Ed Note: It’s fair to say that little brothers–especially my own–probably don’t concern themselves too much with the day-to-day going ons of this blog. After all, one of his recent text messages to me read: “What is Balenciaga and why is it so big? I’ve never heard of it before.”
But when I got my hands on the new HTC One Harman Kardon Edition, I knew there was only one person who could test it for me and leave no app unopened. So below, is my brother first (and hopefully not last!) contribution to The Daily Obsession!
By Frank Hou
I recently had the pleasure of trying out the HTC One (M8) Harman Kardon Edition. It is a premium version of the (M8), with focus on the music experience. Needless to say, I’ve been very impressed with the phone, and have had a difficult time finding any flaws. Below are just a few of my favorite things about the phone.
1. The Hardware
HTC really killed it last year with the design of the HTC One, and has outdone itself with this year with the (M8). Most of the flagship phones for Android, such as the Galaxy S5 and the Nexus 5, are made primarily of plastic. The HTC One (M8) is made nearly entirely of metal, with a polished back, curved edges, and a stunning screen finished with Gorilla glass. It can be a tad slippery to hold at times, and iPhone users using it with just one hand may find it a bit cumbersome. However, the larger real estate, packed with 1080×1920 pixels, provides a much more immersive experience for apps like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest (haha just kidding. I don’t use that but my sister says it’s cool.). Overall, the HTC One (M8) aluminum body displays thoughtful engineering and beautiful aesthetics that may have surpassed the current barometer for smartphone design, the iPhone 5S.
2. Entertainment and Media
The (M8) is a premium phone for watching videos and listening to music. Watching Nexflix or YouTube is a great experience, with quick HD streaming and plenty of space to notice the small details. What is most impressive, especially in the Harman Kardon edition, is the dual front-facing BoomSound speakers. The stereo speakers deliver excellent sound quality, making music and video a key component of the (M8). HTC really shows off its commitment with a new feature called the Clari-Fi. It promises to augment low-resolution tracks, such as .mp3 files, with enhanced depth and detail. A similar feature is the LifeStage technology, which creates a live performance-feel into ordinary tracks.
I’m entering that stage in my life where it feels like everyone I know is becoming or is a new mama. I get to play auntie to adorable babies and kids, spoil them, and then give them back to their parents when the fun is over (best part of kids that aren’t yours, right?). However, that means that my devices have lately become the favorite toys (or distraction) for these kids, who are so tech-savvy at a young age. It was time to beef up the protection on those gadgets that could potentially be dropped, spilled on, etc. I looked to Griffin Technology‘s Survivor series, which is an “extreme-duty” case for your devices, to help me out. READ MORE
These days, beauty subscription boxes are about as ubiquitous as self tanner stories in June. Admittedly, as a beauty editor, I wasn’t sure if I saw the value proposition of getting a personal beauty box subscription. I’m fortunate that one of the perks of my job is an already free flowing supply of samples. But I completely get the appeal of Glossybox – an overseas start-up, focusing on luxury, travel-size products that recently launched in the U.S.
Beauty subscription boxes are billed as a beauty discovery platform and this occasionally jaded beauty editor, was pleasantly surprised by the to discover the representation of niche and international brands. A Korean BB cream brand that isn’t even available for purchase in the U.S.? A Japanese makeup remover that is a favorite of Eva Chen (and now mine)? Sign me up. Ever since doing a story about WAG beauty products, I’ve been dying to try Kryolan and there it was in my August box, a Glossybox x Kryolan lipstick collaboration. And this lipstick is SO GOOD – it’s my favorite hybrid of lipstick, one that feels like a moisturizing gloss but has the color payoff you would get from a matte lipstick. I like that all of the Glossybox samples are travel size, rather than sample size, meaning that they are much easier to throw in my carry-on. Compared to other services, Glossybox does run a slightly higher price point at $21 a month. But with larger size products and curated access to luxury brands that I can’t even find in the U.S (and a beautifully crafted box that is helping me to curate the chaos in my overstuffed bathroom), it’s worth it. You can sign up for a Glossybox subscription here.
Standing in contrast to things not worth the hype (prom, 50 Shades of Gray, the comfort of Christian Louboutin shoes, actually seeing the Mona Lisa in person), is the Clarisonic Mia. I’m sure you’ve read the hype: it’s been endorsed by multiple beauty magazines and blogs, Oprah’s last “Favorite Things” giveaways, and even “Page Six” mention/pill popper/beauty editor Cat Marnell recommended it in one of her last XOJane columns (check out her review if you haven’t, it’s seriously funny.)
The Clarisonic has become such an intrinsic part of my nighttime routine that I’m not sure how I lived without it. It’s one, the best exfoliating tool ever used, two, a cleansing gift for lazy people, and three, has a brush head that’s soft like bunnies. Like an electric toothbrush for your face, Clarisonic is a self-vibrating brush that oscillates at over 300 movements per second as you move over your face in automated increments of time. The brush gently beeps every 10-15 seconds to alert you to switch brush focus from your forehead to your cheeks, chin, and nose so that the entire cleansing process takes about a minute. Responding to demands from people who wanted a specific acne cleansing system, Clarisonic released a special brush head, with softer and slightly tapered bristles, to deeper clean pores and sweep out dirt.
And afterwards? Your skin gets that gleamy, luminous look, normally achieved only post-facial or post-facial mask. It’s noticeably soft after using it only one time. Since I started using Retin-A, my skin has been clear but somewhat flaky. A few beeps with the Clarisonic, buffs them out so that it becomes an even canvas. Yes, it’s undeniably pricey, but using retail math, the convenient rationalizer for all large ticket prices, it comes out to less than dollar per use. And isn’t that worth the hype?
Who’s a dummy? Don’t worry, in an actual case of it’s me, not you, I’m the dummy in this scenario. Despite having read and watched multiple Youtube videos, I’m still woefully inept at creating those lovely mussed beachwaves everyone seems to be able to do. I’ve decided the “golden ratio” for beachwaves is 50% perfect, 50% artfully disheveled. My attempts fall more into the 10% perfect, 90% disheveled range, with slight deviations into the pareto principle range of 20/80.
The Beachwaver, helps me hit that desired 50/50 ratio all the time, by taking the art out of the science equation of perfect beachwaves. The Beachwaver looks like a normal curling iron, but the secret is its rotating center. Divide your hair into sections, and clip in a 1/2 inch section of hair. After indicating via button that you’re curling either the right or left side of your hair, press “Start” and the central barrel rotates up to wrap your clipped hair around the center. Hold for 5 seconds and gently release the clip, pulling down. The effect? One glossy, loose Shirley Temple curl that becomes one long beachwave worthy of Gisele Bundchen when you comb your hands through.
To preserve their staying power, you’ll want to let your curls cool off before running your hands through them to transform them into waves. You can also set the temperature anywhere between 310 to 450F, but I prefer to keep it in the 350 to 400 range.
Now all that perfect admittedly comes at a higher price of $189.50 on QVC, but I’ve spotted occasional coupon codes at 50%. But with over 300 moving parts and 100% perfect beachwaves every time, I’m inclined to believe in the adage that perfection comes at a suitable price.
I’m a bit of an expert on surviving long haul flights, given that my first 17 hour one was at the tender age of 6 (we have a lot of relatives in Asia). Even as a young one, I distinctly recall thinking, “Man, this sucks” as I took in the plane’s stale air, questionable food, and roaring overhead noise while barfing into an air sickness bag. Since then, experience and technology have been great aids in reducing the airplane’s assault on the five senses so far that I even LIKE long haul flights (but capped at 17 hours tops). My tips at dealing with the pains of traveling:
1. Feel: As every travel-related site and dermatologist will tell you, airplane air is bad and dry, wreaking havoc on complexions (read: breakouts) and your throat. You have to stay moisturized. I like to prepare first by stocking up on water after TSA frisks me. You may be thinking, “Why should I buy water when I get it for free on the plane?” True, but I can’t be the only one that gulps down their tiny airplane ration of water two minutes after receiving it. I also remain terrified by a story a friend’s father told me. He was stranded on the tarmac for 4 hours, parched and hungry, after the flight attendants ran out of provisions. I’d prefer for that not to be me. Experts also tell you to avoid drinking on the plane as alcohol dehydrates, but if you are a nervous traveler, I don’t see the harm in slightly indulging. A friend of mine has a long time fear of flying and kind stewardesses routinely used to give her shots of tequila on the plane. Worked for her, and she even did one with Flava Flav one time at 6 am. READ MORE
I might be the last editor at TDO to jump on the iPad bandwagon, but I finally took the plunge and can only ask myself, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?” And now that I have this $500 device, you better believe I’m going to do everything in my power to prevent anything from happening to it! I’ve stocked up on some protective iPad gear, that still manages to be professional, classic and stylish. READ MORE
One of my favorite things to do is “favorite-ing.” I like ‘favorite-ing” blog posts, articles I read, websites…my Mozilla Favorites tab is an unorganized mess of links that I’ve saved to read later (like this week’s 25,000 word New Yorker piece of Scientology…I’m getting to it, I swear), to return to, and to recommend to friends. I also like “favorite-ing” pictures, but I never found a good way to do it, apart from painstakingly right-clicking and saving the “liked” picture onto my computer.
Naturally, in this internet age, there is a solution to my oh-so-painful dilemma: Pinterest, an online bulletin board network, where you can share and re-pin your favorite pictures. Pictures can be “pinned” onto Pinterest from other blog links or you can upload your own directly. Text is light, with only a caption option, but this is a great digital way to organize and make online mood boards. You can create any number of boards at a time, with theme ideas like “Favorite Places and Spaces”, “Home Inspiration”, and “Kitchen Adventures.” You can browse and follow other member’s boards, to see what they’ve “pinned.”
You can browse the range of individual pictures on Pinterest in individual subjects such as Fashion, Art+Design, Food+Drink, Design, Travel, Prints and many others. I’ve been able to find a ton of things that I’ve been visually obsessed with, such as David Yurman advertisements, pictures of old 1930’s Shanghai for mood inspiration, old Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn photos, Arthur Lindbergh photography, and some lustful travel daydreaming. This is a great site for anyone planning a wedding, since they have an easy way to collate any of the images they’re currently feeling. Pinterest is a members-only site, but similar to Gilt Group and other sites of that nature, you can get an invitation from an already existing member. I love logging on during lunch and seeing what the newest “pins” of the day are.
Check out Pinterest and let me know if you like it! And if any of you have an interest in looking at pictures of cuddly puppies, bunnies, or kittens, you can find me and my ‘Awww cuteness’ board on Pinterest.
The Daily Obsession draws from the expertise of a coast-to-coast editorial team offering dedicated readers reports of the most luxurious products and trends. We provide sophisticated and relevant angles on the latest fashion trends, must-have beauty products, insider interviews, travel destinations and of course, our current obsessions.