CHRISTMAS MOBILE EXTRAS
Make it a cellular Christmas with our
round-up of telephonically-oriented gift idea
STOCKING FILLERS up to £10
Come on, the special person in your life must
be worth more than a tenner? To be honest there’s not a lot of
cellphone-related goods in this price bracket. We’ve trawled through the
accessory catalogues come up with a few ideas, including a water-resistant plastic
bag from Nokia, designed for their
phones, but we’d guess it’ll fit others too. We’ve also found a couple of emergency battery cases selling
in local phone shops. They can be filled with AA-type dry cells, to get mobile
phone users out of a hole, if they’re not carrying a spare. It’s important to
make sure you get the right one, though, and that applies equally to all cellphone
accessories, so you might have to make a few discrete enquiries, before you do
your Christmas shopping.
Of course, you could always give someone a
phone as a present, and yourself some peace of mind, if you’re a parent. There’s
no end of low-cost deals (free even...), but be warned, you’ll have to pay for
the line rental and call charges -- for
the first year at least -- as it will
prove very difficult, if not impossible, to arrange to have the bills sent to
whoever is going to use the phone.
If you forget to buy a present for someone you
know has a GSM phone you could send them a festive greeting on the day, using
the system’s SMS (short message service) facility. Unfortunately it only works
on the Vodaphone network at the moment. Their system is called Respond, it’s
fully automated and you will need a computer, with a modem, and preferably
Winfax communications software, (other comms packages work as well, use 7 data-bit,
odd parity, 1 stop-bit modem settings). The number to call (using your PC) is
(0385) 4999999; calls are charged at BT’s M-rate, which works out at 33 pence
per minute. Cellnet are still evaluating their SMS service but hope to have
something up and running by the end of the year. Theirs will probably be
agency-based, with a real live person on the end of the line to take your
message, we’ll keep you posted.
£10 to £20
That’s a bit more like it, show them you
care. There’s soft carry-cases galore for under £20, to be honest most of them
are pretty boring black jobbies, but there’s some really natty designs if you’re
prepared to look around. We particularly like the two-tone designs from PJ
Leathercraft, the Satchel range are quite distinctive, and Nokia’s own are very
As you know we’re big on battery care at What
Cellphone, and one of the best ways to ensure a cellphone battery leads a long
and healthy life is to treat it gently by trickle-charging it. Trickle chargers
can be brought at most cellphone accessory shops for less then £20.
£20 to £50
If you’re prepared to spend a little more on
a case then there’s some excellent examples for less than £40. The classiest
ones have to be the chunky Vega holsters, hand crafted in thick,
delicious-smelling leather. They do some really smart-looking shoulder holsters
too, for £50 or thereabouts. If that’s out of your price range then check out Phone
Safe’s shoulder holsters, they’re a little cheaper at £40 or so. Kondor make
some really wild coloured leather cases, orange ones -- for Orange phones --
are very eye-catching. If you know someone who’s into rubber, or a hard-line cellphone-owning
vegan then Bandridge have a range of snug-fitting black latex slip-ons, that
will also stop the phone being badly damaged, if it takes a tumble.
Replacement batteries are always welcome.
Decent quality packs mostly cost between £25 to £35. Our recent battery tests identified
several good makes, including those from Allgon, Andrew, Ora, Twinchoice,
Uniross and Yokohama.
Talk and charge car adaptors are extremely useful
for anyone who wants to stay in touch, whilst they’re on the move. There are dozens
to choose from, with prices starting at around £30, but it’s worth spending a
little extra on kits that come with a dashboard phone holder or cradle.
£50 to £100
It’s back to batteries again, this time with
desktop charger/dischargers. Heavy-duty mobile phone users will really
appreciate one of these as they can prolong the life of frequently used batteries,
and revive packs that have succumbed to the dreaded ‘memory’ effect. Check out our
battery care feature on page XX for more details.
Several phones can be fitted with simple ‘walk-and-talk’
hands-free kits. They’re really useful little gadgets, that plug in to the
phone’s accessory socket. They normally consist of an earphone and tie-clip microphone,
allowing the user to make and take calls, with the phone in their pocket,
whilst they get on with something else. The cheapest ones actually sell for
less than £50 but expect to pay a little more for phone manufacturer’s own branded
Most accessory companies have cellphone starter packs for £50 or less,
that include a case, talk and charge adaptor, and phone holder. They’re ideal
for anyone who has just brought a phone, and hasn’t got around to kitting
themselves out with basic accessories.
£100 to £400
Hands-free car kits are high on every mobile phone
owners wish-list. Basic DIY outfits start at around £100. Online do one that’s
easy to fit, and it works well, but it doesn’t come with an aerial; that can
add around £15 to £30 to the price. Andrew do a really good kit that includes a
glassmount aerial for £230. It can be fitted in a couple of hours by almost
anyone who can wield a screwdriver. Incidentally there’s a few very cheap ‘universal’
car kits on the market but they look really weird, and don’t perform all that
well as they rely on the phone’s built-in microphone. Top-end car kits sell for
anything between £250 and £500, and they require specialist fitting which can
add a further £100 to the price.
If money is no object then here’s a couple of
ideas that are guaranteed to make you extremely popular with someone this Christmas.
The first is a bit specialised and will only be of use to owners of digital
phones and laptop computers. It’s a PC data card, a nifty gizmo that connects
the phone to the computer, so it can send and receive faxes, e-mail or let
users surf the Internet when they’re out and about. Prices vary but reckon on
spending between £400 to £600, depending on the make and model of phone. If
they haven’t got a laptop computer you could always get them one of those as
well. Machines with a good-sized colour
screen and fast processor costs from about £1500 or so, but if you really want
to make a splash then nothing less than a full multi-media spec PC will do, a
snip at three grand.
Our final suggestion is the Hagenuk SP1600
satellite telephone and before you ask, it costs £10,000, ish... This
briefcase-sized blower works anywhere in the world, no need to worry about being
in range of a local cell-site, or network, this one links directly with a
network of orbiting satellites. The case lid is the aerial, just point it at
the nearest satellite (the kit comes with instructions...) and dial away. Calls
are expensive, around three quid a minute, but who’s quibbling, this has to be
the ultimate mobile phone gift this Christmas. Available now from your nearest
branch of Carphone Warehouse. Happy Christmas.
Ó R. Maybury 1995 1210