What Cellphone










One of the major design flaws of the human body is the lack of a third, or possibly fourth hand; you never seem to have enough of them, especially when youíre busy and the phone rings.  Mobile phones only compound the problem. Likely as not youíre moving around, and having to stop whatever youíre doing, to take the call, can be a real pain. If youíve got a Nokia 21 series mobile, or an Ericsson 337 then the Westar Walk ĎNí Talk is almost as good as a third hand, because it allows you use the phone, while you get on with something else. It could even be used whilst-driving, though itís clearly not as good as purpose-designed hands-free adaptor.


Itís a simple little gadget; the Nokia model is basically a thin plate, that clips between the back of the phone, and the battery. It comes with an in-ear phone, with a tiny microphone dangling about four inches below, at about mouth height. A little tie-clip stops the microphone from swinging about. The microphone/earphone cable plugs into the side of the adaptor unit. This has a short cable and plug, that fits into the phoneís adaptor socket. Thereís a small switch on the side of the adaptor, to select earphone or normal phone operation, and thatís all there is to it. The ear/mic cable is sufficiently long, to allow the phone to slipped in a pocket, or worn in a belt-case, though the added thickness of the adaptor plate and the connecting cable might make it an awkward fit.


The phone functions perfectly normally, apart from the sound being routed to the external mic/earpiece. Audio quality and volume are both adequate, and received speech quality is pretty good, the microphone is quite sensitive, so the user doesnít have to speak directly into it, or shout. The in-ear phone is not especially comfy, and we found it difficult to wear for more than half an hour at a time, but we wouldnít claim our ears to be necessarily representative. The bottom line is itís well made, it works quite well, and the price isnít too bad.



Typical Price     £45.00 (ex p&p)

Features           Personal hands-free adaptor

To fit                 Nokia 21 series & Ericsson 337

Contact Westar Connections, 0181 903 3903





Car manufacturers spend millions of pounds, dollars, yen and marks, plus countless thousands of man-hours giving their vehicles sleek body lines, fuel efficient engines and sophisticated electronic gadgetry, and then devote about five quid and half an hour to the dashboard! How else can you explain the specially slippery plastic used for shelves and cubby holes, ensuring that whatever is placed there slides around every time you go around a corner. It doesnít matter too much for all the usual toot we seem to accumulate, most of it ends up on the floor anyway, but itís definitely not a good idea to put your mobile phone on the dashboards of most cars, unless you specifically want to tests its ability to withstand physical shock. (Itís not advisable to leave it in the open in any case, itís simply an invitation to thieves, and direct sunlight could affect the phoneís operation, but for the sake of argument weíll assume this is a law-abiding country...)


The solution is to a Grippamat, a thin perforated black mat, made up of thousands of interlocking squares of an odd rubbery, plasticky material. It looks a bit like carpet underlay, but much thinner. Just place it on any clean surface -- itís a good idea to wipe off any dust first, with a damp cloth -- and there it stays. Itís not sticky, but somehow the little squares manage to get a good grip on whatever itís placed on. The really clever bit though, is that whatever is placed on it, also stays put. Not just mobile phones, but almost any object, even irregularly shaped ones, like sunglasses or a bunch of keys.


Weíre not sure exactly how it works, but under a magnifying glass of the surface of the Ďcellsí are soft and pitted with zillions of tiny bumps. Whatever, it works and objects placed on the mat donít slide around anymore. Theyíve got plenty of other uses and samples sent to the VCR office have ended up on desktops and tables, stopping bits and pieces sliding around. We reckon the price is on the highish side, for what it is, though itís only got to save your phone or some other valuable from beating itself to death on your carís dashboard to pay for itself many times over. Worth considering.



Typical Price     £6-£8

Features           Non-slip mat for dashboards, desks and other slippery surfaces

To fit                 you name it!

Contact Nett Ltd., (01273) 732464




The danger with a book devoted to the subject like mobile computing and communications is that it will be out of date before it is published. Itís difficult enough to stay ahead of the news on a monthly magazine, let alone a book, parts of which may have been written up to a year previously. Nevertheless, to be fair to Neil Kuruppu and the publishers, this book covers the non time-sensitive issues and technologies in reasonable depth. However, carrying machine-specific references to notebook and palmtop computers, accessories and services, quoting model numbers and in some cases prices as well, was a brave decision. This is an incredibly fast-moving market and inevitably things have changed.


It is written primarily for business users, who depend on, or make their living using mobile communication systems. That could be almost anyone, from a busy executive to sales personelle and field engineers. The author has adopted an approachable style and manages to avoid too much jargon, keeping the technicalities to a minimum.


The book is split into five sections, beginning with an outline of mobile technologies. Part two deals with portable computers, part three covers mobile data communications, part four is devoted to wireless local area networks (LANs) and part five looks at ways of developing mobile solutions.


This is a vast subject that could easily fill half a dozen or more books this size so it can only hope to cover the basics. IT professionals will probably find it a bit lightweight, but for anyone seeking a good grounding in the technology, a broader understanding of whatís available, how it can be done, and where to go for more information or advice, itís a valuable resource.



Typical Price                 £34.95

Written by                     Neil Kuruppu

ISBN Number    1-898956-01-4

Contact             Orchid Publications, (01322) 559979




No, itís not a mistake, the Vivox hands-free kit does purport to have a stereo sound capability, which is pretty amazing considering telephones work in mono. So whatís going on? The stereo bit concerns an optional sound-boosting facility, whereby the speaker output from the phone can be piped through a car cassette player, using a simple slot-in adaptor. More about that in a moment.


The kit can be installed in just a couple of minutes. The integral speaker and microphone are built into a small module, mounted on one end of a flexible gooseneck. On the other end thereís a standard car cigarette lighter plug. The speaker/microphone module has a LED on/charge indicator and two sockets, one is for the lead to the phone, the other is for the car stereo adaptor.


The only part not supplied is a holder for the phone; thatís not a big problem, thereís plenty of them about, costing from around £5.00 upwards, though, for the sake of completeness we would have preferred to see one included in the kit. There are no set-up procedures or adjustments to worry about, though some phones may need to be programmed for hands-free operation. The cigar lighter plug was a good fit on the vehicled we tried it with.


Itís not difficult to see why theyíve included the car stereo adaptor, the built-in speaker is not very loud and would be drowned out in most family saloons. The microphone is quite sensitive, and it helps to aim it at the user as it will pick up road and engine noise without any difficulty. The stereo adaptor is very simple to use, just plug it in, and slot the dummy cassette into the car stereo. Itís been designed to fit most types of deck, including front and side loaders. Once in place the speaker output is routed to a small magnetic coupler inside the cassette, that beams the audio signal to the tape head inside the player. As far as the deck is concerned, itís playing a stereo cassette, and the decks volume, balance and tone controls all operate normally. Obviously it canít change a mono signal into stereo, but the effect of hearing the caller coming from a set of stereo speakers, is quite dramatic, and -- depending on the type of deck -- youíll have plenty of volume in reserve.


The only real drawback is the need to swap cassettes, if youíre using the tape player, and the phone rings. This could be awkward, not to say dangerous, if youíre steaming down a motorway, or weaving around a narrow country road.


It works well, though as weíve said, on itís own itís not very loud; the cassette stereo adaptor is more of a necessity, than an option. However, the plus points largely outweigh the niggles. Itís very easy to fit -- a holder or cup would have been welcome too -- sound quality is good, and the price is reasonable. Recommended.   



Typical Price     £90

Features           stereo sound, cassette tape interface

To fit                 Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, Siemens

Contact Aerial King, 0171-483 2281/3447





R. Maybury 1996 1109



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