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The Guide - 2021

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Looking for a last minute gift idea - how about a whole shop full of them.

Situ Live- Is this the future of shopping?

Situ Live at  Westfield in London is a new concept.  It is not designed to be a shop but an experience.  Fashion shops started this trend by offering personal shoppers and prosecco in store to tempt people and make shopping fun again.

Situ Live has transport methods including Perry hopper ebike, e-scooters and a very stylish Maserati in the window.  Motorola phones and Lenovo folding tablet.

However, unlike in a shop they actually want you to touch and play with the products.  You don’t just look at the speakers in the lounge set up, you can hear them, you can ask to hear your favourite track.    If you want to see the mood lighting by Lutron then you get handed the controllers so you can adjust this to your preference.

Then on to the bedroom where currently there is a zero gravity bed, an Epson projector which for an incredibly short distance is putting a huge display on the wall. A Lumie light for those who struggle to wake up.  A B &O speaker that you could hide on your bookcase and lots more.

Then past a play area with the Occulus VR headset for the adults and some seating and children’s toys including Yoto player and Osmo genius pack for ipad .  No guessing if your children like a game let them play and see how engaged they are Then if you are into gaming machines this currently has a display of Lenovo’s gaming brand, again these are not in demo more you can play and see if you actually like them.

Then into the kitchen which is full of Bosch products including refrigeration, dishwashers, stand mixers they can demonstrate.  Then a Sage coffee machine that is designed to make the user into a barrister…help your self- make a cup of coffee.  It is so refreshing- you don’t guess if you like something you can find out. If you are into recycling what about Sage’s dehydrator to turn your food waste into compost.  There are planned to be regular demonstrations in the kitchen area too.
Then onto the gym area which is currently displaying Nordic track products.  The treadmill featuring ifit allows you to enjoy workouts around the world on a huge screen.  That’s one way to liven up your workout or you can even set up a google route.  So plug in the London Marathon and start your training on a treadmill.  Plan your trip across the Atlantic and start your rowing practice here.
Carrying on further round and you are looking at a possible set up for your home office which given many first are looking at hybrid arrangements.  A standard desk and sit/stand desk that is better for your health that rises and falls on a simple touch of a button. So why keep working at the dining table- you deserve better.  Lenovo are sponsoring this with their range of laptops and screens for work.
Then finally an eye-catching Maserati with gull wing doors and again feel free to touch imagine your self driving this car.  

Situ Live plan to spread this experience to regional centres and then to go international however they plan to make the experience match the local area’s particular interests.  The staff are not on commission, and they are trained to show you the items work and could co- ordinate in your home.  You can click on the QR codes that are placed all around the experience and add the items to your shopping basket.  You can compare items and place an order directly with the manufacturer so you would get all the usual warranties.
Just think you go out shopping you can actually see and try the products, buy them but you don’t have to lug the heavy TV home.  You can go out to dinner and wait for it to be delivered.  

So head to Westfield and try out SituLive on the first floor.  See if you can get past your instinctive ‘don’t touch’ that you have been trained in since you were a child and touch everything!

Overall this is a fabulous place to work out that last minute gift  and definite winner of our TrulyFascinating Award
My First SketchBook

This is a drawing pad for your child that initially reminded me of the simpler LCD pads you used and deleted and started again.  This is a more high tech version.

It links with Bluetooth to the parent’s phone and has an app that allows for multi coloured drawings; however the child is only drawing in green on the pad.  The picture can be saved by pressing and holding the left hand button but can only be retrieved using the app.  The parent can see the picture as it is drawn and can help the child add colour to the picture.  The key advantage of this is that you don’t end up with a fridge covered in pictures that many parents may be too sentimental to bin but feel their house is cluttered with!

The stylus contains Bluetooth it is used to transmit the movement so you can see your child drawing in real time. This does mean the stylus needs charging as well as the tablet. The tablet lasts a really long time,  it isn’t doing a lot, but the stylus will need fairly regular charging if used with the parent’s phone.

At £89 it seems a little bit pricey when compared with the basic LCD pads which retail for less than twenty pounds and I do wander if something like a low cost Tablet might be better. On the other hand this has the huge advantage of not needing charging every night and will retain any image on screen until it is erased or saved.

We really did like the idea of drawing interacting with the parent and in a world where we are supposed to save resources reducing the number of sheets of paper all round the house can’t be a bad thing (although we have no idea how green the production of the sketchbook is)

MG ZS EV Facelift

Now this is a big gift but as one of the cheapest EVs on the market it may be a gift you want to give yourself after Christmas. We reviewed the original version of this EV a couple of year's ago and really liked it. There were a few minor criticisms that might have deprived it of a TrulyFascinating award. We weren't keen on the lack of centre head rest in the rear and couldn't understand why the UK didn't get an App whilst other parts of the world do.

The facelift answers these questions. It comes in three models the Standard Edition, Trophy and Trophy Connect. At the moment all of these come with the long range 72kWh battery with a WLTP range  of 273 miles which we expect will give a real world range of over 220 miles (quite a lot over in summer). There will be a smaller battery variant 51kWh being launched next year but this will still be longer range than the current model's 41.5kWh battery's real world of around 140 miles We are expecting 170 plus.

The trophy and trophy connect come with a panoramic ‘roof, improved heated front seats (with the driver’s seat adjustment being electric), wireless phone charging and rain sensing wipers. They also get a host of additional safety features including Blind Spot detection and Rear Cross traffic but all models get MG Pilot which includes Active Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, and Active Cruise control. Although the facelift hasn't been rated at time of publication we can't see why it wouldn't keep the 5 star NCAP of the previous model.

There is now a centre headrest in the rear and all vehicles get iSmart app connectivity which seems to work very well and gives a lot of control over the car. We expecially enjoyed being able to preheat the car.

One other really good addition in the Trophy model is the 360 degree camera which is absolutely superb. Very clear and easy to interpret. We especially liked that when you use your indicators the camera for that side of the vehicle pops up on the screen. This allows you amongst other things to see cyclists sneaking up your inside at junctions. A great safety feature.

Trophy connect adds live services such as Amazon Music (although you still need your own Amazon account) and a really useful ability to remotely plan routes and send them to the car.

All connectivity costs are covered by MG - we think for the lifetime of the vehicle although we would advise confirming that on purchase. The built in connectivity is multi network and we were able to get connection in some pretty remote places.

The main visual change is the black pseudo-radiator grill is gone and replaced with colour matched plastic. We kind of like this look and it certainly make sense aerodynamically but do understand it is not to everyone's taste.

This change has also seen the charging port move it is now still on the front but to the left rather than central. It opens sidewards, rather than to the top as in the old model, which makes it a lot easier to see where you are plugging in. We particularly liked the sprung flaps to reveal the ports rather than the old bungs - alot of more expensive cars could do with adopting these.

On the road the new model felt familar but improved. Road holding was better and the ride quality smoother. We found the seats, in the trophy connect we tested, to be slightly firmer but just as comfortable. Torque seems to be applied a bit more gradually with less wheel spin off the line - no bad thing in the slippy conditions we were driving in - but it still felt eager and responsive. Over all a very pleasant drive.

The entertainment system seemed much improved with a much bigger 10.1" screen which seems vastly more responsive than the old one. We did miss physical buttons for the heated seats but they are not too difficult to find on the touch screen.

Finally there were very minimal bongs - you may remember we criticised the production version of the original for bongs that sounded like big ben but none of that here just a gentle start up sound.

We really like this revised model. It may be a little more expensive stating at £29495 for the SE and up to £339995 for the Trophy Connect but a lot of that can be explained by the battery cost and also the connectivity costs.

We have no hesitation in recomending this car and giving it a TrulyFascinating award.

Zhiyun Smooth-Q3

When it comes to giving a gift to the creative video maker in your life a phone gimble is a great option but with the highly rated DJI OM 4 starting at £139 that can be an expensive gift.  Zhiyun are a lesser know brand than DJI but in all honestly they are just as good and definitey more affordable. The Smooth-Q3 we've been testing start at just £89 and we would be hard-pressed to justify that £50 price difference.

Firstly it is really comfortable to hold. Smaller than the competition it has just the right amount of weight to hold in your hand for long periods whilst making it easy to maintain grip.

We liked the ergomomic grip which is an improvement on earlier Zhiyun models, as is the much improved contol system. The thimbstick and trigger design is both ergonomic and easy to use. The control mechanism seems a lot more intuitive than earlier models and certainly as easy to get to grips with as the OM 4.

One thing we weren't so keen on was the app. The ZY Cami app is very competent but has two things that put us off it. 1. There seems to be an ever-present watermark on footage edited in the app and 2. you can't edit in 4K without paying an extra £18 per year. Obviously you dont have to use the app to edit and it is easy enough to use other programs.

In use it really does do what it says on the tin giving smooth and stable footage easilly. We seemed to have to reset the gimbal position far less than on other devices.

We loved the smart follow mode which even has gesture control. This keeps a slected subject in frame at all times and works really well,

However the real killer feature on this gimble over its competitors is nothing to do with stability. The Smooth-Q3 has a built in fill light and this is just so useful. No more hunting in the camera bag for additional lights it is just there with a press of a button. To be honest the button is a little hard to use but this is such a useful feature we can forgive that.

Overall we really rate this gimble and it is highly recommended - it would have been an award winner except for the app concerns.
Our cover story we look at gifts for this holiday season and beyond, whether you buy them for someone else or yourself

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