I Test-Drove A Smart Watch. Here’s How To Make The Perfect One.

I’ve been an iPhone user for over 4 years, and while it’s been great, there have been a few things that I didn’t love. I’ve jailbroken each one of my phones to unlock special features and apps that Apple doesn’t allow. One example is that ability to respond to text messages from any screen without opening the messages app. A lot of the features Apple has rolled out over the years first came from the jailbreak community and I like to stay a step ahead of the game.

I have been thinking of moving to the Google ecosystem for awhile now. I use Gmail, Google Hangouts, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Picasa, and have my contacts synced with Google. So why do I have an iPhone? I’m not sure anymore. So when I was given the chance to try out the Samsung Galaxy S5, I leapt at the opportunity. I wanted to find out if it was for me, even if the screen size seemed like a bit much for me.

Free Samsung Galaxy S5 Test Drive

Samsung set up a few shops across the country for users to test drive a few of their devices, and one of those happened to be in a nearby mall. Since I had a week off work, I went over to check it out and pick up my device. In addition to the S5, I also got a smart watch, the Galaxy Gear 2, for a trial. As long as I returned it within 3 weeks without breaking it, it would be free to me. I was excited to try it out, and I jumped right into the experience, forwarding all my text messages and phone calls to the new phone and making it my primary phone for about a week and a half.

First, a few notes about the phone: I thought the screen would be too big, but after the initial shock, I was able to get used to it very quickly. I ended up liking it a lot, and there are definitely things that take a little getting used to and settings to tweak, I could definitely see myself switching over for my next phone. While the S5 was great, I will be on the lookout for the next new phone to come out with even better features. I’m ready to say goodbye to the iPhone for good.

My Smart Watch Experience

My initial impression was very positive. At the beginning, I liked that I didn’t have to take my phone out of my pocket for every notification. I could read a text message on my phone and see who was calling without whipping my phone out. And best of all, I could put the call on speakerphone through my wrist, which was great when I was in the car. After just 24 hours, I had to turn off almost all notifications because it got to be too much. Every Facebook notification, every text message, and every Twitter retweet would make my wrist buzz. I turned off every notification except phone calls.

The feature I really liked was the step counter. I found out that I probably don’t walk enough during the day. But it was an encouragement for me to be a bit more active by going for a walk at night or short breaks during the day just to get my legs moving. I know there are other devices that can do something similar, but every smart watch has to have that feature.

How To Make The Perfect Smart Watch

If I could design the perfect smart watch, I would take a regular watch with a beautiful face and add a few key features to it. I would definitely have a sensor to add a step counter to it. I’d also add the speakerphone ability to it, because it was wonderful for multi-tasking and not having to hold a phone to my ear while cooking, which I did a bunch of during the week. Maybe an overlay on the watch face to see who is calling and have the watch buzz when there’s an incoming phone call, but that’s it. What I tested had far too many bells and whistles and likely caused the price to be a lot higher. The company that comes out with a low-priced beautiful looking smart watch will win the business. I’m not sure I really need a smart watch (I don’t usually wear a watch at all), but if I ever did, it wouldn’t be something as complicated as the Samsung Gear 2.

Would you ever wear a smart watch? What features do you think would be the most important?

Digging up Treasures from Your Childhood

If you think back to the things you used to do as a child, it’s more than likely that as you grew older, some of those old toys and games have risen in value. What this means is that – potentially – you’re sat on a treasure trove of collectable items that could sell for a fortune, if you can manage to detach yourself sentimentally from the items. Here are just a few things from your childhood that could be worth a tonne.

Pokemon Cards

If you were a child in the 90s, it’s likely that at one point or other, you became obsessed with Pokemon. Of course, if you watched the TV show, it’s likely that you also had a sizable card collection. If you’re a proper hoarder, you might even still have your cards hidden away somewhere, and if you do, it might be worth having a look through. Any particularly good cards could be worth a serious amount on a site like eBay.

Video Games 

Nothing is off limits when it comes to childhood collectables. Old games are a perfect example of this. Not all games are worth a lot of money, but if you have games for early consoles like the Atari 2600, the Sega Saturn or the Nintendo Entertainment System, it’s likely that at least some of them have increased in value. By checking out sites like eBay, you’ll find collectors who are looking for clean cartridges, so clean up your games with alcohol on a cotton swab, and then see how much they’re worth. You’ll be surprised.

First Edition Books

It’s a similar story with books. Children’s books are extremely valuable if rare, so look for any well-kept first editions, and you might find that they’re worth their weight in gold. If they’re signed, you’re even more likely to sell them off for a great price.


Any jewellery you received as a child shouldn’t be written off. Just because children’s jewellery is smaller than the adult variety, that doesn’t make it any less precious. Although these pieces might have extreme sentimental value, you could at least see what they’re worth by taking them for valuation at somewhere like HandT. Once you know what it’s all worth, you can make a decision as to whether you’re going to sell it or not.

So there you have it: just some of the items from your childhood that might be worth more now than when you bought them.

What Makes House Selling Difficult?

You’ve probably heard a lot about the state of the housing market since the global financial downturn in 2008. The crisis affected many aspects of financial life, but the housing market has been hit particularly hard, and is still struggling to improve to a situation that suits both buyers and sellers. The question is, what exactly is going wrong, and why isn’t your house selling?

The Sub-Prime Market

One of the major catalysts of the downturn was an excess of what are known as sub-prime mortgages in the United States. These were mortgages given to people with less than ideal credit ratings. Unfortunately, much of the debt became bad – meaning it wasn’t paid back. This caused serious negative implications for the lenders, some of which collapsed in numerous high-profile cases.

This situation caused banks all around the world to make their lending criteria much, much stricter to avoid the same thing happening again. Where once it was relatively simple to get a mortgage with a reasonable credit rating and income, it is now very difficult in many places around the world.

With lending a lot less common, it has become quite difficult for people, first time buyers in particular, to be able to actually afford a house to live in. Where once there had been many buyers, there are now far fewer around which has obvious implications when you’re trying to sell.

Not only are there fewer buyers, but the buyers that are around can afford less, and are only willing to pay smaller amounts. This has meant that a lot of people who bought houses in the last decade are not too keen on selling in this market.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

The upshot of all this is that it takes a lot of effort to sell a house these days, which means choosing the right marketing strategy is essential. Estate agents like House Network rely on custom packages rather than a one-size-fits all method. You need to tailor things to the buyers in your area and be prepared to change tack if necessary.

The market certainly isn’t impossible to operate in, but if you understand the reasons for a more difficult selling environment, you’ll be better placed to combat it, and ultimately sell your house for the price you want, and not have to wait an age for it to happen.