30 Nov 2013

My Dream Watch 2: Citizen Eco-Drive Red Arrows Skyhawk A-T

Recently I blogged about the Seiko Astron - my dream watch. It was my dream watch not because of the brand or where it was made but rather because it fulfilled a few specific features which I wanted in a watch. Well, quite recently I came across another watch which ticks all the boxes but significantly cheaper than the Astron. As you might have guessed, I am referring to the Citizen Eco-Drive Red Arrows Skyhawk A-T (Model: JY0100-59E).

It features atomic timekeeping with radio controlled synchronised time adjustment, World Time in 43 Cities and is water resistant to 200 metres. Moreover, it has a Chronograph, power reserve indicator and Citizen's Eco-Drive technology which means that you do not need a battery.

The case is quite big at 47mm and has a black stainless steel Pilot's Rotating Slide Rule Dial ring with silver tone stainless steel bracelet.

It features the official Red Arrows insignia on the caseback and is presented in Red Arrows packaging. The watch retails at £449 - much cheaper than the Seiko Astron models. However, you can get the Citizen Red Arrows Skyhawk for £377.95 on Amazon UK.

26 Nov 2013

Hat with built-in headphones

My beloved Bassbuds earphones has finally reached the end of its life and I was looking for a replacement.

In the meantime, I am using my Senheisers but somehow I don't feel comfortable walking around wearing them. Moreover, as the weather is quite cold, I normally wear a hat and it is really awkward with the huge headphones. Ideally, I would prefer earphones with mics, which I could also use as a hands free kit. 

And I think I might have found the perfect solution - the IHat Music hat. It is a stylish beanie which incorporates removable headphones. 

You can detach the wires if you are not using the headphones.

The speakers 

The hat is really comfortable and the speakers just fit right over my ears. The quality was surprisingly good with very little noise spillage - so you do not annoy your fellow passengers. 

The hat normally costs £19.99 but is now on sale for only £12.99. It would make an ideal Christmas gift. See more affordable stocking fillers from Paramountzone.com

21 Nov 2013

Importance of regular maintenance of audiovisual systems

It is amazing that so many companies invest huge amounts of money and enormous effort in setting up audiovisual systems for the organisations but often do not think about the proper maintenance of the systems. It is extremely costly to call the experts in to fix the system after the system failures have occurred. Besides risk of loss of data and revenue, you also risk losing customers and clients if your organisation is dependent on these systems.

It is crucial to properly and regularly maintain the system for prevention and early detection of system problems. As they say prevention is better than cure and in the case of audiovisual systems, much more cost-effective as well in the long run, rather then having to repair or replace equipment later. If you do not have the people to do the regular maintenance, there are several companies out there which are specialised in delivering these services and support. However, selecting a company to provide these services can be quite tough.

Here is a simple check-list of requirements:

1. Has been operating for several years. Companies which have been operating for 5 years or more, usually have more experience and less likely to go out of business a year down the line as compared to newer startups.

2. Well qualified staff. Do I even need to explain how important this is.

3. Have a good reputation in the industry.

Spintar in the US, is one such company which ticks all three boxes. This privately owned, full-service audio visual service company has been operating since 1986. All their over 100 support and service staff are manufacturer-trained and industry-certified professionals and the company has been named among the industry's top fifty integrators in the US. Furthermore, even though the company is based in California, they provide services nationwide.

Watch their showroom build time lapse video:

18 Nov 2013

Seiko Astron - My dream watch 1

One of my friends recently asked me what my "Grail Watch" was. This term is used among watch enthusiasts to describe a watch you really desire, in other words, your dream watch. My friend's (and mine) grail watch is the legendary Moon watch - the Omega Speedmaster Professional. A really good looking classic watch and definitely on my wish list. But not really my dream watch.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional 42 mm (Steel on steel)

I thought long and hard but I realised that I did not really have a grail watch. I have to admit that I really liked the Tissot T-Touch when it first came out but I am quite happy with my old Tissot PR50. Most of the watches I have owned are digital and I guess that I like watches with lots of functions with buttons you can push, as compared to the boring analog watches.

Anyway, I told my friend that I wanted a watch which was accurate, tough, waterproof to at least 100m, long lasting battery (at least 10 years before changing the batteries) and last but not the least, with World time.

Why World Time? Because I hate the feeling of flying long distances and having to get down at a foreign airport for a connecting flight and not knowing the local time. I always get worried that I might get the local times wrong and miss the connecting flight.

That's why I was delighted when I found out about the Seiko Astron. It is the World's first Solar powered GPS watch which automatically adjusts to the exact local time in all the 39 time zones on earth, with the push of a button. Other features includes a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, water resistance up to 100m and power save function. It is solar powered which means that you do not have to change the battery - ever. Moreover, they have a perpetual calendar that is correct until February 28, 2100.

Kintaro Hattori Special Limited Edition

As you might have expected, the watches do not come cheap and price of the models under this brand range from £1495 to £2995 for the Kintaro Hattori Special Limited Edition (named in honor of Seiko's founder and limited to 5000 pieces). This is on the Seiko UK site. The Omega Speedmaster Professional, which retails at £2880 is actually cheaper than the limited edition Seiko Astron model. Meaning that it is definitely a watch for hardcore Seiko fans I guess.

I found out that you can get the Astron watches slightly cheaper on Amazon. The cheapest was £1,159.86 for the SEIKO Astron SAST009 [Japan import] which costs £1495 on their official UK site. The Seiko Astron definitely ticks all the boxes and is my grail watch for now.

Click image to buy the Seiko Aston on Amazon UK

15 Nov 2013

Replacing Timex Ironman Triathlon battery and straps

The Timex Ironman Triathlon digital wristwatch has come a long way since it was first released in 1986. I have had mine which is in fluorescent Green (T5K434SU) for nearly 2 years now. I was initially looking for a Casio G Shock but when I came across this fantastic deal on Amazon UK - only £17.50 including postage and VAT (normal price is around £55), the decision was made and it has become my favourite watch.

It was an amazing deal for a shock proof that can really take the punishment, waterproof upto 200m, dual time, 100-Hour Chronograph with Lap and Split Times, 30-Lap Memory Recall, 99-Lap Counter and of course the great Indiglo lights.

However, recently the battery died. Then my son went and cut off the strap. I went to some of the watch shops around town and asked them how much it would cost me to get a pair of new straps and get new batteries - I was shocked when I found out that I would have to spend around £40. It would actually be cheaper to get a brand new Ironman Triathlon similar to mine. 

I do not know why I did not think about it before, but it dawned on me one day, that I could probably fix it myself and much cheaper than at the shops. Thankfully I had not thrown it away.

Unfortunately, I could not find the green straps anywhere on the net and finally settled on original black straps from the WatchBattery (UK) Ltd site. They cost me £ 15.49 including delivery. It never occurred to me to contact Timex directly. Anyway, the batteries -  2 DURACELL Lithium CR2016, cost me only £1.45 including delivery. The repair cost me a total of £16.94 - slightly less than the original cost of the watch. 

I was initially a bit worried about the black straps and the green case but it worked out quite well. 

Changing the battery was quite straightforward. Had to remove 4 outer screws and one for the battery latch. It is good practise to change the rubber gasket as well but I left the original one in after cleaning it and brushing the debris. I did not pressure test the watch for water proofing as I did not have the tools but I did test it by wearing it in the bath and there were no leaks - you normally see condensation forming on the inner glass crystal of the watch if there are leaks. 

Here are some pics:   

10 Nov 2013

Easy to install digital light switch timer

I have been looking for a light timer for quite sometime but all the good existing solutions available on the market would need to be installed by a qualified electrician and their services do not come cheap.

Anyway, I was looking for something much simpler and I was delighted when I came across the Light Switch Timer. It was officially launched early this month and was on display at the Gadget Show Live (1st to 3rd November).

According to the police, installing a light timer is a strong deterrent to burglars. A dark house announces that the occupants are not in and is like an open invitation to burgers and squatters (if for a prolonged period). Programmable light switch timers are thus great for people going off on holidays or getting home late.

Now that Winter is finally here, the days are getting shorter and it is dark by the time we get back from the office. A friend who lives alone normally leaves one of the light on in her house when she gets out of the house in the morning, just to give herself peace of mind when she gets home. However, in these tough economic times and from an environmental perspective, that's not a really good idea and finally had a light timer installed in her house. It's quite complex and she can even turn the lights on using an app on her phone. What's great about the Light Switch Timer is that it fits over your existing light switch and requires no wiring. It is powered by two AA batteries.

Installing it was quite simple and took less than a minute. All I had to do was unscrew the light switch (do not have to fully unscrew), slip in the Light Switch Timer cradle and tighten back the screws.

The timer has an easy to read LCD screen and you can programme it to control 1,2 or 3 gang home light switch. I had to read the instructions a few times to fully understand how to programme the digital timer. You can programme it for all 7 days of the week and make up to 9 programmes a day. There are 3 programming modes,namely, random, pre-programmed and manual. The random mode may be useful when you are on holiday. However, I programmed our switch manually to come on around 5:30pm and switch off at 6:00 am.

I can switch on/off the light manually using the on and off buttons as well, in case you are wondering.
Oh! It tells you the temperature as well.

To buy the Light Switch Timer, go over to their website www.lightswitchtimer.co.uk. It is now available at a special launch price of £27.99 (on-line).

As as a special offer to my readers, buy 2 and save an additional 10% and free postage with the code: Lights-on

Hurry! The promo expires on the 18th November.

Note: The timer can only be used on standard type light switches and not on those with a flat profile, flush or larger size switches.