Archive for May, 2014

Get ready for festival season with 15% off our unmissable accessories

Festival essentials

 

Music festival season is upon us and Proporta knows just what you need to pack with your tent and shades to make sure you’re prepared for the weather, the lack of power and to ensure you get the best experience possible. Get 15% off all of our music festival accessories featured in this blog post with promotion code MUSIC15, valid until July 1st 2014.

The BeachBuoy Collection - Waterproof Cases for Cell phones, Tablets and E-readers

The BeachBuoy Collection – Waterproof Cases for Cell phones, Tablets and E-readers – From $19.95

04767_Proporta_USB_TurboCharger_7000_01a_iOS7

Proporta USB TurboCharger 7000 Emergency charger – $74.95

UV_Pen_01_Lo_Res

Proporta UV Security Light and Marker Pen – $13.95

solar-keyring-and-keys_NEW

Proporta Eclipse – Solar Keyring Torch – $10.95

Custom leather cases

Custom leather case

Say thanks to good old dad this Father’s Day with a personalized luxury leather case for his iPhone, iPad or Kindle. Whether it’s his name or just a meaningful message, you can now get a choice of words and letters expertly etched into any BRUNSWICK ENGLAND leather case, completely free of charge.

Plus, as a Proporta customer, you can get 20% off any custom cases by entering coupon code DAD20 at the checkout. Offer valid until 06/15/14.

The perfect selfie – how not to look like an idiot

If you haven’t heard, sharing photos on social networking is now apparently very much the in thing. But forget carefully composed landscapes and worrying about apertures and focus – now all you need to do to be the next David Bailey is stretch out your arm as far as you can reach, pull a silly face and hope you don’t end up with someone gurning behind you when you click the shutter.

Yes, like it or not, the selfie will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest trends of the last few years. In fact, it’s become such a phenomenon the Oxford English Dictionary even named it their word of the year in 2013, with everyone from pop stars to presidents getting in on the trend.

Getting the perfect selfie can be the holy grail for many people – but it’s not as easy as it sounds. A bad one can not only make you look like an idiot in front of your friends, as tools like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter let your most embarrassing images wing their way around the world in seconds. So looking good needs some serious thought.

#selfie

Choose the right spot

Unless you’re Paris Hilton, no-one’s really that interested in a selfie where 95 per cent of the photo is taken up by your face, so a good backdrop is essential.

A recent survey by Suggestme found London is the most popular location for selfies among both tourists and locals, while the most commonly-snapped landmarks around the world include Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum. Nice, but a bit obvious – so something a bit more creative could help you stand out from the crowd.

Oh, and it should also go without saying, but sombre occasions like funerals are definitely out – something Barack Obama and David Cameron should have remembered before their grinning selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service hit front pages around the world.

Show off your best features

The trickiest part of any selfie -as with anything else in life – is making sure you look your best. But it’s sometimes not easy to tell how it’ll turn out when your screen’s held at arms length away from you, so what can you do to avoid creating a cautionary tale to be shared by others for all eternity?

It can’t be emphasised enough that the ‘duckface’ look is a big no – really, it can’t, no matter who you are. Not only has it been done to death by everyone, huge pouting lips have yet to make anyone look good.

You also need to think about the angle of your photo – a downward shot, or one where you tilt your head back, can give the impression of a double-chin – definitely unflattering. Keep the camera as level as possible makes sense, while also make sure you’re not staring directly down the lens like a serial killer’s arrest photo – a slight turn of the head is the most natural look.

Watch your surroundings

Even if you’ve found the perfect spot to get your snap, it can still be ruined by that idiot in the background who thinks photobombing is still cool, so make sure you know what and who around you could pose a problem.

Also, there’s a fine line between an exciting shot and getting too close, as this unfortunate chap found out to his cost when he tried to take a selfie with a train, and was taught a swift lesson in safety by the conductor.

And if you are taking the snap in your bedroom or bathroom mirror to show off your stylish new phone case, make sure the room is presentable. No-one wants to see your dirty laundry or a mirror smeared with toothpaste.

The right tools for the job

One of the biggest problems with selfies is that because they’re often taken with the phone’s lower-resolution front-facing camera, they can often end up being very poor-quality. However, some of the latest models – such as the HTC One – have recognised this problem and started to equip their phones with more powerful front cameras.

But if you don’t have this yet, there are still a few things you can do. Turning your gadget around to use the bigger rear camera might mean you don’t get to see exactly what you’re shooting, but with a bit of luck, the results will turn out better.

Also, remember to switch the flash off, as at close range, all it will do is white out your face so you look like you’re remaking The Blair Witch Project. A bit of fiddling about with lighting settings and filters can also transform a boring snap into one worthy of sharing, so don’t assume leaving your phone in its default settings is the way to go.

5 of the best music streaming apps

The big news from the tech world this week is that Apple is in advanced talks to buy Dr Dre-backed headphone maker Beats in a deal said to be worth up to $3.2 billion (£1.89 billion). This may seem like a lot for some headphones – no matter how cool they are – but what’s perhaps more interesting to Apple is the firm’s online streaming service, Beats Music.

While not yet available in the UK, it’s one of the latest entrants to an increasingly-crowded market – and one Apple has yet to really break into, despite having what you’d think would be the perfect launch platform in iTunes. So some analysts have suggested getting its hands on Beats’ technology is the main driver for the deal.

And it may need all the help it can get, as there’s a bewildering array of options out there for the keen music lover who wants to listen on the move. Whether you’re a fan of Beethoven, the Beatles or Beyonce, it’s easier than ever to find your favourite tracks. But how do you know which is the right one for you?

That’s why we’ve put together some of our top suggestions for music streaming on your mobile.

Spotify
The daddy of the sector, Spotify has been doing on-demand streaming longer than almost anyone, and has plenty of time to refine the concept. It’s got the biggest subscriber base, which means it can offer a huge library of more than 20 million tracks, an easy-to-use interface and strong social features. For £10 a month, you get unlimited access across all your devices – and this covers pretty much anything you can name, from your PC and smartphone to your car.

Google Play Music All Access
Ignore the mouthful of a name, Google’s entry into the streaming space offers all the refinement you’d expect from the web giant. It loses out slightly to Spotify on library size – a paltry 18 million – but it makes up for this by giving you the option to upload up to 20,000 of your own tracks, so you can listen to them anywhere. This locker is free, but for full access, including personalised recommendations and radio, it’ll also ask for £10 a month.

Deezer
For sheer size, France-based Deezer is hard to beat, with more than 30 million tracks available for streaming. It has the usual array of personalised radio stations and recommendations – and is currently offering its unlimited mobile app for just £4.99 a month – that’s 50 per cent off its normal price. For UK customers it also has special offers if you have an EE 4G contract.

Rdio
Perhaps Spotify’s closest rival in terms of library size, price and capabilities, Rdio suffers slightly from a lower bitrate for its tracks. But it more than makes up for this with a clean user interface, great options for sharing an account with family members and strong integration with social media, so you can always share you new favourite with your Facebook friends.

Last.fm
A little different from the services about, Last.fm won’t let you choose a specific track to play, but its personalised radio capabilities are sceond to none. As well as letting you choose stations by genre or artist, the software’s algorithm – known as ‘Scrobbler’ – learns your tastes in music from what you listen to on services such as iTunes and Spotify to build a full – and uncannily accurate – picture of your ideal playlist. Like Spotify, its had a few years to perfect its service, while a recent deal with its rival means users also have access to Spotify’s library as well.

Of course, you’ll want the best experience when listening to your favourite tracks on the go, so once you’ve made your decision about which service – or services – to plump for, don’t forget to check out our range of headphones to make sure you can enjoy it at the best quality.

How to make your smartphone, Kindle or tablet 100% waterproof

100% waterproof BeachBuoy cases

 

Ever wanted to read your Kindle or iPad in the bath? Not sure what to do with your phone or valuables when you jump in the sea? Use our award winning BeachBuoy (or should that be BathBuoy?) and your precious device will be kept 100% waterproof. View our collection of BeachBuoys here and grab yourself 15% off at the checkout using promo code ‘STAYDRY’.

Is social shopping bringing in the new era of ecommerce?

One of the great things about the huge rise of the digital age is the way we can now buy pointless things whenever and wherever we want. Have a sudden urge to buy some power tools at 3am? eBay’s got you covered. Want an obscure book about the history of basket weaving in the Middle Ages? Head on over to Amazon.

And even within the e-commerce landscape, things have changed hugely in recent years. Because going through a standard checkout process is just not easy or quick enough for some people, we’ve got one-click purchase options. If you don’t want to stay in and wait for a parcel delivery that may or may not show up on time, there’s click-and-collect. And if you’re on the high street wondering whether you can pick up that item cheaper online, scanning the barcode into your smartphone can now bring up price comparisons in an instant.

And shopaholics now have a new way to fill their homes with stuff thanks to a new idea from Amazon, which has just launched a way to shop straight from Twitter.

Is social shopping bringing in the new era of ecommerce?

How does it work?

The idea works by allowing users to add products they see on Twitter directly to their baskets through the social network. If you see a tweet that contains a link to a product on Amazon, you can reply to it directly with the hashtag #amazonbasket and the next time you go to Amazon’s website or mobile app, it’ll be in your cart, waiting for you to confirm the purchase.

One of the great things about this is it can help people find the products they want without ever leaving the Twitter app – perfect for when you’re on the move and don’t want to be flicking back and forth between programs. It also works with any Amazon product page, so no matter what you want, if you see a Twitter link to it, you can get it direct – and this includes Proporta’s range of products that are available on Amazon.

In a YouTube video introducing the feature, Amazon explained: “No more switching apps, passwords or trying to remember items you have seen. Save it to your cart and check it out later when it’s more convenient for you.”

A world of innovation

The idea is far from the only innovative solution Amazon has been looking at to make shopping simpler – and it’s not even the most radical. Earlier this year, it detailed plans to deliver items directly to customers through the use of flying drones. Many people assumed this was just a publicity stunt, but founder and chief executive of the firm Jeff Bezos insisted last month that the firm is serious about the plans.

Back on solid ground, however, more practical solutions have included the expansion of its Prime subscription – which guarantees users unlimited one-day delivery for an annual fee – and the introduction of Amazon Lockers at stores, shopping centres and stations throughout the UK – it’s like click and collect without the store.

Combining the keyboard and the high street

But Amazon aren’t the only ones looking to revolutionise the way we use tech in our shopping. If you’ve got an Android phone, for instance, a new update to the Google Now virtual assistant could help connect the world of online shopping much more closely with the high street.

By combining a record of your recent search history with the location data provided from your smartphone, the smart software promises to not only know what products you’ve been looking for – but also where you can pick them up.

So, for example, if you’ve been browsing through Proporta’s range of Samsung Galaxy S5 cases and happen to walk by a store of one of our retail partners – such as Dixons, Argos, Ted Baker and Barbour – you’ll get an alert on your phone letting you know they stock the product you’re after. This means its easy for you to pop in and get a feel for the case yourself.

These are just some of the great new ideas that are aiming to make shopping with your mobile easier and more user-friendly than ever. But remember to download that mobile banking app as well to keep an eye on your balance, as its now so simple to buy things, you might end up picking up a lot more than you planned.

Helping your kids get the most out of tablets

Many of us will have seen that infamous YouTube video of a one-year-old baby swiping her chubby little fingers across the cover of a magazine in a vain attempt to ‘unlock’ it like an iPad, and will either have been appalled or amazed, or maybe even both.

In an age where a third of the UK population now own a tablet, it’s hardly surprising that our youngsters are becoming exposed to them in such a way. But while some accept this as inevitable and think it’s important for children to become technologically literate, others recoil in horror at the thought that the iPad could replace books, toys or actual face-to-face communication.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers raised concerns during a conference in Manchester recently. They suggested that the use of tablets is hindering the development of key skills in infants and young children.

“I’ve spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks,” said Colin Kinney, a teacher from Northern Ireland.

Of course common sense will tell us that it’s not a good idea to plonk a pre-school child in front of an iPad and leave them there all day, but is the use of tablets by children really as bad as it’s made out to be, or might there be some benefits?

Jordy Kaufman, director of the BabyLab at Swinbourne University in Melbourne, Australia reckons there are. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, he said it all depends on how the tablet is being used, as there is a growing market for learning apps that can be every bit as educational as traditional toys.

Speaking to the same publication, Rosie Flewitt from the Institute of Education at the University of London said she believes children banned from using tablets could grow up lacking some of the important IT skills that their peers have acquired through appropriate, supervised use of the gadgets.

So, how can you make sure your kids are reaping the benefits of tablet use without falling victim to iPad ‘addiction’ or missing out on the acquisition of important physical, mental and social skills because their little eyes are permanently glued to a screen?

Used appropriately, tablets can be a great learning tool for children

 

Educational content

Instead of letting your kids play Angry Birds or mess about with OldBooth, make sure that when they do use a tablet they are interacting with educational content and are supervised in doing so.

There is, as Mr Kaufman pointed out, a huge array of apps designed for kids that are both fun and educational, so instead of letting your children loose with an iPad, do a little research to find out which apps will be of most benefit to them and download them onto the tablet yourself.

Appsplayground.com has listed a number of applications it reckons are cool enough for kids, but have plenty of educational content to keep parents happy. There’s Endless Reader and Justin’s World for literacy, Toca Lab and Brains My Body for science and Moose Math and Mystery Math Museum for mathematics.

There are also apps that teach kids the basics of computer programming, apps that encourage their creativity and even apps designed specifically for toddlers to help them learn colours, shapes or animal sounds, for example.

Children’s tablets

Older children, particularly those in secondary school, can obviously benefit from using a real tablet, but if your children are a lot younger and are begging to play with yours, you can compromise by getting them their own children’s tablet.

There are a number of gadgets on the market that mimic the look and feel of a real tablet and work in a similar way using a touch screen – the feature that appears to draw kids to tablets in the first place as it makes them so easy to use.

There’s the LeapFrog LeapPad and the Vtech Innotab 3S for example, both of which let little ones write, draw, take pictures and play educational games, and also feature kid-safe web browsing with easy-to-use parental controls.

And if you don’t want to buy a separate tablet for your children, you can use a child-friendly interface instead which turns your own device onto one your kids can use safely. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, for example, can be turned into a kiddie tablet stuffed with learning games as well as a handy Time Manager feature that lets parents set their own limits on usage.

Strike a balance

Sometimes tired and busy parents are guilty of giving an iPad to a child to keep them occupied instead of spending time on the activities that are most important to a little one’s development. This is especially true for very young children who get bored easily and need constant entertainment.

But using an iPad as a babysitter when you don’t have the time or the energy to play with your children can lead to the kind of problems highlighted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Place limits on the time your children spend using tablets, even if they are playing educational games or using the internet as a learning tool. Encourage them to read books, play board games and get outside as well, because balance is key.

And crucially, supervise your children when they are using a tablet, especially if they are very young. Using the gadget together can boost its educational value, as you can discuss the activities, concepts and information your child is exposed to and enhance their learning through human interaction.

Safety and security

If a child is using an iPad they will be able to access the internet, so it’s just as important to protect them from inappropriate content as it would be if they were using a PC or laptop.

A survey carried out by communications regulator Ofcom last year showed that almost half of parents feel their children know more about the internet than they do, which suggests mums and dads need to swot up a little bit if they want to keep their kids completely safe when using tablets.

Again, supervision is key, but if you can’t be there every time your son or daughter picks up an iPad, make sure you take advantage of the many security features and programs that are available in order to limit what they can do and see via the gadget.

5 of the best iOS fashion apps

Let’s face it, keeping up with the latest comings and goings in the fashion world can be exhausting. But it has to be done, because no-one wants to get caught out being the last person still clinging to last year’s styles.

Happily however, this is the age of the smartphone, and the always-connected tech world isn’t just for keeping up to date with your friends’ coolest Instagram photos and playing a couple of levels of Candy Crush Saga on the bus.

So if you thought the only way you could make a fashion statement with your phone was by fitting it with a smart designer case, think again. There are a ton of apps out there dedicated to keeping fashionistas in the loop on the latest happenings. In fact, at times, it can feel a bit like an overstocked store, where you have no idea where to even start.

So that’s why we’ve picked out five of the most essential fashion apps for iOS that you have to have on your iPhone or iPad.

5 of the best iOS fashion apps

Pose

OK, so you’ve got an important date tonight and no clue what to wear. Or maybe you’re in a store changing room with two dresses and only enough cash for one. So what are you to do? This is where Pose comes in. The app lets you see what top bloggers and celebrities are wearing right now, while you can also get advice based on your location (perfect when the weather isn’t doing what you want it to) or help you identify what goes with what to create the perfect outfit.

Style.com

Always the first port of call for any wannabe designer or fashion editor, Style.com is the number one resource for up-to-the-minute news, reviews and the latest catwalk images. And the app is a great way to get all the trend pieces, interviews and coverage of the latest must-be-seen-at events in your pocket. Its extensive archive offers details from shows going back ten years and access to the site’s entire library of videos.

Shopstyle

If you’re the kind of person who knows what they want when they head into a store – not just a top, but the exact design, colour and more, browsing online can often be a frustrating process, punctuated by frequent mutterings of ‘no, that’s not it either. But all of this hassle can go away with Shopstyle. Essentially Google for fashion, this has millions of products from all the top brands to help you keep up the hottest trends and snag a bargain in the latest sales.

Whisp

These days, it seems like there are a billion messaging apps out there, each looking to fill their own distinctive niche., And guess what – fashion is no different. Whisp lets you chat with your friends, but it also lets you shop together with your BFF online, letting you browse your favourite brands, stores, and styles together –  all in one place. It lets you drag and drop millions of products into the messaging box, so you can instantly get your friend’s opinion.

ASAP54

Have you ever seen someone when you’re out and about and immediately thought ‘where did you get that coat?’, but didn’t want to ask them? Well if you’ve frustrated yourself into insanity trying to find it on Google by typing in the description, ASAP54 could be the app for you. Working like Shazam for fashion, it lets you take snap of an outfit (or a photo you’ve found online, if you prefer) and then use advanced image recognition technology to find it and similar items available to buy near you.

These five are just some of the many great apps out there that help make keeping up with the fashion world, and ensuring you’ve got a wardrobe fit for any occasion, as easy as possible. And when you’re done picking out those must-have items, don’t forget to accessorise your look with one of our great range of iPhone covers.

Mother’s Day – one week to go, get your gifts today

Mother's Day gift ideas

You’ve got just over a week now to find the perfect present for your mom this Mother’s Day and stay in her good books. Luckily, we’ve got it covered with a vast collection of accessories and personalised gifts, so there’s no need to panic. Plus, take 15% off anything from proporta.com by entering GOODBOOKS at the checkout (code valid until May 12th 2014).