Wallet too heavy, credit cards repayments
nowhere near the limit? Rick Maybury can help. Here a few gift ideas for your cellphone, they might
even make your life easier....
KONDOR SHOULDER HOLSTER, £30
How many mobile phone accessories can you
name that keep your phone safe, and prevent your trousers from falling down?
The waistband clips on the Kondor shoulder holster are also pretty good at breaking
finger nails, but weíll let that one pass, the stiffness should ease with wear...
Phone holsters are not exactly big news, but
this one is different. First the price. It costs less than £30, making it one
of, if not the cheapest holster on the market. Second, itís not just a holster.
Turn it over and it quickly becomes obvious why itís so large. The phone pouch on
the front is sewn onto a zippered wallet, with extra pockets on the back for
credit cards, etc., and a couple of little loops, for holding pens.
The wallet and phone holder are made from a
soft supple leather, the sides of the holder are elasticated, and the phone is
held in place with a simple Velcro strap. One size fits all, at least it should
be okay for most small to medium-sized handsets, really tiny phones will rattle
around a bit, and larger ones simply wonít get a look in.
The holster is worn on the left shoulder,
thereís a waistband clip on the base of the wallet, and another one attached to
the Y-shaped elasticated shoulder strap. Thereís a small amount of adjustment
in the straps, and itís a comfortable fit for most normal-sized people; those
over six-foot might find it a bit tight, though. Quality of manufacture and
finish are both very good.
This is an extremely practical design; shoulder
holsters are one of the most secure ways of carrying a phone, the wallet and
pockets are welcome bonus, affording extra protection for valuables. The price
is very attractive too, and it does a splendid imitation of a pair of braces.
Typical Price £30
pouch for phone, rear zippered wallet, two pockets and pen/pencil holders
To fit most
telephone (01202) 481133
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 98%
CYMON GEORA CONDITIONING CHARGER, £38
Welcome to What Cellphoneís charger of the
month. Itís getting that way, but the proliferation of battery charger-conditioners
only serves to highlight the difficulties many cell phone users experience with
The problem is simple. Nickel-cadmium, (and some
nickel metal-hydride) re-chargeable batteries can loose up to half of their capacity
in just a few months of regular use. This is mainly due to the effect of
repeatedly Ďtopping upí the battery on a fast charger. Over time the cells
inside the battery achieve varying states of charge; most fast chargers shut
down when they sense that one or more cells has reached full charge, leaving
the rest only partially charged, and the pack as a whole well below its full
capacity. The condition, popularly known as nicad Ďmemoryí can be cured, by regularly discharging all
the cells in the pack, so afterwards the next time theyíre charged they all reach
That brings us neatly to the Cymon Tel
Conditioning Charger. Now it has to be said that itís not radically different
to the dozen or so charger-dischargers weíve looked at on these pages in the
past year, but this one is remarkably cheap, it should be selling for less than
£40, possibly as low as £35, so shop around. One of the reasons for this could
be that itís battery-specific. The battery mounting plate cannot be changed --
at least not by the user -- though models are available to fit the batteries
used on most popular makes and type of phone. The main disadvantage is that
should you change your phone the new batteries may not fit.
The charger can be powered from a plug-in
mains adaptor or a car power cord -- both are supplied. The only controls are a
switch for selecting fast or slow charge rates, and a discharge button. Next to
that thereís a row of five LEDs, the first one is yellow, that shows discharge
in progress, the next three are red, they (somewhat optimistically) indicate
30%, 60% and 90% charge, the green one at the end comes on when full charge has
Charging starts as soon as a battery is
clipped on, thereís the option to discharge first, after which it automatically
switches to the charge cycle. When it has finished the unit bleeps a few times
and the LEDs flash. During discharge the capacity LEDs blink in sequence,
giving a relative indication of how far it has to go. All of this is explained on
the instruction sheet, though be prepared to translate much it from Taiwanese pidgin
English: ĎGreen LED showing completion of charging will be on upon completing
charging, and a 10 second alarm is givení, you get the idea...
It checks out electrically; the discharger
takes the battery down to the 1 volt per cell safe limit. It has an automatic
time-out to prevent over charging, and the optional slow-charge rate is a good
way of prolonging the life of a battery pack. Most of the other
charger-dischargers weíve looked at cost between £50 and £80, so £40 for this
one looks like a pretty good deal, and if it rejuvenates or extends the lives
of just a couple of battery packs it will easily pay for itself.
Typical Price £38
fast or slow charge rates, discharger, trickle-charge function, charge-level
To fit most
Tel, telephone 0171-328 2843
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 80%
UNIVERSAL MAGIC CLIP, £5.99
Thereís no doubt about it, the simplest ideas
are often the best; take this one from Tandy. Itís the Universal Magic Clip, a
thoroughly uninspiring name for an ingenious little widget that costs just
£5.99. Itís a combined belt clip, wrist strap and desktop stand, that will fit almost
any make or type of mobile phone.
The kit includes three self-adhesive mounting
pads, that stick to the phoneís back panel, or batteries -- thatís why you get
three of them -- just clean the surface, peel off the backing tape, press it in
position and leave it to cure for 24 hours. The spring-steel belt clip slides in
behind the mounting pad and locks securely into position. Once in place it
cannot be removed except by inserting a screwdriver, or something similar into
a little recess, to release the clip from the pad.
When the clip is place it functions as a
simple belt hook. At the top of the clip thereís a small hole for the
wrist-strapís spring-loaded turn-buckle. Now we get to the clever part: the
belt clip contains a simple fold-out stand, that locks into place and puts the
phone at an angle of around 45 degrees. On most handsets thatís a comfortable
viewing angle for the LCD display panel, and just right for picking the phone
up in a hurry.
Strangely this very useful facility isnít obvious
from looking at the clip. Thereís no
reference to it on the front of the packaging, and itís only mentioned in
passing on the back, without saying where it is or how to use it. How many
people have brought one of these and missed it altogether? The packaging
suggests thereís an optional in-car holder for the Magic Clip, though the
assistants at our local Tandy store didnít seem to know anything about it.
The real surprise is that we found it at all.
Tandy havenít been marketing cellphone accessories for very long, and it doesnít
look as though theyíre putting much effort into it, judging by the way theyíre
presented in the stores weíve visited. This little gem was tucked away on a
display stand, behind a seemingly random assortment of carry cases and
batteries, blink and youíll miss it!
Typical Price £5.99
belt hook, table stand and wrist strap, three self-adhesive mounting plates supplied
To fit all
local Tandy store
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 95%
UNIROSS IN-CAR SAVER-CHARGER
If it has anything to do with re-chargeable batteries
then Uniross are probably involved somewhere down the line. Mobile phones are
no exception, and in addition to their range of replacement battery packs and
charger dischargers, they have a wide selection of in-car saver-chargers. Weíve
been trying out a UCT-310, configured to fit phones in the MicroTAC family, but
they cover most popular brands and models, including own-brands and clones made
by Ericsson, Mitsubishi, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic and Sony.
Itís a fairly conventional design, the
charger unit plugs into the carís cigarette lighter socket, it operates over a
range of 12 to 24 volts without adjustment. Thereís a 2-amp fuse inside the
tip, an LED indicator on the rear of the charger module, and a curly lead
terminated in a phone accessory/power connector. The charger unit is an
advanced design, with microchip control giving fast-charge and trickle charge
rates. The fast-charge current is a little under 500mA, which means it takes
just over an hour to fully charge a standard Micro TAC pack.
So far itís all fairly uncontroversial, but the
instructions, or rather what passes for instructions are a minor disaster area,
and not just the one supplied with the UCT-310, the same instruction booklet
appears to be included with their other types of car cord. Our gripe concerns the LED indicator on the back
of the unit, itís as if it doesnít exist. Thereís no mention of it anywhere.
That might not sound like a big concern, but this is no ordinary indicator,
depending on the state of the phone and battery when itís connected it does a
variety of things, but thereís no way of knowing what any of them mean. Whatís
a blinking red light for? It could indicate ten minutes to self-destruct for
all we know; equally thereís no way of knowing what a steady red light shows,
and is it good or bad when it changes to green?
Even after using the cord for several days weíre
still not entirely sure what all of the lights mean: steady red shows the power
is on, and blinking red means charge in progress but green just seems to
indicate that the phone is switched off, or does it? Thereís no way of finding
out. This charger cord appears to work well, and the price is fair but we canít
recommended it until Uniross do something about the instructions.
Typical Price £19.99
volt operation, fast/trickle charge rates, LED indicator
To fit most popular phones
Batteries Ltd., (01275) 858101
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 60%
” R. Maybury 1996 0902