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AVANTE SPEAKEASY TEST

 

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LOOK -- NO HANDS!

 

INTRO

Walk Ďn talk, and do whatever else takes your fancy with Avanteís SpeakEasy hands-free kit for portable phones

 

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SpeakEasy is a new hands-free kit for hand-portable mobile phones from Avante, costing around £116. Itís available to fit a fairly wide range of popular models, including the NEC P3, Motorola Micro-TAC (and variants), Panasonic F-series, Oki 900 and Technophones TP2 and TP3. We elected to try the Technophone version as Nokia have chosen not to market a hands-free kit of their own in the UK. The Avante outfit comes in two parts, a small control box -- about the size of a pack of 20 cigarettes --  which plugs into the phoneís accessory socket via a metre-long curly lead --  and a combined earphone/microphone which slips over the users ear. This plugs into a socket on the top of the control box,

 

HANDLING

The control box clips on the userís belt, itís pretty well featureless,  apart from a single push-button and headset socket on the top. Power come from a 9 volt PP3 battery, which, incidentally, is a real swine to install. The earphone can be worn on either ear, itís held in place by a  shaped loop that fits over the ownerís auricles, (outer ear flap you filthy-minded swine...)  It feels okay for an hour or so, though any longer and oneís auricles start to get a mite uncomfortable, and spectacle wearers might find normal head movements produces an annoying scratching sound as the earphone loop and the arms on their glasses rub together. The microphone is mounted on the end of a short boom, it can has two click positions, depending on which side its worn.

 

Programming the Technophone for hands-free operation takes only a few moments. Operation is reasonably straightforward; when the phone rings the call has to be answered in the normal way, by pressing a button on the phoneís keypad, and then pressing the on/standby button on the SpeakEasy control box. If you do it the other way around you get an unpleasant blast of ringing tone in your ear, and it can be very loud. Itís set by the phoneís volume control, which has to be left at maximum, otherwise it wonít be heard. Pressing the button on the control box returns the phone to normal operation.

 

FEATURES

Received audio quality is good, not significantly different from the phoneís own built-in speaker in fact. We had expected trouble from the microphone, due to the very short boom which reaches only halfway along the userís cheek. In fact it turned out to be rather good, striking a fair balance between sensitivity and directionality. Again, it wasnít too far removed in sound quality from the Technophoneís on-board microphone.

 

Itís probably not the sort of thing youíd want to wear openly in the street, you feel a tad conspicuous with the phone, control box and connecting cables dangling off your belt, and the earphone looks a bit like CIA field agent standard issue. Calling it Ďhands-freeí is also a bit misleading, you still need a spare hand to answer a call, or dial out,  and both involve at least a couple of extra actions, compared with using the phone normally. Still, at least you donít have to hold the phone when youíre actually speaking and thatís sufficient rationale. It works well too, speech quality -- transmitted and received -- is very good, we suspect most callers wouldnít know that you were doing something else with your hands, whilst you were talking to them...

  

VERDICT

The irony is that at £116 its dearer than the street price of some phones which come with a hands-free earpiece and mike as standard -- the Oki 1150 for example -- and in that case thereís no additional control box to mess around with. Nevertheless, SpeakEasy is a good idea, it works well, and in the case of the Technophone itís the only option for hands-free operation but be aware that there are easier, more convenient, and possibly cheaper ways of achieving the same result.

 

FACT BOX

 

AVANTE SpeakEasy  £99 plus VAT

 

Ease of use                               ****

Features                                   ****

Transmission quality   ***

Reception quality               ****

Value                                        ***

 

Features: one-piece earpiece/microphone, belt clip. Cables:  phone to control box  -- 1.5-metre curly lead; headset to control box -- 1.5 metres. Controls: single push-button on/off/operate. Power source: 9-volt PP3 battery. Dimensions: 100 (h) x 25 (d) x 63(d)mm. Weight:  220g (including headphone and battery).

 

What Cellphone VERDICT 80%

 

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R. Maybury 1994 2907

 

NB. IAN -- you mad fool, didnít you realise that you sent me a section of Mitchelsonís 38mm pitch, double-bonded bubble wrap with old style nitrogen-rich pressurisation, itís incredibly rare. Hardly any survived after the terrible Scarsdale packaging riots of Ď82, I thought you of all people would have known that! Oh well, your loss is my gain, Iím open to offers, but donít bother me with less than three figures....

 


 

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