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Akura Coca Cola can TV, 280

Okay, so it's not going to win any prizes for good taste (most people prefer Pepsi...), but the kids will love it. Akura make a habit of stuffing consumer electronics products inside giant plastic cola cans, remember the mini hi-fi? This is a far better deal, the 14-inch telly actually works quite well. The picture is crisp and bright, moreover the sound is piped through a largish speaker in the base of the can, so there's a fair bit of bass for a change. It's a fairly basic design though there's a few convenience features, including remote control, an on-screen display and a sleep timer. There's space under the TV for a VCR, Akura have one that will fit for another 260. Apart from the iffy door catches, which spring open every so often on their own, it works well and looks great. Come on, it's fun, ideal for the kids bedroom; stop laughing, you know you want one...


Value for money 75%

Akura UK Ltd., (01786) 447654


Goodmans Magic Mic 30

Nobody laugh at your jokes anymore? That's sad. Sadder still, for just 30 you can get all the laughter you want, along with applause, rhythm accompaniment, comical voice tracks and a whole lot more. The Goodmans Magic Mic looks like an ordinary stick microphone, apart from the bulge in the neck for the controls and batteries. It plugs into the mic socket on any hi-fi amplifier or karaoke system. The best bit is the voice changer, controlled from a pair of buttons on the side. This raises or lowers the pitch of the users voice, so you can 'sound like a chipmunk, or Darth Vader', and you do too... There's also a set of three pre-set rhythms, four 'zany' voices saying 'make my day' 'I'll be back' 'oh yeah' and 'get down', laughter and applause buttons, plus a choice of bass drum, crash symbol. For 'MC's, landlords, comedians and endless fun at parties' according to the box, that sounds about right...


Value for money 90%

Goodmans (01705) 673763



Magellan GPS 2000, 200

US military satellites, called the global positioning system (GPS), transmit coded signals  that can be processed by special receivers to provide an instant location fix almost anywhere on the planet.  The Magellan GPS 2000 is a civilian GPS receiver, it's not as precise as the military units, which are accurate to a metre or so, nevertheless it will tell you where you are, to within ten or so metres, which is good enough for most people, who don't need to target bombs or shells. It's also cheap, just 200, a fifth of the price of previous GPS receivers, and a fraction of the cost of military systems. It's small too, about the same shape and size as a cellphone. Once programmed the large LCD display shows latitude, longitude and altitude, (so you'll need a map as well),  where you've been, and even which direction to go, if it  knows your destination. It's quick, simple, extremely accurate and just the job if you're an outdoor type who doesn't want to get lost.


Value for money 95%

Next Destination, telephone (01722) 410800


Philex 8-Way Universal Remote Control 35

Poxy remotes! Aren't they supposed to make our lives easier? It doesn't take long to build up an enormous collection, then the damn things go missing, the dog chews them up, the batteries go flat or you spill one tiny drop of coffee on the keyboard and they pack up! The Philex Universal remote won't solve all those problems, but it might help by getting rid of two or three handsets. It's programmed with the infra-red control codes for scores of TVs, video recorders, satellite receivers and cable boxes. The controls are organised into 4 banks (TV, VCR SAT, AUX), with another four banks selected using a shift button. The buttons are big, well-spaced and clearly labelled. It's reasonably easy to program, provided your equipment is included in the command library (we found at least one recent TV that wasn't), otherwise you're stuck as there's no learning facility, and it doesn't cover AV products, like amps, processors or laserdisc players, though Philex have another one that does. 


Value for money 80%

Philex plc, telephone 0181-202 1717


Swatch The Beep, 120

This has to be the wackiest Swatch yet. The Beep -- there are six designs to choose from -- looks like an overgrown wristwatch, and it does tell the time, but it's actually the world's smallest radio pager. The 12-character LCD display in the middle of the face shows messages up to 20 characters long. It will store up to ten messages at a time, and important messages can be stored permanently. Unlike a cellphone, once you've brought it there are no extra charges. Swatch have done a deal with BT so that the caller pays for the service, each message sent costs them 25 pence. Wires set into the face of the watch act as an aerial. When it receives a message it bleeps for ten seconds, and a 'new' symbol flashes on the display, until it has been cancelled, by pressing the 'winder' crown. A fun alternative to ordinary black box pagers, and a whole lot cheaper to run than a cellphone.


Value for money 85%

Available from Swatch Store, BT Phone Shops, Carphone Warehouse, Curry's Dixons etc.


Tech Link Sound Source Selector 20

It's not what you would call exciting but the Tech Link TAS1 2-way Sound Source Selector has its uses. Basically it's a small black box with a big black knob. There's a set of suckers on the base, to stop it sliding around. On the back there's what appears to be a 12-way electrical terminal block, probably because that's what it is. The idea is that one set of stereo speakers can be run from two output devices, an AV amp or a TV, say, so you don't have to mess around with cables and plugs. It sounds like a good idea, and it works well enough, though we're a little concerned about a couple of points. Some amplifiers do not like being left unconnected to a load (the speakers), and speakers could be damaged if, for instance, the volume had been set high before switch-over. Apart from that...


Value for money 80%

Tech-Link 0181-771 8388



Poser value                                         Swatch The Beep

Best for small kids                             Coca Cola TV

Best for big kids                             Magellan GPS 2000

Better to give?                           Goodmans Magic Mic

Better to receive?                                  Philex remote




( R. Maybury 1995 2010





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Copyright (c) 2005 Rick Maybury Ltd.