Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hauck Shopper 11

As usual, all Hauck strollers come with pictures only instruction manuals. So while it may take you longer to get up and running, it is not that difficult either.

The Hauck Shopper is considered lightweight at 7.6 kg and a travel system when combined with a Hauck Zero Plus car seat or a carry cot.

Attaching the car seat is simple - lay the backrest flat - which makes it suitable for infants by the way, lift up both the catch on the side of the stroller and the car seat be 'dropped' in until it locks. The front bar needs to be fixed on when attaching the car seat. The seat can also be removed if you only use the car seat. Both the front bar and seat need to be removed when attaching the carry cot though.

The stroller feels very light and is effortless when pushed, thanks the big wheels at 18/19 cm. Lifting it up kerbs is pretty effortless too.

The seat at the most upright position is pretty reclined, so you many not be able to use the shoulder harness if your kids love to sit up straight. Adjusting the seat recline angle is through the strap mechanism which is not that difficult to use though I prefer those with step recline instead.

Canopy is big but too short and high to provide much cover. While you can protect your child from the rain with a rain cover, you cannot do much to protect from the harsh sun. There is no window for you to view the child while pushing too.

The cup holder and tray is useful when out for a long time for those occasional drinks and snacks, so does the back pocket.

Folding up the stroller can be tricky for those with short hands. Getting it right sure does take a lot of practice even for someone who is 1.7 m tall like me. It could be made easier with a handle lever, just like the Mothercare Mino as the folding concept is pretty similar.

To make folding easier, the brakes, which are very easy to operate by the way, needs to be engaged. One thing to take note when folding up the Shopper is to lay the backrest flat. This is illustrated in the instruction manual but is not specifically mentioned that it needs to be done. If this is not done, the two seats catch at the side of the frame will dislodge.

The stroller is still considered bulky when folded as it can only fold flat downwards. As the front bar touches the ground each time the stroller is folded, it is best to remove it or hold on to it while folding, to avoid it getting stained.

Overall this is a good stroller minus the few setbacks.

You can view the video here

Pros
Light when pushed and easy to manourver
Width is suitable for big children
Easy to engage and release brake
Big basket, with pocket for easy access.
5-point harness.
Suitable for infants.

Cons
Front bar touches the ground when folded
Folding can be tricky
Size when folded is still bulky
Seat and basket can only be hand wash

Specifications

Weight - 7.6 kg
Suspensions
Measurements folded (max.) - 90 x 49 x 35 cm
Measurements built- up (max.) - 94 x 49 x 103 cm
Handlebar height - 103 cm
Length of seat and back rest - 15 x 44 x 71 cm
Seat height - 47 cm
Seat width - 32 cm
Removable plastic wheels
Wheel diameter (Front) - 18 cm
Wheel diameter (Rear) - 19 cm
Swivel and lockable front wheels
Adjustable backrest - (104° to 156°)
4 step adjustable footrest
Detachable front bar
Detachable canopy
Big shopping basket with access pocket
Combinable with car seat and carry cot
Detachable and washable fabric
Soft-fix brake
5-point harness system
From 0 month to 15 kg

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Double strollers: What are your choices?

This is not a review of double strollers but rather a guide on how to shop for one which gives you the most bang for your buck.

I am expecting a second child so I started looking for double strollers and one thing that is common of all double strollers is that they are expensive.

There are a lot available here locally. Brands like Peg-Prego, Quinny, Stokke etc are aplenty but when you look beyond that, you will see how we are actually being restricted to just a small pool of them as compared to what is available out there overseas.

If you cannot find anything you like locally, then you have to consider ordering one in. Even if what you like is available locally, ordering them in can actually save you a bit, maybe even up to 1/2 the cost. For example, the Phil&Teds Navigator is selling around $1.6k in an online store here. You can ship one in for $800.

Facts about ordering online.

1. It will definitely be cheaper ordering them from the source or origin of the manufacturer. For example, Graco, which made in US will be cheaper if you order them from there.

2. Many online stores do not ship them internationally which can be frustrating as some of them have really good deals. Try browsing through Tesco and you'll get what I mean.

3. Shipping rates can balloon up the total cost making them more expensive than local set.

4. Practically no warranty.

5. GST will be levied on orders exceeding SGD400 in total, including shipping etc.

So how you do know if it is worth it to buy from overseas and where do you start shopping?

The first thing you should do is find the origin of the manufacturer. For example, Jane (pronounced Ha-ne) is  from Spain and Hauck is from Germany. Do take note that almost everything is made in China though.

Once you find that out, you can start to find online stores from that country. If you have no clue whatsoever, two best source that I can think of is Amazon and eBay.

For eBay, if the manufacturer is from a European country, go to eBay UK. From there make sure you choose the option "European Union" in your location filter. This will include all the available items by sellers in Europe. It is easier this way than shopping at the localised site itself as everything will be in English.

If the seller in eBay do not specifically state that they can ship internationally, you can try to contact the seller and ask if they can ship the items here and what rates will be like.

If you know someone living abroad, you can have your item delivered to them (as shipping is normally free to the same country) and ask for a favour to have them ship the item over. However, from my experience, this normally cost more but still, do make the comparison with shipping them directly.

Some sellers have their own website outside eBay. If they do, you can ask them directly, out of eBay. The reason why is because in eBay, they will not be able to exclude the VAT from the price (which can be as much as 19% in Europe and 20% in the UK) if the item is not shipped to a European destination. So if the item cost 300€, you will save about 50€, which is about SGD$80.

As mentioned, shipping can negate all the cost savings, so make sure you get the correct shipping rates and factor that in your final cost.

Some stores accepts payment by PayPal which can be a good thing as they provide buyer protection in the event the item was not delivered or different from what is described. Sellers or stores may also give you further discount if your make the payment through PayPal. Just take note that when paying through PayPal, change the conversion option from PayPal to Mastercard/Visa. PayPay conversion option will usually end up higher.

You may also want to buy insurance for your purchase. All costs needs to be totalled up and once that is confirmed, convert them to SGD (include another 7% (in SGD) for orders about SGD$400 as levied by the ICA. Payment of the GST can be found here) and compare the cost with the ones available locally to see if it is cheaper.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baby: Strollers - Mothercare Mino

We bought this stroller while we were in London in June. We went there thinking that we will not need a stroller for our 8 months baby boy. We sure was proven wrong.

Mothercare Singapore just recently brought this range in, so we were probably the only one here using it when we returned from the trip back in June this year.

Anyway, the main reason why we bought this was because it was reasonably priced, practical and met our needs. We do not want to spend too much on something we just need for a few days. We thought that we would use it just for the trip and sell it when we got back. In the end, we kept it and it became our favorite stroller (as compared to our Hauck Turbo and Capella Harmony).

As far as weight is concerned, this stroller is very light at 6.9 kg. Cannot get any lighter than this. And even though it is light, it is stable as the CG is low due to the low position of the seat.

It is practically folded just like most umbrella fold stroller except it also folds in half length wise, making it very compact and very small when folded. Folding mechanism is actually easy but you need to get the hang of it. Locking the rear wheel first is kind of a must to make it all easier.



It comes with a 5 point harness which is easy to fix and fully adjustable to meet the growing needs of your child.

What I like the most about this stroller is that the handle height is perfect for me who is 1.7 m tall and the rest of my family members who are shorter than me. Our experience with other strollers is that we often kick the rear wheels. None of that with the Mino.

The seat comes with a fully adjustable reclining mechanism that allows you to set at any angle you want. Not my favorite as it can be cumbersome at times but many other brand/model, even those expensive ones, adopt a similar mechanism as well so I guess it all boils down to preference - between fixed number of positions or any angle you want.

The seat is made of plastic-like material that is easy to clean. May not look comfortable but our boy has no complaints.

As with other strollers, the calf rest can be adjusted down when you child grows taller; the hood covers only the top just like most umbrella fold strollers (but it does come with a raincover though I am not sure if local set comes with one too) and the back cover can be folded for better ventilation.

So on a nutshell

Pros:
Very lightweight
Very compact when folded
Easy to maneuver
Handle height is just perfect
5 point harness
Considerably stable

Cons:
Basket not accessible when seat is fully reclined.
Folding mechanism needs a lot of getting use to.
Seat recline mechanism can be hard to adjust.

Do we recommend it? Despite the setbacks, this is still recommended.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Baby strollers

When we were expecting our first child, I did quite a bit of research on which stroller to get that will fit our needs.

By right carrying your child during the first few months is better for bonding and development of the child but there are times when you need your hands and arms free to do something else. So a stroller can be a necessity at times.

I love those designer looking strollers like Stokke, Quinny etc but then I had to throw practicality out of the window. Bulky and heavy stroller may be fine with me but it may be a hassle for the missus and our parents especially when getting in and out of the car.

So I decided to list out the criteria that a stroller should have

1. Lightweight
2. Small footprint when folded
3. For infant onward
4. Reversible handle
5. Swivel rear wheels.

Being lightweight is important especially for the ladies in our lives. You can't be there for them all the time so they will thank you for getting a lightweight stroller, trust me.

Being small when folded is important too especially when you drive, unless you have a huge boot. Else the stroller is going to cause problems when you go grocery shopping.

A stroller that can be use for infants onward means that the seat can recline to at least 170 because they are not able to sit just yet.

Reversible handle is great when your child is still an infant. It also helps to continue the bond between parent and child with as much eye contact as possible. Even if your child is no longer an infant, it comes in handy when they need to take a nap while you're out with them. The ability to keep a watch on them on the move is a great plus. 

Having all wheels able to swivel and locked when needed is important when the handle is reversed. There are many strollers that have reversible handle but not many have rear wheels that can swivel. The reason why this is important is because when the handle is reversed, the front and rear wheels change roles. It is not easy to push a stroller with the front wheels not able to swivel. Think of a forklift and you'll understand why.

As far as I know, only Combi and Capella has models that meet all the above mentioned criteria.

Capella have a few models namely S-228, S-705, S-707. They are distributed by Taime. Of the 3, only S-228 can be converted to a travel system when combined with S-1100 or S-1101 infant car seat.

Combi's version is called the Miracle Turn. It is more advanced than the Capella that two wheels will swivel (or lock) automatically depending on the direction of handle without you having to do anything. Downside is, it is expensive. There are 3 versions ranging from $400+ to $700+. Combi is distributed by Tai Sing.

Due to cost and the ability to combine with an infant car seat, I decided to go with Capella S-228.

Now it is not to say that the Capella is the best choice there is. It does come with its drawbacks. The following are some of it.

1. When a stroller can be double folded, the handle will be made up of two or more parts. Overtime, the joints will wear out and the handle will not be that straight anymore.

2. When a stroller comes with handles that can be reversed, the handle is almost usually one continuous piece. So if you plan to hook your shopping bags etc, you will spend extra on hooks.

3. With all wheels drive, you will normally lock the two 'rear' wheels from swiveling for easier steering.   This is the reason why Combi's Miracle Turn is easier as it does that automatically. Allowing all wheels to swivel while pushing is very difficult as you loose control of the direction. You also need to lock the wheels so that you can double fold the stroller. So having to lock and unlock often may be a hassle.

4. You will need to reverse the stroller at times, especially in crowded places such as lifts etc. Reversing the stroller can become difficult overtime as the wheels swivel locking mechanism have more play due to wear. This causes the 'rear' wheels to swivel to the side in opposite direction. I manage to overcome this by locking only one 'rear' wheel each time. This way, when you reverse, one of the rear wheels can swivel and will not try to move in opposite direction to the lock wheels.