Category Archives: Product Reviews

Reviews of various products we have purchase, tried and thoroughly tested!

Topcashback – get cash back on almost anything & save a small fortune!

I’ve mentioned TopCashBack in many of my blog posts and thought I’d dedicate an article to the this great service and way of saving/making cash.

TopCashBack is an online service whereby you click through to a merchant (i.e. seller) via their site. They track this site visit, and if you make a purchase, you receive cash back.


The service has literally saved me over a thousand pounds since I joined a few years ago, and continues to do save me money.

Of course you have to sign up with TopCashBack and register you bank details. It costs nothing though. You simply search for a merchant, or services description, and it will list the merchant or suitable alternatives, with the amount of cashback on offer.

For example, say you want to book a hotel for a night and have spotted a good deal on Instead of booking directly through, you log into your TopCashBack account and enter in the merchant search. Usually they are offering around 7% cashback with this site. You check the terms and click through to; a new window is opened and ‘tracked’. You then place your booking as normal with

Behind the scenes, the booking is tracked. Once your hotel booking is completed (i.e. after you have visited, as potentially you could
cancel) then informs TopCashBack and they are able to claim cashback from them, which is later paid into your account.

It can take quite a long time sometimes to get your cashback – usually 6 to 8 weeks – but you will get it eventually.

7% cashback on a £80 hotel booking is £5.60, so well worth doing.

And once you get into the habit of checking TopCashBack before buying anything online, you can save a small fortune – I’ve saved over a £1000 over the years.

Sometimes only a very small percentage, as little as 0.5%, is offered, but it all adds up. Cashback can be a percent of the purchase price,
or often a fixed value, for example, I recently had a £65 cashback offer on home insurance I took out.

Some of the best cashback deals are on services – such as switching Energy suppliers. Currently Npower are offering £47.25 cashback if you switch to them on their dual fuel plan. Mobile phone providers also offer high cashback volumes – O2 are offering up from £26 up to £126 cashback for some of their mobile contracts.

I mentioned I got a good cashback deal on home insurance; you can also save on car insurance, motorcycle insurance, business insurance – most forms of insurance, really. Just have a search in the TopCashBack merchants list.

Perhaps the insurance broker or service you were planning to use isn’t listed; but there is usually a suitable alternative. Occasionally,
you may find a better deal without cashback, but it’s always worth checking.

I’ve saved a small fortune in hotel bookings by using TopCashBack (see my article, The Art Of Cheap Holidays). I usually search several hotel sites such as, ,, and for the ideal hotel, then check current TopCashBack click through rates.

I may find a hotel for £60 on and cheaper on for £55; but TopCashBack may be offering 15% cashback at that point with Venere as opposed to’s 5%, so purchasing via Venere effectively costs me only £51, as opposed to reduced price of £52.25.

Now it’s coming close to Christmas time too there are some excellent cash back offers. The Buy a Gift and Red Letter Days sites are also doing cashback currently at 12.6% and 18.9%!

TopCashBack tracks your cashback in a dashboard so you can easily see what you’re order and how the order is processing.

My TopCashBack account
My TopCashBack account

Of course, there are other cashback sites out there, such as Quidco, but personally I prefer the way TopCashBack works and it’s simple
interface. Only on a few rare occasions have I had to ‘chase’ cashback, but it’s always been sorted out eventually.

So what do I ask for giving you this wonderful advice on how to save so much money?

Just sign up with TopCashBack through my referral link here please 🙂

Happy savings!

A dieting aid that works? Part 3

By using a fibre drink supplement that my girfriend had found in Poland, a slimming aid made from natural ingredients (see part 1 of the story here), I had managed to get back to my ‘best’ weight of 74kg – and I’d been able to half my gym visits.

I was no longer struggling with hunger.

I then also tried the Daniel Fast (see my Daniel Fast blog here) for four days and I lost a couple of kilograms. I’d actually crept back up to around 75/76kg at that stage after a holiday and over indulging somewhat on the local food.

Still, I’d dropped below the unbeatable 74kg and managed 73.5kg!

I’m 36 now. I don’t think I’ve been that weight since I was 18.

And the side effect the fibre drink has had on me is that my stomach seems to have shrank.

Meaning I’m just not as hungry as I was before. Even without taking the drink!

Previously, I’d wake up, and my stomach would growl at me even whilst I was taking my morning toilet visit. I’d be in a rush to get dressed and downstairs to make my breakfast.

Even a reasonable sized breakfast would only fill me for a couple of hours, three at the most. I’d have to eat every two to three hours throughout the whole day. If I didn’t, and I ignored the stomach rumbles for longer than half an hour, I’d get stomach ache that could last for days.

I now wake up in the morning and I’m not hungry for 45 mins to an hour, sometimes longer.

I can have a cup of tea or coffee and last another hour before I want any food.

Before this, I was hungry immediately upon waking, and had to eat. Tea or coffee wouldn’t help.

Now I can go for 2 hours without food and just having one drink.

And food fills me for longer now. When experimenting with food combinations with the Montignac diet (see my post on the Montignac method), I found a 3 egg omelette with a small amount of cheese (one babybell) would last me 3 hours.

Now my stomach has shrank, it keeps me going for 4 hours.

One day I realised it had been 5 hours since I’d ate!

Ok, some days I just have ‘hungry days’ and seem to need more. But in general, I’m just not as hungry, and the food fills me for much longer.

When hunger does strike, it’s less aggressive. I can ignore it for longer and it doesn’t hurt so much.

I’m not having a fibre drink every day. And often I’ll only have one or two to help pad out a long day. Now I’m back at the office with a long commute and don’t have the same kitchen facilities as home, I’m having two or three of them to help me out.

I’m not having a breakfast cereal at all now. I’ll get up, get ready, drink a coffee on the way to work (I pre make a shot in my espresso machine the night before, then add cold milk in the morning), have a fibre drink when I get there (approx 2 hours after waking) and a banana or other snack an hour or so later, and that’s my breakfast done – another fibre drink around midday sees me through to a lunch at 1:30pm. One day I was exceptionally busy and didn’t notice the time nor feel hungry so was able to skip that dose and just have my lunchtime egg salad.

So I could slip a breakfast cereal back into my diet and maybe only have 1 fibre drink a day, or none – but it’s convenient this way as I can set off on my commute ASAP and beat the rush hour traffic.

Also having less carbs helps with the weight loss.

Within a couple of weeks of the new job and eating in this pattern, with another fibre drink or small snack (a slice of life changing bread – will have to write a post about that; it’s a healthy bread equivalent my girlfriend makes made purely from oats, seeds, nuts, and a little oil & honey to hold it all together – beautiful) when I get home from work followed by an evening meal such as salmon with a side salad, I was down to 71.6kg (158lb; 11 stones 4 pounds).

That’s 2.5kg (5lbs) less than when I was hitting the gym 6-8 times a week.

The last time I went to the gym?

12 days before.

The week before that I’d been twice. The week before may have been 3 times… but I’d been away to Ibiza for 4 days before that and only a week later had a long weekend in Poland for a wedding. So I’d not been eating so well and the gym was required to burn some excess calories off.

Now though it seems I don’t even need to go to the gym, and I’ve hit my lowest weight ever.

And I feel great!!

BTW I don’t advocate not going to the gym – we all need exercise. I just haven’t had the time recently. I’m still making sure I walk as much as I can and on holiday did plenty of swimming.

6 weeks into the job & new routine and exercising mildly twice a week, I’ve hit the all time low of 70.3kg (155lb; 11 stones 2 pounds).

So… where can I buy this wonderful fibre drink I hear you ask?

Well – I’m afraid it’s not on sale yet, at least not here in the UK. And it’s only on limited sale in Poland too, as a new product its only online at this stage and not in the pharmacies, although hopefully it will be in the near future; most people in Poland buy their supplements from pharmacies – look down any road in a Polish city and you’ll see two or three of them!

Due to this, they only have limited sales at the moment, which means that they’ve not been able to bring down the price yet, so it’s a not cheap at around £80 a month – although personally I think it’s certainly been worth it.

UPDATE: I now have an update (1st July 2015; original post written October 2014)! An equivalent product called GGA Fibre Pro Supplement, which I have been using for at least the last 6 months with the same results, will be on the market this week! And it will be almost half the price of the Polish equivalent. Please watch this space for more info, or like my Facebook page to keep updated, or drop an email to for more info.

GGA Fibre Pro is now available here!

I just want to point out again that I am not a nutritionist, a dietician or a doctor. I’m a computer scientist! So this is just my take on things and it’s worked well for me. When dieting you should always seek professional help if in doubt.

Juicing part 2: The perfect juicer

Continuing on from part 1 of this post, ‘To juice or not to juice‘, we had tried the VonShef juicer and although it was a bargain for the price and would be an ideal solution for many, it just wasn’t up to our demanding carrot juicing needs!

Determined to find the right solution, my girlfriend spent many hours reading through UK and Polish juicing and health forums, product reviews and guides.

And found the Kuvings Cold Press Juicer for £341.

Kuvings Whole (Cold Press) Juicer
Kuvings Whole (Cold Press) Juicer

This juicer promised to deliver everything we wanted – slow pressed healthy juice and no need to chop up carrots!

We always look around for the cheapest price, taking into account any cash-back deals through TopCashBack. I don’t recall which was best at the time as prices seem to fluctuate, but there’s currently a good deal on Amazon and a few for sale on eBay for less than we paid.

When it arrived it was like an early Christmas for my girlfriend.

Unpackaging the contents of the box, she wasn’t disappointed, and kept bringing me parts with a big smile on her face saying “ooo its so small!” and “FEEL the quality!”.

It did feel pretty solid. But would it meet our expectations?

Well, it looked the part – surprisingly small and in a lovely deep red colour (here’s ours in red, there’s a silver one and I believe you can find in black and white too).

We powered her up and started juicing.

The results were very good. Carrots could be fed in whole. No more time consuming chopping! And the results were better than the VonShef; still some froth, but plenty of beautiful juice and NO clogging this time! And it was sooo quiet!

We’ve been using for two or three months now, and we are happy to report success. We are juicing about 5 days a week, getting through approximately 8kg of carrots, 4-6kg of apples, 1kg of beetroot and 20 grapefruits a week.

And it’s coping admirably.

We are now chopping the carrots a little to help – it copes with whole carrots but you can see that the unit is under some pressure and the plastic parts are being strained – we are slicing each carrot into 4 pieces (not much effort) in an attempt to prolong the products life.

The juicer has a cap system, whereby you can close the cap and put water in the system to rinse it, and open to cap to wash it through. This works well, but if you are planning on making one stronger flavoured juicer and one milder, consider making the milder one first, as the flavour may remain unless you wash the whole unit properly.

The unit does get warm after about half an hour. However, its rare that we need to juice for longer than that. If you purchase a different juicer to the Kuvings, ensure it has good ventilation near the motor; the VonShef we had previously didn’t.

Being a slow juicer, it’s not fast in it’s operation – but the time saved in chopping fruit & veg that we had to do for the VonShef, and indeed, many other pricier models, is huge and more than compensates – especially to be able to have healthy, slow pressed juice. It’s relatively easy to clean too – it even comes with a brush and a handy circular tool to clean out hard to reach areas.

Ok, it still struggles a bit with leaves. But from all the research we’ve done, most juicers do, except those specifically developed for leaves – and then those ones struggle with harder vegetables such as carrot.

If you are juicing celery, rhubarb, or anything with long fibres, then these must be chopped into short pieces to break the length of the fibres. Due to the nature of the vertical juicer, with a 90 degree angle going down, long fibres can cause the juicer to clog and even become damaged. If you want to regularly make juice mainly with leaves, celery, wheatgrass and other fibrous vegetables, then you may need to buy a horizontal juicer.

So perhaps it’s true – if you want an ideal, complete solution – you do need to spend £3000 on a ‘proper’ slow press juicer rather than a masticating juicer (see the first post, ‘To juice or not to juice‘).

In the real world, I’m sure most people would be happier to compromise and accept an occasional use handy product such as the VonShef at around £66 or a great little regular workhorse Kuvings Cold Press Juicer for around the £300 mark.

Get juicing people!

Some tips for you:

  • Immerse carrots into cold water 30 mins before juicing in order to soften/moisten
  • The slow juicer is slow – if you want good results, give it time to process the food through the auger. My girlfriend will only add more into the machine when she sees that not much more pulp is coming out. If you feed in food too fast, you’ll notice that the pulp is wet; i.e. you’re not extracting as much juice as you could
  • It’s good to mix up the soft and hard products (i.e. carrots and apples) bit by bit when feeding into the juicer – the harder carrots will then push out the soft pulp from the apple left overs
  • If you do regularly juicing, invest in a composter bin – make use of all that pulp leftover
  • You can also use the almost dry pulp leftovers to make your own home made flavoured vinegars (may post later on that!)


Juicing part 1: To juice or not to juice

Being into our healthy eating, we decided we needed a juicer in our lives.


Because juicing, and consuming fresh fruit and vegetables in a liquid format, is an incredibly healthy way of taking in vitamins and
minerals – and tasty, too! One of our favourite juices so far is carrot, strawberry and basil – beautiful!

Make delicious and healthy juices
Make delicious and healthy juices

But let’s go back a step – the key to juicing is to purchase the right juicer. So which juicer is right for you? Well, if you aren’t going to be
juicing frequently, are on a tight budget, you aren’t so bothered about the amount of enzymes and vitamins your juice will contain, and are happy to consume the juice immediately after making, then a bog standard centrifugal juicer will do the job.

These work by spinning at high speed (centrifugal force) and chopping the food produce with a sharp blade. There are plenty available at low cost (£30-£60) from Amazon, Argos, eBay etc. The main problem with these type of juicers is in both the quality and quantity of the juice produced. You won’t get the maximum amount of juice available from your produce and it will be quite frothy. You’ll struggle to get any juice from leaves. The mechanism also results in a lot of heat produced that effectively destroys all those enzymes and nutrients you were hoping to extract! The juice also needs to be drank more or less immediately else it will go off. They are also loud in operation.

A much better option is a cold press juicer, or masticating juicer.

There are numerous debates/arguments over which juicer is technically a cold press or masticating juicer – one article insisted that you couldn’t buy a true cold press juicer for less than £3000 and that all the other so called cold press juicers are really masticating juicers – but basically the technology we are talking about doesn’t use high speed and centrifugal forces and a blade to chop the fruit and vegetables like the cheaper variant, but rather turns the produce slowly and presses it into an auger to squeeze and extract the juice and nutrients within more efficiently.

The cons? They can be expensive – when we first looked, the cheapest
were retailing around £130 (but good news – there’s a great one for only £50 – more on that later) but after reading the Amazon reviews we were a bit put off from all the problems people were experiencing with these low end models. Even the ones around £280 didn’t sound ideal.You also need to chop the fruit and vegetables into much smaller chunks than you would in the centrifugal juicer; this can be very time consuming. There are a (very) limited amount of models available where you don’t have to chop your food so much but these are few and far between, and normally very expensive.

However, good news – we found the perfect model! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The pros of a slow press/masticating juicer are that you extract more juice, especially from those healthy green leaves, and there’s less ‘froth’. Because the juicer is operating at a lower speed then the operating temperature is reduced (warning: check operation times before purchasing, some can only run for 10 mins before getting hot) and your nutrients and vitamins aren’t destroyed. The resulting juice will also last for 2-3 days, if kept in the fridge.

So we decided that this was the type of juicer for us. The problem was in choosing the right one. We wanted something that was a convenient size, easy to clean (a key point – these juicers can be pretty hard work to disassemble and unblock) and of a decent quality to
be able to use regularly and not overheat and to have a decent lifetime.

It seemed all the juicers in the £130 – £280 price range we’d been looking at suffered in some way or another that would irritate us, but we really didn’t want to spend £300+ on something that we didn’t know or not at this stage whether we’d use or not.

That’s when we found the VonShef 150W Slow Juicer selling for only £55 from Amazon (plus a hefty £12 delivery charge, but still significantly cheaper than the competition)!

We assumed it would be terrible.

We checked the reviews. Yes, there were a few bad ones – but there always are; with user reviews it’s always a case of trying to work out whether the problems the user reports are genuinely problems, specifically for yourself rather than the individual reporting it. For example, some users complain about the juicers being difficult to clean. However, all juicers are difficult, to some extent, to clean. Difficult is a relative term. Reading the reviews for this juicer we could see that plenty of reviewers said it was easy to clean and we were able to dismiss most of the negative reviews.

For £50, we decided to give it a try. If it didn’t deliver, well, we would learn a lesson, but it was better than being disappointed with a £300 model. Being our first juicer, it would give us a feel for them and help us making a better and informed decision on purchasing a higher quality one that met our specific needs in the future.

We ordered the juicer and it arrived only a few days later. It looked good. Plastics were reasonably quality, if not amazing.

We started making juice.

It wasn’t bad!

Especially with fruits – a little bit of froth but the waste product was reasonably dry, and it seemed to be extracting juice well.

However, carrots were what we really wanted to juice. Would it cope?

Yes. Just about. The main problem was that the carrot pieces would regularly clog up the juicer, particularly in the recess underneath the auger. Appreciating that it was the cheapest ‘slow press’ juicer on the market, we accepted this, and kept cleaning out as necessary.

Just to note that you need a lot of carrots to make a reasonable amount of juice. To make about 1 litre, you need about 3 to 4kg of carrot – that’s a lot of carrots to chop into small pieces!

We carried on using the juicer, on an almost daily basis, for the next two weeks. We had great fun experimenting with wierd and
wonderful combinations and make tasty juices. The device struggled with leaves, but we expected that. We kept unclogging the device, getting a little frustrated, but battling on, and generally pretty happy with it.

Then things went wrong.

We noticed it was getting pretty hot. The constant clogging was causing a strain on the motor. After just over a week, we noticed a crackling electrical sound and saw a puff of smoke. We immediately turned the device off, feeling it was rather warm, and thinking it had
overheated. We cleaned it and tried again the next day and it seemed okay for a few days. However, we noticed again that it was getting pretty hot, which it’s not supposed to. So we let it cool off again.

However, it started to regularly overheat – very quickly – and we heard the crackling sound a few times. We investigated further and found that juice was leaking out of the bottom – probably due to it becoming clogged too often at the recess at the bottom of the auger – and that juice was running down onto the base of the unit and down past the rotor/corkscrew component and into the motor housing.

Not good!

We contacted Designer Habitat via Amazon, fearing that they wouldn’t be interested – the reviews had warned that they weren’t particularly helpful.

However, they were extremely helpful and agreed for us to return the item with a full refund!*

I should now defend the VonShef!

If you’re going to juice 2 or 3 times a week, maybe carrots once a week, or you keep a close eye on it clogging and making sure no juice runs into the motor housing, then it’s a great juicer for the money. It’s certainly better than buying a centrifugal juicer for the same money. If you’re not juicing every day and don’t want to spend a small fortune, then I would definitely recommend one – you can buy it here.

But it didn’t quite meet our needs, and we had fallen in love with juicing.

We needed a mightier beast that could cope with our carrots! The other problem we had found with the VonShef was the amount of time we spent chopping fruit and veg – especially those damn carrots. You need a lot of carrots to make a decent amount of juice, and they have to be cut into small baton size pieces. I recall chopping carrots for about 45 minutes whilst my girlfriend chopped fruit and started feeding into the juicer. It look two people almost an hour to make that juice. That’s a long time.

So we wanted the much sought after and elusive juicer that would allow us to insert food more or less whole. Where would we find one??

I will post our findings shortly…

*It seems that although Designer Habitat did respond quickly and say that they would refund us within 2-3 days I never actually checked this – and it seems they hadn’t! I contacted them again one night and they responded the next morning apologising and saying that they had now refunded me and it would show in 24 hours. And it did. So: not bad service after all. You just might need to chase them, in the event of issues 🙂

From HTC/Android to the Dark Side: Part 2

In my previous post  I discussed my reluctance to leave the trusted HTC mobile phone and Android platform by switching to the ‘Dark side‘ – i.e. Apple products.

My main concerns were the restrictions imposed by Apple compared to the openness of an Android operating system, but these were
overruled by the attractions of reliability, battery life and compatibility with other Apple devices.

So I got myself a 32GB iPhone5c in white.

The iPhone5c in white
The iPhone5c in white

First impressions – it looks and feels nice in my hand. It’s thicker than my HTC One S; but the slightly curved back actually fits the shape of my palm better. The screen is also slightly smaller – but the resolution and crispness of the new technology more than compensates for this.

Using the phone, I’ve found it nippy and responsive – unlike my aging HTC. Whether it will continue to be so as I clog it up with data and apps over time, remains to be seen.

Having used Android for so long though, I found a few GUI (Graphical User Interface) aspects somewhat irritating, such as:

  • The lack of a ‘back‘ button. This is such a useful button that I can’t believe Apple haven’t fitted one by now. My thumb keeps waving in the air over where it should be, desperately seeking what it won’t find! Ok, so there’s onscreen equivalents. But there’s not even a common interface design – sometimes it will be a ‘Done‘ icon in the top right hand corner, other times it’s an arrow or ‘Back‘ link in the top left hand corner; with Safari, it’s an arrow in the bottom left hand corner. Come on Apple! It’s common knowledge that in good GUI design you keep the interface design consistent. Having 3 different ways to go back a screen is just silly and annoying. On the HTC going back a screen was a doddle and it could also be used to close an app. With the iPhone, I’m tending to leave apps open. Yes, it’s coping nicely running plenty of concurrent apps, but one day it’s going to start slowing down, and it’s a pain to have to go into the apps overview screen (double-tap the main button) to kill off all those unnecessary apps. Although admittedly, that is a neat way of managing the current apps running – on Android I would have had to go to each to manually close rather than being able to ‘flick’ away. Although I probably would have just closed them with the back button when I’d done with them in the first place 🙂
  • The ‘hold down’ for a menu option. This was essential to Android operation and gave you a nice pop up menu with all the options you could possible want. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the iPhone. Some apps and screens DO have it, but not many – otherwise it brings up just the cut and paste screen. You have to double tap, but again, it’s inconsistent – it doesn’t seem to work in all screens; sometimes you have to find the menu at the top. Or the bottom. Again, inconsistent GUI design, poor Apple, poor!
  • Sharing. On the HTC I could hold down on a picture, or a link, be it in Facebook, mail, or another app, and I would get the same, consistent menu, and be able to share it to the full list of applications that were installed. On the iPhone? No. Different apps mean different menus, and a limited amount of options. I keep wanting to share posts on Facebook with one person via either a Facebook message or email. But those options simply aren’t there; I can only post it on my wall, or post it on their wall. If it’s a video then then iPhone generously decides to give me a further option to send a link via Facebook messenger. But that’s all. I use the Whatsapp application with several friends and I’m no longer able to send them pictures in one simple ‘hold down – share – whatsapp‘ action. Instead it’s a convoluted system of opening multiple apps and navigating multiple, inconsistent, menus. Joy. I can’t be bothered to share now!
  • Copying & pasting. Yes the iPhone has that nice ‘zoom’ magnifying feature to be able to move the cursor to the exact place you want, but it’s still fiddly to use, and where’s the damn cursors gone from the keyboard? And can’t I just poke where I want the cursor? Nope, the magnifying glass usually pops up. In the wrong place. The whole copy and paste functionality feels clunky to me after Android’s simple system.
  • The keypad/keyboard. It’s a little niggle, but still annoying – it’s not very clear that you have shift on or not – the coloured in shift key isn’t very visible – on the Android, the letters of the keyboard were clearly in upper case when shift was on, or lower case when it’s off. Much easier to use.

After reading this, you may think I hate the phone.

I don’t. It has some nice features and apps, and is overall pretty usable – and running much faster than my HTC did; lets hope it
stays that way. Battery life seems to be promising too – but again, let’s see how it is after a years use.

It’s still too early to comment in terms of reliability. My HTC had a few annoying habits. Whenever I went abroad – it seemed to
be when I’d disabled roaming data (wifi could be on or off) – it would have occasional ‘seizures’ where it would vibrate like crazy, jump from screen to screen and automatically take several screenshots.

During this time – it could last 2 seconds to 30 seconds – the phone was unusable, and would have interrupted whatever you were doing, sometimes with data loss. Highly annoying.

The phone also occasionally came confused as to whether there was a data signal or not; sometimes you had to reboot it to re-establish a data signal, or quicker, put it in airplane mode (data off) and back out again to ‘look’ for a data signal again.

Hopefully I won’t experience any of these problems with the more robust Apple operating system. But I have noticed one problem so

Several times I’ve gone to make a call and it’s instantly hummed and said ‘unable to connect’. I’ve tried immediately after and it’s worked.

Mind you, the HTC used to do that regularly too!

I’ve now used up the 14 days I had to make up my mind and return it – too much hassle for one. Perhaps I should have tried a newer HTC model, or the very popular Samsung Android phones.

It’s too late now – but I have no regrets. It’s still better than my dying HTC, so I’m happy for now.

Will I be happy in 6 months time? Watch this space…

From HTC/Android to the Dark Side: Part 1

Yes – I’ve finally joined the ‘wonderful’ world of Apple.

I’ve been using HTC phones for years, before it was commonly known they were even made by the then small HTC – they were simply
branded by Orange as the SPV – Sounds, Pictures, Video – one of the first ‘Smartphones’.

This was before Android was even an itch in Google’s underwear, and HTC devices were running Windows Mobile. It was a slow, flaky
& unreliable operating system, and the phone would frequently crash – but I loved it. The technology and functionality was way
beyond what was currently offered by anyone else – remember early Nokias?

The ability to simply copy files from your PC to your phone, such as text documents, spreadsheets, music and even (initially,
short) videos, was revolutionary, and I fell in love with the brand.

4 or 5 years and 3 SPVs later I was getting a bit sick of the sub-standard operating system provided by our friends at Microsoft.
Fortunately for me, Android came along.

The Android OS gave me more flexibility and reliabilty. I could play entire movies on the high quality screen – great for holidays & travelling or even in waiting rooms. I copied episodes of the series ‘24‘ and ‘Alias‘ onto my phone and would watch them at lunch time at the gym on the running machine!

The first iPhone came out but I believed it to be over priced and over hyped; I didn’t like the restrictions that ‘Mother Apple’ placed on you – I prefered the openness and freedom an Android phone gave you. I considered other Android phones made by manufacturers such as Samsung, but always prefered the looks, price, and features of what seemed to be superior HTC models.

My last HTC phone, the One S, was a slim, impressive device. But only a year into my two year contract I started to get frustrated. The battery life was poor. If I spent more than 30 mins watching films/playing games/surfing the web then the battery would die before bed time. The lack of expandable memory on this device and my desire to load it with music and entertainment meant it had soon expired, and I was in a constant battle to keep space clear.

Then there was the reliability. It started getting slow, and regularly crashing.

At this point I would be grumbling and my girlfriend would helpfully interject with a sweet comment such as “on my iPhone, that
doesn’t happen” or “oh, on the iPhone you can do suchandsuch instead, isn’t that better?“.

Around this point I was having some problems with my laptop too. Ok, I was always having problems with my laptop – it’s running a
Microsoft operating system, hello! – but the damn thing was grinding to a halt and having problems recognising USB devices, including the mouse. After a memory upgrade and a repair of Windows it was better, but still running slowly.

Enter the ever helpful girlfriend.

Look how many tabs I’ve got open“, showing me the 40+ tabs she has open on her (relatively old) iMac. I had 15 and it was running at a snails pace.

Look what soandso piece of software can do” – etc.

Then there’s my brother, friends, family, colleagues, all talking about how wonderful their iPad/iPhone/iMac is – especially about how nicely they all interact together.

I started seriously considering getting an iMac. I’ve always stuck by the idiom ‘why make life hard for yourself’ – and my Windows laptop was making life hard for me.

But they’re not cheap, and it’s a big jump, changing all the software I’m used to etc etc.

Then came the ideal opportunity to test the waters of the dark side… my phone contract was finally coming up for renewal.

I ordered a shiny new iPhone5c in white. Having been frustrated by the lack of expandable storage space on my 16GB HTC, I was
disappointed that you couldn’t expand the iPhone’s either, and opted for a large 32GB model.

I’ve now been a member of ‘the Apple family’ for a couple of weeks.

Have I turned towards the dark side??

Find out in my next post as I compare the iPhone5c to my HTC One S.