Category Archives: Consumer Electronics

Charity shops see business boom as lockdowns end

Across the world people have been locked indoors due to social distancing restrictions because of the ongoing global crisis of the coronavirus COVID-19. It seems that many people have spent that time spring cleaning their homes, with donations to charity shops after the first lockdowns booming. With second and third lockdowns around the world finally lifting it seems charity shops once again are seeing record highs in sales. 

Robin Osterley of the Charity Retail Association (CRA) told the Observer newspaper in England: “We’re anticipating very strong trading when we open up.” Thoughts followed that there would be an especially high number of donations following the Christmas period, as well as people who may have found themselves having done slightly too much online shopping in the past year. 

With social distancing and lockdown restrictions in place to restrict the transmission of COVID-19, charity shops have had to keep their doors closed through most of the year as they were counted as unessential businesses. As a result, shops in the UK were reportedly losing more than 28 million gbp a month since March 2020

In the UK however reports to the BBC described queues outside of high street charity shops with people eager to get in and look inside. Save the Children was one charity that reported a roughly 100% increase in sales for the same period last year. Some suggest the demand comes from the rise in number of people out of work or with reduced income, while others look at the closure of highstreet shops and high online prices as one reason people may be scouring for a bargain. Increased awareness for sustainability could also be another motivating reason for people to be buying second hand and used items. 

There is potentially a mis-match between supply and demand however, as reports were that large amounts of smart clothes were donated, suggesting the trend for comfort loungewear seems set to continue.

Alexa, are you a spy?

Amazon is attempting to address privacy concerns by attaching more privacy settings to its domestic spy bots Alexa and Echo. It’s still astonishing to me that anyone would voluntarily put such devices in their own homes (that used to be the job of secret police units), but maybe I’m just old fashioned. Speaking of which, there is nothing old fashioned about online courier quotes; nothing at all.

If you believe Alexa isn’t listening to everything you do while she’s “asleep,” you’ve got another think coming. (Yes, it’s “think,” not “thing.”) That bot is always active, always absorbing your words and storing them as data to be used as Amazon sees fit.

I know, I know, you have nothing to hide so you don’t care. If Amazon wants to record you having sex, so be it—you’re not bashful. But as Ed Snowden and others have pointed out, saying you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is akin to saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say. Then again, free speech doesn’t seem to be very fashionable these days, so maybe that argument doesn’t resonate much anymore.

Last year Amazon laughably introduced voice controls that allows surveillance targets—er, users, to tell Alexa to “delete” their previous question or request, or even the whole day’s questions and requests! Yes, I’m sure the data is immediately and permanently wiped from Alexa’s memory and Amazon’s servers. Just like Instagram (Facebook) gets rid of your private messages and photos when you “delete” them …

Nevertheless we’ll play along here. Recently Amazon went a step further, allowing users to choose whether their voice recordings are saved by Alexa: you can do this by going to “settings” then “Alexa privacy” then “manage your Alexa data” then “automatically delete recordings.”

In case you were wondering, Amazon discourages the setting, stating that by letting Alexa save your voice recordings you give yourself a better and more personalised experience. And anyway, the transcripts of your voice recordings are still automatically saved for 30 days, at which point Amazon says they’re all deleted.

That reminds me, I’m trying to sell this bridge I just inherited. Super low price. Let me know if you’re interested in the comments section.

Music to my ears! Top headphones of 2020

Whether you’re looking to bring out the bass or some wireless freedom, shopping for headphones can be both a confusing and overwhelming task. So do not fear! We are here to bring you some of the best headphones of 2020, and bring some of those sweet, sweet sonic soundwaves to your eagerly awaiting ears. With 2021 fast approaching, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to upgrade your listening experience!

Headphone trends have taken some deviant turns in recent years. While a dancing black silhouette on a bright single colour pop background, ipod in one hand and swaying headphone wires dancing also was the aesthetic that made the early 00s Apple ipod advertisement iconic, the twitching wires seem a throwback to an almost ancient past. Since 2016 Apple has pushed its airpod wireless headphones into the foreground of the market, citing them as the newest development in audio consumer products whilst in reality utilising long available bluetooth technology. There have been many variations of both sport, recreational and professional headphones that have taken both large and small sized approaches according to the latest fashion trends. Dr Dre’s equally ubiquitous over-the-head beats headphones were all the rage upon their release in 2008, and the tug of war between overt and discrete headphone usage has been raging ever since. 

So what should I look for in 2020? For those wanting both sound quality and freedom for their, the Beats Powerbeats Pro have been a popular choice for many looking to get sweaty in their workout without fear of flooding their headphones to the grave. Elsewhere, Sony has proved themselves a consistent top player in the headphone market, and their release of the Sony WF-SP800N Wireless Earbud has proved no exception. The ergonomically designed headphones are made to sit snugly in the users ears while providing the highest sound quality for both work and play.