say that is because most of the campaigns I have worked on recently, the value is in the content I have created for them rather than numbers of followers on social for example - which is a very small part of the bigger picture. By offering exceptional editorial, creative content it offers the brand more than just a point-in-time social post that has a major impact at the time of posting but doesn't particularly have longevity, unless you have enrolled in a larger month-on-month campaign. Being able to create high-quality content for the brands, you offer them something they could potentially use (depending on images rights), for their website, social pages and larger advertising campaigns to name a few.

That's the reason why over the years I have invested heavily in some of the best camera and videography tech out there and it is a constant improvement. It's one thing having 'all the gear' but you need to know how to use it, so make sure you spend days learning about your new camera or drone before taking it out on a campaign shoot - what's the point in keeping your £3,000 camera on auto, right!

So what do I use for shoots, what is in my camera bag and why?

The SONY A7SII is my newest piece of camera kit and by far the finest item in my camera bag. The camera is great for video and stills images. The video is capable of filming at 100 frames per second at full-frame 4K, including built-in stabilisation within the camera. Regarding still images, it is exceptional at handling low light. 

My only two beefs with the SONY A7SII is that when filming in 4K whilst using the monitor the battery life can drain quickly and the camera is a bit top heavy with large lenses due to the smallish body. Both are solved with this vertical camera grip. Which once added to your camera allows you too seamlessly work off of two batteries. The camera fits into your hands better and it's easier to hold steady with the additional grip.

When using cameras, I always feel that it is best to use native lenses for the camera body brand because the two will work in unison and you'll have all available software options available to you. With that in mind, my first choice for the SONY A7SII camera is this ZEISS FE F4 16-35mm lens. This lens has built-in optical image stabilisation with a constant F4 aperture through the whole zoom range. 

My backup camera is an Olympus PEN E-PL7 which has recently been superseded by the E-PL8. However this backup camera still has its uses. Firstly I have a 45mm F1.8 lens for this camera which is perfect for portrait and product photography where you can blur the background and focus wholly on the subject. It is also a great camera to take discreet photos, as sometimes when photographing in public places around London with a 'professional camera' you'll be asked to stop, however the E-PL7 looks like a normal tourist camera, which is okay...I don't quite understand it but it's just how it is with some places!

The DJI Mavic Pro drone seems to be the drone of choice right now due to it's unique compact folding design, which is easy to travel with. Combine that with good battery flight time, easy flight controls, simple software and a 12-megapixel 4K gimbal camera is exactly why I chose to invest in this piece of technology.

The camera bag itself is this super stylish canvas and leather Manfrotto design in a backpack style. The bag has plenty of protection for all of your expensive equipment and plenty of zip pockets for your smaller items like SD Cards. 

This Rode Lavalier Microphone (top right) is an essential piece of tech that is needed when filming whilst moving around, outdoors or doing presenting work. The lapel mic clips on to your clothing and I use this connected to the (bottom right) Zoom H1 recorder.

The Zoom H1 is a multi functional recorder. You can connect external mic's such as the Rode or it also has its own dual microphones built in which can capture 360 degree sound. The Zoom H1 records sound directly to a removable micro SD card and can record up to 24bit 96kHz uncompressed audio, impressive piece of kit.

Often over looked, but it is SO important to have a steady, stable tripod. I've used a cheap tripod before and my camera ended up falling off and breaking, costing much more than if I just brought a high-quality one from the get go.

When filming YouTube videos at home, having lighting is essential and these two soft boxes are a inexpensive option (above)

The above soft boxes are not the easiest to travel with, as they have stands...so if you are after a light that can connect to your camera which is easily transportable - this LED light is perfect (below).

Another Rode Microphone lives in my camera bag, this one is perfect when vlogging or talking to camera at home when the subject is static and therefore talking directly into this Rode uni-directional mic. This lightweight microphone plugs into your camera's mic port and is powered off the camera, so doesn't have any battery power itself.

Finally, I have two products in my camera bag that are to look better when on film which removes oil from your face and adds a matte finish (below).

Click on the images above to shop or for further technical, product information. Alternatively use the links below:

Camera Bag - Manfrotto - http://bit.ly/2xbP0Jy
Soft Boxes Lighting - http://amzn.to/2a5ckbB
Drone - DJI Mavic Pro - http://rstyle.me/n/csvuyfbjknx
Tripod - Manfrotto - http://bit.ly/2hIDrlW
LED Light - http://bit.ly/2fEEz5P
Sony A7Sii Camera Body - http://bit.ly/2xVqOdn
Sony Vertical Camera Grip - http://bit.ly/2yjYq5x
ZEISS FE F4 16-35mm Lens - http://bit.ly/2xLzseO
RODE Uni-directional Mic - http://bit.ly/2xaJ5Q2
RODE Lapel Mic - http://bit.ly/2xT4b90
Zoom H1 Recorder - http://bit.ly/2xWuSdj
Olympus PEN E-PL8 - http://rstyle.me/~a75Gr
Boots Oil Absorbing Sheets - http://bit.ly/2xPqNG1
Boots Matte Primer - http://bit.ly/2ySIIvg

 

How to create the perfect movie night at home

Netflix has taken over my life, fact! Other than Love Island, I can't recall the last scheduled TV programme that I watched (although it was probably some kind of reality series!). That brings up an interesting point - is that the future of TV, on demand watching when and where we choose? What about cinema? I love the cinema but it is becoming more of a luxury these days, not only have ticket prices risen but its the prices they charge for a simple box of sweet popcorn and fizzy drink that make it less appealing. Yes, of course I can just turn up, sneak in a bottle of water and just watch the film, but that wouldn't be cinema and if you are going to do that, then why not just watch it a month later at home?

There are so many streaming or downloadable subscription services these days and therefore having a box-set or movie weekend at home is a cheap alternative to going out - perfect for that weekend before payday! When it comes to putting on the perfect movie night, here are my top tips:

Get the snacks in

Get snacks and plenty of them. To set to mood theme your snacks around the movie you are watching and if that is 'The Beach' for example maybe get some Thai inspired nibbles and some Thai sweet chilli crisps as well as some Thai bottles of lager such as Singha or Chang.

Invest in tech

TVs have come on a lot in terms of technology, so it may be time to trade in your old and invest in something newer. For the perfect movie night in you'll need exceptional picture and sound quality of which the current Sony OLED TVs excel in. I've often been told that the most important colour when looking for a quality TV is the delivery of black. Have a look at the SONY OLED TVs and you'll find the black is actually black, a real deep black and not a slightly shaded black or even dark grey. Combine this exceptional picture quality with their builtin Acoustic Surface technology which allows the sound to be generated by the TV itself, therefore the picture and sound are in perfect synchrony.

Mood Lighting

Movies are always better in low light or darkness so that the full focus is on the TV, it helps create a cinematic atmosphere at home. To create a cosy, relaxed or even romantic setting - light a few candles or put a lamp on with a low wattage amber tint to it.

Get comfortable

There is nothing worse that having to get up in-between the movie, so get everything prepared and within hands reach. Plenty of cushions and a knitted throw are essential.

 

SHOP THE NEW SONY BRAVIA OLED TV

The Solution to Men’s Sizing Issues

How infuriating is it when you have been clothes shopping to find that you are actually a size small in one brand, a size medium in another and even a large on the odd occasion? Well that example is actually me. How can I span from a size small to large…I just don’t get it. Well there is now a solution to this problem in the form of an app which helps you with these odd sizing issues and it’s called EyeFitU. EyeFitU was developed to address the lack of uniformity in fashion, one which I’m supporting via their #OneSizeFitsNone campaign.

I feel that I’m quite a typical shopper in this modern age, spreading my time between shopping online and shopping on the high street with an emphasis on wanting to shop as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Take my typical online shopping experience. I’ll open about 10 internet browser tabs, one for each of my favourite brands, browsing their collections trying to find an outfit or outfits in the shortest possible time. What tends to happen is I’ll end up with about 30 tabs open with all sorts of items of clothing that I love. I’ll then have a coffee, come back to it and close those tabs that I don’t actually want. Finally I’m at the point where I have a few items from different online fashion retailers and it is time to choose sizes and checkout, which is when things get tricky.

Do I…

Order everything in a small, medium and large to ensure I will get the correct size? Probably not; Just refer back to my second paragraph, where I like shopping to be quick and easy. I’m not a big fan of ordering every size because when it comes to the returns you’ll be stuck in a ridiculously busy post office sending back a big box of clothing – not a very efficient use of time in my eyes. There is another issue with buying every size and that’s financial. I mean who has the money to buy every size and you might get the refund weeks later, by that time I’ve already maxed out my overdraft and incurred penalty fees. No thanks.

Do I…

Read through each brands size guide and try to figure out exactly what size is best for me from each different fashion retailer that I’m buying from. I mean, I could do this, but that’s a massive time killer and again refer to paragraph 2. No thanks.

Do I…

Guess. Actually this is normally what I do. If I’ve had a big fry-up for breakfast that morning, I might psychologically choose a larger size than if I have had a handful of chia and pumpkin seeds!

I don’t fair much better when shopping on the high street if I’m honest. Walking from shop to shop in a fast paced, almost jog, weaving in and out of the annoying slow walkers as I’ve always got something more important to do. I’ll then hit a few shops, pick out clothes and try them on for size right? Wrong! Who else checks sizing by just holding the clothing (still on the hanger) up to their body…1,2,3,4, okay most of us! I’ll then get home and realise  that nothing fits.

If you watched my Instagram Stories yesterday, you would have seen my EyeFitU challenge, which was to find a holiday outfit using high street stores in 20 minutes and then using their app in 20 minutes. Here are my findings:

Firstly I started my journey off at Covent Garden tube station in London, set my timer for 20 minutes and away I went, briskly walking towards COS. On a busy afternoon a couple of minutes were lost already just getting to the shop. With time to make up, I found that when browsing items even in the same store the sizing between shirts & t-shirts can vary and with my stopwatch ticking there was no time to try anything on. At this point I’m doing my usual guessing sizes or buying way too much to make up for it. 12 minutes in and I have visited one retailer, then, typical there is a queue at the checkouts, not a massive queue but still took another 4 minutes of my allotted 20 to queue, pay and pack my items. With a few minutes left, I headed over to Reiss, which I browsed a few items before the 20 minutes was up…boy that went quick!

My 20 minutes using the EyeFitU app started as I entered a local coffee shop, ordered a coffee and sat down a little perspired from my 20 minute high street challenge! Time to open the app and get shopping. Please note that I already downloaded the app and inputted my measurements prior to this challenge. The first thing I did was to select my favourite few brands in the app so when searching for an outfit, these brands would show up in my search list first. From that moment on, in-between sipping my flat white coffee and feeling pretty relaxed, I just browsed quickly and easily, using the ‘My Size’ filter which just shows you products in your exact size. Within minutes I had chosen a perfect holiday outfit, gone through the checkout process and even had time to order an extra chocolate croissant.

You’ll see that in my high street outfit there is no-cohesion in the styling and the sizing was actually wrong too, out of 3 pieces, 2 didn’t fit perfectly. However with the EyeFitU outfit, the styling is much better as shopping using the EyeFitU app I didn’t have to worry about selecting the right size (as the app does that for you), I had more time to concentrate on the style choices and outfit as a whole.

EyeFitU is the perfect solution to these everyday daily shopping struggles, which you can use for referencing to get the perfect size for you across multiple fashion retailers. Or you can even shop directly from the EyeFitU app making the whole process even more seamless, time saving and stress-free. EyeFitU matches users’ profiles and measurements with the brands own size charts so shoppers can be sure of always getting the right fit.

 

Download the EyeFitU App here, free to download on iOS and Android.

Photography by Ella H

*This post was created in collaboration with EyeFitU*

KRUPS EA9010 Series Coffee Machine Review

KRUPS EA9000 Series Coffee Machine

Hi I'm Carl and I'm a coffee addict. Now that's off of my chest, it's time to feed my addiction and trial this new, exciting KRUPS Espresso Automatic Series EA9010 coffee machine. As a home worker, coffee is essential to getting any work done. I've worked my way up to 'Coffee Snob' status through years of substandard mistakes from supermarket brought, freeze dried crap, pre-ground coffee beans in cafetieres and capsule coffee machines. Now, today on the 6th April 2017 during London Coffee Week, I've finally upgraded to a freshly ground coffee, bean to cup, barista coffee machine - just a smaller and more automated version to what they serve in coffee shops.

It really is a game changer and at a retail price of around £1399, you should expect the best, which it really is for a home machine where you want a fresh barista coffee brew. For my readers of carlthompson.co.uk I have managed to get a discount of 30% off using the code BLCF30OFF at checkout (see bottom of post for the buy link).

For a home coffee machine it is not the smallest out there, so you'll need to make sure you have a spot to house it and if you don't...make room! The KRUPS EA9010 was simple to setup and has a very intuitive touch screen menu to assist you with the setup, step by step. The coffee bean tray, the water holder, the ground bean collector, the drip trays and the cleaning fluid compartment are all easily accessible from the front of the machine which is important because it means you can position the machine up against a wall, or even corner without having to move it for maintenance and refills. 

The look of the machine is a luxurious mix of plastic & aluminium with a traditional barista gloss black and brushed metal colour finish. I'm happy that they have left off a milk dispenser unit from the design, as I think this would make it a little too large, plus it can be quite intensive to keep clean.

When making a latte or cappuccino, just pour the desired amount of milk into your cup and place on the drip tray grill as far back as possible. The KRUPS EA9010 has an automated milk frother (steam nozzle) which extends from just behind the coffee nozzles into the milk of your cup and whilst the machine is grinding the coffee beans, it froths up the milk automatically. The milk steam nozzle then detracts and automatically cleans ready to use again. 

KRUPS EA9000 Series Coffee Machine

The slick design, easy to use display, automated cleaning functions and finally the quality of the coffee produced make this barista coffee machine perfect for the home or small office.

Buy KRUPS EA9000

 

Shop the KRUPS EA9010 and other KRUPS Bean to Cup machines on Home & Cook.

KRUPS will be at the London Coffee Festival (April 6th – 9th) on stand HP30. So make sure you go check them out.

Monetary compensation was made for the creation of this post.

Experience Multiroom with Bang & Olufsen Speakers

I have been living in Clapham for about 7 years now and for the first few years of living as a single man in London, the flat took a bit of a battering from pre-drinks to afterparty (on repeat). However I have spent the last year slowly redecorating the place and implementing new technologies into my interior design. For years I have had a wired speaker system, with smaller surround sound speakers physically wired into a large subwoofer. It served a purpose but it's time to move up a level, or 100, with Bang & Olufsen's incredible sound and impeccable design.

The new Bang & Olufsen multiroom collection. This collection of wireless speakers connects into one multiroom system allowing users to play different tracks simultaneously in different rooms - or play the same track throughout every space. Bang & Olufsen has an absolute focus on design and a signature sound. This technology is not designed to be hidden away, but to be a stylish addition to any room.

Fashion, tech and interior design are three of my passions and with Bang & Olufsen speakers I feel that they are the best at combining jaw dropping sound combined with stylish design and therefore fit in with my lifestyle perfectly. When choosing the right speakers for my London flat, I wanted to tick all of these boxes:

√ Wireless.
√ Multiroom functionality, so I can play one track across all speakers in different rooms.
√ Large range of speakers to choose from.
√ Stylish in design but something that would stand out.
√ Exceptional sound quality, both midrange & bass.

This range of B&O speakers clearly ticked all my boxes and based on my interior for the rooms I was going to place the speakers, I decided to go for the Beosound 1, Beoplay M5 and Beoplay A9.

The Beosound 1 was going to be my wireless, battery packed, versatile speaker, silver in design so would fit in to all room designs and wanted a speaker I could move from the hallway, kitchen and even outside on warm, dry days.

The Beoplay M5 was chosen for my bedroom, as the soft fabric finish in a black colour fits in perfectly with my exposed brick wall.

The Beoplay A9 was chosen to be my heavy weight speaker, a design masterclass and punchy sound, perfect for a design feature in my front room, dining room area.

 

BANG & OLUFSEN BEOSOUND 1 REVIEW

Bang & Olufsen are the ultimate leaders in speaker design and the new Beosound 1 has taken the brand into the stratosphere with this unique design that will hear the words "wow that's a speaker" all the time. The Beosound 1 is finished in polished aluminium with black contrast control panels, the design aspect is sleek straight lines in a mountainous shape.

It would be easy to neglect the sound quality with such an incredibly designed speaker, but that just wouldn't be the Bang & Olufsen way, would it! B&O have packed this small speaker casing with an incredible punch with a single mid-range speaker and woofer. Although it is the 360 degree sound which means that it can punch out exactly the same sound wherever you are standing around it and the rechargeable battery that offers from 4-16 hours of play-time depending on the volume level, that really makes this speaker truly portable.

 

BANG & OLUFSEN BEOPLAY A9 REVIEW

The Beoplay A9 is a complete beast of a speaker, in fact I would go as far to say that you should treat it like a piece of electrical furniture. Big and bold, a complete statement piece of stylish design - a talking point in any room. The Beoplay A9 is a whopping 70.1cm in diameter and weighs around 15kg with the legs attached, however you'll be pleased to know that it is portable with a handy handle at the back of the speaker. 

As with all of these B&O speakers, it supports Spotify, TuneIn, Deezer and Google Cast streaming services. You can really crank up the volume with this speaker (or technically speakers) as it has a total of 5 builtin beauties - 1 woofer, 2 midrange and 2 tweeters combine to give off a sound that gives goosebumps. The Beoplay A9 comes in a variety of different colours and wooden legs, so if you want a descrete colour to mould into your furniture or a bold statement colour, the Beoplay A9 is for you.

 

BANG & OLUFSEN BEOPLAY M5 REVIEW

My final inclusion to my 3 speaker multiroom setup is this Beoplay M5 for my bedroom. A soft curved design finished in fabric give it a comfortable feel which is perfect for the bedroom. Connect this speaker via bluetooth to your phone and play your favourite playlist whilst getting ready for work in the morning or pumping yourself up for a night out. The Beoplay M5 comes in two tonal colours Black which is actually more dark grey and neutral which appears light grey. 

With this speaker I keep the volume pretty low and the sound is crisp and with a slight bass. Turn the volume up with a touch panel at the top of the speaker and you'll experience a heavy bass and spine tingling sound.

But don't take my word for it, try it out for yourself!

 

SHOP BANG & OLUFSEN MULTIROOM SPEAKERS

#Multiroom #BangOlufsen @BangOlufsen

Monetary compensation was made for the creation of this post.

MEEM Cable Review: An Easy Way to Backup Your iPhone or Android Smart Phone

I've been an iPhone user for a very long time now and lost or broken my way through numerous charging cables and iPhones during this time. So as you can imagine backing up and restoring data is extremely important. The MEEM cable is a simple, convenient, secure and reliable solution for automatic backup of your mobile phone.

The first thing that popped into my mind is 'why don't I just use iCloud?' Then I cast my mind back at the last time I lost my iPhone on a night out and the next day I was in the Apple store on Regents Street (a little hungover) buying a new iPhone. Obviously restoring your backed up data is critical. Contacts, photos and your calendar entries are all important to everyday life. So I got my new iPhone and continued to set it up with the 'Restore from iCloud' option, only to realise that it has been failing and the data was 1 week old. I mean 1 week in the life of my iPhone is an eternity, what were all those new apps I downloaded in the last week called again?

How to simply setup the MEEM cable:

First download the MEEM Memory App from the app store.
Plug in the cable to a USB socket, power adapter, car charger or power pack.
Plug in the other end of the cable to your mobile phone. This will charge your phone immediately.
The cable will take a few seconds to appear connected in the MEEM Memory App.
You'll be asked to setup a 4-digit passcode to secure your data.
Then the automatic backup starts and now every time you plug in you phone to this cable, it will backup the content.

Important to note: Anyone else can use this cable to charge their phones without it automatically backing up their data. To back up data for a phone to the cable, you'll need the MEEM App and also the 4-digit security code.

It was only when I started to use the MEEM cable over time that I realised that this simple cable could do much more than just charging and backing up data.

Firstly with so many other incredible smart phones on the market these days, having the MEEM cable allows you to easily restore your data across different phone platforms.

If you use two phones or even a phone and a tablet you can use the MEEM cable app to selectively synchronise data between the two.

There are no hidden, monthly or extra fees - you pay for the cable and that is it.

You can use the cable as extra storage by using it as an archive for your photos or videos, allowing you to delete them from your phone, freeing up space.

HOW IT WORKS

Introducing the Brand New LG Portable Speaker Art Series by JonOne

What makes a portable Bluetooth speaker stand out in a very competitive market? In my eyes it is when you combine the very best of audio technology with incredible, creative design. LG have the same outlook and have recently teamed up with popular American graffiti artist JonOne who lives and works in France to produce their latest offering. The LG JonOne Bluetooth Speaker.

When it comes to Bluetooth speakers, LG are major players and this latest design cements that position as one of the best. The speaker offers the very best aesthetics, alongside a crystal clear sound generated by LG audio technology. The artistic designs of the LG JonOne Speaker are available in 3 different styles, all inspired by art culture and city life.

So if you want a quick and easy way of playing music throughout your house or on-the-go, nothing beats the convenience of this Bluetooth speaker. No cables, no mess and easy to pair your music source with.  Simply charge using a USB cable, enjoy the best audio experience and say hello to great sound. This monochrome design will look great in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or living area so take it with you wherever you are around the house.

It’s unique design is only one of the great aspects of this speaker, it is also has convenient portability (weighing in at less than half a kilogram) and the battery power lasts longer than 15 hours. Every waveform of the rich sound is of the highest quality and needs to be heard to believe it.

It is hard to believe that you get all of this for only £99.99 and the LG JonOne Speaker is available now at Selfridges.

 

SHOP THE LG JONONE SPEAKER

Photography by Kylie Eyra

MYZONE Exercise Monitor | Product Review

The product I've been trialling for the last month is the MYZONE MZ-3. First question, what is MYZONE MZ-3? Well, it an accurate exercise tracker that helps you get the most out of your workouts. The MYZONE belt fits comfortably around your chest with the small tracker device around the sternum area. The idea is to wear the belt whenever you do any fitness activity and the belt will track your heart rate during the workout, you can then view live stats or analyse via the MYZONE app after your workout.

Like many of my friends I wanted to get super fit this year and motivation is the key to everything which is why I've trialled the MYZONE tracker to assist with that side of things. Getting started is simple. First, of course you'll need to purchase one of the trackers which are £129.99 from their online store. Sorry I should have said the MZ-3 is £129.99 however they also have lots of other trackers such as a watch, or fitness clothing which the tracker attaches to varying in price. Next, get the MYZONE app downloaded to your smart phone which is available on Apple & Android. Register your belt via the app. Put on you MYZONE MZ-3, then enable bluetooth on your smart phone. Simply workout and enjoy the live stream or if you want to leave your phone at home or in a locker whilst you workout, the MYZONE belt will upload the data that it has stored from your workout to the MYZONE app the next time it is in close proximity to your phone and bluetooth is on.

The MZ-3 belt is an innovative monitoring system that reads your heart rate, calories burned and overall effort accurately in real-time. Take your exercise to a new level by ensuring that your heart rate is always exactly where it needs to be. Register your belt online to participate in challenges, track your progress and see your efforts rewarded. 

There are two main things that I personally do for fitness and that is a) the gym to work on muscle mass and b) British Military Fitness to work on core and cardiovascular. I've worn the MYZONE belt to the gym, however I personally just do weights at the gym, in that scenario the stats were not that useful because my heart rate stayed pretty low. 

British Military Fitness is a group HIIT outdoors fitness camp run by ex-military professionals. I do this between 3-5 times per week and some days I really put everything I have into it but other days I kind of hide at the back of the class, not really working to my maximum. I wanted to use the MYZONE belt to track 'actually' how hard I am working and if there is room to push myself further. Below is a typical session that I have recorded:

British Military Fitness HIIT Training - Clapham Common

British Military Fitness HIIT Training - Clapham Common

The class run from 09:30 - 10:30 with a warm-up, water break sometime in the middle and a cool-down. The red bars indicate that you are working above 90% of you maximum heart rate (mine is set to 182 beats per minute) and the MYZONE belt sets this for you based on a number of statistics. The yellow is above 80% and the green above 70%. 

Overall I can tell that I'm actually working to my maximum in patches, which is nice to see...I'm not taking it as easy as I thought I was. Obviously there are peaks and troths but that is normal when doing HIIT or circuit training over an hour. 

What I found the most motivating when using the MYZONE tracker is earning MEPS (MYZONE Exercise Points) and trying to reach the daily, weekly & monthly targets as well as topping the charts against all of your peers. Go ahead and give it a try yourself.

 

LEARN MORE HERE

What to Buy Him for Valentines Day

I posted earlier today on what to buy HER for valentines day and now here is a post to help  the girls with what to buy us guys. If you are struggling with inspiration for what to buy the guy in your life for valentines day luckily for you, I have done all of the hard work for you. If your boyfriend likes to be wearing the latest fashion trends, is a gym or sports fanatic or is a gent who looks after himself through grooming products and scents, I have it all and nicely categorised for you below. 

 

STYLE

GROOMING

AFTERSHAVES

WATCHES

TECH

SPORTS/GYM

Don’t Give up on Your New Year’s Resolutions

The title of this blog post says it all really. How many of us have already turned our backs on our water tight New Years resolutions, of course we were all going to 100% do them this year...right?! Well statistics suggest that around 30% of us will make some form of healthy eating, fitness type New Year's resolution and out of that number around 50% will admit to have failed at them. Well this year, the only resolution I made was to stay fit and healthy and I wanted to get back to my peak fitness of 2015 because 2016 was a year full of pints, pizza, burgers and that had to change. 

It is imperative in order to hit these new year's goals you'll need to stay focused and motivated. That could come in many different ways and is totally personal to yourself and your own lifestyle. However for me, I have made a few small but important changes to my daily routine which ensures that I do NOT give up on my fitness goals and become just another statistic.

Firstly it's the old adage 'look good, feel good' and I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. So recently I have upgraded my gym & fitness wardrobe with some athleisure gear from Debenhams. Fashion and fitness are totally linked. You are more likely to go out if you have just brought a new shirt and need to road-test it in your local bar. The same applies for what you wear to the gym. If you buy some new athleisure clothing, you'll look great and you'll just have to show it off at the gym, otherwise it will be a waste of money and there is your motivation or incentive. 

I personally shop at Debenhams for my athleisure because they have such an extensive range for men and women. It makes it so much easier shopping online at Debenhams because they have all my favourite athleisure brands such as Under Armour, redherring, Gola and Regatta to name a few, all under the Debenhams online store and with only one delivery I have everything I need, including gym accessories and tech (which I'll get on to shortly).

Another thing that I'm improving on this year is to drink the recommended daily intake of water. Did you know that our body is made up of two thirds water, so it is really important to stay hydrated. Drinking the correct amount of water everyday will make you feel more alert, have less headaches and of course help combat dry dehydrated skin and I have personally seen a small difference with my dark circles around my eyes becoming a little lighter. A MAJOR factor in drinking enough water was this Joseph Joseph water bottle, which counts your water intake with a simple counting mechanism in it's cap. It may seem simple, but it is so easy to lose track on how much you have drunk, a glass here and there may not be enough.

As a tech and statistical addict, I need to know exactly how hard I'm pushing my body - so I can tailor my workouts based on these stats. Like I said before Debenhams have it all and I managed to get a new FitBit Blaze with my athleisure gear and water bottle. There are a few main attributes of the FitBit that I absolutely love. Firstly the design and the lightness of the watch is perfect, it is completely comfortable when exercising either in the gym, doing outdoor fitness or playing sports and for only £160 it is great value for money. Measuring the number of steps you make everyday is quite motivating because after using the watch for a week, I have wanted to beat yesterdays number of steps, so it keeps you active even when in the office or at home. When working out, I love to track my heart rate to see how hard I'm working then analyse the stats post workout to see if I could have worked harder for longer, increasing my fitness results. Finally I sleep with the FitBit on because it will remind you when to go to bed, based on when you want to wake up and your sleep needs. The FitBit will vibrate softly waking you up at the most optimal time based on your alarm and record the sleep statistics in the FitBit app.

Finally it may seem simple but I make sure I pack my gym bag every night ready to wake up and go. No faffing, no procrastination...just a get it done attitude!

It would be great to hear your motivation techniques and share them with me. Let's make sure we hit our new year's resolutions together and motivate each other.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Photography by Rebecca Spencer

Wireless Headphone Review | Beoplay H8

The first time I saw Beoplay headphones was at a Mr Porter party a couple of weeks ago, the handphone design was incredibly eye-catching and I knew I had to have a pair. Well I'm now the happy owner of a pair of deep red Beoplay H8's. But firstly who are Beoplay or B&O Play? Well B&O Play is the brain-child of luxury brand Bang & Olufsen, which is where the B&O comes into play. Beoplay according to the website, delivers stand-alone products that are intuitive to use, easy to integrate into your daily life and delivery excellent high-quality experiences. 

Beoplay have a variety of different sets of headphones such as earphones for discrete everyday use, on the ear headphones (the H8's) and the new over the ear headphones (the H9's). The on-the-ear H8's as featured here fit perfect on your head without feeling too overwhelming. 

The Beoplay H8 headphones feature active noise cancellation which I can vouch for as exceptional by performing a few simple tests. Firstly when wearing the headphones and typing this blog, I can not hear the keys tapping away, I also missed a couple of deliveries due to not hearing the bell as well as a coffee that my flatmate offered me. The headphones are wireless via Bluetooth technology, however if you would prefer to use them via an audio cable you can. Another great feature of the headphones is their gesture control. Simply by performing touch movements you will be able to do specific actions such as swipe left or right (you know like tinder!) to skip or replay tracks. Click below to watch the short videos explaining all gestures.

The sound, as you would expect from Bang & Olufsen is incredible, the treble is crisp and clear whilst the base deep. Connecting to devices using Bluetooth doesn't mean that the quality of the sound deteriorates as the Beoplay H8's use Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX codec giving uncompromising sound, even if you are listening to music or on the phone. But other than an incredible sound, headphones have to look great and feel comfortable and the Beoplay H8's are the most comfortable headphones I have ever owned due to quality materials being used. The ear padding is made from memory foam and lambskin for a super soft feel that moulds perfectly on the ear. The luxurious design is finished in carefully selected cows leather as well as sun-polished and anodised aluminium detail on the ear component.

Beoplay H8 headphones are availlable for £399 directly via their webbite or via a vareity of high-end product retail stores such as selfridges or online at Mr Porter. For a full list of stockists, click here.

Technical Specifications

 

SHOP BEOPLAY H8 HEADPHONES

Photography by Oli Greaves

FUTURE TECH IN FASHION

It was back in 2014 when I laughed at the wearable technology designs The Apprentice candidates came up with. I mean, an iPhone charger hidden in the lining of your jacket for portable charging without carrying around a big battery pack...well actually that is quite handy to be honest. I guess it was the big bold solar panels they stuck on to the shoulders that put me off - but they actually had a point and with the wearable textile industry moving forward at an alarming rate, tech and fashion are going to be the next big hit on the global catwalks.

What do you envisage of when thinking about 'wearable technology'? Star wars drones or maybe a centurion style jet pack? 

Technology power houses such as Apple have already given us a glimpse into wearable technology with the Apple iWatch or Apple iGlass but this craze go miles beyond this. I mean your socks are not going to be able complete your tax self assessment, however they may be able to increase or decrease their temperature depending on the temperature of your toes! 

Here are a few future tech sci-fi projects ready to change fashion.

1. Mood responsive clothing. Seriously, this actually exists - clothing that becomes transparent as the heartbeat rises. 

2. Auto-lacing trainers. Nike have just announced the HyperAdapt 1.0 which is their first auto-lacing sneaker/trainer.

3. Wearable Solar Power. Probably not going to be able to charge your whole house via your jacket, although re-charging your mobile phone and electric devices will be possible.

4. Trackable clothing. I don't lend my clothes out much but my ex-girlfriend did and she ended up losing track of who she lent what to. Well with the TrackR devices and TrackR app, tracking your clothing in now possible.

5. Eye tracking technology. Designer Ying Gao has created these designs that move when someone is looking at them using tiny motors to move the fabric textile.

Learn more about future tech, virtual reality and join me at this event:

Vitamin Clinic is an immersive installation exploring the increasingly complex relationship between our physical and digital worlds.

A series of artworks, sculptures and experiences curated to challenge the way we see our parallel lives and prepare us for a world of augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and living services.

Vitamin Clinic is being hosted by Vitamin London - a progressive digital studio obsessed with getting real world results from digital actions.

TECH MEETS FASHION AT THE DANDY LAB

For years I have heard the media and brands themselves suggest that clothing retail is moving more and more online for the convenience of the customer and partially due to rising rents in the capital. In some respects this is true, however it has also opened up an opportunity to redefine retail and how we shop. It has allowed creativity to enter the market and to find new exciting ways to make shopping an experience not just a chore. Luckily for myself and all other men out there The Dandy Lab has done just that.

The Dandy Lab, as the name suggests not only combines technology and fashion but also brings out the social side of shopping. It also gives the smaller British brands a retail space to showcase their products.

When visiting the 'Lab' the interior design is white minimalistic with a variety of vibrant coloured products. Being a geek myself, I was interested in how they have integrated technology to enhance the retail experience. Two of the technological practices that were very impressive were the 'learning' and the 'styling' areas. The Dandy Lab stocks UK brands and would like you to know everything about the products before purchasing, so each product has its own swing-tag that you can scan.  This then brings up information on the product and the brand prior to purchasing. Then there is the 'Styling' section. Say you are wearing a green jumper and would like a jacket to wear with the green jumper but are unsure what colour or style of jacket would work well. You can scan in your green jumper and the system will use its complicated algorithm to pick colours and products that you can wear with your green jumper. 

Co-founder, Peter Jeun Ho Tsang said, “The shop is packed with innovation, but it also caters for those who like quality products, value British design and want more from their shopping experience. It’s great to bring this all together under one roof.”

The Dandy Lab is a new lifestyle concept store enhanced by technology launched in Spitalfields, London this summer championing British Craftsmanship and personalised shopping. The men’s emporium marks a “UK first” in British retailing by fusing fashion, lifestyle and technology to create a one-off retail destination. You can visit them at 73 Brushfield St, Old Spitalfields Market, London, E1 6AA.