On Thursday 24th May 2013, I was invited to attend an exclusive event in London for bloggers to help launch the new Acer Iconia A1. It's the first time that I have been invited to an event like this through my website, and I was quite chuffed to bits that I was asked, as it means that Daves Travel Pages is starting to get to the next level. At the time of the invite, all that I knew was that it was to launch a new Acer product, but I didn't know which one. I had half hoped it would be their “top secret” Windows tablet, but it wasn't to be!
The event was held in the Wyld bar in the W Hotel just off Leicester Square. I have to say, that the place is a bit posh, and I am sure they appreciated a shaven headed thug-like creature such as myself traipsing through their high class bar areas! On arrival in the function room off to the side, I was given the new, as yet un-launched Acer Iconia A1 in its box, and made my way to find a seat.
Inside the box were the usual bits a pieces you would come to expect, but one of the first things that stood out to me, was what they called an “international travelers warranty passport”. Ok, I didn't appreciate the American spelling of it (obviously!), but coming at it from a travel perspective, it seemed like a great idea. If people were considering buying one to take on a trip around the world, and it went wrong on them, they could at least use the warranty in the country they were– Interesting idea!
As I got to the business of taking the tablet out of its packaging and turning it on, it was quite interesting to see the different sorts of people at the event. There were bloggers from different fields, as well as lifestyle websites and probably more that I never found out about. It seemed a good idea from both a promotional and a feedback point of view.
Once out of its packaging, things didn't get off to a flying start when it entered into a “death loop” on starting up. It connected to the wi-fi ok, and then it asked for my Google details. I typed these in wrongly to see what would happen, and well, a death loop happened! The first rule of tech support is switch it off and on again, so whilst I did that, I got a beer from the bar.
Back to my seat, and the Acer Iconia A1 switched on without problems on the second attempt, and so it was time to have a play with it. My first impression was that it was a direct competitor to the Apple iPad Mini as its screen specs are very similar -
1024 x 768,
4:3 Color TFT-LCD with LED Backlight.
Viewing angle: 85 / 85 /85 /85,
with IPS* technology
Its 5MP camera is also the same, although this is perhaps now the standard on tablets at the moment.
Playing around with it, I found it to be fast and responsive making the best use of the latest version of Android. In the first half hour, I noted its good points were that the on/off button was at the top and in a different place to the volume control (I HATE that about my Samsung Galaxy Tab!). The on screen keyboard is one of the best that I have used, and I was not getting as many wrong letters pressed as I do on my phone and Galaxy Tab – In fact it was so good that I could almost see myself working on it, although I am really of the opinion that tablet computers are for consuming data rather than creating it. Its other good points were that it was pretty light, and the 8 hour battery life (untested by me yet) is suitable for my needs. It also boasts a micro HDMI port which could be useful for linking to monitors or even a TV – Again I haven't tried this yet.
Bad points were that I am not convinced by the screen size – I prefer my Samsung Galaxy Tab for that. Probably for me though, I can see that it is has been made as a more economic and direct competitor to the Apple iPad Mini, and I really think that tech companies should innovate not replicate.
As its not released yet, the price is yet to be confirmed, although there were suggestions that the 8GB version would be £149 and the 16GB version £169. This puts it at about a hundred pounds cheaper than the Apple iPad Mini, and would certainly get people asking the question why they would pay more for the Apple.
Personally, I think this would offer terrific value if it was priced at £129, and I can see Acer selling shed loads of these Iconia A1 tablet computers on the run up to Christmas. It looks like it would make an ideal gift for the kids as well as just about everybody else!
This is by no means a full evaluation of the Iconia A1, as I will need some time to test it out, and so you can expect two more articles on the subject. One on the Iconia itself, and another comparing it with the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
(Please note – Even though I was invited to the event, and received an Acer Iconia A1 to test, all the opinions are my own both good and bad! If you have a product or service that you would like me to review and give an honest opinion about, just drop me a line at dave (at) davestravelpages.com)
Last Updated (Friday, 24 May 2013 16:50)
Chengdu - Picture courtesy of Wikipedia user ASDFGH
A cursory glance at the streets of Chengdu makes it difficult to believe that my adopted country was once known as the Kingdom of Bicycles. In the last decade the car has become indispensable amongst China's new urban elite: a shop-shiny model is now a badge of status on par with the ubiquitous bejewelled iPhone and manicured poodle, and few city-dwellers earning the required amount to own one would be seen dead on a two wheels. This is not to say that the bicycle has disappeared from China's streets – indeed, the widening rich-poor divide ensures this. However, for most they remain a cheap method of getting from A to B with narry a thought paid to aesthetics. Hence the prevalence of elderly cigar-puffing gents cruising down People's Road on pink, basketed, third-hand affairs.
Keen cyclists need not fret, however. Arriving on a last minute flight into the city, I had little time to check out the scene before I arrived : I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that Chengdu plays host to a movement of two-wheeled enthusiasts intent on making the most of a city which, being almost completely flat, fulfils a key cyclability criterion. Small local shop Natooke does a steady trade in colourful fixed-gear bikes of the sort more commonly straddled by hipster denizens of East London. The Rules for cycling in China remain markedly different from those of E1, however. Therefore, readers are advised to proceed with caution and pay close attention to the following:
1. The bike lane is strictly for bikes only. Including electric scooters, obviously. And tuk-tuks (they're basically a bike, right?). Also taxis, because sometimes they need to get their passengers to a destination very quickly and all the other lanes are too busy. And cars if they really feel like it. Oh, and cement lorries, because by this time they feel left out.
2. Ride in the same direction as the traffic. Except when you want to go the other way.
3. Helmets are for wimps. Ditto lights (especially if you're on a tuk-tuk or electric scooter – those things drain the battery).
4. Pollution is an issue at the forefront of today's China. Therefore be mindful of wasting energy and load your bike with as much as you can feasibly carry before setting off. Transportable items include but are by no means limited to: water barrels, curtain rails, animals (domestic and livestock), the contents of your portable fruit shop, the contents of your portable mobile phone shop, and your Nan.5. Given the absence of lights and the fluidity of directional regulations, shout and/or ring your bell loudly at all times to let everyone know you are coming. Try your best to be heard above everyone else who is doing exactly the same thing.
Cycling in a large Chinese city has brought with it its fair share of japes, scrapes and near misses - my favourite being the man who knocked me off my bike, took me to get patched up, and initiated an awkward conversation about the relative morality of British and Chinese women. Meanwhile, a doctor who would not have looked out of place next to Michael Palin in Terry Gilliam's Brazil loomed over me wielding the iodine. I would wholeheartedly urge any and all to attempt it, however - as long as you are prepared to play by The Rules (if nothing else, you'll dine out on the anecdotes for years).
Lucy McCormick lives in Chengdu, Sichuan province. When not writing or teaching, she spends
her time climbing mountains, sipping bai cha in backstreet tea houses and dodging traffic – with
limited success – on her bicycle.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 22 May 2013 16:47)
Whether backpacking or cycling around the world, the one thing i would suggest is to never travel without a Swiss Army Knife. These versatile little bits of kit fit easily into a pocket, weigh next to nothing, and yet have a multitude of uses. There are a lot of cheap imitations around, but the genuine article is made by Victorinox, who offer a lifetime guarantee on the materials and workmanship. I have owned several of their knives, but alas, I am not the best at keeping them well oiled and in optimum working order, so from time to time, I need to buy a new one.
Never Travel Without a Swiss Army Knife
I have a "gear i need to buy" list on my laptop, but as my next cycling expedition around the world is not due to begin for a year or two yet, I can pick and choose the best moments to buy each piece of kit. The moment to buy this Swiss Army Knife came when Tesco's were offering to double up their reward vouchers on certain departments, and one of those was camping. Due to the fact I had purchased my expedition bicycle on a Tesco credit card, and had earned reward points through that, I had 20 quids worth of vouchers. Doubling this up meant that I had 40 pounds to spend in the camping department, and so I bought this Swiss Army Knife and a few bits for the bike.
The Victorinox Swiss Army Knife I decided on is the Ranger version, which cost 30 pounds (even that was a reduced price - i really landed on my feet here!). As you can tell from the photo, it has all sorts of appendages that can perform different functions, and whilst I carry various knives and other tools on my cycling expeditions around the world, this acts as a great supplement to them. Below, i will list some of the things i find most useful about the Victorinox Ranger Swiss Army Knife
Scissors - My toe nails are tough. REALLY tough! The Swiss Army Knife has a great pair of scissors that cut through them with no problems at all!
Main Blade - When on the road, I use this for slicing cheese, peeling spuds, dicing carrots and more.
Bottle Opener - Its pretty well known that I enjoy a beer!
Corkscrew - Its also pretty well known that I enjoy a bottle of wine!
Can Opener - This sees a lot of action, as I love eating tuna with pasta on my cycling trips.
Wood Saw - Occasional use when there is a camp fire, although in some countries I carry a machete for this purpose and to clear a campsite for my tent.
File - It doesn't get much use as a nail file, but occasionally sees actions as a metal file when things go wrong with the bike or other gear.
Various screwdrivers - I carry a mutli-tool for the bike, but the Swiss Army Knife acts as a great back up.
All in all, when it comes to value for money, and overall usage, it doesn't get much better than this. Never travel without a Swiss Army Knife!
First of all, let me start this by saying that i have never named any bike that I own. I mean, that's for crazy people that get attached to things, right? Well, it seems that I have succumbed to the awesome beauty that is my new expedition bike, and I have indeed come up with a name for it! The name is not something that I had to sit down and thing about - It came subconsciously, bubbling to the surface where it finally stuck. Only afterwards did I have a deeper think as to why that happened, and why the bike is now named... (sorry, you will have to wait a little bit longer - Read the damned article!)
All bikes are girls. I don't know why this is, they just are. Of course, I have no problem in being corrected by the thousands of women adventure cyclists biking around the world on "Normans" or "Geralds", but somehow I just don't think this will be the case. Female names are nicer, smoother and in my opinion sexier, which is good, because my new expedition bike is sexy! My bike is also yellow... If only there was a sexy woman that wore yellow?
Well, Uma Thurman did in Kill Bill. And she had a sword, which made her double sexy. Now, before you get excited and think that I called my bike Uma, take a little breather. She's not called Uma, but the link is there all the same, although I only realised the connection after the event.
From there, the next reason that i thought i named my new expedition bike the name it now has, was due to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A bit of a leap you might think, whilst others may believe that I have an affection for girls that can kick ass (I do!), but again the link is there if you know where to look.
(Buffy photos with her wearing yellow are as rare as rocking horse do-dah. Hope you appreciate the extra effort i put into finding this!)
And finally, for anyone that hasn't already guessed, we have the final link. Now, anybody that thinks of the word yellow must at some point think of a certain bumbling insect that buzzes around in the summer, pollinating flowers and making honey. Alternatively, like me, you think of a Transformer.
This is Bumblebee for the uninitiated!
And so, the clues start to come together.
Uma Thurman's character in Kill Bill was known as Beatrix Kiddo.
Faith called Buffy - B
A Bumblebee is a... bee!
So, I am proud to announce that my new expedition bike is called Bea. She is yellow, she is beautiful, and she is mine!
Bea the Bike
Last Updated (Tuesday, 14 May 2013 19:16)
The Top 50 Travel Subjects
This is a page in development. As the keen observer may notice, none of these subjects link anywhere yet, and there is not 50 of them either! However, it is something I will be working on over the course of time as part of a long term strategy for the website. I would like to turn it more into a travel information site, and it seems these subjects would be a good place to start. this page will eventually be on the front. I will keep the travelogue going of course, but i feel that i will get more page views if I write and optimise around the travel subjects below.
Last Updated (Saturday, 14 July 2012 21:46)
Submit your Travel Blog
Submit your travel blog here! If you have a travel blog, then create some more exposure for it, gain visitors, and have a link back from my travel blog to yours!!
To submit your travel blog, simply leave a comment in the box below, writing a brief description of your blog, and of course leaving the web address back to it. To really make the back link count, write your travel blogs title as the “author name”.
All links from Daves Travel Pages are DO-FOLLOW !
Book a hostel online
Concerned with arriving in a strange city at an unfavourable time ? By booking a hostel online, you know your bed is reserved, leaving you hassle free.
Last Updated (Saturday, 03 April 2010 01:28)