X Factor superstar, Ella Henderson has been involved in the UK introduction of a new piano that has been designed by Peugeot and created by established piano producer, Pleyel. Seventeen year old Ella Henderson performed using the new piano in an exclusive, one off performance. Ella demonstrated her own incredible vocal and pianist abilities with an acoustic performance of Cher’s record, ‘Believe’. The performance also showcased the unique, sophisticated sound of the newly produced piano. Following the show, Ella spoke about her experience using the new instrument:
“It’s been a real privilege to be one of the first performers to play on the Peugeot Design Lab Pleyel piano. The design of it is so different to anything I’ve played on before and while it comes from a company more recognised for their stylish cars, it looks so futuristic and sounds incredible. It definitely added something to my performance today. My emotions today were a mixture of excitement and nervous energy, but I was worried people might be paying more attention to the piano than me!”
The pioneering piano includes a set of features and specifications that really sets it out against what people would normally expect from a piano. Weighing in at 614kg, the piano is based on a Renner professional mechanic, tailored to specification by Pleyel themselves. Both the foot and cover of the piano and constructed from composite carbon fibre and the foot features an independent braking system. The piano is finished in stylish black lacquer and white hues.
One major design feature of the Peugeot Design Lab Pleyel Piano is that due to the layout of the piano, the audience can actually see the pianist perform from all frontal angles, showcasing the pianist’s hands as they play. This also means that both the audience and performer can enjoy a greater degree of sound response and interaction. This model is the first piano in history that enables this to take place, breaking away from traditional side-on performance approach used by pianists across the globe.
While the Peugeot brand is normally associated with their range of city and family cars, their engineering prowess extends far further than automotive design and manufacture. Peugeot have been involved in the production of automobiles for over 120 years and they also boast a wealth of industrial heritage that spans over 200 years. The French company began life in 1810 as a coffee mill company before switching to manufacturing bicycles in 1830. It was in 1882 when Peugeot first started producing cars before adding motorcycles to their list in 1898. Founded in 1807, Pleyel also has a rich French history. The family run firm has produced pianos for famous French composers including Chopin, Debussy and Stravinsky.
Two men set to fly across the United States in a hot-air balloon comprised of lawn chairs lashed-together have been forced to ditch their adventure due to bad weather.
Kent Couch, of Oregon, and Fareed Lafta, who is from Iraq, set-out to fly from Oregon to Montana in their craft, built by lashing two lawn chairs together, beneath a large number of helium-inflated balloons. Unfortunately, they only made it around thirty miles before the weather became treacherous, with thunderstorms, sleet and hail battering their craft. Using an air-pistol, Couch burst the balloons, allowing the pair to descend to Earth once again, only to watch from the ground as the remaining balloons, coupled with the strong wind, carried-off the craft.
The aptly named Kent Couch is an experienced balloonist, and was contacted by Mr. Lafta (mountaineering and skydiving enthusiast) via email. Lafta, having heard of Couch’s exploits, said that he wanted to set an example to the people of his country: to not let the unrest there define them. He said: “My target is to inspire young people, especially in the Mid-East,” adding “…we don’t need just an Army. We need ideology and to just have fun.”
The original plan was to fly in both Iraq and the United States, but clearance to fly any kind of Aircraft in Baghdad is very difficult to get, so the pair restricted their journey to the USA. Their magnificent flying machine itself was built by strapping-together two deckchairs found in Couch’s garage, and affixing the seat to a metal framework, from which flew the US and Iraqi flags.
Provisions and equipment included thermal clothing and sleeping bags (as the approximate altitude at which they would be flying was set to be 18,000ft, with near-zero temperatures), several days’ worth of food and water, as well as Couch’s trusty air-pistol. Sadly, not much of it was ever really used, and the pair presumably watched it disappear into the wild winds after bailing-out.
Mr. Couch has helped to rekindle interest in a pastime popularised by the Pixar film ‘Up’, in which a young boy helps an old man to fulfill his dreams of flying and exploration by strapping hundreds of balloons to the roof of the man’s house. The sport, commonly known as Cluster-Ballooning, dates back to the 1980s, and involves attaching helium weather-balloons to a piece of furniture. If you’re a recycling buff with an interest in ballooning and perhaps you’re re-decorating your house? Having just bought a pair of corner sofas like these ones from Fashion For Home you will need to find something to do with your old furniture…? We’re not going to tell you that it’s a good idea. We’re just saying that there are many inventive ways to re-use and recycle.
As for Mr. Couch: he seems nonplussed by the rather close-shave. He claims that he’s used to harrowing landings, and that the experience will not stop himself and his new-found friend from continuing to seek permission to fly in Iraq.
Technology behemoth Apple’s oft-rumoured foray into the high definition TV market looks like it is drawing ever closer following a claim by Cult of Mac, a website devoted to all things Apple.
In a post published on Monday 7 May 2012, the Apple-devoted news site published a post that claimed that an Apple insider had disclosed what a prototype Apple TV, nicknamed the iTV, looks like and what functions it will boast. Although many industry analysts remain skeptical, the news has sparked discussion across the web.
The Cult of Mac source, who claims to have seen the prototype set working, stated that the TV will look similar to the screens their current iMac range boasts, although significantly bigger. It will also apparently boast a built-in camera to enable FaceTime video calls and ‘Siri’ the virtual assistant that comes as standard on the iPhone 4S.
According to the source, the camera, which will use iSight technology will be able to recognise faces and follow users as they move around the room, bringing an end to the need to remain static while making video calls. This is all exciting stuff but remains speculation until Apple officially releases information about the project. This is noted by Cult of Mac:
“Our source is well-placed and has provided us with great tips in the past. However, not all of them have panned out, ostensibly due to the fact that our source tends to see products in the prototype or early development stage and Apple doesn’t always ultimately choose to release them. We hope this is one of our source’s tips about an upcoming Apple product that actually sees market.”
Despite the rumours, no fixed date has been announced for an unveiling of the set or even official confirmation that it will reach retail outlets this year. Consumers hoping to have their hands on an official Apple TV in time to enjoy HD coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games may be better off investing their money on a set that is already on the market.
Luckily, there is plenty of choice in the sets available and the subscription services that offer fantastic deals that include access to HD channels. There are also many great price comparison sites that can make your search easier. Checking your local HD coverage on digitalchoices.co.uk , for example, has never been easier. Just enter your postcode, house name or number, your email address and what form of digital TV you currently receive (Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, etc) and within seconds you will be presented with a list of fantastic HD TV options in your area.
With more and more television manufacturers producing internet ready TVs, there is one thing that is certain; these are exciting times for the home entertainment industry.
Myfamilyabroad.com; the alternative gap year. Be an English language assistant & live in sunny Madrid rent free!
=FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE=
March 2012, Madrid, Spain.
Myfamilyabroad.com is an exciting, new and innovative company that specializes in setting up native English speakers with Spanish families in Madrid.
Myfamilyabroad.com offers a unique, hassle-free and fun way to live abroad. The idea is simple, for a small fee myfamilyabroad.com finds you a lovely Spanish family in the beautiful city of Madrid where you get free accommodation and full board. In exchange, all you have to do is be a language assistant and help the family out with their English for just a few hours a day (NO TEFL or experience required).
English as a foreign language is becoming increasingly popular and important in Spain. Parents want their kids to grow up speaking English. For them living with a native English speaker is a unique opportunity to learn English in a fun and natural way.
In return, not only does the language assistant get free accommodation and full board, but also an unforgettable cultural experience in an upbeat, funky and historical capital city in the heart of Spain.
Programmes last from 1-3 months, and normally start once a month. There are no registration fees and payment is not required until a family has been found and both parties have confirmed.
The founders of myfamilyabroad.com are two Sussex University graduates, Tim and Francesca. They came to Madrid with a couple of backpacks, a Spanish phrasebook and a sense of adventure. Their six-month trip turned into a life in sunny Madrid. After years of working in English language teaching and management they set up myfamilyabroad.com. The company strives to offer the personal touch, using their own experience of living in Madrid as a basis.
Why myfamilyabroad.com are different:
To help language assistant settle in to life in Madrid and to get the most out of the programme, they offer various extras. Including 25% discount on Spanish classes, a free tapas tour and pre-departure and arrival packs.
Exclusive Members Area & Guides:
Drawing on their own experience they also provide a member’s area with a wealth of activity and game ideas to keep kids entertained for hours in English.
Myfamilyabroad.com personally welcomes each language assistant to Madrid. They offer a welcome reception and training session to provide essential information about being a language assistant and having fun in Madrid!
The satellite broadcaster BSkyB, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp group has announced it is to enter the internet television market after it was revealed that uptake of its satellite subscription service has slowed over the last year. The announcement means that Sky content will be offered to UK households that currently do not subscribe to Sky TV packages, a figure close to 12.5 million.
Sky’s internet television service would be a direct competitor to YouView, a online television service due to launch later this year that has the backing of the BBC, ITV and BT, among others.
Customers that sign up to the new service will have a range of price plans to choose from. These will include unlimited access or ‘pay-as-you-go’. This will be the first time that Sky has offered its television content without a contract. The announcement should please consumers in the UK that balk at the monthly subscription fees that Virgin Media and Sky charge. These charges can be found on HD coverage checker and price comparison websites such as Digital Choices.
BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “When you are trying to sell to people who have already taken a view on pay-TV and have said ‘No thanks’, you can’t keep going back to them with the same proposition. You have to offer them what they want.”
When asked if he thought satellite subscriptions to Sky had peaked, Mr Darroch stated his belief that they hadn’t but added: “Each subscriber that you get now is going to be harder than the last one.”
Sky’s internet TV service should be launched later this year and is the second announcement the broadcaster has made this week, with the addition of BBC iPlayer and ITV’s catch up to its online Sky Anytime+ service confirmed on Monday (30 January 2012). The move is seen by industry analysts to be a direct response to US company Netflix investing in the UK market, as well as a challenge to Amazon’s online service Lovefilm.
The digital film rental market grew 9 percent last year (2011) according to IHS Screen Digest, making up roughly half of all movie rentals in the UK, currently a £400 million industry.
Sky’s uptake of new subscribers slowed in the business quarter ending December 2011, with figures down almost 20,000 from forecasted sales of 58,000 the company hoped to achieve. However, Sky’s profits went up by over a quarter in the 6 months leading to 31 December 2011, with the broadcaster posting a pre-tax figure of £597 million.
The new service comes as the number of people signing up to Sky’s traditional pay TV services slowed. It added 40,000 TV customers in the second quarter to December 31 – missing analysts’ consensus forecasts of 58,000 and down on the 140,000 net additions in the same quarter the previous year.
Sky’s pre-tax profit rose by more than a quarter to £597m in the six months to December 31, swollen by £30.5m that was netted from the break fee paid by News Corp following last year’s aborted bid for the pay-TV provider.
First-half revenues rose by 6 per cent year-on-year to a record £3.4bn and diluted earnings per share helping shares rise 2.8 per cent to 684p.
The premium television market is dominated by a handful of providers and services, and BT will be doing everything it can to make its Vision service stand out as offering some of the –.html”- amongst stiff competition. One of the things BT has done to make its Vision service more marketable is create a new logo and colour scheme that will aim to forge the service a distinct identity, separate from associations between BT and outdated terrestrial television services.
The new logo features an ambiguous triangular shape that falls somewhere between the V in Vision and the play button on a TV remote control. BT hopes that this new logo will add personality to its Vision service. Although BT Vision is fundamentally different from television services offered by rivals, the operator must still convince consumers that it offers a competitive deal in questions of BT vs Sky or Virgin.
The BT Vision platform offers users a unique service in which they effectively pay for the availability of programmes to watch on an ‘on demand’ basis. Users can pay for content in different ways; BT offers a three-tier subscription service (Bronze, Silver and Gold packages) that covers content within predefined categories of entertainment, for example Music, Sport, and Film. On the other hand users that would rather pay per view for the on demand content, a BT Vision box can be purchased for £199.99. Users will pay additional charges on their monthly BT bills starting at 39p each time they want to watch a programme from the on demand selection.
It is hoped that the new logo and colour scheme will attract more customers to the BT Vision brand. Despite an internal target of acquiring between 2 and 3 million subscribers by the year 2010, BT has so far managed to attract only 600,000 users to its service. Sky is predominant in the UK pay-TV market, catering for more than 10,000,000 TV users according to information released in June 2011. The most expensive Sky TV packages offer over 100 different channels to consumers. Virgin Media had 3,800,000 TV customers earlier this year.
Nevertheless BT has recently added Sky Sports 1 & 2 to the list of services available on Vision; at the time of writing they also offer the cheapest Sky Sports subscription available on any network. Users can pay as little as £12.30 per month to add one of the two sports channels to their BT Vision service, or £17.40 for both. BT will be hoping that sports fans on a budget will look to Vision as the most cost-effective way of catching this season’s Premier League action.
For many of us, deciding between the BT vs Sky we’re confused about or whether or not Sky TV packages are better value than Virgin Media packages, the vast majority of us are at least guaranteed scheduled programming. However, residents of Wickham Market have been told by Digital UK that they must either endure a limited service or realign their aerials until the switchover is complete.
The switchover to digital from analogue began last Thursday (21st July) and won’t be completed until November of this year.
The town of Wickham Market is located exactly between Sudbury and Talcolneston, where the two transmitters are found. The switchover has already happened in Sudbury, Tacolneston are still analogue for now.
According to Julian Evans, who lives in the town, “We have had our switch over and from the Sudbury transmitter we get a signal that pixelates and the sound is out of sync. If we switch to the Tacolneston transmitter we can’t get ITV, Channel 4 or Five.”
The wait for these residents who feel like they are very much left out of the 98% of the country who are receiving improved signal since the switch, could be even longer than November. A spokesman has told Mr Evans that “you are not likely to get all channels from Sudbury until June 2012. Even then, signals are expected to be marginal meaning you will get them most of the time but there may be signal dropout from time to time.”
The solution suggested? Mr Evans and the other members of the Wickham Market community must either put up with a scrambled reception or climb up to their aerials and point them towards Tacolneston. Hardly the most practical of answers to what is a highly frustrating problem.
Despite the BT vs Sky debate, both companies work together to discover new spectrums for the viewing public.
For the last few years, when it comes to satellite television and broadband connections, it has very much been a case of BT vs Sky, but for once, the swords have been lowered, and both companies are working hand in hand alongside Microsoft and the BBC to find out more about the spectrum that falls between TV channels.
It is thought that the unused spectrum which sits between channels could be used for a new type of broadband, which may be useful for areas of the country where people are struggling with their current broadband experience. The push for this new type of broadband has come at a time when many companies, notably BT and Virgin, are pushing ahead with super fast fibre optic broadband. the problem is that the push for super fast broadband has somewhat highlighted the fact that many are going to have to do without it for several years, and it has also highlighted the fact that many rural parts of the country are still without adequate broadband. Although there is very much a Sky vs Virgin situation developing at the moment due to speed promises when it comes to broadband, it is encouraging that Sky are actually putting their money forward in order to fund a new way to deliver broadband – one which experts believe may yield reasonably impressive results. It is thought that the White noise spectrum will only be able to help a few people, given that it is a limited venture, but it is hoped that it could help those that really cannot hope for a decent broadband connection in the near future.
Whilst many of the broadband and TV companies are focusing their attentions to the latest technological boom, which is 3d TV packages, it is encouraging to see the leading lights, both in television and broadband, are looking to discover new technology which will help those who need help with broadband the most.
LG have announced the launch of two Cinema 3D monitors, designed to deliver clearer 3D images and reduce eye strain for viewers. The monitors are available now in Korea and are set to go on sale globally in early June. The drawbacks faced by 3d TV packages so far have been problems relating to viewing angles, and flickering images.
These problems are expected to be ironed out by the new LG products, which are using new technology to combat viewing difficulties. The LG D41P and D42P both utilize Film Patterned Retarder technology to reduce the flickering effect and improve the visual experience of 3D for the viewer. The technology works by showing left and right images through different patterns in a circular polarizer, and uses the precise film which can distinguish the left and right images to show a different image on each eye. It is an improvement on previous technologies, with the new developments meaning that the LG monitors are much brighter than conventional 3D TVs, with no flickering or ghosting of images.
The new monitors will come to the UK market at a time when several of the top providers of subscription TV channels are branching into 3D entertainment. Virgin, BT and Sky are all now offering 3D programming as part of some of their service packages. BT began offering 3D films in November 2010, however its range of 3D programming is limited. For customers making the decision of Sky vs BT, the range of entertainment in 3D offered by Sky is superior. Sky also hosts the UK’s first entirely 3D channel, however with the development of 3D technology and the proven popularity BT is likely to increase its range very soon. Virgin Media also offer 3D entertainment, and have recently signed a deal with Disney and Paramount to present their films in 3D on its On Demand service.
Customers will be able to access them at no extra cost, making the Virgin vs Sky choice more interesting. Virgin up until this point have lagged behind Sky on 3D provision, instead focusing on the provision of non-linear content for their customers to access online. Virgin is keen to avoid being left behind by other companies, and Alex Habdank, director of on demand television and strategy at Virgin Media has said: “We’re thrilled to be adding this exciting range of new movies to our 3D video on demand service from two of the biggest studios Paramount Pictures and Disney.”
- Over 40% of UK broadband customers have a package with an unlimited download allowance.
- Most of those on an unlimited deal are not making full use of their allowance, indicating they could save money by downsizing to a cheaper package.
New research* from -/- has revealed that although over 40% (43%) of British broadband customers pay for a package with an unlimited download allowance, the vast majority don’t take full advantage of this feature. This means they could be paying more than they need to for a broadband service that is unsuitable for them.
Of the respondents with an unlimited data allowance, almost 1 in 10 (9%) said they used less than 1GB per month – a tiny amount. The other results were:
- 21% said they used just 2GB – 10GB per month
- 14% use only 11GB – 20GB
- 9% use between 21GB – 40GB.
- The majority, 37% don’t know how much they download in a month.
-, product director at Broadbandchoices.co.uk commented:
“What these stats highlight is the significant disparity between what broadband customers actually need and what they are paying for. Whilst the way we use the internet has changed dramatically over the last few years with the launch of online TV and gaming services, the main bulk of customers still use their connection simply for the basics – emailing, shopping, banking and surfing. These tasks really don’t require a high level package with an unlimited download allowance.
“Practical understanding of the issue is a big problem. Whilst awareness of download limits is growing, it is still difficult for customers to quantify what they do – as demonstrated by the 37% of respondents who had no idea at all how much they actually downloaded every month. Broadband providers have a role to play here, as a massive 90% of respondents claimed that their service provider does not help them monitor how much they download. Something as simple as providing a free download monitor would make a huge difference, by allowing customers to identify if they aren’t making the most of their allowance.
“Customers can make smart broadband switches to cut monthly charges, saving money on unwanted download limits. For example, Sky offer — ‘free of charge’ for customers of their satellite TV services, but with a low usage monthly usage limit of 2GB. While –.html”- charge only £6.49 for a 10GB without needing to take a bundle.”
“A service that isn’t being fully utilised is essentially a waste of money. The VAT hike this year has made all households even more aware of the need to trim back on monthly bills wherever possible. I strongly urge any broadband customers who might be overpaying for a service they are not using to really examine their needs and compare their current deal with more relevant, cheaper alternatives. With potential savings of over £200** they certainly have nothing to lose – and could have a lot to gain.”
Broadbandchoices.co.uk’s top tips for reviewing your broadband package:
- Track your usage – use a download monitor to identify your monthly usage. This will give you a reasonable idea of the kind of download allowance you will need.
- Be realistic – consider your habits as a broadband user. The thought of watching TV online and downloading music may sound great fun but how often will you actually do this? If you only intend to use your connection for emailing and general surfing you will only need a basic service.
- Compare deals in your area – package availability and costs vary by postcode. There might be a solution available in your area offering greater savings so use an Ofcom approved comparison broadband calculator (www.-.co.uk) to check out the best deals.
- Haggle with your existing provider – they may have a newer, cheaper deal you can move across to without changing supplier.
- Sign up online - many broadband providers offer additional discounts and incentives if you subscribe online rather than over the phone. Price comparison sites also frequently have exclusive deals negotiated with ISPs, so check an Ofcom-accredited site for the best offers.
Broadbandchoices.co.uk was launched in 2005 and is the UK’s leading Ofcom accredited broadband comparison calculator.
We offer comprehensive and impartial advice on broadband, mobile broadband and bundled packages (broadband with home phone and digital TV) and can save our users over £200 when they switch.
The Broadbandchoices.co.uk calculator compares thousands of different combinations of packages and provides results in a clear, intuitive table where users can rank and compare services according to their individual needs.
Users can switch online or by calling our sales team on 0800 232 1279.
Broadbandchoices.co.uk powers over 20 leading comparison services including Confused.com, Comparethemarket.com and GoCompare.com.
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