Spend Money, Technology

Being a tech addict in a budget conscious world can be tough. Every online tech based publication I check out contains information on the latest (and often most expensive) tech. Which for the most part is fine for a bit of self-indulgence. However, when it came to me needing a budget webcam I struggled to find any information on one under the £100 mark.



Which is why today I want to talk to you about the Logitech C270 webcam. Available on your local high-street this webcam is the perfect introductory item.

Design

Unlike a laptop where the webcam is built in, webcams like this one will sit on top of your monitor. There therefore needs to be a way of keeping it there. In this case the Logitech C270 provides a hinged clip at the back of the webcam that allows you to fit the camera to the top of your monitor very easily and adjust it quickly should this be required. 

The small camera lens is located on the left hand side of the webcam with the microphone to the right. A small green LED light lets you know when the webcam is in opporation. Overall it’s functionality over design with this webcam. Which is to be expected and often what you find with most budget tech products so that’s fine by me.

Features

The Logitech C270 webcam includes a minimal number of features. In this case however the features this budget webcam came with were more than enough for what I’d be using it for. Here’s a small outline of the features included;

In-call HD video quality, at a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels.

HD video recording, at resolutions of up to 720p.

Photos are available with a maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, in a 4:3 format.

Pan, tilt and zoom controls, face tracking and motion detection are also available if you install the Logitech webcam software from the Logitech website.

Performance

I have four other cameras to compare this Logitech C270 webcam to. My Canon G7X Mark II that retails at more than £500 is of course better. The embedded webcam in my Macbook Pro which retails at almost £1,000 is unsurprisingly better. An finally both the forward facing and rear facing camera on my iPhone 7 plus that retails at almost £800 is too, better.

An what I have said before and I’ll say again is that this is a £20 (or less) piece of kit. Sure it’s HD but is the depth of image there – No. Is there a crisp to the image – No. In fact it looks like I’m filming on my phone from 2010. .


In conclusion, if you’re looking for a budget webcam for Skype or to put a face to a name on your live streams then the Logitech C270 ticks all the boxes you could need and some. I don’t regret buying it and I’d recommend it to the vast majority of my friends in a heartbeat.

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Spend Money, Toys

The hatchimal craze of 2016 is still something that sends shivers down my spine – and I’m not a parent. However, this year there’s a new kid in town (literally) the Luvabella doll is one of the toys that’s tipped to be the toy of 2017.

With pre-orders already in high demand, every mum, everywhere seems to have only one question… Where can I buy a Luvabella Doll?


ArgosArgos are currently taking no pre-orders for the doll. However, they are expected to have a limited number go on sale on the 1st October.


The EntertainerThe Entertainer have already had a limited release of the Luvabella doll. Unsurprisingly they sold out very quickly. However, they are promising to have more available prior to Christmas – we just don’t know exactly when.


Smyths – Smyths have already had a limited run available in-store and online. However, much like The Entertainer these sold out quickly. The good news however is that they are due to have some more in stock between the 22nd – 29th September (it’s just a shame they can’t be more specific, so be sure to keep checking back)


Toys R UsToys R Us are selling the Luvabella dolls at £10 more than RRP. They currently have none available and don’t have any details as to when they maybe available to pre-order or purchase.


AmazonAs Amazon is both a marketplace and a retail store. . However, that’s not to say things wont change between now and mid-October. 


eBayIf you become really desperate for a Luvabella doll then you can always turn to eBay. Although you’ll probably paying double the RRP you are guaranteed to get one. In fact at the time of writing there’s already 300+ listings for one available in the UK alone.


Interested as to what this doll worthy of £100 of your cold hard cash can do, then check out the video below from this years London Toy Fair.



Whether you want one or don’t, one thing is for sure. These things are very hard to come by. So if you’re child really wants one, and you’re happy to buy them one then get your pre-orders in now to avoid disappointment.

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Spend Money, Technology

After recently taking my passion for gaming to the next level and buying my first PC in over a decade (a dedicated gaming PC I might add). I decided to go to the next level and invest in my live streaming equipment.

Up until now I’d been using my iPhone headphones as a microphone when doing voice overs and live streams. However, with both Helen and I looking to stream our gaming that wasn’t going to be practical in the long term.





I knew when purchasing a microphone there was just one brand I wanted to buy from. Blue. They are known as the best in the business (which is probably why their equipment seems to hold such fantastic value). . I knew I needed to do some serious research.

In the end I decided to go with the mid-range (can you call it that?) Blue Snowball iCE microphone. This microphone was first released in 2011! and at the pace in which technology moves the only question I seemed to keep asking myself is – ‘How is a piece of tech six years old still worth buying?’


Design

I mentioned before about my love of Apple computers and the thing that seemed to drive a naive 14 year old to her first Macbook has to be it’s elegant design.  I went on to learn just how important that was to the CEO of the company at the time and one of my idols, Steve Jobs. Many of the Blue microphone products seem to emulate this and the Blue Snowball iCE is no different.


Available in just black or white it’s simple design with zero buttons makes it the perfect addition to any desk in any office. However, one thing we’ve not had to do (which you’ll often find in tech products) is sacrifice practicality for this design. In fact, the Blue Snowball iCE hits the perfect point on both. 


Features

Again let me refer back to Apple products for a second. Apple seemed to revolutionise the tablet and smartphone market due to it’s simplistic design and operating system. Now I mentioned in design how simple the design was and now let me mention about the simple and yet complex features. Sure there’s no buttons but there’s also no installation disc. No disc drivers to install. NO FUSS!


I bought my 60-year-old mum her first iPad because I knew it was so simple she’d be able to use it. Without calling me every 5 minutes because she didn’t know how to get back to the homepage… or something along those lines anyway. Just like I know that the installation and functionality of this microphone is so simple she could use this too.

Performance

For the most part the performance of the Blue Snowball iCE is everything I (and many other streamers and pod caster’s) need and more. However, let’s be clear. The Blue Snowball iCE is only a monophonic microphone. An while it’s been suitable for myself and Helen streaming in a small bedroom. It probably shouldn’t be your first choice if your primary use for this microphone is capturing the likes of multi-person interviews.


In conclusion, you’re simply not going to be able to find a better looking, better quality microphone for your money. . So if that doesn’t prove that this is a piece of technology worth investing in – then I’m not sure what will.

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Save Money, Transport, Travel, Travel

Since the withdrawal of the Tesco Clubcard points boost a couple of years ago I’ve been left stranded as to what to do with my mountain of points.

I’ve over £200 worth at the time of writing and with many due to expire in the coming months I’m working out where and when to spend my points to ensure maximum value. 

Unlike dining out, one thing Helen and I do a lot is travel. Whether it be in the UK or abroad we’re always heading somewhere. Which is why I was so excited to find that Tesco Clubcard has given customers the ability to convert vouchers into credit for the UK’s leading inter-city budget coach service, Megabus.



Exchanging your Tesco Clubcard points for credit to spend on Megabus isn’t the best value for money. In fact, they’ll only double you’re money. Alternatively, some restaurants will offer up to four times the voucher in credit.

However, we we’re looking to take this journey regardless and Megabus was already the cheapest option. So, in this scenario we figured – why not…


Already in the process of booking our trip. I was really pleased to get our voucher delivered to our email instantly allowing us to continue booking our trip.

The vouchers are rounded. So while our booking came to £5.40 I could only use £2.50 to convert into a voucher for £5.00. Which did mean we had to pay £0.40. Sure, it’s not a huge deal but it’s certainly worth knowing.

Entering the code that Tesco emailed me couldn’t be made easier thanks to a dedicated button for Tesco Clubcard Token on the payment processing page on Megabus.com
 



All you have to do is enter a couple of details (I assume this is for security) and the voucher will be dedicated from your total amount. 


In conclusion, while this isn’t the best value for Tesco Clubcard points. It is a fantastic way to cut the costs of you’re domestic travel across the UK.

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Transport, Travel

We recently came back from our digital nomad adventure, we were flying from Hamburg to Manchester with Ryanair. Though we had flown with Ryanair multiple times previously we had never really experienced a journey quite like it.




Baggage

The baggage restrictions within Ryanair are what can be expected from most European budget airlines with a maximum size of; 55cm x 40cm x 20cm for a cabin bag. This for us was no issue as we had packed light and managed to fit our belongings into a 20l backpack. 


Learn more about the best hand luggage and how to pack into hand luggage
.

Booking & Check – In

As expected while going through the booking process there can be many hoops to jump through, insurance? no thank you, priority boarding? no thank you and so you get the picture. 

We checked in online through the website and had more hoops to jump through which was starting to get ridiculous. Generally, budget airlines have all these added things to make the money but I found this frustrating. 

While we have been lucky in the past and always ended up sat together without paying, this time was different. We had to pay a minimum of £2 each to sit together, while this may not be much it is frustrating. We didn’t pay and ended up sat 3 rows apart, while on the aircraft I noticed that we weren’t the only pairing sat apart. Many families including those with young children were sat away from their parents or family members. 



While we didn’t have children and don’t mind sitting apart for short flights it has become an increasing worry that children and family members are being sat away from each other. For me, there seems no logic on splitting up bookings whether children are involved or not. Many now believe this is a further push to create extra funds for the company and so people are shopping elsewhere for their flights.

 

The Flight

The flight was on-time, in fact, we managed to land into Manchester early. The drinks service was basic, but on a short haul flight, I’m never overly fussed by this. 

While there was no food service on the flight they do offer up a trolley of snacks but as the prices can be £1 for a chocolate bar and £2 for a bottle of coke we generally take our own on board.



The entire flight is an economy flight, the interior is as can be expected. Clean, relatively comfortable, but very, very basic. The leg room was tight and that is coming from someone who is quite short, I wouldn’t have wanted to be any taller or bigger as I would find it an uncomfortable flight.


Unfortunatly, despite all of this we would still fly Ryanair again. However, I’ll continue to refuse to pay for sitting together or any of the additional features they try and charge us for.

As always I would love to know what you think, have you flown Ryanair and experienced the same problem or have you always paid for your seats together. Let me know in the comments below what you think of Ryanair.

We recommend searching and booking for your budget flight with Ryanair for free with the travel fare aggregator website SkyScanner. This will allow you to find the cheapest dates for your destination.

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Advice, Life, Travel

Today is the day we’re supposed to be sat on a Thomas Cook plane heading over the Atlantic to perhaps our favourite place in the entire world – Orlando!


It all started back when we were in Prague on our digital nomad adventure when I was planning a short trip for the 5 of us to go to Centre Parcs for my birthday, only my dad said he would prefer to go back to America. Well, of course, you don’t have to tell me twice, that moment I was hooked on finding us all a family holiday back to the magical destination of Disney World in Orlando

We returned to the UK still with no trip booked due to certain requirements of so many rooms, more than 3-star accommodation and of course premium cabin for my parents. I had been searching for different companies and search engines to finally settle on a package holiday with Thomas Cook.  

They had a great price on flights and accommodation for the 5 of us. Eventually, after struggling to find premium cabin seats online we opted to head to the store to see what they could do for us.


We were greeted by a lovely lady and she worked hard to find us everything we required including 2 premium seats there and back, a room for everyone and park tickets. The holiday was booked that very weekend and so we were all set to go, the countdown could begin… four weeks to go!

With a homemade countdown calendar on the fridge that very day, we were all relieved it was done.

While at the store there were holding a raffle for a sequin 60th anniversary Minnie and Mickey we all entered and was super excited to find out a couple of weeks later that we’d won them. Could this be any more perfect?


Countdown to 7 days before we were due to fly and the news of Hurricane Irma is everywhere. Destroying homes and heading to Florida, unknowing to whether this would affect us we stayed positive and were kept updated by Thomas Cook.

The website was updated with fresh information and details on cancellations and amendments. The news came 3 days before we were due to fly, that flights and holidays were to be canceled including the day we were flying. 


I rang the helpline thinking I was going to be in an hour long queue but I got straight through to find out what was to happen to our holiday. The lady I spoke to took my details to get in touch with me to try and get us on a later flight or for the next day.

Within a couple of hours, she had got back to me with the unfortunate news that there were to be no more flights out for the rest of the month.

Of course I was dissapointed, but at the same time hurricane Irma hadn’t hit and was expecting to cause devastation how could I feel sorry for myself when so many families we’re going to be made homeless?

Later that day I got a phone call from the store we booked with just four weeks prior to hear from the lovely staff how sorry they were about the cancellation of the holiday and to process the refund. 

I wanted to write about our experience because it’s in situations like this that tour operators such as Thomas Cook seem only to get a bad reputation. However, in our case from start to finish we’ve had the pleasure of booking with them.

It may have been our first time booking with a tour operator in more than a decade, but it certainly wont be our last.

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Food, Food, Money, Save Money, Spend Money

Since the withdrawal of the Tesco Clubcard points boost a couple of years ago I’ve been left stranded as to what to do with my mountain of points. I’ve over £200 worth at the time of writing, and with many due to expire in the coming months I’m working out where and when to spend my points to ensure maximum value. Helen and I don’t eat out much when in the UK at least not in the restaurant sense.

However, with an exchange value of four times (that’s £5 Clubcard vouchers into £20 credit) for most restaurants available via the Clubcard programme it seemed like the most fitting way to spend at least a small amount of the points I have.

We chose to dine at Prezzo, an Italian chain that we’ve eaten at in the past. We changed £5 into £20 and received our electronic voucher by email almost instantly (huge bonus!).

The electronic voucher could be spent at anytime (at the time of writing, it’s always worth checking the terms and conditions before confirming your purchase) so we used it that very Saturday evening at our most local Prezzo, at the White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds.


As can be expected the voucher is not redeemable alongside any of the other promotional offers currently available at the restaurant. So we we’re left to choose from the traditional main menu.

Luckily, that left us with A LOT to choose from. Albeit I started to wish I’d changed a little more than £5 into £20 as I knew this wasn’t going to cover us.


I opted for the Tropicana pizza (yes I am one of those people that eats pineapple on a pizza). The thin hand rolled base was fantastic and the fact it was cooked in a traditional pizza oven in the front of the restaurant was a lovely added touch.


Helen opted for the traditional beef lasagna. Her detailed review consisted of the following quote “Despite not looking picture perfect (you can say that again!), it was actually really nice, well… Nicer than it looks at least. I’d have liked a little more meat – especially on one side where it seemed to just be lasagna sheets”.

While we both opted for soft drinks, although there was an extensive cocktail and alcoholic menu to suit all tastes. 


In total, our £20 voucher from £5 Tesco Clubcard vouchers brought our total cost down to £5.40. Sure I’d have loved to paid £25 in vouchers and just £0.40 but really, who can complain about a restaurant meal for two costing just £5.40? – Not me that’s for sure.

We’re really looking forward to finding out what other experiences we can ensure and share with you thanks to Tesco Clubcard. In the meantime, be sure to let us know how you spend your Tesco Clubcard vouchers in the comments below.

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Toys

Asda and Tesco recently had the most amazing toy sale. It allowed us to pick up some magical toys at magical prices and one of the first products Helen and I decided to investigate was these Disney Princess Ooshies.


We’d never previously heard of Ooshies although thanks to trusty Google I was able to find that they are available not just in the theme of Disney Princesses but also WWE Characters, DC, Marvel, TMNT and more! They’ve been available in Australia for some time now and have been so well received that the development of a play set is already in the making. 


We’re currently on series 1 of all Ooshie themes here in the UK (What a relief, there’s nothing worse than having to go back and try and find / collect them all) speaking of the collection there’s currently 40 characters to collect… Which considering the lifespan of the current series I think is respectable. 

I have to say what impresses me most about these collectable toys are their duel purpose. As Ooshies are in fact designed as pencil toppers. These little things provide an affordable and easy way of customising your writing equipment and encouraging the writing of younger children within the family.

In the terms of the quality of the product. I’m not overwhelmed and astounded nor am I disappointed – instead I’m somewhere in the middle depending on the price paid. Ooshies are currently available in , (three on show and one mystery) and .

As always I’d love to know what you think of the Disney Princess Ooshies. Will you be collecting them? Flipping them? or avoiding them? Let me know in the comments below.

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