Wednesday 22 December 2010

Merry Christmas

To all our customers in 2010 we'd like to say thank you for your custom, we really appreciate you choosing to shop with us. We have a lot planned for the start of 2011 and you can be sure you'll be one of the first to find out what we are up to.

We'd also like to say a massive sorry fo any orders that have been affected by the courier delays. All couriers are struggling to deliver on time with the extra seasonal demand and the effects of the snow.

Once again we are really sorry for any disruption you have had. Have a great Christmas from everyone here at the MoreFrom group.

Note: Our customer service team will be on holiday from 5pm 23rd December until 9am 29th December. Orders can be placed on our website throughout this time and will be processed on 29th December.

Saturday 11 December 2010

'Zut Alors!' - Ben the Bodyguard

Sometimes, just sometimes you stumble across something so cool you're compelled to write about it. I don't even care that the actual app is as dull as dishwater.

That's kind of the point though and I think this is what David Zax (and all the other journo's and bloggers) miss in his article on the Fast Company website. There is stuff out there, that has a purpose, is necessary and useful but is mind-numbingly and soul-destroyingly dull.

Nobody really wants to discuss finance, legal issues or burglar alarms. What they do want is to avoid huge tax bills, jail or their property being broken into.

This is a big part of the challenge for company heads, marketers and PR's today. How do you get companies with not very exciting products, services or applications heard above all of the noise of the internet?

Well I think Nerd Communications have just shown us how. They've caused a media storm, an online phenomenon and I'm quietly (or not so quietly) sitting here, waiting to see what they do next. I will also check out the app when it arrives. I may even use it and it might even be useful, 'Zut Alors!'.

I also love the laissez-faire attitude of Stefan Telegdy, Chief Nerd (according to David Zax, that's what his business card actually says!). At the end of the day it's easy to see they are super-talented and probably live, breath and eat this stuff.

This just demonstrates what happens when hard-work and talent without pomp and assumption comes into the playground that is the internet. How else would this app have got so much attention?

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Olympus Cameras - Nice but not naughty

Olympus is the third largest manufacturer of cameras in the world, just behind Sony and Canon. They've got some pretty cool stuff going on what with mirrorless technology in their DSLR and the new PEN sub-brand.

Q: What's the biggest complaint about a DSLR?
A: It's too heavy

What do Olympus do about this? Well they address the problem by developing a compact DSLR and when a photojournalist got hold of it, within 3 months it was awarded camera of the year!

Listening to their sales rep he would have you believe that the straight forward DSLR's days are numbered. Well they may be but I remember how resistent the market actually was when Digital first came out, even when you could prove that costs were saved. It might happen but it won't happen overnight and there will be those purist, fanbois who won't hear a word of it.

Olympus have a strategy for this though, they understand as many camera manufacturers do, that the DSLR users drive the market, although you'll never totally convert the top end. We are going to be seeing a lot of PEN or new generation cameras over the next two years. They want to be clear, it's not a revolution it's an evolution.

Olympus have basically taken the best bits of a compact camera and put them into the DSLR, removing the mirrors and shrinking the lenses. Although, never fear you can still use old lenses using a clever little retro-adaptor.

This product is attracting people who want a DSLR but with the benefit of being lightweight and portable whilst not losing any of the quality. So let's introduce the award-winning E-P1 PEN camera.

It has a Hi-Def video which is complemented by Olympus' dedicated, specialist sound manufacturers or their audio division. There is a versatile accessory port so that you can clip on an external microphone. This means you can take it to a gig or record little Gemma's violin recital and play it back in all its earsplitting glory.

You can change from the screen view to an electronic clip-on view-finder which comes as standard with the E-P2 and is an optional extra with the E-P1. It is, apparently the best on the market Diopter.

It has AF tracking (Auto-Focus), an easy to navigate menu system, PCM linear stereo sound and you can activate the video via a button on the back rather than having to try and find it on the menu, when you want to record something quick.

The Image Stabilisation is in the body so any range of lenses can be used with the adapter, without compromising quality. It won't surprise you to know that black is the no. 1 best seller closely followed by silver, then red and oddly in the Channel Islands only, White (If anyone knows why please get in contact).

There is also a pop-up flash, a live guide e.g. light and dark changes and it takes pictures in realtime. There is a choice of menu graduation or colour saturation which is also realtime. One of my fave features is the level gauge with roll and pitch which acts as a spirit level.

It has something called a 'Supersonic Wave Filter Dust Reduction System', which for me is right up there with flux capacitor. It means it cleans itself.

You can get an underwater kit for it and a standard or wireless flash gun. You can also get two adapters to make it backwards compatible.

This bit of kit would be perfect for a hobbyist photographer, someone who is out on location a lot and budding, young photographers who are just starting out.

For those of you with larger households that need to factor in disasters such as sticky fingers, sand, dribble and sibling rivalry the tough Olympus Compact range might be more up your street and you have a hope in hell of the camera surviving from precious shot capturing through to computer upload!

They've got HD video and all moving parts are internal. There is a floating electronic board, shock absorbers, they are freezeproof up to -10˚c which judging by the weather forecast will be useful very soon. It is scratchproof. To test this mighty, indestructible instrument of pixel capturing we threw it across the room and kicked it against the wall. It passed the test.

The 3000, 5000 and 8000 all have face detection and shadow adjustment.

One of the last things that impressed me was the Spider case. It's a camera holder that means you can easily pull your camera out and it automatically retracts, which is perfect for those on-piste skiing shots!!

The range is also competitively priced so if you are searching for a Christmas gift get your hands on one of these bad boys.

Sony Vaio Z12 & Z13

Sony Vaio's are good but they are expensive and this new range is no exception.

I do like Sony Vaio's. I had the misfortune of working (albeit fairly briefly) for a very cross-tempered multi-millionaire who would only use top of the range Vaio's and by proxy I would get one.

I'll admit it was nice to get my hot little hands on something more expensive than the run of the mill corporate laptops and have a bit more power / functionality. Whilst based out in Spain for the work it was useful in my apartment to use in the absence of a TV to watch films. It was a good work laptop, reliable, sturdy and reasonably good-looking.

This new generation of Vaios takes it to the next level. I reviewed the Z12 and since that the Z13 has arrived. Now, I'll hit you with the painful bit. Without knowing anything about the product first, the price will make you do a hasty and sharp intake of breath, quickly followed by a long slow whistle.

But give it a chance and you'll perhaps realise it is no different to fanbois of Mac products spanking extra cash for that something special.

It's quick. I mean frighteningly quick. Turn it on, you practically blink and it's ready to go. Opening applications and using the internet (depending on your connection speed of course) is a dream. Although through experience I appreciate most new equipment is quick whilst uncluttered by apps and programmes etc.

It's disturbingly light and whilst I personally feel not as good looking as some kit, it's still attractive in a very aluminium, carbon fibre masculine to the 'nth degree sort of way.

The screen is superb and just shy of HD quality, the keypad a little odd-looking but user friendly and the very slim screen seems to bear some tenuous link to russian gymnasts. It's a very flexible ultraportable.

For a more detailed technical specification visit the dedicated MoreFrom page or the PCPro review. Also look out for the Sony 'VAT back' offer, we think it's pretty darn good!!

Friday 29 October 2010

Get the VAT back with Sony

The Sony VAT back Christmas promotion starts today. Sony say it's the biggest promotion they've ever done. Simply buy any of these selected Sony products and download the claim form. You need to send the completed form, including the product serial number along with the European Guarantee and proof of purchase to Sony. If you look at the Ex. VAT prices shown on our site - that's the amount your product will cost. As an example: on a £1000 product you save £148.94.

It's a genuine offer that's being heavily promoted by Sony with TV ads, so we expect stock to sell out fast. We're one of the few online retailers who are authorised Sony partners, not everyone is. If you were thinking about a Sony now's a good time to buy.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Printers Are Sexy

No I haven't gone completely mad. Printers need to work. Seamlessly. Often they don't or they spew out paper like trees grow really quickly on this little planet of ours. Or they go through ink like an alcoholic with a bottle of whiskey. Or they are noisy and you get that one little line that appears on every page right at the crucial point. Toner is expensive, that's a fact.

When you are on a deadline or getting ready for 'that' presentation or just promised you'd cook tonight and need to print off the recipe or your partner really will leave you this time, printer failure can cause rages in people that is frightening to behold. Forget road rage, printer rage involves an inanimate object often small enough to throw.

Now having some experience of working with Epson and HP I have to admit that I did prefer HP's printer products as a rule. The products were great and I really liked the sales guy, Howard who I worked with in my Nikon days.

I bought a HP printer earlier this year for my office and have tended to stick with HP on printers. Epson I liked the campaign they did on the London Underground a few years ago. It was attention grabbing but it used pixellation which no-one wants to see in their print results.

However I would now like to introduce you to my new favourite. Brother. Here's a little information as to why.

They are the only printer manufacturer that makes a separate toner and drum on their Mono printer, which means you don't have to replace the whole thing every time your printer needs more toner.

They have been awarded eco-accreditations for zero landfill from their factories and because they have reduced the amount of non-recyclable materials in manufacture and increased their use of recycled materials. They were awarded an Energy Star, The German Blue Angel and the Nordic Swan. The Nordic Swan takes a serious three and half years of factory visits and book auditing to attain. Wow, who knew?

Brother materialised over 100 years ago starting, funnily enough, with two Brothers who repaired sewing machines in Ngoya, Japan. These boys then moved onto making them and diversified into typewriters, microwaves and Karaoke machines. They in fact became the biggest supplier of Karaoke networks in Japan.

They've been knocking around Europe for 60 years and on our lovely Island for 50. Brother are the leading supplier into the NHS and with their latest product range it is easy to see why.

The HL-5350DN Mono Laser Function Printer may not be sexy but there are a couple of thoughtful elements that have gone into the product design and aftercare. We tested it with the Lenovo ThinkPads to see how easy installation is. This is often not only a bug bear but a frustrating process for even hardened technogeeks.

So we went to plug in the USB cable from laptop to printer, but a sticker over it on the printer gently reminds you to install your software first. We didn't even need a disc, the Lenovo just found and installed the driver and it was "well quick". On the wireless printers the laptop automatically finds it on a drop-down list, with the plug in printers the install discs were used.

This model is a good basic networking printer for a number of office users. It has actually proven to be cheaper over 3-4 years than its nearest competitor. It prints quickly, quietly and without fuss or fanfare. Which is what you need for your clucking group of admin ladies or busy accounts department.

We then moved onto testing the DCP-375CW which is a wireless printer. I have just told my Mum to buy one. Previously she had bought HP like me and on my recommendation.

It's black and sleek but not in your face. It incorporates Brother capillary action technology which was developed in-house which is a unique way the ink is distributed to save you ink (yes, SAVE you ink) and the USB cable is run internally to reduce cable mess. Even the plug is on the side so it can sit flush to the wall. Simple yet brilliant design.

It prints photos in fantastic quality in just 49 seconds! It's just great design which is the part I find sexy. I don't expect you to agree, most people really don't think printers are sexy but each to their own and I find any company that is genuinely passionate about their products, attractive.

Lastly, we tested the MFC-6890CDW which can print photo quality on A3 sized photo paper in colour at roughly a £1.40 cost. We printed out a picture of penguins and decided it would be good enough to be framed and put on the wall. I'm terribly fussy about these things and I am the first person to point out any pixellation or aberrations in print.

This printer would be great and affordable for a graphic design studio or small creative agency.

What I am impressed about with Brother is the care, attention to detail and ingenuity that goes into each of their products. Most companies spend time trying to figure out how to get you to spend more money on cartridges, toner and other consumables, whereas Brother concentrates on saving you time and money ensuring you keep their products for longer and will therefore always buy Brother again.

Their commitment to the environment is impressive, tackled head on and transparently. I'm not often left with absolutely nothing negative to say about a technology company but I was seriously impressed.

Use their printers combined with this browser tool and you'll never print wasted pages again.


Tuesday 19 October 2010

More survey success - Press Release


More survey success - Sheffield based company shines in national survey of online retailers

Yorkshire based electronics retailer; has once again beaten off stiff competition from 40 renowned national players including Argos, Amazon, Dixons and Play to be awarded Highly Commended in the PC Pro Service and Reliability Survey 2010. was set up by local entrepreneur Chris Wheater, and sells 90,000 electrical products, including cameras, laptops, phones, televisions and computer equipment.

The city firm scored a massive 94% for overall customer satisfaction, 92% for Service and 95% for delivery in the biggest survey in the IT industry. Having topped the survey last year they were narrowly squeezed off out of the top slot by the stalwart of British retail John Lewis.

Chris is proud of the results and comments, "These are great results, we’ve become increasingly known for our outstanding customer service, receiving six out of six stars in the last five years in the PC Pro survey. It’s this consistency that reflects our determination and hard work to please our customers."

The PC Pro Service and Reliability Survey is designed to showcase the best brands and companies in the IT industry with over 12,000 people completing the survey and commenting on their favourite products and retailers across 20 product categories.

The star ratings for all 40 retailers can be found here

Wednesday 6 October 2010

We're celebrating after the PC Pro Awards - again

I need to say a massive thank you to everyone who took part in the PC Pro Service and Reliability Survey for this year. The MoreComputer's results were fantastic again this year and we picked up the Highly Commended Award.

To quote PC Pro "Last year's winner is narrowly squeezed into the runner-up slot, despite a strong showing across the board". John Lewis sneaked in and just swiped the top slot from us, but I can live with that, they are the stalwart of British retail.

More telling is the full list of 40 retailers the survey rated, with some big names showing very poor performance.

This year, over 12,000 readers took part in the survey. They were asked about the customer support they received, the reliability and quality of the products they bought, and whether they'd buy from the company again. The information was then combined to produce a star rating. We maintained our maximum six stars across the board, which is a credit to the team here, who deserve a massive thank you too - it's their award.

For the past five years we've scored six out of six for Customer Service and it's that consistency I'm most proud of. Thanks again for your custom over the years and for helping to spread the word.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Help choosing the right inks and toners for your printer

Another reminder - our InkFinder tool can help you select the right printer toners and cartridges. There's always free delivery available (we don't make you spend over a certain amount to qualify!) and when you've found your ink why not add it to your Wish List for future use.

Help choosing the right product from real experts

This week we've updated our Expert Advice lists from PC Pro, PC Advisor, Computer Shopper and Micro Mart. So if you're ever not sure what product to buy - don't forget our round up of all the main magazine Best Buy Winners. You can be sure these products have been tried and tested by journalists that really know their stuff.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Find us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter

Love them or loathe them social networks have become a part of modern life and it's about time the MoreFrom Group joined the conversation. Over the last few weeks I've set up a Twitter account and made our first Facebook page. I'd like to think that by using these social networks (and this blog) we can start to have a two way dialogue with our customers (if of course you'd like to talk to us). I've started to post snippets of what we're up to here day to day and my ongoing plan is to share information I hope you'll think is worth reading.

You can expect to hear about new technology and new products and the odd offer and competition. I'll also be sharing any information I think small businesses will find useful, especially help and advice to make your website work harder. I like to think we're pretty good and developing websites and getting traffic to them, so I'm looking forward to sharing that knowledge with the many small businesses and entrepreneurs we have as customers.

Let's not forget about our tech analyst TheLadyTron, Clare already tweets about what's new in the world of tech and when she's reviewed any new products. Follow TheLadyTron for her totally honest opinion - she tells it like it is.

So If Facebook is your preferred method of communication these days add More FromGroup to your list of friends. If you prefer Twitter, please follow MoreFromGroup. And if you're really feeling sociable do both!

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Lenovo - It's Little Red Eye isn't Evil

Now I'm probably with you when you think of computers made in China. Traditionally China has had a bad rap and not entirely without reason. Ask any top IP solicitor where their main cases are based and it's China (I have actually asked this question of a top IP solicitor). Make something good and the Chinese get hold of it take it apart and work out how to make it cheaper, that's not an insult it's just the way it is.

They have a larger, cheaper workforce, the time and inclination. It would also be very naive to think that other companies elsewhere in the world don't get hold of a competitor's product and take them apart.

So it's fair to say that when I found out that Lenovo had very quietly taken over IBM 'ages' ago, I gave a bit of a groan and thought to myself well that's that product condemned to the stupidly low price shelves of Dixons or Staples, possibly even Asda...

But listen up and buckle in for a surprise. I .....quite.... like..... them. I also like the history of the company and I liked the passion of the chap who patiently answered my questions and lent me a laptop to test drive. I personally (and this might be a female thing) need to like a company before I'll buy a product from them. It's that emotional buy in thing, I don't like parting with cash for a company I don't actually like.

So a quick history lesson.

Lenovo is a Chinese company formed in 1984 by a group of Academics from the Academy of Science, originally with the goal of writing Chinese language cards. The first pentium product in China was a Lenovo and the first home pc was a Lenovo.

In May 2005 Lenovo decided to takeover IBM's pc division as a way to get into the Global Market. They have been No.1 in China for 11 years and No.1 in AsiaPac for 9. They have a worldwide market share of 10%.

The ThinkPad Edge 13" and 15" have both been designed for the SME market, they are their value line in the consumer market with a slightly less business look and feel. Initially I didn't like the little red eye dot on the lid and inside which to my strange mind looked a bit evil and seemed to follow me round the room.

But put it in the context of the Chinese, red being a significant colour of good fortune to them, it takes on a different feel. The laptops look like the IBM's did and they have quietly phased out the IBM to the ThinkPad brand and I like the way they've considerately done it so as not to alienate the IBM fans out there.

It's got the red 'nipple' and old IBM keyboard layout and style

They are good, a stalwart choice. They will never be a Sony Vaio and don't claim to be but they are better than an Acer or a Dell. They work hard on retaining cost effective quality and are proud to call themselves innovators.

Did you know, for instance, that the McClaren Formula 1 team use ThinkPad's and ThinkStation's?! Or that they are still the only laptops certified for use in Space Stations?! The geek in me thinks that's pretty cool.

They are solid laptops and feel familiar because of the IBM history. They would make good business laptops, comfortable to use if you are a field sales person, or to use in an airport or on an airplane. They'd be a good choice for companies looking to refurbish their staff with a new suite of laptops.

The only downsides I can think of....They didn't rock my world although I was pleasantly surprised. There was one design fault on the 13". Underneath the base there is a convex strip designed to raise it a little at the back. But because of the small size of the laptop it makes the screen top heavy and at a slight risk of being awkward or tipping if you don't hold the base when you open the screen. It would have been better if flat or weighted, but I guess the point was to keep the weight down.

They were quick, easy to use and intuitive. Sound was not particularly great so I wouldn't watch The Watchmen or Transformers on it. Music would be okay if a little tinny, depending on your musical preference, so if you're a basshead forget it. When I paired it with a Brother Printer we wondered if there would be an issue with the driver, but it found it and downloaded it automatically, with little fuss or fanfare.

My verdict? I don't love them but I like them. I think they are good value for money, robust and something you could rely on for a lot longer than a Dell, Acer or dare I say it... Samsung.

Thursday 15 July 2010

PC Advisor and

We've been working closely with PC Advisor Website/Magazine recently. The technology experts at PC Advisor review hundreds of products every year and you can now find these expert reviews on our websites. Take a look at this example for the Flip MinoHD 4GB camcorder. Also their Top 5 Charts, PC Advisor magazine's monthly round up of the best buys and group test winners, are now in association with And you can shop the chart winners from the dedicated pages on our sites.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Full range of Acer products now available

You may have already spotted it, but we now have a full range of products from industry leader Acer on our sites. You may know them for their Laptops and Desktop computers, but did you know they also make Monitors, Televisions and even Mobile Phones.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Solid State Drives

I've recently been spending some time trying to speed up my PC. As usual over time, performance seemed to have become a bit sluggish, so a disk and registry clean-up, un-install session and a defrag was in order.

All done but I'm still not happy! This machine should be flying - so whats going wrong? So I set about some analysis of what my machine is actually doing. After some indepth monitoring of my performance monitor in the Windows Task Manager I realised the processor was hardly doing anything, the memory was only half used and the gigabit network card was practically on tick-over.

So why do I still sometimes have laggy performance when doing simple windows tasks. After a process of elimination my focus turned to the hard drive. I found out I had a Seagate 7200rpm SATA drive with 2MB cache. Seems reasonable to me for a year old desktop machine. But the more I monitored performance the more I realised this was now the weakest link in my machine. So on I moved to research the latest drives. Solid State Drives (SSD) and more importantly to see if I could justify the cost of an upgrade to save me a few, but an annoying few, seconds!

To my pleasant surprise I found the prices have come down to something very affordable and in terms of size I don't really need huge capacity. Most of my data is stored centrally on our server so I really just need enough space for the Operating System and some of my key applications. So I turned to my trusty back issues of PC Pro magazine. Bingo! A labs section review of Solid State Drives in the June issue. After a quick read and a check on our site for prices I'd settled on the "PC Pro Recommended" Intel X25-M 80GB Drive (SSDSA2MH080G2R5) at £174. (£20 cheaper than when it was reviewed)

The tiny drive arrived in a small retail box and comes with a mounting bracket to allow it to fit neatly into a desktop machine. I swapped the SATA cable from the existing drive onto the SSD and attached my current hard drive to another SATA connection, then set about loading Windows from scratch. Immediately there is a significant speed difference as the obligatory reboots whilst installing and applying updates are noticeably faster. After a couple of hours of re-installing all my applications I was ready to go.

Wow! Now I'm really flying! Applications appear on screen as if they have just been minimised, not loaded from scratch. There's no point trying to give you any time measurements - Everything is just the blink of an eye. It's the best £174 I've spent in years. I think our standard PC configuration will be changed to incorporate these drives as standard since non of our users need large local drive space and when you offset the cost against a normal drive then you are only looking at around £100 premium. Admittedly I did pick a "PC Pro recommended" drive, and they did find some "dogs" that gave no noticable speed increase over a normal hard drive. So if you are thinking of trying this kind of upgrade then do your research or stick to this drive. The end result of all this effort is that we now have a dedicated category for SSD's on our site that contains 60+ drives.

If you are still not convinced watch this amazing video from Intel comparing the speed of an SSD to a traditional hard drive. Good luck with your upgrade!

Wednesday 9 June 2010

New threat: tab napping, please be aware

I'm always reminding people not to click on links inside emails as its a very insecure thing to do. The trouble is that's what IT Managers everywhere are telling people to do and as such phishing attacks are declining. That's the good news.

The bad news is that hackers are as always one step ahead and there's a new threat out in the wild. Its called 'Tab Napping'.

The basic gist of it is, you go to an online banking site and get to its login screen, then you suddenly think of something else you wanted and open a new tab to do a quick google search. Normally there's nothing wrong with that, however if you hit a malicious site the original tab could change without you knowing about it. When you click back to it, you expect to see a login page and as far as you are aware you browsed to it yourself so its in a trusted zone in your mind. If you then submit your login details, you could be supplying fraudsters with your details.

These attacks are highly sophisticated but here's how to protect yourself:
  • Make sure you always check the URL in the browser address.
  • If the URL looks suspicious in any way, close the tab and reopen it by entering the correct URL again.
  • Avoid leaving tabs open which require you to type in secure login details. gets more phones

Our range of sim free mobile phones has been expanded this week. You'll find handsets from Blackberry, HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Acer and more. Plus loads of Phone Accessories

iPad Review

I managed to get hold of an Apple iPad a few weeks ahead of launch, but it has taken me until this long to get over having to give it back, before I could bring myself to write about it.

I'm going to use the UK adverts own claims to write my review, it makes sense. Interestingly I would urge you to watch the UK and American versions which are essentially the same but use a slightly different turn of phrase to appeal to each audience respectively. Something many companies, not just in technology, fail to do and alienate their audiences because of it.

'What is iPad...iPad is....Thin'
I prefer the word slim to thin which is a moot point but I think slim has better connotations than thin, in this image obsessed world of ours. But it is indeed slim, smaller than most people expect it to be, although the comment invariably made is, 'Oh it's just like a big iPhone'. Well yes, it is.

Yes it is beautiful and if you are into engineering and product design, then this makes you want to weep at it's incredible construction and promptly go home and destroy anything that is inferior, which is pretty much most things. But let's get something straight, I am saying this about the design which even the most stalwart anti-Apple person cannot disagree with. Believe me I checked and forced it into the hands of technical people who virtually spit in the direction of the fruit branded company. They had to admit, it is cool.

'Goes anywhere and lasts all day'
Apart from being slightly nervous about being mugged by carrying it around ahead of the UK launch, it is convenient to carry about. I don't think it would ever fully replace a laptop and I would want a good case to protect it, particularly the screen but it was useful, which I will come to in a bit. It lasts all day and then some. Oh Apple please apply this to the iPhone. It has an incredible battery life but made the iPhone look, frankly, rubbish. In fact I keep looking at my iPhone now with a sneer on my face. You do have to charge the iPad for a long time but it is well worth it.

'There is no right way or wrong way'
Nope there most certainly isn't. Which ever way you turn it, the content moves to suit. And that is all there is to say.

'It's amazingly powerful'
Hmmmm, what does this actually mean? It was quick, instantaneous and when you were near a Wi-Fi connection it was quicker than most laptops. But one rumour I have heard is that until everyone is on freeview and the television people have passed over the old bandwidth to the mobile networks, lots of people using iPads for the internet or as a phone will break the current infrastructure.

'It's magical'
It's not magical. There is no magic in an iPad just a lot of clever programming, coding, design, navigation etc, etc. It does not cast spells or cause people to fall in love inexplicably.

'You already know how to use it'
If you are already a user or past user of Apple products, specifically the iPhone or iPod, then yes you do. Normal PC users will still declare that everything is backwards and intentionally designed to be the opposite of PC function just to mess with their heads.

'It's 200,000 apps and counting'
Well I've heard there are only 3,000 available and in the states, PADGadget and TechCrunch, claimed there were 5,405 as of the 1st of May, so I think their claim that there are 200,000 doesn't necessarily mean they are all available to the public and only 20% of them are free. Some of the apps I played with were cool but not really anything new from the iPhone, perhaps better and easier because there is more screen space to play with. Films were amazing on it, as were games and browsing the internet. Books I can see being a big hit with commuters and frequent flyers. I had a particular addiction to Bebbled.

'All the world's websites in your hands'
Browsing the internet, from what I can gather, is everyone's favourite part. It is just so easy.

Scenario 1; You are in bed and (sadly) think of something you want to know, nay need to know right there and then. You pick up your laptop, open up the screen wait for it to wake up, by which point you are fully awake. Once it is awake, you open your browser, wait for it to load, type into Google, click search and wait for the list to load, then click on the website you want.

Scenario 2; You are in bed and (sadly) think of something you want to know, nay need to know right there and then. You lean over and grasp your iPad, slide to unlock, touch safari, type straight into Google, choose from the list of websites and hey presto.

The only downfall is when a company has not optimised their website for the mobile web. But then that is their loss, most likely.

'It's videos, photo'
When it comes to things like this I should really have been born a boy. I am a big fan of Transformers. I loved it in the 80's as a child and collected the stickers for the book with my friend who was a boy (at 8 he was not my boyfriend, I was very particular about this). I love the films and used Christmas as an excuse to buy my husband the special DVD box set that actually changes into a Transformer. So I loved being able to watch Transformers on the iPad in glorious, spectacular detail. When I showed clips to others it elicited predictable 'oooh's' and 'aaah's'.

I must admit I didn't really look at any photos, but judging by the graphics, they'll be marvellous.

'More books than you can read in a lifetime'
This falls down with me. It's one of the only areas I am a weird purist in. I love books, books are sacrosanct to me. I don't even purchase them online unless it is a study / work book and even then I still prefer to wander into a hallowed, quiet, low-lit book shop to finger the pages.

But putting that aside, the book function was pretty cool and thumbing through Winnie-the-Pooh virtually was a novelty. I can imagine travelling with an iPad when you only have a little space in your luggage and it dispensing with the whole, 'Oh-wa, which books do I take so as not to stop me from being able to bring back duty free' dilemma. It also means if you make the wrong choice you can easily chop and change.

I also can't listen to the advert without wishing they would say 'more books than you can shake a stick at', rather than the actual line.

'It's already a revolution'
If by that they mean when you walk into a public place for a meeting everyone in there will go into a hushed silence and look at you like you have just brought in a piece of the moon, then I think the word they are looking for is revelation. There are no revolts in the street for the iPad and no-one has ruled 'let them have iPads', followed by heads being lopped off by an angry mob.

'And it's only just begun'
This I would agree with but not just for Apple and they need to be careful here not to tip over the line of confidence in a solid product, to arrogance and cockiness. The Android phone is widely tipped by many to upset the Apple cart with the iPhone dominance and I sincerely hope they are not greatly underestimating other technology companies out there. They may have consolidated touch screen technology, and cemented that it is here to stay, but that just gives many other companies the building blocks and a solid platform to build another generation of products.

In Summary
It really is an expensive toy to most. Many people would like one but don't know how to justify having one against their disposable income, which for the masses is still tightly counted and rightly so.

Apple fanbois will want one and if they can will buy it.

Initially, I failed to see it's purpose other than it being handier than a laptop for browsing the internet, quite cool for films and other grown up play time activities. It was when, for me, I took it to client meetings that it came into it's own. It was so useful to be able to sit in a public place and punctuate my points with an instant, online demonstration, without going through the rigmarole of setting up my laptop, trying to get on a Wi-Fi connection (many places still have crap connections) and worrying about where to plug it in without being sued by someone tripping over it.

My other bug bear, which you can't get round with touch screen technology and is quite funny when you think about it, I don't like people touching my screen. I'm very particular about this with my laptop. So to have something as pretty as the iPad covered in greasy smears and smudges irked me a little bit, so I'm now a compulsive polisher.

Finally, I will go back to the original point. I can't help it, it's just so beautiful.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Fujitsu LIFEBOOK review

A solid competitive corporate laptop, some interesting ideas on their consumer models, a convertible tablet and introducing; ‘The Beast’, something for a largely ignored growth market, the silversurfers. Stay with me, I get the bad out of the way to progress onto the good….

So in the offices of MoreFrom I met the Fujitsu rep, who was rather excited to have received, only the day before, four brand new laptops to take to various merchants who sell Fujitsu products.

I was rather excited because I got to play with them. I’ll get the dull data bit out of the way and explain the models:

1) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK S710 Standard S
2) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK S760 Premium S
3) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK Convertible T900
4) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK NH570 18.4 inch Notebook

The S710, S760 and T900 tablet are a bit plastic feeling and looking, but certainly not as bad as some of the Sony Vaio products and I like the Green Pledge throughout their product range. I think Fujitsu could do well to invest in some seriously hot ergonomic designers and the product design in comparison to other products didn’t leave me breathless. This rang true of all four of the laptops I test drove.

I think they could also work on more synergy between their product range, as it didn’t look like a family, more like distant relatives who only see each other at weddings or funerals.

Two of the LIFEBOOKS had sort of retro off white keys with the rest of the product in black and silver, which aesthetically doesn’t work. The apparent standout feature of the S760 is the unique scroll wheel function, but we failed to get it to work and I came away not really understanding it’s point, other than someone in marketing using it as a USP. It’s certainly unique but I wouldn’t say a selling point. The S710 which was the standard laptop of the lot was my favourite in terms of product design, it looked much more current but lacks the power of the S760.

I’m not sure I understand the point of a tablet and this was compounded by the Fujitsu T900 ‘convertible’. It wasn’t particularly intuitive and got very heavy after a while, plus you’d need an accessory to tilt it if you put it down so it is better used as it should be, as a laptop.

The 18.4 inch ‘top of the range’ consumer LIFEBOOK NH570 or ‘the Beast’, as I liked to refer to it as, had what was described as a high gloss piano black. It held no appeal to me in terms of looks or size but that is more of a personal statement.

One major design flaw on ‘the Beast’ was that the screen wobbled incessantly, clearly the bevel and hinge were not designed to support the very top heavy 18.4 inch screen and you only have to tap it slightly to watch it wobble like a weeble, (but it doesn’t fall down).

Bad points aside, there are some pretty good bits. The S710, which has a nipple mouse, reminds me of the old black IBM’s which had a red nipple and was one of the best corporate laptops I ever owned. Speaking to some serious development techies, they all felt Fujistu’s were sturdy, reliable computers and would consider buying one again.

I would definitely recommend the S710 as a corporate laptop and it would be worth investing in the higher price over a Dell and I hate to say it, an HP as I believe you would have a better, longer, mutually beneficial relationship. Anyone who has tried to do presentations on an airplane over the duration of an eight hour flight would appreciate this laptop, which also has a good battery life and the option to add an extra battery if needed.

The graphics cards were pretty good on all of them and the sound was impressive when I put it to the test on jazz, classical and Mr Scruff, at full whack. There was no distortion, a personal bug bear of mine with many other products.

Having hung about some Fujitsu fan forums, most of them seemed lifelong fans although many were in agreement with me about the off white keys. There was a minor tussle between someone who felt they were good in low light settings and someone who just said, in that scenario backlit keys were better anyway. I got the feeling the person who liked them for low light settings doesn’t get out much.

I liked the feel of the S760 but I don’t think the price will stand up against other premium products and I think more work needs to be done on the scroll wheel as I was hard pressed to find anyone who could explain it’s point in any great detail.

I’m not a fan of the tablet but I can see uses for it, being able to turn the screen 180° in smaller arenas, for presentations would be useful and something I have wished I had the ability to do in the past. The design, look, feel and navigation needs more work before I would recommend it though.

‘The Beast’, whilst not to my personal taste, isn’t aimed at me. What I will say is with the increase of silversurfers it’s the perfect choice for them. With the large screen, full qwerty keyboard, good sized keys plus the fact that you remove the need for a PC with CPU and shed loads of cables, makes it a solid contender for those older generations who are just embarking upon their IT journeys.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Introducing our new 'Technology Analyst'

I'd like to introduce you to Clare MacKenzie who's just started working with us. We've given Clare the very grand title of 'Technology Analyst' which basically means she'll be taking an in-depth look at the tech products we sell. Clare or 'Ladytron' as she's already been nicknamed is a true 'girl geek' in every sense, she lives and breathes technology products and gadgets, and is not afraid speak out when a product fails to deliver.

We've asked Clare to analyse all the tech product ranges we sell, here at the MoreFrom Group. She'll be looking at what's liked and what's hated, what sells and what doesn't - and asking our customers what they think of our product ranges. She's also keen to find out what new stuff you'd like to see us offering. With over 70,000 products and more than 300 brands to go at it's no small task - but Clare is up for the challenge.

She will need your help though, feel free to get in touch; email or follow Clare on Twitter @TheLadytron

Friday 19 March 2010

Winning Ways Event Sheffield

I was pleased to be asked to speak at a local business event earlier this month. "Winning Ways To Move Your Business Forward” took place at Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground. It was organised by Business Link Yorkshire and the Federation of Small Business and was a free event designed to provide practical advice and support to help local businesses grow and boost their sales.

I was invited to deliver a short presentation with the very grand title "How to turn your website into a customer magnet". Feedback was great with lots of people saying it was refreshing to hear SEO and Adwords tips from someone who's making it work - not just trying to sell their service.

I'm looking forward to presenting again on this topic and the organisers have said they'll have me back. Follow me on Twitter to find out when the next event will take place.

Friday 12 February 2010 launches UKs first Apple iPad store

News Release:

Innovative online retailer is all set to capitalise on the recent Apple iPad frenzy. On the evening Apple announced it's latest product (tipped to be as popular as the iPod) were quick to register the domain name They've now added a dedicated iPad web store, the first of it's kind in the UK, to their growing group of web sites.

It's the latest development of their multiple web site strategy explains Brian Trevaskiss "One website is not enough these days. Very few businesses have just one product they sell to one group of customers. It's more common to have many products or services and even more customer groups to target. It's very difficult to develop a site that targets a wide audience and offers thousands of products. if your customers don't see what they want straight away, they leave your site. You can't cover everything on one website, without causing confusion".

"We believe the solution is to introduce additional sites dedicated to smaller product groups or specific niche audiences. That's what we are doing with and the other 50 websites we now call the MoreFrom Group".

You'd imagine maintaining and updating 50 websites would require a lot of man hours and make a business more expensive to run, but Brian is keen to stress it's smart technology that takes most of the strain. "We operate in a very fast moving, low margin sector and all our costs need to be controlled tightly so we can offer low prices to our customers. A single database stores the information that is fed to the individual sites that are built on-the-fly. It's the flexibility of this design that will allow us to take advantage of 'the next big thing' as and when it happens".

The actual release of the iPad is still some weeks away but More's ability to react quickly means buy the time they are available their site will be relatively well established in the eyes of the search engines. Time moves rapidly online with one normal year said to be the equivalent of 7 online years - so it pays to act fast.

Thursday 21 January 2010 is a site dedicated to showcasing only companies that have been awarded for offering good service. It's a simple idea and like most simple ideas works really well. Needless to say you'll find on there after our recent best online retailer win.

The site is still at an early stage but you'll already find lots of award winning companies and websites divided up into categories. There's shopping, finance, going out, travel, media, communicate, your home and the fantastically named yummy mummy.

Pay them a visit at sign up for their newsletter and be sure to follow them on Twitter.

Free Shipping - 5 good reasons NOT to offer free delivery

So I've covered 5 good reason to offer free delivery in my last post, might be best to read that one first if you haven't already. Our trial still indicates free delivery is working for, but I'm conscious it might not be the case for every online store.

Here's my 5 reasons it might NOT be right for you:

1. Free must mean free - you may not be able to do that
Internet shoppers are on the whole a savvy bunch. Whilst I believe they'll check out an offer with free delivery first, they will still visit other sites and go through the order process to check the final price. If you've simply included the delivery cost in your price and that makes you the same as the other site, you'll lose the sale. Why? Because the shopper is on your competitors site and it's easier to click their buy button than go back to you.

2. You need a mix of delivery options
One of the key reasons free delivery works for us is we are able to offer Next day delivery, within 2 days delivery and our free option is within 5 days. Our customers have different delivery needs so there's a mix of delivery selected. If we only had the free delivery option it would not be sustainable. The mix of options means on average we are losing less overall.

3. You need a mix of products
You may offer a mix of delivery options but if you only sell one product or one type of product it may not work. If that product is something the majority of people are prepared to wait a week for, nearly everyone will choose free delivery.

4. You need a mix of customers
I believe our trial is working because we have a wide mix of customers. The IT managers and trade dealers who buy from us often need something next day to solve a particular problem. On the other hand we have consumers who do not need a product quickly and are available to accept a delivery at anytime. These seem happy accept the inconvienence of not knowing when their purchase will arrive. If you only sell to customers who are flexible when it comes to deliveries, they'll all opt for free shipping.

5. You've worked out you can offer free delivery - but only with a catch
This is a personal thing more than anything but I don't like 'Free Delivery*' it's that dreaded asterisk that immediately says there's a catch. Even before you've read what the catch is you feel cheated and start to distrust anything the company says. There are many tactics being used, most common is 'free delivery when you spend over £X' It's worth considering especially if you have a shop that sells things customers will always need and will be happy to add to their basket to reach the minimum order value. But do it without the asterisk. I would avoid *only on selected items *to a local store *only when you buy an over priced accessory *on items under a certain size/weight.

I hope these free delivery posts have been useful, be sure and follow me on Twitter for more online retail insight.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Free Shipping - 5 good reasons to offer free delivery is a successful, award winning online retailer. I've recently been trialing 'free delivery on everything' and monitoring the sales results closely. This blog post outlines the good reasons to offer free delivery based on my real experience as a major retailer. I intend to do a post on what I see as the reasons not to offer free delivery next.

You'll find lots of free shipping articles online from research companies and marketing 'experts', but I hope this will give you an insight into a genuine use of free delivery. From this and my next post I hope you will be able to decide if free delivery is the right thing for your business. At the end of the day it will hurt your profit if it's not.

Here's a bit of information on our trial to put things into context. We sell thousands of different products and make thousands of sales. We added the words 'Free delivery on everything' next to the prices on our site. Then 'free delivery within 5 days' was added as an option in the basket along side 'next day at £9.95+vat' and '2 days at £4.95+vat'. We told our existing customers about the new delivery option by email. We added free delivery to our price comparison data.

So I think it's fair to say we haven't really used free delivery to drive new customers to our site as yet, we wanted to see the effect it had on conversion based on our existing traffic levels.

So here's my 5 good reasons to offer free delivery

1. It removes a sales barrier.
I'm convinced of this. Before starting our trial I'd read 43% of online shoppers said they abandon a purchase because the delivery charges were too high. So far in our trial I'd say we've seen a marked increase in sales from the same amount of visitors.

2. Customers want it.
There certainly seems to be a whole set of customers who think free delivery is the most important deal clincher. It's always a talking point. I spoke to an affluent businessman recently who spent £1500 on a new laptop - he couldn't tell me anything about it other than he got free delivery. I've also worked in a company that had a 'we don't pay for delivery' policy. It was supposed to make you haggle over the delivery cost, but it made people pick a supplier with free delivery.

3. You win more new customers.
When we removed our delivery charge we immediately notice more lower value items being bought. Whilst we obviously don't make much profit on sales like these, I see it as a cost effective way to win new customers. They experience buying from More and with their permission I can send details of new offers and remind them of our existence. Over time we may build a relationship and they may purchase again and even go on to recommend us. Looking at our data I can see we're getting more consumers shopping with us, probably because they're not as dependent on receiving their orders next day like some business customers.

4. You will retain your customers.
Customers remember free delivery and I'd like to think it helps us to stay on their shopping list. I often hear 'I shop there because it's free delivery'. In my research I read in a ComScore study 72% of those surveyed said if an online retailer stopped offering free shipping, they would leave them and do business with one of their competitors. It seems like a loaded question to me but I believe free delivery combined with a previous good shopping experience will cut down the amount of shopping around our customers do.

5. Not all customers will select free delivery
This is something we are monitoring very closely. So far it looks like the percentage of free delivery compared to paid is sustainable. Probably down to the nature of what we sell, but our next day and 2 day delivery options are still being used significantly. It looks like our business and IT professional customers require next day deliveries and are happy to pay for that service.

Follow me on Twitter to make sure you get my reasons not to offer free delivery.

Please leave a comment about your free delivery experiences.