ASDA trials 3D Printing in stores

3D printers are all the rage at the moment even if they are still largely out of reach for most consumers due to the high prices of the printers. Whilst they are coming down in price with devices such as the ultimaker 2, for the majority of us a decent 3D printer will be a few years off yet. For those who want to take advantage of 3D printing without having to invest in a printer there are various online services allowing you to submit your designs to be printed and then mailed to you when completed. It seems that supermarkets have also seen the potential and benefits of offering a 3D printing service too.

Asda began trialling a 3D printing service before Christmas after completing a year and a half worth of testing. The service has now gone on tour and is now working its way around stores in Great Britain. Sadly you can't actually book a slot but you can see a schedule for where the printing service will be on a particular date by visiting Asda’s Photo Site. The service is reasonably quick and simple much like the existing photo booths currently available in most stores.

Currently the only service offered is a 3D figurine of yourself or a friend or family member. The process involves one of Asda trained employees walking around you with a handheld scanner in order to generate and stitch together the data for the 3D model. Whilst this is a reasonably quick process you do need to remain reasonably still so this may not be suitable for young children at the moment. After the images have been captured and digitally stitched together to create just one single image file it is then ready to be printed. Currently the printing and painting process is not done in store however you don't have to wait too long as the figurines are ready and delivered within a week.

The service currently starts at a cost of £60 and can be scaled up in size for a higher price, and when compared to the cost of other similar services it's very reasonable though you do have to wonder at the benefits of a 3D printed figurine of yourself. It will be interesting to see how this service progresses and whether it's rolled out across all stores. Considering its a first for a supermarket to offer such a service Asda have done a great job and the months of research have obviously paid off.


HMV Stores to Live On in the U.K.

The HMV chain of music retail stores in the United Kingdom has been purchased, pulling it out of administration status.

HMV filed for administrative protection – the U.K. equivalent of bankruptcy – this past Jan. while it went in a search of a buyer. Despite having closed 66 of its stores during this time, the company has indeed found a buyer in Hilco, the company that also holds the Canadian HMV stores, has agreed to purchase the remaining 141 stores which are comprised of 132 HMV branded stores, and the remaining nine Fopp locations.

Hilco plans to retain all of the 2,643 employees in the company, and will move away from a plan that would have seen the HMV stores move deeper into tablets and away from music and video.

While no price of the purchase was announced, The Hollywood Reporter stated that some reports pegged the price of the company at £50 million, or approximately $76 million USD.

The 141 stores included in the sale are:

Aberdeen, Ayr, Banbury, Bangor (Wales), Basildon, Basingstoke, Bath, Belfast Donegall Arcade, Birmingham Bullring, Blackpool, Bluewater, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton Churchill, Bristol Broadmead, Bristol Cribbs, Bromley, Bury, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Canary Wharf, Canterbury, Cardiff, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Chester, Chichester, Colchester, Coventry, Crawley, Cwmbran, Darlington, Derby, Doncaster, Dundee, East Kilbride, Eastbourne, Edinburgh Fort Retail, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh Princes Street, Exeter, FOPP Bristol, FOPP Cambridge, FOPP Covent Garden, FOPP Edinburgh, FOPP Glasgow Byres Road, FOPP Glasgow Union Street, FOPP Gower Street London, FOPP Manchester, FOPP Nottingham, Gateshead, Glasgow Argyle, Glasgow Buchanan, Glasgow Fort, Gloucester, Grimsby, Guernsey, Guildford, Hanley, Harlow, Harrogate, Hastings, Hatfield, Hereford, High Wycombe, Horsham, Hull, Inverness, Ipswich, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Islington, Jersey, Kettering, Kings Lynn, Kingston, Leamington Spa, Leeds Headrow, Leeds White Rose, Leicester, Lincoln, Liverpool One, Livingston, Llandudno, Maidstone, Manchester 90 Market Street, Manchester Trafford, Mansfield, Merry Hill, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newport (Wales), Northampton, Norwich Gentlemans Walk, Norwich Chapelfield, Nottingham Victoria, Nuneaton, Oxford, Oxford Circus, Peterborough Queensgate, Plymouth Drake Circus, Poole, Portsmouth Commercial Road, Portsmouth Gun Wharf Quay, Preston, Reading Oracle, Romford, Selfridges Oxford Street, Sheffield High Street, Sheffield Meadowhall, Shrewsbury, Solihull, Southampton, Southend Victoria, Southport, Speke Park, Staines, Stevenage, Stirling, Stockport, Stratford upon Avon, Stratford City Westfield, Sunderland, Sutton, Swansea, Taunton, Thanet, Thurrock, Truro, Tunbridge Wells, Uxbridge, Westfield London, Wimbledon, Winchester, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Worthing, Yeovil, York.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

GAME UK expands tablet sales to include iPads, more entry-level Android tablets

UK retailer GAME has been hunting for ways to stay relevant during a shift to downloadable games -- and now, that includes cribbing some style (just a little!) from Americans. Much like GameStop across the pond, GAME will soon sell a full range of tablets at 150 of its stores. The existing Nexus 7 offering will be joined by the seemingly obligatory 16GB iPad and iPad mini, although the rest of the lineup will be decidedly more frugal: options like the £100 Acer Iconia B1-A71 and £130Archos GamePad will be bracketed by a raft of mostly DGM-built slates that dip as low as £60. It's difficult to know how the expanded sales will help GAME's bottom line, although the Nexus 7 reportedly fared well enough that it's likely tablets are here to stay.

[Source: Engadget]

Blockbuster U.K. Acquired by Gordon Brothers

Blockbuster Video in the U.K. has been saved from bankruptcy thanks to acquisition by Gordon Brothers.

It was announced in Jan. that the U.K. version of Blockbuster Video had filed for administration, the country’s version of chapter 11 bankruptcy. The day to day operations of the 528 stores and nearly 4,200 employees were taken over by Deloitte, which has cut some of the retail locations since that time.

Gordon Brothers announced today that it is acquiring the company and will keep the doors open. It plans to keep the remaining 264 stores in operation as well as retain the remaining 2,000 employees.

Frank Morton, CEO of Gordon Brothers Europe said of the acquisition, “We acknowledge the industry is in transition; we know that we have a challenge ahead but there is still a market to be served.” He went on to add, “Blockbuster has a strong brand affinity and we believe that with the right mix of newproduct offering, new technologies, strategic management and marketing, we can bring new life to this high street staple. We look forward to working with employees, suppliers, landlords and other stakeholders to make this happen.”

The U.K. branch of Blockbuster operates separately from the U.S. arm which is also currently going through its own financial turmoil. Dish Network, which bought Blockbuster in 2011, announced earlier this year that it would be closing 300 more stores on top of the 500 it had already shuttered.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

HMV could be saved by Asda as WH Smith sells CDs, DVDs again

Bottom-patting supermarket Asda could be about to step in for HMV, as WH Smith looks to fill the high street CD and DVD void left by the ailing music and movie chain.

The Telegraph reports that Asda is in talks with HMV's administrator Deloitte to take over the music, movie and game retailer. Restructuring company Hilco has already bought the chain's debt and was the bookie's favourite to take over, but Asda could swoop in for the remaining stores instead.

Asda is reportedly looking to continue selling under the HMV brand rather than simply taking over the buildings owned by HMV.

One of the deciding factors in who gets to rescue HMV is likely to be the support of record labels, film studios and other suppliers. Suppliers are said to have agreed favourable credit terms with Hilco, but are also likely to be on good terms with Asda, which also sells chart CDs, DVDs and games.

Asda could be looking to the HMV brand to rival Blinkbox, the online movie and TV show streaming and download service owned by Tesco.

Pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap 

Ironically, the arrival of CDs and DVDs piled high and sold cheap in supermarkets has been one of the factors contributing to the decline in record shops-- as a great man once observed -- albeit not as much of a factor as online sales and downloads.

Stationer and newsagent WH Smith is reported to be planning a return to selling CDs and DVDs in select locations, to plug the gap left by HMV for movies and music on the high street.

Just 116 HMV stores are set to remain open, roughly half the number open before the wheels fell off. HMV had 223 shops and 4,123 staff when it spiralled into administration in January, with well over 1,000 jobs still under threat.

[Source: CNET]

Apple’s eBay store offers significantly better deals on refurbs

9to5Mac first broke the news that Apple sold refurbished merchandise through its own eBay store last year, equipped with the same price tags, full warranties, and approved inspections, and now the company has dropped prices on many of those items below what it offers at

9to5Toys and eventually Dealnews recently noticed a $100 price cut for Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air with 1.8GHz i5 and 128GB of storage (now over). It costs $100 more at for the same refurbished unit.

An even better eBay deal has emerged today: Apple’s 11.6-inch MacBook Air with 1.8GHz, 4GB SDRAM and 256GB SSD is only $949. It’s certified refurbished unite, while the same refurb model goes for $1,059 on, and the 256GB MacBook Airs start at $1,299 new. All items come with free standard shipping, and eBay adds sales tax for only a few states at purchase and allows folks to pay with PayPal and BillMeLater.

[Source: 9to5Mac - Click here to read the full story]

Amazon UK pulls misogynist t-shirts following outrage

Amazon UK has stopped selling a range of t-shirts that promote rape and violence towards women, after receiving a barrage of complaints.

The t-shirts, from Massachusetts-based company Solid Gold Bomb, feature slogans based on the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster from World War II. Examples include "Keep Calm and Hit Her" and "Keep Calm and Rape a Lot". Unsurprisingly, Amazon was inundated with complaints, and has removed the offending items, though it continues to sell other garments from Solid Gold Bomb, the Guardian reports.

An Amazon UK spokesperson told Sky News: "I can confirm that those items are not available for sale." 

Solid Gold Bomb was flooded with complaints and death threats, leading it to delete its Twitter account and Facebook page. It issued an apology, blaming the offensive slogans on "a computer error".

Apparently to make its t-shirts, the company relies on "computer-based dictionaries and online educational resources i.e. verb lists". These generate word lists "using simple scripting methods". In other words, it used software to randomly jumble words together, then printed the resulting slogans. Because it sells a big range of t-shirts, some offensive terms slipped through the net, Solid Gold Bomb claims.

Sound like a lot of nonsense? Well amazingly it could actually be how the company operates, with some of the slogans on its t-shirts ("Keep Calm and Skim Me", "Keep Calm and Bomb Not") making no sense whatsoever. Either that or the people producing them are illiterate, which could also be true.

Even if we give Solid Gold Bomb the benefit of the doubt, and assume it just didn't check which slogans the computer had thrown out -- which I'm doubtful about -- it's still phenomenally irresponsible.

[Source: CNET]

Norfolk Apple Shop changes name: We sell cider, not iPads!

The Apple Shop in Hoveton, Norfolk, can't help you with queries about your iPhone oriPad. That's because it sells a different kind of produce altogether, namely local cider.

Unfortunately, since the Apple Store opened in Norwich in 2009, the cider-seller has been inundated with tech queries, so much so that the owner has decided to change the name to avoid any confusion. Starting in the Easter holidays, the Apple Shop in Wroxham Barns will be renamed The Norfolk Cider Shop,Norwich Evening News 24 reports.

The shop, which has been open 20 years, only started fielding queries in 2009, when the Apple Store opened in the Chapelfield Centre, in Norwich. What with the success of the iPhone and iPad, more and more people are getting their fruit-based stores mixed up, and have been calling to ask about tech products.

"Over the last 12 months, I have been inundated with calls and it has reached as many as 25 a week," Geoff Fisher, owner of the cider outlet, told the local paper.

"My brother Stephen, who used to work for Gaymer's at Attleborough, founded The Norfolk Cider Company in 1987 and opened the shop here in 1993," the 50-year-old said. "In those days there was no such thing as an iPod or iPhone and the problems only began after I took over the shop four years ago."

Fisher said he could see how people made the mistake, as the two outlets are listed right next to each other in the phone book, with the same Norwich 01603 prefix. "It can be very funny," he said, "but some people are very rude and they slam the phone down. All I can say to them is, 'I'm very sorry, I can't help you, but please do come along and get some proper Norfolk cider to get over your sorrows."

Image credit: Bill Smith

[Source: CNET]

HMV closing 66 shops, with nearly 1,000 jobs under threat

HMV is bringing down the shutters on 66 shops, threatening 930 staff. After an angry employee hijacked HMV's Twitter last week, the retailer's administrators have finally revealed which stores are to be axed.

The 66 branches of the ailing music, DVD and games chain will close over the next two months. Read on to see if your branch is to be axed.

In England, stores will close in:

  • Ashton-under-Lyne
  • Barnsley
  • Bayswater
  • Bexleyheath
  • Birkenhead
  • Birmingham Fort
  • Blackburn
  • Boston
  • Bournemouth Castlepoint
  • Bracknell
  • Burton-upon-Trent
  • Camberley
  • Chesterfield
  • Croydon Centrale
  • Durham
  • Fulham
  • Huddersfield
  • Leamington Spa
  • Leeds White Rose
  • Liverpool Speke Park
  • London Trocadero
  • Loughborough
  • Luton
  • Manchester Market Street
  • Moorgate
  • Orpington
  • Rochdale
  • Scunthorpe
  • South Shields
  • St Albans
  • St Helens
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Tamworth
  • Teesside
  • Telford
  • Wakefield
  • Walsall
  • Walton-on-Thames
  • Wandsworth
  • Warrington
  • Watford
  • Wellingborough
  • Wigan
  • Wood Green
  • Workington

In Scotland:

  • Dumfries
  • Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird
  • Edinburgh Gyle Centre
  • Edinburgh Ocean Terminal
  • Edinburgh Princes Street
  • Edinburgh St James Centre
  • Falkirk
  • Glasgow Fort
  • Glasgow Silverburn
  • Glasgow Braehead
  • Kirkcaldy

In Northern Ireland, these stores will go:

  • Ballymena
  • Belfast Boucher Road
  • Belfast Forestside
  • Coleraine
  • Craigavon
  • Derry
  • Lisburn
  • Newry
  • Newtownabbey

In Wales, only the Wrexham branch will close.

Although not named in the list of doomed shops, HMV's flagship Oxford Street store is also thought to be under threat. The 50,000 square-foot shop could raise around £6m if sold to interested parties, said to include H&M, Zara and JD Sports.  

As many as 100 of HMV's 220 branches were reported to be under threat earlier this week, so 66 store closures is better than feared. That is, of course, small comfort for those staff who face losing their job -- fingers crossed they can find something before stores close their doors over the next couple of months.

Around 190 jobs have already been lost at HMV's head office and distribution network, prompting a disgruntled employee to hijack the company's official Twitter feed with angry tweets. The mystery whistleblower called it a "mass execution of loyal employees" and lamented that the company had been "ruined".

HMV went into administration last month. Restructuring expert Hilco has bought the company's debt, and could now take full control of the chain to ensure it survives -- albeit in drastically reduced form.

[Source: CNET]

Apple: 25 Billion Songs Sold Through iTunes

Apple just announced that it has sold more than 25 billion songs through iTunes. That’s incredible. The 25 billionth song downloaded? Monkey Drums” by Chase Buch, Apple said, and the song was bought by a user in Germany. The user will receive a €10,000 iTunes gift card as part of the celebration.

“We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world,” Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue said.

Cue also noted that Apple sells about 15,000 songs every minute. We have a feeling the 50 billionth download isn’t too far off.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

HMV gift cards to be accepted again from tomorrow

Attention, shoppers: HMV is accepting gift cards. Yes, the troubled music, video and games shop will this week once again let you use your vouchers to pay for stuff.

Branches of HMV will accept gift cards from tomorrow, Tuesday 22 February. Great news for anyone who got a gift card for Christmas or recently received vouchers as a refund.

More than 50 potential buyers have expressed interest in saving the ailing chain, with Hilco, the restructuring specialist that bought HMV Canada in 2011, currently reported to be the favourite. HMV's suppliers, including record labels and film studios, are reported to be willing to offer Hilco favourable credit terms. It seems HMV could weather this particular storm after all.

If HMV is sold to new owners in the coming months, they could then decide not to honour old vouchers. In that unlikely event, you could try and claim your money back from your credit or debit card provider -- check out our guide to your options.

The question of gift cards caused a right old kerfuffle when administrators Deloitte decreed vouchers had been suspended. One disgruntled customer in Dublin was so short of gruntlement he simply helped himself to games of an equivalent value to his useless gift card and marched from the shop. But as frustrating as it is to be out of pocket, it's not the staff's fault.

Also in trouble on the high street is Blockbuster, currently in administration, and in danger of following Jessops and Comet into oblivion.

[Source: CNET]

HMV gift cards: you're 'at the bottom of the pile'

Know your rights, as The Clash once sang. As HMV crashes into adminstration, threatening 4,000 jobs, many irate customers have been left out of pocket with gift cards and online orders under threat. But what are your rights as a customer?

Technically, once it enters administration a company no longer exists in its present form, so it doesn't have to fulfill promises like accepting vouchers. Unless administrators Deloitte decide to honour HMV's gift cards, you may find yourself out of luck. 

Fortunately, finances guru Martin Lewis of offers advice on rescuing your gift cards as well as bargain-hunting at the troubled HMV.

Gift cards

HMV isn't accepting gift cards at the moment, but the administrators could change their minds and accept them -- as was the case in Comet's final sale.

Don't get your hopes up, though; the chain has no obligation to honour your gift card. Martin Lewis explains, "Those who have gift cards are now effectively in that list of people the firm owes money to, but sadly are at the bottom of the pile. So while it is possible if the administrators get money they could give a few pence per pound back, it's unlikely."

The good news is that you could get your money back if you bought the vouchers on your credit or debit card thanks to section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, or what's known as 'chargeback'. For full details check out MoneySavingExpert's article about HMV.

Bargain hunt 

If you're not affected by the gift card issue but you're hoping to take advantage of HMV's sale, Martin Lewis warns "I'd caution against buying online, as HMV could take your money and then later legitimately choose not to fulfil it -- and give you no refund. Buying in-store is safer as you get the goods immediately."

It a case of buyer beware, however, as you won't be able to return goods that turn out to be faulty. "If HMV were to cease trading, you would therefore be left in the cold. In practical terms, this isn't likely to be too much of a problem for CDs or DVDs, but for higher-end electricals like games consoles, it's worth bearing in mind."

[Source: CNET]