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All In Or Fold? Fears Over Build Quality Of Samsung Galaxy Fold

samsung galaxy fold breaking

The battle to bring something new to the mobile phone market saw Samsung and Huawei announce folding smartphones at their phone keynotes earlier this year.

Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold while Huawei revealed the Mate X. I’m a big fan of Huawei and while many might consider I’m a fan to the point of being biased, I genuinely believe Huawei nailed the folding phone with the Mate X. The screen size and layouts are more impressive and the hinge system means it’ll actually fold flat.

For me, Samsung was always going to be facing an uphill battle with the Galaxy Fold, but with demo models of the phone landing with some tech reviewers already, it looks like Samsung might have rushed this one to market.

How Long Should A €1700 Phone Last For?

The Samsung Galaxy Fold will cost the guts of two grand if US pricing is anything to go by. For that kind of money, you’d expect to get a lot of phone. The appeal of a phone’s screen size is admittedly down to personal preference. It’s completely subjective. What’s not subjective is that kind of money should get you a phone that lasts. Unfortunately for Samsung, who famously recalled the Galaxy Note 7 because of fire risks, it looks like the Galaxy Fold is causing problems for tech reviewers.

Now, I didn’t get one myself and maybe I won’t, but tech editor with CNBC Steve Kovach, tweeted about how his Galaxy Fold is already faulty after one day of use.

In the tweet, you can see the left half of his screen is flickering and completely unusable.

To make things worse, this is not an isolated incident.

Tech Reviewers Getting Bad Folds

Mark Gurman of Bloomberg hit similar issues although, unlike CNBC’s Kovach, Gurman did try to remove a protective coating, erroneously believing it was a screen protector.

Think that’s a silly mistake to make?

One of the best known YouTube tech reviewers, Marques Brownlee, did what any normal human does when opening a new toy. You peel that plastic off. Turns out that’s not a screen protector and peeling this protector off broke the phone.

Gurman also tweeted showing the plastic he removed while also making a very good point. If he thought this was supposed to be removed, you can be sure consumers will do the same. Samsung confirmed to him that you are not supposed to remove this film.

Dieter Bohn from The Verge noticed a bulge appearing along the crease of his Galaxy Fold.

How Can This Happen?

I can only opine as to why this is happening, but for me, it’s pretty clear. Samsung has been struggling to keep up with Huawei. Both Apple and Samsung have lost ground to the Chinese smartphone manufacturer but Apple knows it has an audience ring-fenced. Samsung wanted to celebrate the tenth year of Galaxy with something creative and different, but they also heard Huawei wanted to bring a folding phone to the market.

Samsung’s solution was to rush to the market with its foldable phone.

Why do I think it’s rushed?

Well, there’s a crease down the middle of the screen when unfolded and the hinge mechanism doesn’t allow the phone to fold completely flat. At first glance, I felt the design of this whole phone was rushed. Now, with news that review handsets being sent out to tech reviewers are falling apart, it would appear even more corners have been cut.

While it doesn’t look like safety issues are on the menu for Samsung this time around, the fact you can spend two grand on a phone that lasts just a few days is pretty worrying.

Casey Neistat Video

One popular reviewer who has also gotten his hands on a Galaxy Fold is Casey Neistat. I’m a really big fan of Neistat, but be aware that he does a lot of paid work with Samsung. Here’s his first look at the Galaxy Fold.

 

Introducing the Spotify of news: Newsadoo

How do you get the news? Chances are the answer is through social media. This is a big change to the news consumption of the past like tv and newspaper. As a result, we have all gotten used to the news being free. Everyone can access it any time through their smartphone regardless of the quality. Social media is a big part of news these days as we open our phones over 14 times a day to check our favourite platforms. Our behaviour has changed to news accessing permanently, but rarely thoroughly as we create echo chambers for ourselves. Many of us now subscribe to a number of respectable news sites at a cost. But at what time do these subscriptions add up to become more hassle then they are worth? How do you get news that is not only relevant to you but from safe sources and how do you only pay one? Well, that’s where Newsadoo comes in.

Who are Newsadoo

David Böhm started Newsadoo back in 2017 when he decided he had enough of the likes of Google and Facebook conquering the market and dividing up the advertising revenues between them. Alongside his co-founders Alexandra Auböck and Susanna Wurm he linked up with other like-minded parties to create Newsadoo. The service they provide is not unlike Spotify, bundling a bunch of newspapers and news providers together while using AI to analyse your preferences to deliver you best possible experience. At the Dublin Tech Summit, some heralded them as one of the most exciting startups in the Artificial Intelligence space. It’s hard to disagree with them and believe we when I say it’s very similar to Spotify, just swap the tunes with the news and there you go.

 

Changes in the news

As we mentioned earlier how we consume news has changed dramatically in the last decade or so. While this meant that papers no longer had delays in printing, no longer has distribution costs but it also meant people expected the news for free. This quicker turnover of news meant new players entered the game, sure competition is good but when it’s at the expense of quality and reliability that’s a problem.

Despite spending heavily and earning good viewership numbers on social media, it has not proved possible for these old school news agencies to translate reach into revenue. Sometimes we will see some newpapers offering premium content, where you pay to read that article, now most of the time we just back out and find the story elsewhere. But sure how do we know that source is right? We have gotten used to going onto Facebook, Twitter or Google to find our news for free. But is it free? Well as we have learnt from recent social media scandals, nothing is ever truly free.

Google and Facebook, have benefited from us consuming their news independent of place and time via our phones. As a result of Google now has higher annual advertising revenues that the rest of the publishing industry in the world….combined.

Paywalls, paywalls and more paywalls

Image result for newspaper paywall

This massive generation of capital for the likes of Facebook and Google has traditional media in a pickle. Income from advertisers is not enough to sustain them and that’s in a nutshell why we see those pesky paywalls. Most of us see that pop up to subscribe or pay to continue reading and we bail. Let’s not lie to ourselves here. Other sites have tried another method where you can read 5,10 or 15 articles for free before paying for more, this way only the real fans would pay. Each paywall works differently and the technology is rarely shared, meaning that each paywall is developed from scratch for each media outlet. This just makes things really complicated and they probably aren’t the solution long-term.

Newsadoo believes people are willing to pay for quality content, and they are right just ask either Netflix or Spotify. They also believe the news industry should be no different. So for a price, users can access unlimited content from a range of different sources in exchange for a monthly fee when they launch in Ireland in September.

Essentially, become an online subscriber on one platform and get all the content, job done.

And how does this all work?

The objective is to create a news platform for personalised news, but one that differs from Google News by taking as a basis the collaboration and participation of the publishing companies. It is only by acting together that it is possible to challenge the American giant.

That’s a fairly solid quote from David Böhm, but what he forgets to mention is that Newsadoo is also in accordance with the EU values in relation to data protection. Lot more than could be said about other companies we know about that aren’t exactly in accordance…cough cough, Facebook, cough cough.

Anyway, Newsadoo is very clever. Their team has carefully analysed media use behaviour in Europe and used the findings to create their platform.  We no longer consume the news from a single source, e.g. the daily newspaper, but instead, draw information from many different sources. So they bundle all the relevant sources in one space to make that a little easier.
But that’s not all. Your input, bookmarks, likes and all that good stuff are automatically analysed by their inbuilt AI to drive the system according to your wished and behaviour.  This ensures that you receive what is relevant and interesting to you all of the time.
Identical or very similar content from different sources is recognised automatically and displayed together – not chronologically, but according to your previous preferences.
At the moment they are currently working on the output mechanics so that regardless of whether you interact through iOS, Android or even the Alexa Skill, Newsadoo will communicate with all of them to bring you your news, any-time, anywhere.

Costs and Release

Ok, so right now there is a Beta version of Newsadoo that is available free of charge that I’m messing around with after meeting David at the Dublin Tech Summit. It’s been available since June last year but we are waiting on the apps and the Alexa skills for the time being. This is why their full roll-out won’t be happening until September, well at least on our shores that is.

The start-up plans to introduce the pay-for function in the autumn. Then it will be possible to consume directly on the platform. While the current, free-of-charge basic subscription includes advertising, the pay-for version will offer users an ad-free option. Pricing we aren’t sure on yet but when we know so will you, but my bet is €7,99 a month.

Is this the only way?

Nope, there is another company offering a new pay as you read system. Blendle from Holland you could almost class as the iTunes of news. They work by offering a wide range of US news outlets and charge you anything from 25 to 50cent per story. If you’re only an occasional reader this could be a worthy alternative.

The Goosed Verdict

When you think about it Newsadoo makes a lot of sense. Imagine having to pay for each tv channel individually through a direct payment, where you can only access it through their platform, with a username and password for each channel? Annoying right. Well, when you think about it that’s exactly what people do online now to access content from reputable sources not unlike digital newspapers. Wouldn’t you rather pay once and get all of your subscriptions in one? That’s essentially Newsadoo in nutshell.

Disney Plus is officially on the way, and it sounds glorious

A while back, our boy Jon told you about DisneyLife, a new streaming service available in Ireland. Well for a couple of years now, the world has been waiting for Disney’s new highly anticipated streaming service. Some services they will take on are Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, the recently announced Apple TV+ and of course, Netflix.  This week, they announced Disney Plus.

Industry Leaders

When existing services such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV+ released their services, one thing they lacked was their own original content. Of course, that has changed now. Netflix now regularly release their own big budget tv shows and movies such as “House of Cards”, “Stranger Things” and “Bird Box”. Amazon, of course, claimed the rights to “The Grand Tour” and the highly anticipated new “Lord of the Rings” series coming out in a couple of years which they have pumped a reported half a billion dollars into. But that is not the case for Disney, seeing as they essentially own the entertainment industry. They own Marvel, Lucasfilm, FOX, Pixar, 20th Century Fox, National Geographic.

What to Expect

Disney has a never-ending supply content for all ages that will be included on Disney Plus.

They will have everything Marvel, including their massive cinematic universe and their tv shows that have been around for decades. They also plan on developing an original series about Loki, with Tom Hiddleston reprising his role.

Disney Plus will also have the Star Wars Universe, which will include the tv shows “Rebels” and “the Clone Wars” along with the currently in production new live action tv show “The Mandalorian” which will be released this November on Disney Plus and is being directed by Jon Favreau and starring Pedro Pascal.

They will have all of Pixar’s creations such as “Toy Story”, “The Incredibles” and “Wall-E”.

And, with their acquisition of FOX a couple of years ago, “The Simpsons” will finally be making its way to online streaming.

And of course, they’ll have their own classics, such as “The Lion King”, “Aladdin”, “The Jungle Book”, “Snow White”, “Tarzan”, “Sleeping Beauty”…. the list goes on. They even have all the content they have been airing for years on the Disney Channel.

They have also announced they will spend $1billion on original streaming in the next year.

The point is, Disney has got no shortage of original content that will be available from the get-go. They have had partnerships with the likes of Netflix over the past few years, however, they announced they will be pulling out of those partnerships, which will make competitors sweat. That means no more Marvel for Amazon, Netflix and others which is a massive loss.

A bargain? Or another bill?

The cost of the service in America will be $6.99 a month, so it likely won’t cost much more when it is released in Ireland. A steal considering the amount of content available.

Disney announced it would be released in Western Europe and Asia by the end of this year.  It’s safe to say that other competitors in the streaming market are going to be sweating upon the release of Disney Plus, but for the rest of us, this is going to be a very much welcomed service to look forward to.

Will you be happy to have another expense added to your monthly bills? because it seems that this one will be worth it, and it’s a bargain at that.

Lime Scooters in Dublin Would Be a Terrible Idea

lidl electric e scooter

I ride an electric scooter. Actually, if you’re a regular reader of Goosed.ie, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that. Which is why I’m going to change my tone a little. Electric scooter sharing companies like Lime and Bird might work in other cities, but they would be a disaster in Dublin and should not be allowed. Here’s why.

Could Lime Scooters Be Coming to Ireland?

There are two massive players in the shared electric scooter game:

  1. Bird – Uber’s electric scooter company
  2. Lime scooters

Bird has come as far as the UK and they’ve hired someone to manage the UK and Ireland. Lime scooters have gone one further and registered their business in Dublin.

bird in dublin

Don’t start panicking just yet as I’m fairly sure this move is to set up in Ireland for the tax benefits and to hire teams who will look after the rest of Lime’s European business.

Still, it’s only a matter of time until a public scooter sharing company hits our shores and I personally think it’ll be a terrible thing to happen. Here’s why.

How Public Scooter Shares Work

Electric scooter sharing works because companies like Bird and Lime flood cities with scooters. By doing so, there’s a scooter at the start and end of most people’s potential journey. By having a scooter on every corner it becomes a no brainer for people to scan the barcode on the scooter, pay €1 to unlock and then pay €0.15 per minute. Based on this model, most journeys around Dublin likely riders less than €3.

While that all sounds great, Dublin City is a very old city. I mean that in terms of infrastructure. The roads, while varying from not great in some areas to an absolute disaster in others, are not the issue here either. The problem is our footpaths.

Marie Kondoing City Streets

In countries where electric scooter sharing has become popular, locals generally take exception to the fact these modern modes of transport and left strewn around the footpaths. In a recent Prime Time special where members of the public were interviewed, an American gentleman described this exact scenario as to why electric scooters, in general, are a bad idea; and this is the crux of my point.

Ride-sharing of personal transport already happens in the city with the likes of Dublin Bikes and Bleeper Bikes. The latter faced stiff opposition from Dublin City Council amid fears the bikes would be dumped around the city causing issues for pedestrians. It’s important to note here that those most vulnerable could potentially suffer most here. Dublin footpaths are already some of the toughest to navigate and even areas like Grafton Street spring up challenges, despite being a perfectly wide pedestrian zone.

Most streets in Dublin aren’t as impressive as Grafton Street. Streets are often bumpy, narrow, broken and uneven. In my mind, I can already see scooters falling over, blocking footpaths and ultimately ending up in the Liffey. Dublin City is simply not built for something like electric scooter sharing.

The Lifespan of an Electric Scooter

I ride a Xiaomi m365. It’s a great scooter and I have no major complaints around build quality etc. I do tell people that you need to be willing to get your hands dirty with an electric scooter. Things need tightening and fixing, largely down to Dublin’s bumpy roads. But this is a scooter which I’m running for about 45 minutes per day.

Bird and Lime use, amongst others, the very same scooter as my own one. They slap some branding on it and bolt on some tech for the payments systems, but other than that it’s the same as a personal scooter. The scooters simply aren’t able to survive with people riding them all day long. In addition to normal wear and tear, there’s the theory that you never drive a rental like your own.

Electric Scooters For All

Now, back to the Marty you all know. Electric scooters are still a fantastic solution to Dublin’s horrendous inner-city congestion. I believe buying and riding an electric scooter yourself is perfectly fine. You’ll ride it carefully because it’s your own. You’ll park it responsibly because it’s your own. Ultimately, because people own electric scooters, they’re not a problem. If they’re borrowing them, it could be a recipe for disaster and the powers that be have already shown they have little patience when it comes to scooters in Dublin.

What’s your take? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Change Donations: Donate Digital Loose Change To Charities

change donations ireland

In just a few short years, how we pay for goods and services have changed dramatically.

I can honestly say I rarely have a bank note on me, let alone any loose change. While I find card payments, especially contactless or mobile payments, really convenient, it wasn’t until today I thought about how charities are losing out on the donation of till-side loose change.

Do you know what I mean?

When you used to buy some groceries in the shop and they’d hand you twenty cent change, you probably popped it into the charity box. Well, that’s pretty much a thing of the past thanks to card and mobile payments.

At Dublin Tech Summit 2019, I caught up with Change Donations, a really smart company with a solution to bring donating loose change to charities into the age of digital payments.

Who Are Change Donations?

Change donations is an Irish donations service and the modern answer to popping your twenty cent change from your grocery shop into the charity box beside the till. Say you buy a few bits and bobs worth €19.60. Back in the day, you’d get two twenty cent pieces back and you might have been tempted to pop them into the charity box for a worthy cause. These micro-donations generally make little or no impact on your own pocket, but with thousands of them taking place around Ireland daily, they added up to a significant bit of cash for charities.

Today, you’re much more likely to tap your card and pay the exact amount for your transaction. Sure enough, you’re back up forty cents, but you likely won’t even notice that few cents. Charities, on the other hand, do miss the thousands of these transactions taking place daily and this is the gap Change Donations is trying to close.

Change Donations is a service where you connect your bank account and your bank card. The Change Donations service then looks at your card transactions, rounds up to the nearest euro and donates your digital loose change to a charity of your choice.

Effectively, it’s the exact same as donating the loose change that the shop keeper would have handed back to you.

The example I gave earlier might be a bit rich for some people, so let’s take a closer look at how much control you have over the donations.

Controlling Your Change Donations

In the example I gave, some people might have preferred donating just twenty cents instead of the full forty, which is fair enough. While the platform can’t do this kind of break down you can control your total daily, weekly or monthly donations.

William Conaghan, a co-founder of Change Donations speaking about your donations, explained that “you can cap it at either a daily, weekly or monthly limit, let’s say five euro every month or five euro every day. Or you can turn it off”.

Simply set your limit to a fiver a month and you won’t be able to go over that.

donation limits change donations

If things are particularly tight this month, set your daily limit to zero and when things free up again, either raise your limits or boost your charitable contributions with a once off payment.

boost change donations

For added control over your donations, you can even split your contributions across several charities, choosing exactly which percentage of your digital loose change goes to which charity.

Where Does The Money Go?

Change Donations charge charities a 10% listing fee. This means charities receive 90% of the funds you send them. If your monthly limit is €5, your chose charity will get €4.50. This is a very similar setup to charities who request you donate by texting a keyword to a number to donate a small sum like €4. I looked at Like Charity who runs one of these SMS services and they also charge a 10% fee on donations. The big benefit for charities here is the simple fact that donations will likely be ongoing for months instead of a once off payment. That’s the beauty of microtransaction donations.

Benefits fo Local Clubs

When I met with the Change Donations team at Dublin Tech Summit, I had Jon with me and he quickly spotted the benefit for local clubs. Whether it be grassroots soccer teams or the local GAA club, there’s potential for Change Donations to expand beyond not-for-profits to sports clubs too. I think this is massively exciting for the Change Donations team because I’ve seen local clubs get behind these kinds of initiatives. Through this platform, clubs can mobilise their members, players, friends and families to make constant donations through micro-transactions, adding revenue streams the club can benefit greatly from while the people donating will barely even miss the loose change.

How Does It All Get Set Up?

I just ran through a test set up and it couldn’t be easier. When I chatted with the team behind Change Donations, my immediate concern was linking to bank accounts. Irish banks are notoriously un-digital so how could they possibly get the likes of Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB accounts and cards linked to the Change Donations platform.

Lizzy Hayashida, the co-founder of the service, outlined how it works, stating they “work with two partners. One that lets Change Donations link your bank account and see transactions. That’s ‘read-only’. Then we work with Stripe to make the donation on your behalf to the charity”.

When I set up my Change Donations account this evening, it was remarkably easy and felt very similar to the process which I recently went through while adding a Bank of Ireland account to my KBC account thanks to some PSD2 innovation. While this isn’t a PSD2 integration, it is something the team is looking at down the line.

For the time being, to get set up, you add your online banking credentials into the Change Donations system which allows the system to see your transactions. For the more security conscious of you out there, be rest assured. Change Donations uses 256-bit TLS bank-level encryption. Without getting technical, that’s some serious encryption!

You then add the card you’d like to donate spare change from and voila! You’re ready to go. Quite brilliantly, Change Donations has been cleverly designed that from day one you can use the service with Bank of Ireland, KBC, AIB, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB.

Change Donations: The Verdict

Being totally honest, Change Donations is one of the most exciting ideas I’ve seen in a long long time. I’m a Revolut customer and I do use a feature they have which rounds up my digital loose change into a savings vault. I’ve racked up over €100 euro, purely from rounding off my transactions. I can personally vouch for the theory that you don’t feel the micro-transactions or micro-transactions leaving your pocket.

With the ability to place a limit on the rounding up of your digital loose change, you can strike a happy balance between donations and savings. Everybody wins.

What makes me most excited about this platform is just how on track it all is to be a success. I can really see GAA clubs and football teams around the country getting their members to sign up. Some might focus on the 10% service fee, but in truth, the 90% of donations that charities or clubs do get will be practically a completely new source of income. More importantly, it’s going to be a fairly regular stream of income.

Watch out for these guys. Change Donations is currently in BETA and will launch fully in Ireland, later this year.

 

 

Electric Cars: The Biggest Transport Change in Our Lifetime

electric cars in ireland

I watched Deep Impact yesterday, followed by David Attenborough’s latest documentary on Netflix, Our Planet.

It was a random combination of things to watch but it made me realise something. Movies like Deep Impact, Armageddon and, on a lighter note, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World all make us think about a world-ending asteroid hit on Earth. These are works of fiction, made purely for entertainment and they garner huge amounts of public attention.

Our Planet on Netflix isn’t fiction and depicts a much more real threat to humanity; global warming. There’s a lot we should be doing to protect the environment, but electric vehicles could genuinely be the biggest change we see during our lifetimes. It’s absolutely rooted in fact and not science fiction.

Why Electric Cars Are Key

Electric vehicles are just one way we can all reduce our carbon footprint. They’re not exactly the perfect solution yet, mainly down to question marks around the where electricity is sourced. If the power you charge your car with is being generated from a coal plant, well then electric cars aren’t that green. Fortunately, Ireland has committed to increasing green energy by 2030. We’ve also committed to banning cars with fuel pipes by the same year, but not all countries are the same. This is huge.

Within the next ten years or so, petrol stations will need to rethink how they operate. Fewer people will need fossil fuels and instead will start looking for charge points. Will petrol stations start to vanish altogether? Most people charge their cars at home, so this is a reality we really have to face. I’ll admit, I never look forward to such dramatic changes because we’re talking about people’s livelihoods. People will lose jobs and need to upskill to earn a living.

But this is humanity. We’ve done it before through the industrial revolution. People don’t like change, especially at the hands of technology which has led to a massive amount of misinformation out there.

Trumpian Logic

Today, Donald Trump suggested that the noise from wind turbines causes cancer.

This is the same Donald Trump, President of America, who insists on defending the coal industry and who removed the US from the Paris Agreement.

I try to remain as impartial as possible, but that’s enough. The man is clearly, at best, a complete moron and, at worst, suffering from severe mental illness issues.

Trump is pro-fossil fuels because that’s his demographic. Old-school America that drives big pickup trucks even when you only take a trip down the road. These people still work in mines and feel forgotten about. Or at least they did until Trump came along and promised them a future. Trump is into protecting votes, not the environment.

Thankfully, it’s just America, right?

Politics of Electric Vehicles in Ireland

This might be a cheap shot, but I’m going to take it.

The Healy Raes

Michael and Danny Healy Rae are elected officials in Ireland so it’s not that low a blow. They are TDs which means their opinions, as much as I don’t want to admit it, well, they matter to a certain extent. The two brothers have come out speaking negatively about electric cars on several occasions.

Danny believes the range on electric cars warrants them totally useless while also incorrectly asserting that ‘one splash of water’ is enough to damage them.

Michael Healy Rae believes electric cars to be ‘a load of rubbish’ and that government money could be better spent.

Electric Scooters

Yup, I’m going to talk about scooters, yet again. Last year, TD Noel Rock brought electric scooters up in Dail Eireann. The reason being it was clear they were growing in popularity even though they operate in a grey area. Almost a year later and still, nothing has been done. The problem now is that there are almost 3000 of these on the road in Dublin alone.

Personal Electric Vehicles (PEVs), like electric cars, can help us move towards a cleaner greener environment. Just like electric cars, they’re being hassled too. Gardai have started to seize PEVs for being uninsured MPVs despite many falling beyond the definition of MPVs.

Once again, the green option faces barriers to adoption.

Will These Barriers Stop Electric Cars?

Into the land of speculation we go, but I will claim this to be educated guesswork.

Green Energy

Ireland is making serious commitments towards green energy. By 2020 40% of all our energy will be renewable. By the time we’re heavily dependent on electric cars, that percentage will be much higher.

The Range of Electric Vehicles

In larger countries like the US, UK and Germany, I can kind of understand hesitation over range. Ireland is not that big people. Sure, you might need a charge on your trip, but in the event you do, chances are you should have been taking a break anyway. A Dutchman has just shown just how practical electric cars can be.

Wiebe Wakker and ‘The Blue Bandit’ drove from the Netherlands to Australia using only an electric car. Through his ‘Plug Me In’ website and Twitter account, he asked members of the public to give him a place to crash, eat or charge. He was on the road for 1,119 days with the aim of showing just how viable electric cars are as a proper replacement for fossil fuels like petrol and diesel.

Wakker drove a modified Volkswagen station wagon now named the Blue Bandit. Before the car was modified, it would have used a whopping 6,785 litres of petrol to complete the journey.

The Misinformation Around Electric Cars

This will only stop if we’re all aware of it. Trump’s comment on wind turbines is laughable, but that’s kind of the problem too. While sensible people laugh at the notion, old school America laps it up. While the Healy Raes, particularly Danny, are laughed at for their backwards way of thinking, I don’t doubt for a second people around the country listen to them, maintaining it’s politicians like them that remember the locality.

Protecting the environment for future generations required us all to think about people other than ourselves. It’s our children and their children that will benefit most from the introduction of electric cars. It’s without doubt the biggest change we’ll go through in our lifetimes, but the rewards for humanity and the ecosystems you can see in Netflix’s Our Planet right now that are greatest.

ROAV Viva Pro: The Echo Dot In Your Car

roav viva pro echo dot in car

The raw chicken moment.

This is what every company developing an app or skill for the likes of Amazon Echo or Google Assistant is focused on. The raw chicken moment is about finding the perfect moment in a person’s day where voice-controlled assistance is needed. You’re making dinner, cutting chicken and need to set a timer. “Alexa, set a ten-minute timer”. And there you have it. The raw chicken moment. Driving is another obvious example of this and I’ve been testing out the ROAV Viva which is effectively an Echo Dot in your car.

What is ROAV?

ROAV is the automotive element from one of my favourite brands; Anker. They are focused on bringing smart home tech into the car including dashcams, smart chargers and, as you might have guessed, voice controlled devices through the VIVA range.

VIVA Pro in car
My ROAV Viva Pro in my KIA C’eed

Voice control is the most exciting in my eyes given the additional control over gadgets and communication this gives you in the car.

ROAV Viva Pro: Features

The ROAV Viva is both like and unlike traditional in-car phone chargers. In the ‘like’ pile, you get in-car charging by plugging a device into your cigarette lighter socket. The exciting stuff comes from the ‘unlike’ features.

Amazon Alexa: Like an Echo Dot in Your Car

The biggest feature of the ROAV Viva is the fact it’s powered by Amazon Alexa. Effectively, this means popping a ROAV Viva into your car is the same as having an Echo Dot in your motor. More on what that means for your driving experience later.

New Age Charging Technology

ROAV’s parent company, Anker, was founded on the idea of making top-notch power products.

No surprise then that ROAV packs in some fast charging technology and two USB-out ports allow you to charge your phone. I’ve had in-car chargers in the past that only slow down your battery dying, so having a great in-car power source for my phone is fantastic.

ROAV Viva Pro charging tech

Universal Connectivity

Modern cars are coming fitting with a range of great tech, including Apple CarPlay, voice control and Android Auto. Great if you want to fork out for a new car, but ROVA Viva Pro lets you add all this tech to a much older car. This is possible down to how versatile the device is. You can connect the Viva to your car through Bluetooth if your stereo supports it, AUX if it’s available and you have an AUX cable and even through a built-in FM transmitter if all else fails.

It’s important to note there are two devices: the ROAV Viva and ROAV Viva Pro. Both are very similar but the Viva Pro gives you the additional connection options of AUX and FM transmission.

Benefits of Having Something Like Echo Dot in the Car

What are the raw chicken moments you have in your car? Having something like an Echo Dot in your car thanks to the Viva Pro can overcome some common problems and enrich your in-car entertainment experience.

Making Calls

One of the most obvious benefits of Alexa in your car is making calls. the Viva Pro comes with the additional benefits of offering great call quality and noise cancellation. If you know other people with Amazon devices, you can also drop in on their Echo just like you would Echo to Echo.

Bonkers Amount of Radio Stations

Amazon Alexa supports TuneIn radio which features a wide range of radio stations from around the globe. Sure, you have a perfectly good radio in the car, but having a ROAV Viva means I can listen to local radio from Kilkenny in Dublin. It goes beyond that too. If you’re living in Ireland but come from abroad, having a Roav Viva means you can listen to your favourite radio stations from back home. I love this feature.

Navigation

GPS navigation is another logical feature for when you’re in the car. If you’re driving along and need a route change, you can simply tell Alexa where you need to go and your phone will start navigating.

Smart Controls

Once you have Alexa controls in the car, you also have the power to control other devices. Now, this is going to be a great feature in the States where nearly everyone, according to TV and Hollywood, has a garage with electric doors. In Ireland, there might be limited uses for these features. Like, I can control my smart lights in my gaff from the car now. Honestly, that’s pretty useless to me, but if you have an automatic gate or external lights at home, I could see connecting all these together being really useful.

Spotify: The One Catch

The only catch with the ROAV Viva and Viva Pro is that they don’t support Spotify yet. This wasn’t too big a problem for me because I’m an Amazon Prime member. I just swapped over to Amazon Prime Music. But if you don’t have that luxury, I could see you being a little let down by the lack of support for Spotify.

Surely it’s only a matter of time until ROAV gets Spotify onboard considering it’s on the average Echo Dot, so watch this space.

ROAV Viva Pro: The Verdict

I love this thing. I’ve got both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices in my home, so I’m already well versed in how to use smart assistants in my daily life. I don’t think you do need to have other Amazon Alexa devices to get the most out of the Viva or Viva Pro. These gadgets immediately transform your in-car experience to be much smarter.

The ROAV Viva is another brilliant gadget from Anker that can give you a lot in return for less than €100. As always, pop your questions in the comments or drop us a line on social.

Pick up the ROAV Viva Pro for around €60. I also recommend pairing this with a magnetic phone holder that I reviewed ages ago and is still going!

 

Quad Lock Bike Mount Review: The Deliveroo Phone Holder

quadlock bike mount

When I’m looking for products to review, I get inspiration from some strange places.

Sometimes, it’s two odd places. It’s fairly public knowledge that I’m a massive electric scooter fan, but my own scooter doesn’t have a screen. This means you need to use an app on your phone as your display. Naturally, this means you need a good phone holder. One night, a Deliveroo rider was dropping off a takeaway and I spotted the bike mount they were using for their phone and I just had to try it. They were using a Quad Lock bike mount; which also fit scooters – just about.

When I’m looking for products to review, I get inspiration from some strange places. Sometimes, it’s two odd places. It’s fairly public knowledge that I’m a massive electric scooter fan, but my own scooter doesn’t have a screen. This means you need to use an app on your phone as your display. Naturally, this means you need a good phone holder. One night, a Deliveroo rider was dropping off a takeaway and I spotted the bike mount they were using for their phone and I just had to try it. They were using a Quad Lock bike mount; which also fit scooters – just about.

What is Quad Lock?

Whether you ride a bicycle, a motorbike, an electric scooter or drive, chances are you’ve looked for a phone holder at some stage. There are a lot of options out there but Quad Lock always seemed to be the choice of people who generally know what they’re talking about.

Quad Lock is more than an iPhone holder or a mount for your smartphone; it’s a whole phone holder solution for a range of scenarios. First, you either buy a case that fits your phone or buy the universal fitting which sticks onto most phones.

This gives you a locking point.

quad lock for huawei mate 20 pro
My Mate 20 Pro fitted with a Quad Lock system

That’s the super simple part. Quad Lock gets really clever when it gets to the secondary part of the whole system; the mounts.

My Xiaomi m365 with Quad Lock mount sans phone

In the above image, you can see my Xiaomi m365 electric scooter with the Quad Lock mount. I’d removed the phone to grab a quick picture, which means you can see the mount system.

And that’s the beauty of the system, to be honest. If you’re stuck at a red light or pulled over needing to take a called, the Quad Lock system means you can pop your phone out ridiculously fast. Putting it back in is just as fast. You angle your phone at a 45-degree angle, press down and twist it back to 90-degrees. Just like that, your phone is safe has houses in a nice convenience place.

How easy is that?

Benefits of the Quad Lock System

For me, the benefits of the Quad Lock system were pretty simple, but I would imagine these same benefits would be felt by mountain bikers, Deliveroo riders or my fellow electric scooter riders.

Give Yourself A Display

This system means your phone is in a great location on your bike or scooter. You can seen the screen nice and clearly without having to fidget while you’re on the move. If you’re following maps or trying to find a JustEat or Deliveroo customer, this is extremely valuable.

Free Your Phone

The ability to grab your phone for a quick call, photo or Google Search on the go is priceless. Being able to put it back just as quick is also quite the treat.

Stability

I’ve used a few phone mounts and holders over the years. From clamps to magnetic solutions, I’ve never really trusted the holder in bumpy scenarios. Riding a suspension-less electric scooter is a great test for the Quad Lock system. If you’re in the market for a mountain biking phone holder, I’d imagine this is what you’re after given the punishment mine has survived.

Versatility

When I started looking into the Quad Lock range, I kind of assumed it would just be a simple enough handlebar mount. Instead, I found a wide range of fittings and options to suit your needs. You can get one of these mounts to fit the stem of your handlebars, the handlebars themselves, your car, a strap on your arm for running and even fittings to suit motorbikes. The level of detail these guys went into is best seen in the fact they have a special handlebar mount which also has an additional piece which lets you hang your GoPro from the Quad Lock mount.

I don’t often say this, but it’s very clever.

Which Phones Does Quad Lock Fit?

You have two options when it comes to buying one of these mounts. First up, if you’re using an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, you can buy a case with the mounting point built into it. Secondly, if you don’t have one of these phones, you can buy a universal mount and stick this onto any phone.

While both systems work similarly, the universal mount does come with the only real flaw I could find in all of this.

One Catch With Quad Lock

When I opened up my phone mount system, I followed what seemed to be fairly simple instructions. Using the provided wipe, I cleaned off my phone case and prepared it. I reluctantly removed my Popsocket because the mount takes up most of the phone’s real estate (nope that’s not the problem). Next, I peeled off the cover which protects the mount’s sticky pad and pressed it against the case. I removed the phone from the case for this so I could REALLY press the two together.

I held this for about a minute or so, but when I released it the mount immediately fell off.

It turns out that you can’t stick the universal mount to certain cases made from rubber. Now, I’m not sure but I’d imagine that’s most smartphone cases. I can’t imagine many would be happy enough to stick the mount straight onto the phone either as this means no more case for you. My solution was lots of super glue which did work, but it’s a little messy still.

Quad Lock: The Verdict

If you’re after an iPhone bike mount or a Samsung phone holder suitable for a mountain bike, you really can’t look anywhere other than the Quad Lock phone mount. It’s brilliant, easy, quick and reliable. The one snag is the universal mount probably won’t stick to a lot of good phone cases on the market. It’s not a deal-breaker, there’s a workaround and I learned to live with it but just be aware that it’s not the absolute perfect solution unless you’ve got a Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone.

Quad Lock is available on Amazon.co.uk starting at €65. Check out our guide to ordering from Amazon UK to Ireland. It could save you a packet.

Amazon in Ireland: Free UK Shipping And Some Other Tips

Amazon Ireland work around amazon free UK delivery to Ireland

With Brexit still around the corner in what seems to be a never-ending corridor of WTF, shopping over on Amazon.co.uk is still an option for consumers in Ireland. Actually, it looks like it won’t be going anywhere any time soon. I’ll be honest, I fully expected Amazon Ireland to appear in the two years since the UK announced they would be leaving the EU.

I’ll admit, sometimes I feel a little guilty about shopping with Amazon. They’re a massive company and quite a few people believe online shopping is killing the high street in local communities. Unfortunately, we can’t always focus on shopping with local stores and we need to go shopping online. Having these two options of shopping online with Amazon or shopping with a high street store, I’m left asking these two questions.

  • Do I need it right now or can I wait a few days?
  • Could I save a few bob by buying them on Amazon?

If you’re really clever, you can even avail of free UK delivery to Ireland too using some tricks of the online shopping trade.

Benefits Of Shopping On Amazon.co.uk?

The UK online shopping market is huge compared to Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, us Irish are hefty online shoppers too, but the UK is bonkers for online spending. As a result, the range available online in the UK is amazing. Online retailers offer a huge range of products you could only dream of picking up on the high street in Ireland. Because they shift larger volumes, there’s also a fair chance you’ll pick items up cheaper from the UK.

Some online stores are still coming to terms with home-shopping but it’s becoming easier to shop online than traipsing into town. The likes of Amazon, Zara and Mango make shopping online and returning either in-store or by mail really straightforward. In the case of Amazon, their customer care is nothing short of incredible.

Back when I started using Amazon I forgot to cancel my Amazon Prime trial and was charged the annual membership rate. That’s about €95. After five minutes on web chat, I was refunded with a full apology. Yes, an apology for my mistake. On another occasion, they covered my Parcel Motel costs for a return, but more on that later. I digress.

Shopping on Amazon opens up a world of choice and the piece of mind that they care about customers. Go a step further, and get yourself an Amazon Prime trial to really live it up like royalty with next day delivery (which takes about two days to Ireland).

But Isn’t Amazon.co.uk Just For The UK?

This is where things get a little interesting. With Brexit just around the corner, this might very well change, but many of the sellers on Amazon.co.uk offer delivery to Ireland. Whether or not there is a charge or not varies between sellers. Others will only ship to the UK, but believe it or not, this is where your biggest chance to save some money lies.

How to Use Parcel Motel with Amazon to Get Free UK Delivery to Ireland

When a seller insists on only shipping to the UK, all is not lost. There is a free delivery trick you can use with the likes of Amazon. In recent years, there has been a rake of new shipping partners popping up in Ireland and the best known of these is Parcel Motel.

When you sign up to Parcel Motel, they give you a free virtual UK address. You pop this in as your shipping address when shopping on Amazon.co.uk. Parcel Motel will recognise your order and do the rest. The virtual UK address itself is free, but you’ll pay €3.95 per day your package waits in a Parcel Motel.

Of course, this delivery trick will work with hundreds of UK stores that don’t deliver to Ireland.

How Does This “Parcel Motel-Amazon Free Delivery Trick” Work?

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of having a virtual UK address. Having one has grown massively in popularity over the past few years. Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for Parcel Motel
  2. Get your virtual UK address
  3. Shop and Amazon, delivering to your virtual UK address
  4. Parcel Motel will then ship to Northern Ireland and driver your package to a locker of your choice in Ireland.
  5. You’ll pay €3.95 for every day your package remains in the locker.
Image of a Parcel Motel site courtesy of John Finn

Of course, this is handy when sellers only ship to the UK, but you should always check UK shipping costs. You’ll often save money by choosing free UK delivery to your Parcel Motel over standard delivery to Ireland.

What to Look out for When Shopping with Parcel Motel

While it’s a great service, you do need to know a few things when shopping with Parcel Motel.

Limited Lockers

If you’re shopping around Christmas, give yourself plenty of time. There are limited lockers and if someone doesn’t pick up their package, you could be waiting for space. The lockers also have size restrictions. Big packages or bulk orders might need to be collected from the depot.

Double-Check Your Dates

The delivery date Amazon provides is the date your package reaches Parcel Motel. They will usually take at least another day to get your package to you.

Parcel Motel Alternative

There are a few scenarios where you may need to use a Parcel Motel alternative. One particular situation you might yourself in is an Amazon seller not offering delivery to the island of Ireland, or limiting to mainland UK only.

The reason why some items cannot be shipped to Northern Ireland comes down to what you’re trying to ship. For example, to get that screenshot I looked at a power bank. Items are usually shipped via air and some postal companies have strict rules against lithium-ion batteries being flown by air. 

One way around this is to use An Post’s AddressPal service. Parcel Motel works by using an address in Northern Ireland. AddressPal uses an address in England, which means the first leg of your delivery never leaves England. Technically, you shouldn’t be able to get smartphones or power banks delivered via AddressPal either as they’re restricted items, but I’ve heard from many shoppers who’ve received their packages no problem at all.

Shop With Confidence

There you have it. The handiest way to save some money, shop online and have your package wait for you. We often get asked, what does Amazon think about Parcel Motel. The honest trust is, they are very supportive of the service. As I mentioned above, Amazon has covered the cost of me returning items through Parcel Motel in the past. I was really impressed recently to receive an email from Amazon ensuring I was using Parcel Motel properly:

That’s as close to an endorsement as you get.

Will Amazon Ireland Ever Be a Thing?

Given time, it will be impossible for Amazon to ignore the value of entering the Irish market. With the now inevitable Brexit visible on the horizon, it’s likely that Amazon Ireland will be a thing sooner rather than later. It’s hard to tell just how virtual UK address providers will last through Brexit, so it makes sense for Amazon to set up shop in Ireland.

You can sign up to Amazon Prime Video in Ireland right now. This is actually Amazon’s only official service to Ireland right now.

If you have any questions all of this craic, pop them into the comments below.

Amazon Echo Now Supports Apple Music

apple music on amazon echo

iPhone is purely a secondary device for me so my music listening is spread across Amazon and Spotify. With this in mind, I apologise for never realising Apple Music users couldn’t easily stream their tunes on an Amazon Echo. The good news is, Amazon and Apple are finally seeing eye-to-eye on this one.

While this appears to have launched Stateside in mid-March, Irish users can now enjoy this feature too.

Stream Apple Music on Amazon Echo

The first thing you’ll need to do to enjoy Apple Music on an Amazin Echo is to have a subscription to Apple Music and an Amazon Echo device. In the Amazon Alexa app on your phone, you can link your Apple Music account to your Amazon account.

Once you’ve done this, Amazon says playing music gets really easy. All you need to do is holler out something like “Alexa, play today’s hits on Apple Music” and away you go.

It might seem like a fairly simple thing, but I bet there are some users out there who have Apple Music and Spotify, with the latter being kept for the smart speaker in the living room.

Problem solved.

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