Review – The Griffin SeeSaw

iPad cases come in many forms, but this new offering from Griffin has to stand out as one of the most unusual I’ve ever encountered.


The reason for this is that unlike most other cases, which act as a folio-style protector or finicky external keyboard, the SeeSaw is primarily aimed at children. The first clue is the hard foamlike material from which the case is constructed. This acts as a solid enclosure that should survive a few knocks and even drops caused by any diminutive hands.

With the iPad inserted the screen is propped up at a comfortable angle for viewing content and occasional interaction. Typing is not really an option at this incline, but playing games, selecting answers to questions and such activities are easily accomplished. The case can also be positioned in either landscape or portrait mode, with both feeling sturdy and safe.

IMG_0995 (1)

Another advantage to the design is that it’s very light, so children can pick it up with ease, especially as there is a carrying groove in the back to aid grip. Next to this is also a handy slot for storing a stylus. The unit comes in two colours – bright yellow and blue – but I must admit if Griffin were to make one that looked like the original iMacs then they might capture a much wider market of adults who would love to have something as cool as that sitting on their desks.

One of these please Griffin!
One of these please Griffin!

To test the target appeal of the SeeSaw required the employment of two laboratory children, who were immediately drawn to the colourful exterior. Within minutes they’d fitted the iPad and were lost in Youtube. One slight problem they encountered was that the volume controls required quite a degree of force to get through to the iPad underneath. This may be a purposeful restriction to aid teachers in classrooms from having umpteen iPads blaring out at full volume, and if that’s the case then it’s a sensible choice. The one main issue I can see with the design in relation to being used in a classroom is how you would store the cases when not in use? Removing the iPads every time would soon get tiresome (not to mention probably loosen the cases grip), but as the screen is afforded no protection you wouldn’t want to pile them on top of each other.

For home use though the SeeSaw is a fascinating and quite charming little innovation. If you have an older iPad then handing it down to your progeny in one of these would make a great TV-lite device for their bedroom, or a perfect study companion for their homework.

The SeeSaw retails for £29.99 and would be a cool addition to any child’s desk. Now, just give me the iMac one to put on mine…

It’s in the bag…

When did things go so badly wrong?

It’s like one day the world made sense, then in the blink of an eye the kilter has been messed with and the results are catastrophic. I fear some evil force is at work, and we may not have much time left to us. Oh woe is me!

*tears clothes in dramatic fashion*

Ok…ok, I think I’ve got myself under control now. Phew…that was a close one. I almost embarrassed myself with an uncontrolled emotional outburst. We wouldn’t want that to happen.

So what is it that has stolen my gruntle? Well, it’s very simple. Bags. Shopping bags and the content therein to be precise.

In the now long distant days before the current madness took hold life was simple. You’d visit your local shopkeeper, exchange pleasantries, possibly ask the splendid chap about his family or holiday plans, then he would place your purchases into bags, being careful to spread the load across multiple pouches and in equal quantities. You bid him good-day, and went about your business with cheer in your heart and a sense of balance in your load.

Idyllic isn’t it?

But now these exchanges are nothing but the stuff of legend, tales you tell your children when you want them to grow up as potentially well adjusted individuals who might pursue a career in retail.

For the past few months I’ve experienced a chilling and suspicious shift in reality. One that means there has been a change in the Matrix, a black cat of non-woven fabric if you will.

People have been packing my bags incorrectly.

I know…this is serious.

At first I thought it was a case of someone new to the trade, who had not yet been schooled in the ways of equilibrium. They served me with smiles and polite conversation, but all the while they filled my carrier higher and higher until no more could be contained. Alarm flashed in my eyes, searching in vain for a managerial figure to intervene, but then my Englishness kicked in and I thanked the person, dragged my cadavre-like purchases across the floor of the supermarket and made a respectful but encumbered exit.

Then it happened again, and again, and lo did the pattern continue.

My reasoning deduced that with the financial climate being difficult the shops in question had instructed their representatives to reduce costs by using less bags. Or that environmentalists had finally convinced the captains of industry to understand their terrible impact of the future of our beloved planet. But neither of these scenarios held water.

The reason I know this?

After each incident of uni-bagging, the friendly retailer would then ask the dark and mysterious question that threw my world into a swirling maelstrom of confusion.

‘Would you like me to double bag it?’

Double bag? But…why?

What kind of cruel game is being played here?

If you’d had used two bags and placed weight appropriate items in each then the need for this curious offer would be null and void. I would also be able to walk home without adopting a deep lean into my gait!

First it was one shop, now it seems the disease is manifesting wherever I seek to arrange the purchase of goods.

What sorcery is this?

At night I have lain awake pondering the significance of the plague that now ravages this once great land. Finally I think I have my answer.

Pod people.

That’s right, Pod People. Like the ones in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Of course back when I first saw the movies (the 50s and 70s versions – I fail to recognise the 80s and 2000s travesties as canon) the idea seemed fantastical and incredulous. Now, I’m not so sure.

It also makes so much sense. We are a consumer based society, whose reliance on these establishments for food and necessary items lends them a significant strategical postion. If you control our nourishment, then soon hearts and minds will follow.

It’s so elegant…so evil.

Take heed dear reader. The pod people are upon us and they have assumed command of the food chains. What lays ahead, I cannot say, but if you hope to survive then you’ll join me in sharpening your hunting knife, or fishing bow (I’m new to this), and heading out into the wilds to begin the return to foraging and preparing our own meals. That, or at least stocking up on tinned food in massive quantities and having the supermarkets deliver them to your home.

But don’t let them inside or soon you may be smiling and incorrectly distributing goods…you have been warned.

How do you plan to survive under our new plant based overlords? Or are you organising a resistance, possibly named after a fierce furry animal? Let me know in the comments below, but be careful not to give away your location. Pod people could be watching.

The times they are a’changin…

My watch died.

More accurately the strap on my cheap old one snapped and I didn’t want to replace it because a new one would cost more than the watch was worth. So, in essence, it died. Farewell old friend.

For the past thirty years I’ve stared intermittently at my wrist and been greeted by a variety of analogue hands quietly marching forward, relentlessly, towards the future. But this time around I fancied something different. Maybe it was a chance to revisit the devices of my youth….maybe I should go digital?

I still remember the thrill of the first LED digital watch that my cousin proudly showed off when I was about  seven or eight years old. At first glance it was just a black circle with a single silver button at the edge, but when that was pressed red numbers gently appeared and declared the time in their glowing, knowing way. It was almost magical.

'tis witchcraft!

So why not rediscover the wonder?

When you think of it a digital watch is far more useful. After all they usually have stopwatches, lights, calendars, and (if you’re really flash) a calculator. Why have one function when you can have several? It seemed so obvious. The problem came when I actually looked at what was available. Whereas the technology that first left me breathless back in the eighties has evolved beyond recognition, the designs seem to have gone backwards. Either they’re these huge multi-button leviathans that look like something from a 70s sci-fi series starring Martin Landau, or they’re so complex in their displays that I could tell the phase of the moon, how far I’d walked that day, the temperature in Peru, but have no idea what the bloody time was. The simplicity that first beguiled me had been replaced by enough plastic to rival the Academy Awards ceremony.

A symphony of confusion

Another, more troubling, realisation also occurred. No matter how much I reasoned it away, I couldn’t shake the thought that, well, digital watches….they’re for kids.

How had this techno-phobic snobbery been fostered in my techno-loving heart? What possible logic would side with the idea that cogs, gears, and momentum where superior to LCD, micro circuits and computation accuracy? Was I a closet luddite? What would be next? Notepads are better than iPads? Radios finer than TVs? Three month travel by boat is a more gentlemanly way to quest than a one hour flight? Anarchy was but moments away, with my future balanced over an abyss of Betamax, CRT, and Soda-Streams.

I took a deep breath. Then it came…

A vision in retrocity. A memory in physical form. The Casio F-91W.

It also comes in Red, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Orange, and Green!

Oh yes, I hear you say.

Why try to recapture the past when you can, in fact, buy it?

Plus it’s cheap too! £4 on Ebay. Now those are 80s prices alright.

From the first moment I saw it I knew that here was what I was looking for. The wording had such majesty. Water Resistant – it decried! No waterproof for this one, no, it would resist water like Gandalf would resist a Balrog. Of course the odds were against it, but the safety of the ring bearer was of more import, thus the resistance would buy them time…quite fitting for something that exists solely to chronograph the passing of moments into memory.

This was indeed the same watch that I had worn with pride all those years ago. No thoughts of childishness with this one, instead a feeling of childish glee. Plus it has seven different colour backlights, and when set to the right mode they flash one after another.

Now, not only can I wear the digital form once more, but I’m bringing back disco too! Let’s boogie….


The Turn of the Tide

The school holidays have begun, with the children spewn forth from their academic prisons and handed back to their families while the teachers head for a sunny oasis unencumbered by the noise and fury that is youth. Across Britain we scrabble around to find things to stop our progeny from getting bored and eating each other, finally it’s decided that a trip to the beach is the answer. What could possibly go wrong?

For many years now the British seaside has been portrayed as a refuge for city dwellers, replete with golden sands, nectar flavoured candy-floss, and a merry sense of communal affection between the holidaymakers. A quick trip to one will soon have you realise that the sands are often stones, the candy-floss comes with a full complement of wasps to guard it, and your countrymen would much rather you left them alone rather than encourage them to join in an impromptu sing-song about cockles and muscles. The kids of course will tear across the shrapnel and happily build sandcastles, albeit without sand…possibly making the results actual castles, then cavort in the sea seemingly impervious to the ice floating around in its thunderous waves.

This leaves the weary parents to try in vein to make a comfortable sitting position upon the shale armed only with a towel that appeared much bigger at home. Once you’ve settled among the crags you can attempt the herculean task of trying to read while keeping an eye on the children, your valuables, and that strange looking fellow slumped in his deck chair wearing sunglasses. Either he’s a descendant of a spider and able to sit perfectly still for hours on end, asleep, dead, or plotting your grisly demise. Only time will tell.

After you’ve completed a couple of chapters of your opus, removed any stray mountains from your bottom, and maintained a safe distance from Shelob Man, it’s time for lunch. You notice the family of seasoned travellers next to you have brought their own food, a hamper filled with the finest french breads, parma hams, vegetables that seem fit to burst with healthiness, and even a nice bottle of wine. They seem godlike in their splendour and appear to have a small patch of sand beneath them, with extra warm sunbeams glancing off their silver coolbox which contains a perfectly chilled strawberry pavlova. You search your bags for similar delights but only discover a bag of Hula Hoops and a Werther’s Original sporting rather too much pocket fluff to make it edible.

So, like Captain Oates, you venture from this place of relative safety in order that others may eat, traversing the rockface in search of fish ‘n’ chips. Following the enticing scent of vinegar and cooking fat you finally track down the purveyor of Britain’s finest delicacy and hungrily order Cod ‘n’ Chips four times (not because the chap is deaf but because you want four portions). Condiments are applied, papers wrapped, you pick yourself up off the floor after being told the price, then grumble all the way back to the quarry where your expectant family await the fruits of your hunting and gathering.

Then, unwrapping the bounty and sitting back on the smoothest stone you can find, the white flesh of fish gently burning your fingers, you smile and realise that life’s not too bad after all.  Maybe we’ll come again next year….