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Father’s Day is just around the corner and so it’s time to start giving some thought to your 2019 Father’s Day gift!

Knowing what to buy as a Father’s Day gift can be difficult and stressful as the typical male response is that they have everything they need or are simply not fussed. This leaves little to be inspired by. To make things simple this year I have compiled a Father’s Day gift guide offering the best Father’s Day presents and gift ideas for 2019 covering everything from premium to cheap gifts. If you have already got a type of Father’s Day gift in mind you can jump straight to my recommendations on the page here:

When is Father’s Day 2019?

Father’s Day this year falls on Sunday 16th June 2019.

Father’s Day technology gifts

Dads love a good bit of technology even if they don’t understand it really know what’s cool these days. As we get older it’s important to stay in touch with technology as it evolves and so buying some tech for Father’s Day this year is the perfect way to keep him up to date.

Home/voice Assistants

Home assistants have been around for a number of years now however they still remain a relatively rare technology accessory across many UK homes. Buying a home assistant for your dad, grandfather or father-in-law this year is a great option to bring him right up to date.

The Amazon Echo is not a new entry on to the market however the guys over at Amazon have spent a lot of time growing the range and evolving the product. You can now opt for a few different options to suit your needs including the Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Show! If Alexa isn’t quite your thing then Google Home is a great alternative using natural language and linked to Google’s search product to provide answers to any burning questions!

Amazon Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo Dot is the smallest of Amazon’s home assistants. Unlike the Echo and Echo Plus the Echo Dot is a single 1.6″ speaker enabling you to add Echo to any room of the house at an affordable price.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is the original voice assistant from Amazon. Bringing Alexa and all of the capabilities of a voice assistant directly into the home via the 2.5″ woofer and 0.6″ tweeter you can play music, make calls, set alarms, ask questions, check your calendar, weather, traffic, control compatible smart home devices.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Amazon Echo Plus

The Amazon Echo Plus offers all of the same features of the Amazon Echo however it also has a built-in Zigbee hub to easily set up and control your compatible smart home devices. With a 3″ woofer and 0.8″ tweeter it also has larger speakers to provide an improved sound for streaming music along with offering an additional line-in.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Amazon Echo Spot

The Amazon Echo Spot is as small as the Echo Dot however it contains a 2.5″ screen to enhance the Echo experience with the additional benefit of video calling. Containing a single 1.4″ speaker the Echo Spot is small enough to be located in a bedroom or on a desk.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Amazon Echo Show

The Amazon Echo Show is the flagship assistant from Amazon offering premium audio via dual 2″ drivers with a passive bass radiator and a 10.1″ HD screen optimised for visibility across the room. The Echo Show is a fantastic Father’s Day Gift that will transform the technology setup within any home.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Amazon Echo Input

The Amazon Echo Input is the perfect gift for someone who already owns a good set of speakers. Via either the 3.5mm jack or through pairing over bluetooth, the Amazon Echo Input can turn any speaker into an Alexa enabled device.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Google Home Mini

The Google Home Mini is the perfect gift for someone who is lacking both a voice assistant and space. With a small diameter the Google Home Mini only contains a single 40mm driver however it packs a punch and can seamlessly blend in to any environment whilst retaining all of the benefits of the Google Home device.

Click here to buy on Google.

Google Home

Google Home is a great addition to the house which won’t take up too much room. Although lacking the visual benefits associated of the Home Hub the Google Home device offers all of the same features and benefits at a fraction of the price whilst returning great quality sound via 2″ driver and dual 2″ passive speakers.

Click here to buy on Google.

Google Nest Hub

The Google Nest Hub is Google’s flagship product with built-in Google Assistant and Chromecast. Linked to all of your smart devices the Nest Hub can control all aspects of your home in addition to answering questions, reading the news, weather, your diary. and being able to display all of your favourite photos via the large 7″ touchscreen display.

Click here to buy on Google.

Google Home Max

The Google Home Max is all about sound. With dual 4.5″ woofers and dual 0.7″ tweeters the Home Max offers a deep bass and great top end sound quality. Connected via AUX, Wi-fi or Bluetooth the Google Home Max makes a great gift that can suit any room.

Click here to buy on Google.

Google Chromecast Ultra

The Google Chromecast Ultra is the perfect gift for someone who wants to stream content to your TV in up to 4K Ultra HD and HDR. Simply plugged into your TV’s HDMI port the Chromecast Ultra is the perfect accessory to compliment an iPhone, iPaid, Android device or laptop.

Click here to buy on Google.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote

The Amazon Fire TV Stick enables you to stream content in 4K Ultra HD quality. Using the Alexa Voice Remote you are able to launch and stream thousands of channels and apps linked to the Fire TV Stick using just your voice.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Earbuds and Headphones

Father’s Day is the perfect time to buy an audio gift and bring that special person right up to date with the latest in audio technology. Whether it be a new set of earbuds or headphones an audio gift will always be well received.

A great set of earbuds should be a staple piece of technology within any man’s bag allowing for quick and easy listening whilst on the go. This year why not give them a well received technology upgrade for Father’s Day.

Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging

My top earbuds pick for 2019 are the Apple AirPods with wireless charging capabilities. Offering all of the design benefits associated with Apple these earbuds are a must have accessory for any iPhone owner.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

ENACFIRE E18 Wireless Earbuds

With over 1500 positive reviews on Amazon the ENACFIRE E18 wireless earbuds are a solid choice this Father’s Day. With bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, 15 hours of playback time and 3D stereo sound the ENACFIRE E18 earbuds will make the perfect gift. 

Click here to buy on Amazon.

When it comes to wireless earbuds there are a seemingly endless number of options available! Just be sure not to buy too cheap else you will compromise on both components and sound quality.

There should be little compromise when it comes to sound quality so if you are buying this year for someone who is into their music, a new set of headphones will make the perfect gift for Father’s Day.

Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones

The Beats Solo3 are wireless on-ear headphones which pack a serious punch of high quality sound with up to 40 hours playback. If you want to buy something this year that combines great style with top end performance from Apple’s W1 chip the Beats Solo3 are the perfect choice.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Sennheiser HD 598SR Over-Ear Headphones

You really can’t go wrong with headphones if you are buying Sennheiser who year after year offer the best in sound quality. The Sennheiser HD 598SR Over-Ear Headphones are top rated headphones that are not only a safe choice for Father’s Day but a choice that will vastly enhance that special person’s audio experience.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

My top recommendations for buying the best in sound quality here is to stick to the major brands. Generally speaking you’ll struggle to go wrong with headphones from the likes of Bose and Sennheiser.

Wireless/Bluetooth speakers

Wireless and portable speakers using bluetooth technology are a great gift for Father’s Day as they can be put in a bag and moved from one room to another or taken out of the house to bring the quality of music with you. Wireless speakers will require a power source but offer wireless capabilities whereas bluetooth speakers are a great choice if you looking to buy for someone who will take their speaker out of the house with them.

Sony SRS-XB10 Compact Portable Wireless Speaker

The Sony SRS-XB10 is a fantastic purchase for Father’s Day if you are looking for something portable, compact, modern and affordable. Connected via bluetooth the passive radiator speaker gives a deep bass sound, provides 16 hours of playback, is water resistant and can be paired with a second speaker for stereo sound.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

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It’s been quite the month at Life of Man headquarters when it comes to embracing new technology and upgrading old kit. At the start of April there was an embrace of voice assistants with the purchase of a Google Home Mini and then only 2 weeks ago I finally upgraded to the iPhone XS following my iPhone 6s packing up. Well they do say that things tend to come in three’s and so to create the technology hat-trick, this week I also decided to upgrade my old laptop for Apple’s flagship machine, the MacBook Pro.

Having been a user of Windows based computers all of my life the temptation to continue with what I have always known was quite strong. I have used Windows based computers since I was 10 years old, use it in my everyday life at work and it remains the most used operating system globally. In recent years however I have grown increasingly fond of Apple based products especially having owned an iPhone for many years now along with an iPad mini. I haven’t ever owned an Apple computer however so with my HP PC packing up recently I felt it was finally time to fully adopt an Apple way of life and purchase the MacBook Pro.

Apple MacBook Pro 15 inch 2018 MacBook Pro Specification
  • 2.6GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz
  • macOS Mojave
  • Retina display with True Tone
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
  • 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory
  • 512GB SSD storage
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Backlit Keyboard – British
Processor, Memory, Graphics and Storage

Within the beautifully designed casing the MacBook Pro is filled with the latest technology. It runs on a 2.6GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor coupled with 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM and Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 graphics memory. This offers superb performance for even the most demanding of applications.

Although limited to the basic specification through major retailers, by shopping direct with Apple you are able to increase the specification to a 2.9GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i9 processor and even Turbo Boost this up to 4.8GHz.

Similarly the memory can be upgraded from 16GB to 32GB 2400MHz DDR4 and the graphics card upgraded to either the Radeon Pro Vega 16 or the Radeon Pro Vega 20, both with 4GB of HBM2 memory.

Paying for either of these 2 upgrades is going to bring you a serious amount of additional performance which let’s face it, for the every day Mac user will be a lot of extra money for performance which is simply overkill. They’re only really needed for the most demanding of Mac users/developers.

Out of the box the 15 inch MacBook Pro offers 512GB of integrated SSD storage which if like me you also use a combination of iCloud and Google Drive storage is going to be plenty. If you aren’t wishing to host your documents in the cloud however Apple offers you the opportunity to upgrade this storage to either 1TB, 2TB or 4TB. The latter option will set you back an eye watering £2,520 however so unless you have more money than sense and desperately need an integrated storage solution I would recommend buying an external hard drive for a fraction of the price!

Retina display

The majority of Apple’s products now integrate their impressive Retina Display and the MacBook Pro is as you would expect, no exception to this.

The 15.4-inch display is backlit with LEDs and IPS technology offering both a high resolution image with low power consumption and a lack of heat generation. The screen runs at 2880×1800 native resolution with 220 pixels per inch and millions of colours along with 500 nits brightness providing a full HD experience.

Supported scaled resolutions:

  • 1920×1200
  • 1680×1050
  • 1280×800
  • 1024×640

What you get from the display are incredibly sharp images – your photography skills permitting(!) – coupled with vibrant images.

Apple has also integrated their True Tone technology. The is a smart feature which adapts the screen to different environments giving you a consistent experience. It’s a great way of avoiding the screen being too bright one minute and too dull the next however in my early experience it can affect your enjoyment of the device if you are wanting all your colours to constantly be at their most vibrant.

Touch Bar

One of the biggest innovations with the MacBook Pro is the new ”Touch Bar”. This sits along the top of the keyboard in place of where the F1-F12 keys would traditionally be located.

Apple MacBook Pro Touch Bar

The Touch Bar is basically a touch screen display which is the full width of the keyboard. What’s clever about it however is that what is displays adapts to your current application with the aim of speeding up tasks.

Apple MacBook Pro Touch Bar showing Safari Tabs

For example, if you are using Safari your Touch Bar might display your active tabs, favourite sites, forward and back button, a search bar or home button.

It is in fact configurable so you can choose what you want it to display. There are admittedly some features here which you would simply never use like predictive text whilst typing but for the most part being able to do tasks from the Touch Bar with the need for the Trackpad is super handy.

In addition to the Touch Bar screen, on the far right of it is an integrated Touch ID sensor. This is the same technology that is used across the latest iPhones which allow you to use your fingerprint to sign into the MacBook, login to websites and undertake other security tasks linked to your keychain which is really handy.

Thunderbolt 3 (USB‑C) ports

The MacBook Pro has fully embraced the latest technology which although arguably the right thing to do for the latest device will leave many people angry at the lack of backwards capability. Apple have removed all ‘standard’ ports from the edges of the MacBook and replaced them with just 4x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and 1x 3.5mm headphone jack.

The new USB-3 ports can all be used for:

  • Charging
  • DisplayPort
  • Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)

So this means you no longer have a standard USB input, SD card input, HDMI input or any other your other favourite connections. Apple have of course thought about this and so you are able to buy adaptors for all of the major input components. These do of course come at a price so if you require old connectivity be prepared to spend a little more than the base price to get everything working as you need it to.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard on the MacBook Pro is fully lit with controllable brightness settings. This affects both the 65 keys and also the Touch Bar which is also used to control the backlighting.

The “Force Touch” trackpad has been included on the MacBook Pro to allow for both precise control of the cursor and pressure-sensing capabilities for advanced use. This enables what Apple class as “Force” clicks, accelerators, pressure-sensitive drawing and Multi-Touch gestures.

Connectivity

The MacBook Pro has the standard connections available with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with the latter allowing for iPhone features such as AirDrop for other nearby Apple devices.

  • Wi‑Fi: 802.11ac Wi‑Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology
Video and Audio

The MacBook Pro contains a front-facing HD camera capable of producing 720p. This is an excellent level of quality for undertaking either video conferencing, recording for YouTube or jumping onto FaceTime with family and friends.

Via the Thunderbolt 3 ports the MacBook Pro allows you to not only have the 15 inch display output in full resolution but run up to four additional displays via the following configurations:

  • Up to two displays with 5120×2880 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colours
  • Up to four displays with 4096×2304 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colours

Other video output capabilities include:

  • Native DisplayPort output over USB‑C
  • VGA, HDMI, DVI and Thunderbolt 2 output supported using adapters (sold separately)

As previously mentioned the MacBook Pro contains a 3.5mm headphone jack which will be a welcome addition to the majority of owners who value high quality audio and have their own headphones. In addition there are 3 microphones present to capture audio input.

The audio output for a portable device is very strong offering stereo speakers with a high dynamic range. With music on there is of course the traditional to be expected tinniness associated with small speakers at the top end however the MacBook Pro can produce a level of bass which personally I found quite unexpected.

Battery and Power
  • Up to 10 hours wireless web
  • Up to 10 hours iTunes film playback
  • Up to 30 days of standby time
  • Built-in 83.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 87W USB‑C Power Adapter
Size and Weight

The 15 inch MacBook Pro comes in with the following dimensions and weight which may be major consideration for you if you are using the machine for commuting and moving around a lot. The 13 inch model may be a better option if you are looking for something smaller and lighter.

  • Height: 1.55 cm (0.61 inches)
  • Width: 34.93 cm (13.75 inches)
  • Depth: 24.07 cm (9.48 inches)
  • Weight: 1.83 kg (4.02 pounds)
MacBook Pro Unboxing – What’s in the box?

The MacBook Pro box contains the following 3 items:

  • 15 inch MacBook Pro
  • USB-C Charging Cable (2m)
  • 87W USB-C Power Adapter

The MacBook Pro is contained within the standard white Apple packaging which offers their now famous super sleek design.

The packaging is so tight that it can take a bit of work to get the lid off however once inside you are immediately met by the MacBook Pro.

There is a really useful tab on the edge of the MacBook Pro which will then allow you to lift the machine out of the box to reveal the contents underneath.

Under the MacBook Pro you will find a 2m long USB-C charging cable and an 87W USB-C Power Adapter.

Additionally you will find a quick start leaflet and the usual inclusion within an Apple product of 2 Apple stickers.

How much does the 2018 MacBook Pro cost?

The UK retail price of the 15 inch MacBook Pro varies depending on the specification that you go for however the one pictured here which I purchased set me back £2,699 at the time as I upgraded my choice to a 512gb hard drive.

MacBook Pro review

The MacBook Pro is the flagship product from Apple when it comes to laptops and owning one definitely feels like you have something special in your hands. From the design elements to the performance it offers everything that you could want from a machine however it is not without its limitations. The lack of ports is a real problem for me personally and the astronomical price when compared to a Windows OS based machine makes it difficult to part with the money.

If like me you are a fan of design, want to experience the benefits of cross device applications if you own more than one Apple product and need a machine that is not going to crash on you every 5 minutes it’s a great thing to own. I’m only a week into ownership however I absolutely love it and am already wondering how I’ve ever lived without a Mac in my life. 9/10, superb!

The post 15‑Inch 2018 MacBook Pro Review appeared first on Life of Man.

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In recent years I’ve become less inclined to upgrade my phone the minute my handset contract expires. Although technology with mobile phones has moved forward the incremental gains in features and performance have simply left me feeling like unless an upgrade is absolutely necessary i.e. I’ve smashed my phone to bits, I’ll just stick with what I have.

Now this isn’t because I’m out of touch with technology but more because the cost of the new devices in 2019 are often unfathomable and quite frankly I’d rather pay a lump sum off my mortgage.

Over the past 6 months however I reached an increasing point of frustration with my iPhone 6s. Although it had been my daily workhorse for several years the phone was growing slower by the day with the battery life only managing to stick it out for around 12 hours before hitting the 10% mark. We’ve all read the press about Apple slowing down older devices and aside from whether I agree with their reasons or not, the fact of the matter was that my 6s was no longer fit for purpose and I required an upgrade. Step up the iPhone XS, ordered from O2 on a 30 month contract.

iPhone XS

The iPhone XS is (at the time of writing this post) the flagship model from Apple and for that reason it doesn’t come cheap at c.£1200. With technology moving on year after year and as someone who only upgrades their phone every 3-4 years, for me it was only ever a consideration to buy the best technology on the market to maximise its ability to futureproof my life.

The price tag of the iPhone XS is of course not to be sniffed at especially when considering that its the same price as a MacBook which offers a far superior bundle of technology. However a phone in 2019 is an extra limb and considering the amount of active screen time, when breaking down the price vs hours used it is actually serious bargain.

iPhone XS unboxing

With the decision made to upgrade my phone I purchased the iPhone XS in silver with 256gb of storage and it arrived within 24 hours from O2.

As with all Apple products the packaging continues to be simple and sleek with all components tucked in with no wasted space. This is the same design that has been around for a decade and quite frankly why change perfection.

Within the box you are immediately met by the black mirror screen that is the iPhone. This is sat on top of the plug, usb charger and earbuds.

Within the documentation wallet you’ll find a quick start guide, SIM key and 2 Apple stickers.

iPhone XS Features

The iPhone XS combines the most powerful chip with the best Super Retina OLED display in any smartphone on the market today. Not only do you get lightning fast processing but you get the most accurate colour, HDR and blacks on a phone screen.

Super Retina display

The iPhone XS offers a 5.8″ OLED screen. This fills the surface of the phone with an edge to edge display with a resolution of 2436 x 1125 and 458 pixels per inch.

With a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio the blacks are incredibly deep. When coupled with the True Tone technology the 6 channel light sensor adjusts the screen to match the colour temperature of the scene leading to beautiful, vivid images.

iPhone XS camera

An innovative dual-camera system integrates the ISP, the Neural Engine and advanced algorithms to unlock new creative possibilities and help you capture incredible photos.

The iPhone XS boasts a new dual-camera system that offers full depth control via an aperture setting ranging from f1.4 to f16. This is an incredible range of depth which will leave the majority of people now leaving their DSLR camera at home to snap some quick shots straight from their phone. What’s more is that the photos allow for depth control editing post-shot straight from the photo editing screen.

Apple has integrated dual 12MP cameras into the rear of the XS leading to exceptional performance with a f/1.8 wide angle lens and a f/2.4 telephoto lens.

Stowe Gardens taken on iPhone XS rear camera iPhone XS rear camera in portrait mode with f/1.4 depth

Not only that but they have integrated a 7MP front facing camera with f/2.2 wide angle lens offering incredible selfie capabilities particularly when combined with portrait mode’s depth and lighting control.

iPhone XS front facing camera in portrait mode with f/1.2 depth

When in video mode the phone will shoot at 60fps and in full 4K with the rear facing camera and 60fps / 1080p HD video with the front facing camera.

A12 Bionic Chip

The A12 Bionic, with our next-generation Neural Engine, delivers incredible performance. It uses real-time machine learning to transform the way you experience photos, gaming, augmented reality and more.

The A12 Bionic Chip is the market leader in a smartphone allowing for exceptional performance.

CPU

The chip works with 2 performance cores which deals with heavy computational tasks. This is up to 2 times faster than the A11 Bionic chip. Additionally the CPU has 4 efficiency cores to deal with every day operations and tasks. This has up to 50% less power usage than the A11 chip demonstrating the huge technological leap made by Apple with the iPhone Xs.

GPU

The graphics processing within the XS are the best in any iPhone to date with a 4 core GPU offering 50% faster performance than the A11 Bionic chip.

Neural Engine

The neural engine is the machine learning technology in the iPhone XS with an 8 core architecture capable of processing an incredible 5 trillion operations per second. The core machine learning in the XS is an impressive 9 times faster than the previous A11 Bionic chip.

Latest iPhone XS prices from Amazon iPhone XS review

The iPhone XS is a real advancement in technology for Apple who in recent years have started to lag behind competitors and lose market share. The phone packs in a lot of technology and offers industry leading performance across the display, A12 chip and cameras. The Huawei P30 is a direct competitor to the XS however that phone falls short when considering the overall package being offered by each of the brands.

As an Apple convert from Android 5 years ago I can’t see myself leaving the brand anytime soon. My upgrade from the iPhone 6s has been a huge jump and despite the £1000 price tag, after 1 week living with the XS I have no regrets. The battery life is the best I’ve experienced in years, the screen is vibrant and the front and rear facing cameras offer superb photography capabilities that are leaders in the market.

So what’s the verdict? Superb 9/10! Order your iPhone XS today, you won’t have any regrets.

The post Apple iPhone XS Silver Review appeared first on Life of Man.

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When it comes to latest technology I’m usually one of the first to get interested and excited about getting my hands on it. This will typically result in either a quick embrace of the tech with a swift purchase or the realisation that being an early adopter will seriously hurt me in the pocket resulting in a delayed purchase until a major sales event like Black Friday.

When voice assistants first started emerging onto the market my interest simply didn’t spark. They weren’t something that I saw the benefit of. Where in my life was there a need to speak to a machine? As everyone else was embracing the likes of Siri and Alexa I sat back and waited for it all to blow over.

Entering into 2019 it finally dawned on me that voice assistants weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It was finally time to embrace one. Enter the Google Home Mini.

The Google Home Mini is a smaller version of the Google Home device. It offers the same functionality of it’s larger version, just with a smaller speaker. The compromise here is therefore having a device which is smaller and more able to blend into your home at the expense of sound quality. If like me you use other devices for your music needs, such as Sonos, the Google Home Mini may be a more affordable option for you.

What’s in the Google Home Mini box?

Since the arrival of Apple all those years ago their design of compact packaging has become the norm and the Google Home Mini is certainly no exception. The box is a small cube with all of Google Home Mini’s components tightly packed away.

Opening the box you are immediately met by the Google Home Mini’s speaker grille which is fabric weave.

Removing the pebble-like Google Home Mini from the box the remaining contents reveal themselves and there really isn’t much more to be seen. The box simply includes the Google Home Mini device, a power lead and 2 separate instruction cards.

Google Home Mini controls

The Google Home Mini is a simple device which contains only a power input and one switch on the side. This switch is a mute button which will enable you to immediately prevent the Google Home Mini from listening to your conversations.

The underside of the Google Home Mini has been made with a rubber base which enables a non-slip connection to whichever surface you place it on.

Finally there are 2 hidden “buttons” which exist on either side of the Google Home Mini. When switched on a simple tap on the left and right side of the device will increase/decrease the speaker volume and also enable you to complete a handful of other tasks.

OK, Google…

Once plugged in the Google Home Mini sits silently awaiting activation by your voice. Setting up the Google Home Mini is really straightforward and requires nothing more than downloading and firing up the Google Home app on iOS / Android etc. From here you select the option within the app to add a new device to your Google Home environment and select the Google Home Mini which will be found on your WiFi network. Finally the Google Home Mini will fire up and request that you say “OK, Google” and “Hey, Google” a couple of times. And that’s it, the Google Home Mini is configured and good to go.

With your voice identified the Google Home Mini awaits voice activation. Stating “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google” immediately brings the device to life with 4 lights appearing on the top of the device to indicate that it is listening.

So what can you do with the Google Home Mini?

From the Google Home app you can add a connection to some of your favourite services. For example if you have a Spotify account you can link it and ask the Google Home Mini to play you a song / album. If like me you control the heating in your home using Nest you can also link this and simply ask your new Google Home Mini device to set the temperature – “OK, Google… Set the temperature to 16.5 degrees”…

Although a fantastic feature, the Google Home Mini isn’t of course just about linking apps. It is a voice assistant which means you can ask it any question you want as if you were typing something into the Google search box in your browser. Where Google lead the way here is in their natural language processing and “conversational” queries. This means you don’t have to ask specific commands using a number of key trigger words like days of old. You can quite literally start a conversation. For example, “OK, Google… who is the current Prime Minister of the UK?” After the response is given, instead of asking a full question again you can simply extend your question conversationally e.g. “And who was before that?”

Final thoughts on the Google Home Mini

The Google Home Mini has only been in my life for a number of days and already I am finding it a great addition to the house. Whilst getting ready for work in the morning I can ask it to read me the latest news headlines from the BBC, let me know the weather where I live for the following morning and inform me of any delays to the train on my daily commute. As a new parent with both hands occupied holding my newborn baby it’s already proving immediately valuable as I can ask it to play me a nursery rhyme on demand.

So should you buy one? Absolutely! At a mere £49.99 it’s amazing value for something that is not only technologically advanced but actually useful to every day life. I’m already wondering how I ever lived without it. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a Google Home Mini today, you won’t regret it.

The post Google Home Mini Review appeared first on Life of Man.

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Whether you are a die-hard online shopper or you own a standalone website dedicated to retail sales, you are likely already aware of the important impact that technology has had upon our daily lives. Not only have the sales portals themselves expanded, but you can now find exactly what you are looking for in a matter of moments. This is beneficial to both buyers and sellers. Still, are you fully aware of what we can expect from technology in 2019? Let’s take a look at some of the latest wizardry to hit the markets as well as how it is expected to affect everything from POS (point of sale) systems to the online purchasing experience.

The Rise of Smart Systems: Putting the Purchasing Power in the Hands of the Client

Many experts will argue that the role of artificial intelligence (AI) is predicted to redefine our online experience as a whole. We are already among clever algorithms such as the ability for Google to autocomplete a certain query or for YouTube to recommend videos based off of our past viewing history. However, did you know that marketing campaigns will be more relevant due to the fact that they take into account previous purchases? In other words, you will only be presented with products and services that are of interest as opposed to those annoying generic PR campaigns.

This very same smart approach offers online retail professional a host of interesting tools to choose from. Customised storefront templates, multi-channel marketing capabilities and the possibility to display a product with the help of augmented reality (AR) are a few examples to watch out for. Still, what about those who are looking to set up an online business for the first time. Do these smart systems trickle down to the aspiring entrepreneur?

Where There is a Will There is a Way

One of the main hindrances that men faced in the past when attempting to start an online business was that they were unsure where to begin. Assuming that they already had a novel product that they wished to market, how can such a venture become a reality? Will you need to know a significant amount of coding? Where you you find advice and tutorials to guide you through the initial process? How can you avoid pitfalls along the way? Major e-commerce providers such as Shopify have addressed these and many other questions.

In other words, the excuse of “I don’t know enough” is no longer valid if you truly have a desire to enjoy an appreciable side hustle. Many of those who began as part-time retail marketers have turned this hobby into a full-time job. Whether you are hoping to earn extra money to buy a new car or you are planning for a family, the future is entirely in your hands. Be sure to follow this sector in the coming year, as there is no doubt that great things are in store.

The post Why Smart Tech is Set to Dominate the 2019 Online Retail Marketplace appeared first on Life of Man.

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So your mate’s finally decided to call it quits on his single life, and you’ve been chosen the best man. Quite an honour indeed, but with this time honoured tradition comes a world of responsibility. And with responsibility comes pressure. Not to scare off all future best men, but pressure makes people do things differently.

So what’s a best man to do?

For starters, do not leave anything to chance. It’s your mate’s wedding after all, and it has to be the best there ever was. To help all you excited best men out there, we’ve curated a list of things that will make you a stand-out best man. Do these things right, and you will be lauded for your planning skills and your mate will thank his stars for having you around. Read on and get enlightened.

The all-important stag do location

All self-respecting best men know this is the ‘make or break’ task for all pre-wedding activities. A stellar stag do makes for a superb wedding (more or less the unwritten marriage code). With so much riding on a  stag do, we cannot stress enough about planning well ahead.

Like most stag do’s of late, there’s quite a chance you’d want to head off to an exotic location with the lads and give the stag a single life send off like no other. However if you are planning to go out somewhere more local then figuring out the best UK stag do location can be one of the hardest tasks to tackle.

Best way to deal with this situation of whether to stay nearer to home or head abroad is by taking a vote. Ask the lads to name a place where they’d like to go. The place with most votes wins. This way you ensure its a fair decision, and there are no grumpy faces.

Deciding upon the stag do location is going to be the first and the most important stage of your stag do planning. All your bookings and stag do activities will depend on your selection of the destination. So if you are late in deciding, you will delay all other processes as well.

So what all can go wrong if you leave everything to the last minute?

Expensive travel and reservations

Yes, we’ve been through last minute flight or hotel bookings, and as I’m sure you’re all too familiar with, it costs a bomb. So unless you have a lot of extra cash lying around, it is always advisable to book at least two weeks in advance.

Since the stag do will have people with different budgets, it’s wise to have at least two options picked out. Create a stag do chat group on WhatsApp where you can update the lads about your selection and take feedback for any changes.

Coordinating nightmares

For large groups, coordinating the stag do can be a real challenge. This can be taken care of easily by handing out itineraries to all. Have all the details clearly listed with contact numbers and other important information available for all the group members.   

This will come handy especially during pub crawls when some lads decide to wander off from the planned route. If travelling to a foreign location, it is great to have some useful words or phrases in the local language included in the stag do details.

Right activities for the right stag do

Strippers and booze have a stag do staple and have been overdone. A little research about the activities on offer at your selected location will hold you in good stead with the lads. After all you are not organising a destination stag do to get wasted in a boozer.

Get the boys talking about the kind of things they’d be interested in. If your group is the adventurous kind, you can choose to go skydiving or cliff jumping. For the more sophisticated stag do’s, a whisky tasting masterclass or a night at the races can be a great option. Choices are endless hence some planning will ensure everyone has a great time.

Beer kitty blunders

Stag do’s are all about beer and good times. So make sure a pre-decided beer kitty is agreed upon. Your group’s beer binge will be based on the amount everyone decides to pool in. Based on what everyone is comfortable with, set an amount that can be collected for easy payments later.

Conclusion

A lot of things in a stag do depend on the best man’s planning. If you are one of those who likes to catch the last train, then delaying the decision of choosing the destination city may cost you heavily. So if you want to give your mate a stag do worth remembering, you better be the early bird and figure out the best place for stag do like no other.

The post Why Last Minute Planning Will Not Work For A Stag Do appeared first on Life of Man.

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When creating your wardrobe, it’s important that you make sure you choose staple pieces that will see you through every season and every occasion. The likes of a great jacket or an essential t-shirt can help you form the basis of your wardrobe and allow you to develop your personal style.

Whether you’re building a new seasonal wardrobe for the winter, or you simply just want to give your style an overhaul, there are a few styles that you should have no matter what. For the basics needed for a guy’s wardrobe, here are 5 styles you should always have.

Formal or smart jacket

Even if you find yourself living in comfy, casual clothes, it’s important that you have a smart jacket to hand. A smart jacket can be worn with jeans and t-shirt if necessary in order to sharpen up your appearance for a social event.

Likewise, a jacket like a blazer can be worn with smart trousers and shoes to bring your outfit together perfectly. It’s a great back-up to have in your wardrobe, as you never know when you’ll need to look extra presentable.

Hoodie or full tracksuit

Streetwear styles are becoming a huge part of the modern man’s wardrobe. Great for casual attire and weekend wear, streetwear is a statement style. Designer streetwear hoodies are the perfect throw-on piece of clothing for making an impact, often designed with slogans or logos and extra detail such as distressed patches.

To take it up a notch, try a full tracksuit; you can mix and match the hoodie and joggers or wear as a set. Comfortable and perfect for the colder weather, they’ll become your go-to outfit when you’re nipping out.

Denim

Denim, no matter in what form, is a staple of your wardrobe all year round. A pair of jeans or denim jacket are the perfect additions to your wardrobe thanks to their versatility. Even a denim shirt can add a new dimension to your style, giving you another option whether it be a night on the town, dress-down day at work or heading out for an occasion.

Look for simple but stylish designs that will see you through the seasons; classic blue jeans with ripped knees, or a washed black denim shirt that can be thrown on for a smart appearance to any social event.

Statement t-shirt

T-shirts form the basis of most guys’ wardrobes, but find a statement style that stands out. T-shirts are worn to pretty much everything, so avoid looking like the guy standing next to you! Graphic prints, bold colours and unique effects like tie-dye or fading will upgrade your t-shirt collection instantly.

Look for tropical prints to brighten up the winter weather, or colour block stripes that always make an impact. Likewise, logo t-shirts are easy to wear and stand out with an effortless style.

Training sweats

For those days when you’re feeling a little lazier than usual, or you’re genuinely off to the gym and then running errands, training sweats are your go-to. Different to your tracksuit, look for training sweats in classic fleece material in white, grey or black and designed with cut off or raw edges. Comfortable, versatile and practical, sweatshirts or shorts are always handy to have in your wardrobe.

The post 5 Styles Every Guy Should Own appeared first on Life of Man.

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The summer months are slowly fading away, but what a summer season we have had. This year has possibly seen more dining al fresco, BBQ’s, garden parties and lazy sunbathing days than previous years. The joys of spending this summer season mainly outdoors, lapping up the sunshine with a drink in hand, with the BBQ sizzling away in the background means we’ll be even more depressed to see the back of it.

However, there are lessons to be learnt from the incredible summer we have had, and it gives us a new project to take on throughout the autumn/winter months. What is it, I hear you ask? Updating your home!

With the weather so unpredictable for the months ahead, I’m anticipating spending A LOT more time indoors. So what better way to make use of this indoor time, by making the essential updates and upgrades to our homes, so that by next summer, we’ve got the perfect set up to enjoy what should hopefully be another blissful season. And it needn’t be huge tasks.

I’m not talking about knocking walls down and building extensions and crazy big ideas. I’m talking smaller scale, do-able home enhancements that can completely change up the look, feel and practicality of your home.

Here are five ways to update your home and make a worthwhile investment:

1. Update your outdoor space

Are you contemplating a garden patio update? Were there things you noticed from sitting out in the sun this year that bothered you about your current outdoor space?

From classic looks to quiet sanctuaries, from reading areas to sunbathing spaces to enjoy soaking up the sun, your patio is a key area of your home which often gets neglected – especially in the winter. Make sure your patio is ready for next summer by assessing little changes that can make it so much more enjoyable and pleasant to look at.

It could be a case of preparing the decking and painting it, or simply ensuring you had comfortable loungers and outdoor seating. Or why not look at paving the outdoor seating area, or, depending on your own garden layout, utilising false grass for a softer finish? Finally, consider whether your outdoor patio space is even large enough for your needs? A great solution to create extra garden space are wooden summer houses – visit this website for some great options.

Assess what annoyed you about your outdoor space this year, and start the updates now so everything is all in place for next summer.

2. Look to upgrade to bi-folding doors

Following on from updating your patio, another huge trend that is sweeping the interior world is the addition of bi-folding doors to your home. Bi-folding doors are sweeping the nation. People up and down the country are trading up their tired PVC patio doors for something with a little more style and class. After the glorious summer we have experienced, we all understand the value of bringing light and warmth into the home – and often the best way to do this is with glazing.

External bi-fold doors can open up an entire wall of your home. This creates a seamless transition between indoors and out, making more of your garden than ever before. The styles available now more beautiful than ever before, with slimmer sightlines, clever innovations with glass technology, and stunning colours. Bi-fold doors offer virtually uninterrupted views of your garden or outdoors and make enjoying summer at home much easier.

3. Get hold of some garden furniture

The autumn/winter months are the best time to invest in newer, prettier and practical garden furniture, due to many lines going into the sales. You’ll find a lot of garden retailers add summer lines to their reduced stock, making it a great time to start buying and storing up for next year.

There is so much to be said for newer, nicer garden furniture. You can even make it feel like you’re out in the sunshine (even though let’s face it, you’re most likely not) by bringing your garden furniture indoors. A simple small iron table and chairs perfectly fit a forgotten corner in your house, and if you’re lucky enough to have a conservatory, you can give your room a Victorian conservatory vibe.

4. Pile in the plants

Plants make so much difference to the look and feel of any rooms in the house, but more so, they completely improve the appearance of your outdoor spaces. However, whilst the weather may not be letting you get outdoors, try getting in the habit of creating your own indoor garden, and improving your knowledge of plants in time for next summer.

Introducing a little bit of greenery to your living space, and learn what you like and what ‘works’. Try large colourful succulents as centrepieces, larger leafy trees as focal points, and hanging baskets at the doorways to add interest without using up foot space.

Voila – your own private jungle can be created! Then by next summer, you’ll be a plant pro!

5. Give your kitchen a makeover

An attractive, hygienic-looking kitchen is essential for both your state of mind and the general upkeep of your home. Nothing makes you feel more content than walking into a clean, clutter-free, stylish kitchen. Before you know it, cooking actually becomes fun!

Before replacing a kitchen, consider the fundamentals such as its shape and position and decide if you are going to make any structural changes to the space, or if you want to relocate it elsewhere. Many existing kitchens can be given a new lease of life by just updating a few items, like the fridge, freezer or dishwasher.

Think about all the fresh food and drinks you stored in your kitchen this Summer. Perhaps a bigger more sleek fridge freezer would be beneficial? Did you wish you had an ice dispenser? Get thinking about what you need and put these thoughts into practice!

Before you know it, next summer will be here and the last thing you’ll have to worry about is your home being ready for it.

The post 5 Modern Updates Your Home Needs For Next Summer appeared first on Life of Man.

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Over the years, I’ve really caught the travel bug. I use any free moment to explore the length and breadth of the UK or travel further afield to see what the rest of the world has to offer me.

During these adventures, I largely spend my time wandering new cities, uncovering hidden gems, or simply checking out the local beach.

However, there are often times where I have a real need to get my blood pumping and my heart racing. After all, we all need a little adventure in our lives! If you’re the kind of person that loves to try something different, it’s about time you ticked these five top activities for adventurous travellers off your list…

Bungee jumping

The thought of tying yourself to a piece of elastic and throwing yourself a bridge may fill most people with fear, but it’s one of the biggest thrills you could ever experience in your life. Not only will the view from above give you an unedited view of the destination, but you’ll also get to see it from a different viewpoint as you take the leap of faith and leave solid ground behind you.

Of course, it’s probably not the best idea for someone who has a fear of heights – but many people who have gone bungee jumping have noted that it has cured their fear in one fell swoop. With so many destinations around the world where you can bungee jump, the options are endless.

White water rafting

Anyone can go on a boat trip, but it takes a real adventure-seeker to ditch the captain and take the waters into their own hands.

White water rafting allows you to grab your own paddle and make your way down some of the roughest white waters known to man. You get thrown about as you make your way through rapids, and you may even have to hold on for dear life. Yet, that’s exactly why it’s one of the most incredible activities you could ever endure.

You also get to make your way through canyons and ravines, and that really is something you just don’t see every day. Just make sure your insurance covers you for any adventure sports like this, as some may not. You don’t want to be left in the lurch – just in case!

Safari experience

In my opinion, everyone has to go on safari at least once in their lives. Getting the chance to see the Big Five up close and in the flesh is something you just can’t imagine, and they really have to be seen to be believed.

While it may not involve physical activity or exercise, making your way into a safari jeep and roaming the savanna will leave you with your heart pumping in your chest as you wonder what’s around the next corner. Grab your cameras for this one, because you’re going to want to take a snapshot of this adventure.

Sand surfing

If you’re really looking to add adventure into your travelling experience, you’ll want to try something that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. While you can make your way down to the coast to ride the waves, sand surfing is much more unique. The concept of this thrill-ride is fairly simple, and it’s very similar to everyday surfing. The only difference is that you are surfing the sand dunes rather than the swell!

A desert adventure is always going to an incredible experience, but adding sand surfing into the mix will be something special to truly round-off your holiday and get your hearts racing. Why not add the Sahara to your bucket list? I can guarantee that you won’t regret it.

Paragliding

There’s nothing quite like seeing a destination from above, and there’s something about paragliding that is just so appealing to me. While I had a blast touring over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, the thrill of having the wind coursing through your hair as you float through the air is something that just can’t be beaten.

Sure, you can throw yourself out of a plane to tick skydiving off your list, but you don’t really get to see the land beneath your feet or the city that lies below. Seeing your destination from a new perspective is one of the best ways to appreciate just how beautiful it really is, and it will provide you with memories for a lifetime.

Do you have any more adventure activities to add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

The post 5 Top Activities For Adventurous Travellers appeared first on Life of Man.

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No matter how much you try to deny it by heading to the pub after work, there’s no escaping the fact that it is now October, the weather is getting colder the evenings are getting darker earlier. With the cooler winter season fast approaching and Christmas lurking just around the corner you are going to soon be spending considerably more time at home trying to entertain yourself. Before you suddenly find yourself stuck in your house with no entertainment or decent ‘man gadgets’ to keep you occupied, I’ve compiled a list of some cool ‘techy things’ that should at least go some way to making your impending winter days at home feel just that little bit less dreary.

Pay-per-view TV with CHILI

The best way to spend a cold rainy day is wrapped up in a blanket, hot beverage in hand, watching a good movie. There are many services available, but one of the new kids on the block is the new service CHILI which has a lot of cool perks such as letting you pay only for what you actually watch. Launched in 2012 the service has been so successful in Italy with 1.6 million subscribers that it has now entered the UK market – check out the press release here.

Backed by Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Viacom, Sony Pictures, and 20th Century Fox they have a great selection of content so be sure to take a look at the movies that they have to offer – discover movies on uk.chili.com here – and get your watch list going for when the weather decides to takes a turn.

Invest in a Smart-TV

Now although not a new piece of technology if you haven’t yet invested in a smart-TV you may well be missing out on a great piece of tech in your home. A Smart-TV will change the way you use and watch television which a major plus when it comes to winter days. As a smart-TV has a good quality screen you can enjoy your favourite movies, as well as download tons of apps, such as YouTube, and have everything in one place without the need for connecting up a console or messing around with unreliable streaming from a Chromecast or similar device.

Virtual reality headset

A virtual reality headset gives you the ability to step into virtual worlds while in the comfort of your own home. If it’s stormy out, you can whisk yourself away to a tropical island. If you’ve been stuck inside due to storm warnings, you can transport yourself elsewhere virtually. These special headsets let your imagination wander and certainly avoid you being stuck in the same environment or feeling trapped by dreary weather. Although still not commonplace in the UK home these headsets have been getting talked about and showcased at the major tech events for a number of years now. It really is only a matter of time before you have one so why wait!?

Music in the shower!

For me a hot shower or bath on a cold day is always best paired with my favourite music humming in the background. Historically this would mean the tinny speaker of my iPhone at maximum volume which let’s face it, is never going to offer much of a positive experience!

Thankfully, waterproof tech devices have improved considerably in the past 5 years to a point where they are now able to withstand temperature and humidity so you can have your favourite music playing while you relax without fear of ruining your device. If you want something specific, Moxie, for example, is a shower head that can sync up with devices via Bluetooth and comes with a portable wireless speaker that attaches into the shower head! This kind of musical wizardry is certainly not one to be ignored so take a look at the latest in waterproof tech, warm up those vocal chords and belt out your favourite tunes in technological style!

Buy a smart kettle

Now this is definitely one for the couch potatoes. We all know the feeling of being cosy on the sofa and not wanting to get up to hit the kettle for a cup of tea or coffee. Even though in most instances the kettle is within sight, a mere 3-5 metres away! Am I right!?

If you’re one of those people, and I know I certainly am, a smart kettle is definitely going to become your best friend throughout the winter. From the comfort and warmth of the sofa you can link the kettle to your home network and have the kettle boil water directly from your smart device – go one step further and you could even link it up to Alexa or Google home and command the kettle to boil! Oh the power and fun that we have!

One that I’ve spotted recently on Business Insider is the iKettle. It does of course come with an app which shows the water level, notifies you when the water is boiled to your preferred temperature and allows you to set a specific time frame when the kettle should be boiled!

So what do you think? Are you preparing for the cold nights yet? Feeling lazy enough to invest a smart kettle or brave enough to get on board before your mates with a VR headset? Perhaps your marriage/relationship is strong enough to invest in a digital shower device? Winter is coming, so best get your tech stack prepared and ready!

The post 5 Tech Items That Will Make Winter Days At Home Less Dreary appeared first on Life of Man.

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