An Overview of Tablets available at Argos.

I was recently invited to test a selection of tablets available at Argos, with some other bloggers. We all brought our own tablets and had the chance to compare the ones on display. We also talked about what we look for in a tablet and what sort of tablet would suit our children.

In our household we have 2 iPad’s. One that belongs to me and one that belongs to my husband. The kids are allowed to play games we select for them but they aren’t allowed to have their own tablets or games consoles. I think the reason for this is that we feel it’d be harder to monitor or fight against screen time, without the excuse that we need our iPads back! I think at some point we’ll get my son (age 7) some sort of computer to play games on but we’re putting it off for as long as possible.

It was really interesting to look at all the different tablets, especially as when you get the chance to actually play with them you get a better idea of whether or not they would suit your kids and also if they’re the sort of gizmo that they’ll just tire of quickly. The first I looked at was the Leapfrog LeapPad (kids) £109.99 (info in italics copied from Argos).

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The LeapPad looks like your tablet but it’s kid-tough with an ultra-tough frame and friendly controls. They can write, draw, take photos, make videos and have access to 500+ games, eBooks and music which have all be approved by LeapFrog learning experts. The browsing option even has parental settings for easy fine-tuning.

• Child safe LeapPad Ultra offers extra parental settings and tools that allow parents to easily control exactly what experiences their child has access to.
• LeapPad Ultra comes with 11 custom apps including: photo fun ultra, art studio ultra, pet pad party, utility suite, pet chat and LeapFrog learning songs.
• Features rechargeable lithium ion battery, Wi-Fi, peer-to-peer play, front and back camera/video recorders and MP3 player.
• LeapPad Ultra works with LeapFrogs award-winning library of hundreds of educator-approved apps, games, eBooks, videos, music and more.

I liked this tablet but felt that it would have a short “interest” life. The trouble is that our kids are so tech savvy these days, that if they’re used to playing on an iPad for example, this just looks a bit babyish. I think in reality is would suit from 18 months (that sounds shocking but Izzy’s been playing on the iPad from at least that age!) to about 4. So unfortunately, although I think all of them would like to own one, the fact that we won’t buy them a tablet until they’re older rules it out for us. If you want to get a tablet for your little ones though, this is fantastic and very hardy!

The second one I looked at was the VTech Innotab 2
VTech InnoTab (kids) £49.99.

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Here’s the blurb.

With the InnoTab 2 kids will have so much fun they won’t even realise they’re learning! This multimedia handheld tablet combines educational games, creative activities and e-books. The InnoTab just got better; it now features a built-in twist camera!

• Features a 5 inch LCD touch screen and G-sensor for fun game play.
• Now includes a rotating self-portrait camera, for photos and video and features a microphone for enhanced game play. Includes USB cable.
• Children can develop core skills in reading, spelling, maths, logic and creativity with the many included activities such as an e-reader, art studio, video player and photo viewer.
• InnoTab 2 is also compatible with the Kidizoom range of products.
• Parents can download additional games and learning apps from their computer (SD card required, not included) via the VTech Learning Lodge Navigator site.
General information:

• Size H28, W33, D6cm.
• Batteries required: 4 x AA (not included).
• For ages 4 years and over.
• EAN: 9086692.
WARNING(S):

• Not suitable for children under 3 years old.
• Only for domestic use.

I though this was pointless. It was very basic and not a patch on the Leapfrog LeapPad. The screen was very small and it just looked like a cheap product. I wouldn’t recommend it as I felt it had a short interest life and wasn’t sophisticated enough for the kids of today.

The Bush 7 Inch MyTablet Now £49.99.




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Bush MyTablet is a sleek 7 inch tablet designed for fun and tailored to you, with free pre-loaded games and apps, social networking, internet browsing, and a home screen that you can personalise with your favorite apps, photos and with your name.
• Expandable up to 32GB.
Display:

• 7 inch screen.
• Resolution 1024 x 600 pixels.
• 1.6GHz processor.
• 1GB RAM.
• 8 GB internal storage.
• Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system.
General features:

• Webcam.
• Wi-Fi enabled.
• Bluetooth – enabling you to easily and wirelessly connect with other bluetooth enabled devices.
• 3.5mm stereo headphone jack.
• microSD memory card slot.
• Mini HDMI.
• Micro USB.
Additional information:

• Up to 5 hours battery life (depending on usage).
• Bush.

I thought this looked like a nice piece of kit but fundamentally it’s a budget tablet with very poor battery life and low storage capacity. Where this may well come into its own though is for a child who wants to play games and have a smart looking tablet. Feedback from these has been that they’re not ideal for watching films or videos but they’re fine for basic use, which for kids means games. Overall I’d say this would be fine for a child who wasn’t expecting it to be able to everything an iPad can do.

Nexus 7 £149.99
The ASUS Nexus 7 is all about having your favourite things available, even when you are not close to WiFi. It features a mobile data connection that allows you to access your favourite media content in non-WiFi areas. The 7 inch screen is the perfect size screen for commuting – small enough to fit into your pocket or bag.
• 1.2MP front camera.
7 inch screen.
• Resolution 1280 x 800 pixels.
• IPS technology.
• LED backlit display.
• 1.2GHz NVIDIA – Tegra 3 Quad-core processor.
• 1GB RAM.
• 16 GB internal storage.
• Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system.
General features:

• Webcam.
• Wi-Fi and 3G enabled.
• Bluetooth – enabling you to easily and wirelessly connect with other bluetooth enabled devices.
Additional information:

• Up to 9.5 hours battery life (depending on usage).
• Weight 340g.
• EAN/MPN/UPC/ISBN: 4716659260691.
• Google.

I though this was a fantastic little tablet and definitely my favorite of the selection I looked at. It may be £50 more expensive than the Bush but it’s leagues better. The screen definition is excellent and it’s a joy to watch video on. Of all the tablets I looked at. This was my favorite and the one I would recommend. Having said that, when all’s said and done, I’m an iPad gal and this lady’s not for turning.

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Christmas + New Year = Totally Skill

I’ve rarely had such a lovely Christmas and New Year. I have to say I think it’s largely down to the fact that Ferg had so much time off but it was also just generally brilliant. Ferg and I have started a tradition of going out for a hot date on Christmas Eve and this year we met his dad for dinner at the hotel he was staying at. That was lovely. Then, we went on for a drink, which was lovely and then we stayed up too late nattering and that was lovely too. Christmas day was just us five, my mum and Ferg’s dad, and that was very relaxed and… you guessed it, lovely!

New year was with our best friends and they are basically just LOTS of fun. Our children love each other and it’s always just easy. Weirdly, despite my whinge about Isabelle not going to sleep at bedtime she actually slept through until 6am for all three nights we were there, so we weren’t even ruined by lack of sleep. Heaven.

So, home and Ferg’s back to work. The lovely thing was that we hadn’t made our cardboard igloo yet so we made it this morning – which was great for about an hour and a half and then largely forgotten, kids eh?
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After, playing inside it for a while, the kids then decided to colour it in with pencils, fuelled by some frenzied pencil sharpening from me.
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Anyway, it’s MASSIVE. I don’t seem to be very good at dimensions. Everything I buy is always so much bigger than I think it is. As you’ll see from the photos, the igloo takes up most of the space in the playroom. Fergus is obviously delighted that I bought another massive thing, especially a cardboard massive thing as we’re currently hemorrhaging recycling. We (I say WE, whilst flaring my nostrils and raising an eyebrow) forgot to put out the recycling bin so have an enormous Christmas backlog of wrapping paper and packaging. So, a gigantic cardboard igloo which came in a gigantic cardboard flat-pack box is not really a welcome addition to the family. Having said that, I think that after getting a George Forman grill (amongst other things to be fair…) from my husband for Christmas, a bit of extra recycling can be forgiven, don’t you?

Christmas Turkey Pesto Surprise!

Ok, I don’t want to torture you with anticipation so, the surprise is cream! We should all have the following in the fridge and larder as its Boxing Day;

Cooked turkey
Pesto (come on, surely you have some pesto?!)
Pasta shapes (whatever shapes you fancy)
Single Cream (probably left over from Christmas Day because everyone went for the brandy cream instead.)
Bit of oil.

Put pasta on to boil
Re-heat the turkey in the frying pan with a little oil
Add a heaped teaspoon of pesto to the turkey.
Pour in some cream when you have 4 more mins left on your pasta, so that the consistency is a good sauce-like consistency (I know, I’m a very technical chef).
When pasta is boiled just mix in with the turkey sauce.

Mmm tasty. The children might even eat it…

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And so this is Christmas… Well almost anyway.

Well so far we’re having a lovely Christmas. The hubster is home with us until January 2nd, so I almost feel like a lady of leisure! Here I am, lounging around, alone in bed with my iPad, without having to push crazed children, who are desperate to play the “dinosaur game” (darn you to heck dinosaur game!) away from my screen. Bliss. A cup of tea would probably complete my joy, but hey let’s not get greedy.

So today we’re off to church for the nativity service where all the kids and any sporting parents, can dress up as an angel, a shepherd or a king. The only one in our family getting dressed up is Maisie and I’m not entirely sure she’s going to comply. You see, I’ve made her an angel costume. I say “made”, what I mean is, “cobbled together”, some old net curtains and a bit of tinsel. Someone has assured me that going old school and making a costume is much better than simply buying one from Sainsburys, but I’m not convinced. I think as it stands currently, it looks like a sort of lacy, make do and mend, toga. Even if you squint whilst looking out the side of your eye it’s pretty rubbish, but hey ho, no one’s going to be looking at my kid anyway, they’ll be looking at their own, thinking how cute they look, or fuming because they’ve refused to wear the costume that Mummy spent hours creating, so I’ll probably get away with it.
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After that, who, knows? Maybe we’ll make mince pies, maybe we’ll play grandmothers footsteps? Maybe we’ll put the baby down for a nap and stick the kids in front of the telly for some peace and quiet! What I do know is that there’ll be 2 of us doing it for almost 2 weeks and that really is bliss. I love Christmas.

Easy Peasy Biscuit Recipe

I was on the hunt the other day for a very simple biscuit recipe with as few ingredients as possible and this is the one we decided to try and the results were pretty good. I got it from http://www.thecakerecipe.co.uk/easy-biscuit-recipe/ which has loads of good cake recipes on it. I also liked it as it contained less butter than lots of others I looked at. I actually adapted it a bit from the original and my version of the ingredients is below.

Ingredients:
6oz (150g) plain flour
4oz (100g) butter
2oz (50g) sugar
1 desert spoon of vanilla extract.

Method (copied and pasted from the site with my changes in italics)

Pre-heat oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ Gas Mark 4
Sift the plain flour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar (I don’t bother sifting)
Rub in the butter and bring mixture together
Add the vanilla extract (I found that the mixture was a bit too crumbly without it.)
Roll out to 1/4″ (6mm) thickness
Cut using a biscuit cutter
Place biscuits (using a palette knife) onto 2 or 3 lightly greased baking trays
Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown (I did it for 10 mins but we have a fan oven which tends to be hotter)

Don’t worry if it seems like the mixture is a bit crumbly as long as you can roll it and it sticks it’ll be fine and the end result is super tasty!

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