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THE A TO Z OF MOBILE ACCESSORIES

 

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A

AERIALS AND ANTENNAS

Cellphone antennas come in all shapes and sizes, but they all do the same job, and that’s to pick up and radiate the radio-frequency signals to and from your cellphone, to the nearest cell site antenna. The antennas fitted to most hand portables have to withstand a fair amount of rough treatment. Occasionally they get bent or broken -- the spindly affairs on Motorola and Nokia phones seem to suffer more than most --  fortunately replacements are readily available for these and most other models, and they’re reasonably easy to fit.

 

Car cellphone antennas are generally very efficient, and can increase the range, or improve the call quality of most handsets, when used with a well designed hands-free car kit. Most car aerials are either ‘unity gain’ (aka 1/4-wave) types, or co-linear whips. The latter is normally said to have positive ‘gain’, specified in decibels (dB). This means the aerial has directional properties, so it doesn’t uselessly radiate signals into space, or into the ground. (see also Glass Mount and Mag Mount).

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

REPLACEMENT ANTENNAS

Allgon B3230 for Nokia 2010/2110, £12

GRM for the Nokia 2110, £10

ORA RNOK1, Nokia, £9.99

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

CAR ANTENNAS

Andrew  K3, 3dB colinear whip

Algon Clic B1138.1UK, 3dB colinear whip

Ora CMS 895E, 3dB colinear whip

 

B

BASE MOUNT

Fixed mounting bracket for a cellphone aerial, designed to fit in a hole in the car’s bodywork.

 

BATTERIES

There have been some major advances in rechargeable battery technology and phone power management systems in the past couple of years, and some phones can now run for a couple of days without a change of battery. However, the majority of cellphones still use nickel cadmium (NiCd or ‘nicad’) batteries, that were first developed almost 100 years ago. They’re cheap, and reasonably compact, but they can suffer a quite drastic reduction in capacity if they’re not treated properly -- i.e. subjected to repeated top-up charges etc. (see also Refresh Mode). Nickel metal-hydride (NiMh) batteries, developed in the past decade, are somewhat hardier, and do not suffer from the so called ‘memory’ effect to anything like the same extent. They also have a higher energy density, which means they’re smaller for a given capacity; they’re getting cheaper but they can cost up to 50% more than an equivalent nicad. The latest battery technology is Lithium Ion (Li), which has an even higher energy density than nickel metal-hydride, and a more predictable discharge curve. Battery level indicators can be a lot more accurate, however, at the moment they cost between two and three times as much as nicads, moreover they’re not compatible with phones or chargers designed to use nicad and NiMh battery packs.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Vivanco (NiMh) -- high performance, good value

Atec (nicad) -- good value and performance

Vocall (nicad and NiMh) -- good value and performance

 

BATTERY ELIMINATOR -- see CAR CORDS

 

BOOSTER

Purpose-designed car-phones usually have a high (Class 1) power output, which results in improved range and contact reliability. Originally it was planned to fit signal boosters to car adaptors for hand-held phones, which have a lower (Class 4) output. However, as the networks expanded, and coverage increased, the need for boosters has diminished. One or two boosters were marketed for a while, however more recently companies have been reluctant to go to the trouble and expense of obtaining the necessary Government approval for these devices, consequently they have all but disappeared from the accessory market. 

 

BRACKETS -- see CRADLES

 

C

CAR CORD

A compact voltage regulator and charge control circuit, usually built inside a module attached to a cigarette lighter plug. The unit links to the phone by a curly cord with a suitable accessory connector. Most card cords simultaneously power the phone and charge the battery (Talk’n Charge). A few older types only charge the battery; battery ‘eliminators’ only power the phone, these have a battery-shaped adaptor, that replaces the phone’s battery pack. Most car cords have fast-charge circuits, which deliver a relatively high current, to charge a standard battery pack in around an hour. Ideally the charger should then switch to a trickle-charge mode, to avoid damaging the battery, by over-charging.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Allgon Charge Cable, fast/trickle, £35

Andrew Rapid Charger, fast/trickle, £35

Kondor Travel Pack, (inc. soft leather case) £25

 

CASES

A good quality carry case not only protects your phone from the inevitable knocks and bumps of everyday life, it’ll keep it secure as well. Cellphone cases used to be mostly boring black leather bags and pouches but lately they’ve become fun fashion accessories. They’re available in a variety of natural and man-made materials, every colour you can imagine (and quite a few you’d rather not...), in a mind-boggling range of shapes and styles.   

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Kondor cases, all sizes and styles, £10 to £40

Tanyard Collection, alligators to zebra skins -- fake of course...  £20 to £25

Vega -- leather luxury, built to last £40 to £60

Westar Connections -- fun fakes and tartans, great value, £9 to £40

 

CHARGERS

All cellphones come with a mains battery charger, but they’re usually pretty basic, and many users will want to charge their batteries whilst they’re in the office, or away from home. Accessory desktop chargers normally have additional features, including the facility to charge a spare battery, as well as the one on the phone. Several models also have a ‘refresh’ or  ‘condition’ mode, which is essential if you use nicad type packs. This will take the battery through one or more deep charge/discharge cycles, to eliminate any vestigial charge and cell imbalance, to ensure the pack operates at full capacity.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

BTG Twincharger, phone and spare battery, charge/discharge, £40

GRM Ultra Twin Charger, phone and battery, charge discharge, £40

ORA Dual Port Fast Charger, effective charge/discharge, £23

 

CLEANERS

Cellphones get grubby quickly and the little nooks and crannies can be breeding grounds for all kinds of nasty things. Cellphones should be cleaned regularly, apart from making them smell a lot nicer, it prevents the build up of crud on contacts, unblocks microphone, earphone and ringer holes and keeps the keypad and display in good condition.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Fellowes Telephone Cleaner Wipes, impregnated cloths, £1.95 for 25

Sapona Telephone Sanitiser, pump action spray cleaner, £3.51

Techcessories Foaming Cleaner, effective surface cleaner, £2.27

 

CLIPS

No more fumbling around, as you reach for your phone. A simple belt clip keeps it ready to hand; models with locking mechanisms will help keep it secure as well.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

E-Z Clip -- quick release belt clip, £5

Hama Universal Belt clip, £9.99

Tandy Universal Magic Clip, £5.99

 

COMBINATION ANTENNA

Type of aerial that can be used for both AM/FM reception, and cellphone operation, used in conjunction with a suitable aerial connector unit, with separate feeds for the car stereo and phone

 

CONDITIONER -- see BATTERIES

 

CONTROL BOX

Most purpose-designed car phones, and one or two hands-free car kits, have separate control boxes, containing all of the interconnections, audio processing and switching circuitry; (car phone control boxes will usually contain the transceiver modules as well). The box, usually not much larger than a fat paperback book, is hidden out of sight, under a seat or in a foot well.

 

COUPLER -- see GLASS-MOUNT

 

CRADLES

There are basically two types of cellphone cradle: universal models, designed to fit as wide a range of phones as possible, and custom cradles, intended to fit one specific model. Both types are usually used in conjunction with a hinged mounting bracket, that’s screwed or bolted to the car’s dashboard, fascia or centre console. The most common mounts are the ‘V’ and ‘Z’ types, so called because of their shape. Flexible ‘goose’ or ‘swan’ neck mounts are also popular, though they’re better suited to smaller, lightweight phones as they have a tendency to wallow around, especially on bumpy roads.

 

Custom cradles are preferable are usually a lot more secure and grip the phone by its mounting lugs or slots. Most universal cradles have a pair of foam-faced  spring-loaded ‘grippers’ that clamps the sides of the phone, and may obscure buttons or sockets. A lot of universal cradles were originally designed for left-hand drive vehicles, and can be awkward to use left handed. Universal cradles are generally quite cheap and worth considering if you have more than one phone. Most cradles have cut-outs or gaps to allow access to the phone’s accessory connector.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Allgon Passive Holder, quick fit for Motorola flips, £8.99

AMT Sucker Holder, fits phones in carry cases, £12

Andrew Holder Cup, Motorola easy fit,  £11

Dashmount Carphone Bracket, available to fit most cars, £20

Hama Mobilsafe, flexible mounting system, £25

Hama Passive Base Units -- simple customised holders for most makes, £20

Universal ‘Gripmatic’ Mounting Bracket, spring side grippers, £15

 

D

DATA CARD

A Data or PC Card links a data-compatible digital cellphone with a laptop, notebook or palmtop computer. The card operates in a similar way to a telephone modem,  enabling the computer to access the phone network, send and receive faxes, e-mail and access on-lines services or the Internet. PC Data Cards, formerly known as PCMCIA cards are only available for digital phones, but not all models or networks support data communications. 

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Ericsson DC12, works well, £410

Motorola Cellect 2/8400, fast and efficient, £586

Nokia DTP-2, solid and reliable, £410

 

DESKTOP CHARGERS -- see CHARGERS

 

DISCHARGER -- see BATTERIES

 

E

EMERGENCY POWER

Cellphone batteries always seem to quit at the wrong moment, normally it’s not a problem, but what happens if you’re going to be away from civilisation for several days, and you need to stay in touch? High capacity battery packs, that can be worn on the shoulder, or attached to a belt are one answer, or you could carry a solar charger backpack, that will keep your phone battery topped up on a cross-country trek.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Optronix UBP 8000, 8Ah belt pack, five days of power for most phones, £180

Solapak Chargeabout,  solar powered charger, £150

 

F

FME CONNECTORS

Miniature screw-fit plugs and sockets, used to connect antenna leads and accessories

 

FAX SERVICE

Sending faxes using a cellphone and laptop PC is comparatively easy, the difficulty comes when you want to receive faxes as well. Fax reception depends on the receiving phone being switched on and used in an area with good signal strength, otherwise faxes simply cannot get through. JFAX, an Internet-based service will pick up your faxes for you, and then convert them into a data files, so that they can be stored in an e-mailbox. Faxes can then be downloaded, at your convenience, on a laptop or PC. The system depends on anyone wanting to send you a fax being given a special JFAX number, these can be assigned London or North American dialling codes (other countries will be on-line soon), which may be convenient if you have overseas customers. There’s a one-off connection charge of £9.80 and £8 per month subscription; the first 100 faxes are free (plus the cost of a local call), thereafter 15 pence each.  For more information JFAX can be contacted at: http://www.jfax.co.uk  

 

G

GLASS MOUNT-- see also AERIALS, MAG MOUNT and WINDOW MOUNT

Most car cellphone antennas are of the glass-mount type. They’re quick and easy to fit, and do not require any holes to be drilled in the vehicle’s bodywork. Glass mount antennas are in two parts: the outside mount and radiator, and the interior coupler, which connects to the phone, via its cradle (in the case of a hand-portable model). Both the coupler and mount attach to the glass using high-impact double-sided adhesive pads. Although the two parts are separated by the layer of glass, several millimetres thick, they’re ‘capacitively’ coupled. This allows high frequency radio waves to pass between them, with only a comparatively small loss of signal strength.

 

GOOSENECK MOUNT -- see BRACKETS

 

GROUND-PLANE

A cellphone aerial is actually made up of two components: the radiating/receiving element, and the ground-plane. On a hand-portable cellphone, the user’s body, and the ground itself acts as the ground-plane; in a car the ground-plane is the vehicle’s metal body. The mass and location of the ground-plane has a significant effect on the efficiency of an antenna. Little can be done to improve the ground-plane effect on a hand-portable cellphone, but various tweaks are possible on car aerials. This can be important on glass mount type aerials, which may have little or no ground-plane effect. Some models have small ground-plane elements fitted to the mounting bracket, or it may be necessary to changing the position of the mount, moving it closer to or further away from the metalwork.

 

H

HANDS-FREE OPERATION

In areas of good coverage most hand-portable cellphones will work satisfactorily inside a car. However, this encourages some car owners to use their phones whilst they’re driving, which can be both illegal, and extremely dangerous. The sensible alternative is a hands-free car-kit, which allows the driver to make and take calls, without removing their hands from the wheel for more than just a moment or two, when they’re answering a call, Dialling out is not advisable as this will usually involve the driver taking their eyes from the road, though some cellphones can be used with car kits, that have a voice-activated dialling facility.

 

There’s a wide range of hands-free car kits on the market at the moment, including several DIY packages. However some of the cheaper outfits sacrifice performance for ease of installation. It’s usually better to spend a little more on a full car kit, especially if you expect to spend a lot of time in areas with poor or marginal signal strength, or you drive a noisy car.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

FULL CAR KITS

Andrew Hands Free Kit, most popular models £230

Cymontel Hands Free Kit, most popular models £130

Ericsson HF 2600 own brand car kit, £294

Panasonic EBH F400Z, own brand car kit, £186

 

SIMPLE CAR KITS

ICC RECOMMENDED

Andrew Simple Car Kit, £55

Cymontel Hands Free Car Kit, £130

ORA Travel Talk, ingenious one-piece unit, £80

Vivox VXT-20, stereo car kit, £90

 

HOLDERS -- see BRACKETS

 

HOLSTERS

Ordinary carry cases are a good way of protecting your phone, but they can sometimes be a little cumbersome, if you want to get to your phone quickly. Quick release belt clips and shoulder holsters keep your phone at the ready at all times. A holster won’t leave an unsightly bulge in your pocket, they’re more secure than a traditional case and some designs have extra pockets, for pens and valuables.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Kondor Shoulder Holster

Pocket Liberator, fast-draw belt holder, £27

Vega Shoulder Holster

 

I

INDOOR AERIAL

Cellphone performance tends to tail off quite quickly when they’re used indoors, and they may not work at all inside metal framed buildings. Often the only answer is to stand by a window, but for those who need to be able to make and receive calls from their desk, the simplest solution is to use an indoor aerial. In order to achieve maximum signal strength and reliability of contact, an indoor aerial needs it’s own ground-plane. Simple mag-mount antennas can be placed on a metal filing cabinet, purpose designed indoor antennas, like the Digi 1800 are mounted on a metal plate. The aerial connects to the phone via the accessory socket.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

AMT Digi 1800, fits most popular models, £29.50

 

INSTALLATION

If you’re considering a hands-free kit for your car then we’d strongly recommend that you have it installed by a qualified engineer. They’re trained to do the job properly, which means fitting the right type of aerial, in the best place for you vehicle, ensuring the wiring is safe, and neatly concealing the wiring behind trim and bodywork. They have the right tools for the job, the necessary experience, and you’ve got someone to blame, and fix it, if anything goes wrong.

 

J

JACK PLUG

Miniature Jack plugs, of the 2.5mm and 3.5mm variety, are widely used on hands-free car kits, to connect the microphone and speaker to the main unit.

 

K

KEYPADS

Mobile phone keypads have to withstand a lot of rough treatment, so it’s not surprising they can begin to look rather tatty after a year or two. A quick wipe over with a dampened cloth and a little washing up liquid will remove the grime. Numbers and symbols can be rubbed away with heavy use, replacement keypads are available for most popular models (see also REPLACEMENT COVERS), but these would have to be fitted by an approved service agent.

 

L

LITHIUM ION -- see BATTERIES

 

LOCKOUT

All cellphones have at least one PIN-operated lock but digital phones often have several password-protected security features. In order to prevent an unauthorised user simply running through all the possible number combinations in a 4-digit PIN, Most phones will normally only allow a limited number of attempts, after which it will ‘lockout’ and refuse any further entries. Some phones can be unlocked using service codes, known only to the manufacturer but if it happens to the SIM card, it can be programmed automatically self-destruct.  Be warned, the manufacturer or service provider will usually charge to re-issue a new card.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

Most hands-free car kits include a separate loudspeaker. This should be positioned so that it can be clearly heard by the driver over normal road noise. Many car kits have provision for stereo muting, which automatically reduces the volume on the car stereo, or cuts it out all together, as soon as there’s an incoming call. Several car kits can be connected to a cars stereo sound system and speakers. The phone can be wired directly to the car stereo, provided it’s fitted with the appropriate connectors. Cheaper car kits use a simple cassette adaptor with an inductive coupler, that slots into the car stereo’s tape hatch.

 

M

MAG MOUNT -- see also AERIALS, GLASS MOUNT and WINDOW MOUNT

Magnetic or ‘mag-mount’ mobile antennas are the simplest of all to fit. A powerful ring magnet on the base of the antenna fixes to the vehicle’s bodywork. They’re usually very efficient as they can be mounted in the middle of the roof, which gives good all round coverage and sensitivity. Minus points are that they’re easy removed or stolen, and they can damage the car’s paint-work. It’s also difficulty to route the cable, and there’s a possibility it could be crushed, if passed through doors, tailgate, boot-lid or windows.

 

MARINE CELLPHONE

Cellphones aren’t just for landlubbers; in some parts of the country analogue coverage extends up to 80km out to sea; digital phones can operate up to 20km from our shores. Apart from being very convenient for weekend sailors who want to stay in touch, it has serious applications for emergencies at sea. There are plenty of well documented cases of sailors in distress using their cellphones to summon assistance, after their VHF ship-to-shore radio had failed. There are no specialist marine cellphones, but ordinary handsets work well at sea -- there’s fewer obstructions and coastal cell sites are often on high headlands. Some sort of cradle and charger, or a complete car kit is advisable, (or plenty of extra batteries, if you’re on a yacht...) and everything should be well protected against sea spray. Several companies market marine cellphone antennas, which are definitely a good idea, if you’re likely to stray more than a few kilometres out to sea.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Allgon MA416, 620mm glass-fibre whip and fittings, £40

Panorama BS900, 280mm plastic coated whip and fittings, £75

Wallen PA017S, 400mm whip with fittings, £52

 

MEMORY -- see BATTERIES

 

MICROPHONE

All hands-free car kits should have a separate microphone; the few that do not are usually unsatisfactory as the driver may have to shout, in order to be heard by the phone’s built-in microphone. The microphone in a car kit should be placed as close to the driver’s mouth as is practical, the usual position is clipped to the sun visor, or halfway up the front door-pillar.

 

N

NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC ALERT SYSTEMS

Driving a car on today’s congested roads is demanding enough, without the added misery of traffic jams or getting lost. In car navigation systems, that can plot routes and warn of hold-ups, are now readily available. Not only can they help reduce frustration and cut journey times, they can save fuel, by finding the shortest or quickest routes.

 

Several different systems are in use at the moment, from map and street-finder software for palmtop and laptop computers, to advanced data and messaging systems. Sensors placed on bridges over key motorways and dual carriageways register traffic flow and will alert a central control room if a hold-up occurs. The control room then flashes message, using cellphone channels, to in-car dashboard mounted displays, so drivers can take appropriate avoiding action. Other systems can tell the driver their present location, or fix the vehicles location using motion sensors or GPS (global positioning system) satellites, which can be overlaid on a moving map. Such systems can plot routes, calculate journey times and suggest alternatives, if delays are expected.

 

This technology is still in its infancy, with new systems coming along all the time. To some extent users of in-car navigation systems are paying to be guinea pigs, but for those who do a lot travelling in the course of their business, they’re generally well worth investigating and could pay for themselves in quite a short time

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Autoroute for Psion 3a/c, £69.95 (software only)

Philips Routefinder, £199.95

Trafficmate, £49.95 plus £24 pa

Trafficmaster, £145.95 plus £110 pa

 

NICKEL CADMIUM & NICKEL METAL-HYDRIDE -- see BATTERIES

 

O

ON YOUR BIKE... -- see also BRACKETS

Why should car-owners have all the fun? Bike riders need to stay in touch as well, but where do you put your phone, so it’s readily accessible. Rather than add another unsightly lump to your tight cycling shorts you could use a cellphone handlebar mounting kit. The Hama kit is the only one we know of at the moment, but it’s very versatile, and the manufacturers tell us that it’s equally at home on motor cycles, and there’s reports of at least one user with one fitted to their lawn-mower...

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Hama Handlebar Holder, £25

 

P

PALMTOPS & PDAS

On paper at least palmtop computers, otherwise known as PDAs (personal digital assistants), appear to be natural companions for cellphones, though it’s rarely a marriage of convenience. Most PDA are in fact pocket-size PCs, with many of the features of their desk-bound and larger laptop rivals. Some models can be connected to a mobile phone, via a PC Data card (and an adaptor on some models), and used to send faxes, handle e-mail, and even surf the Internet.

 

It all sounds fine in theory but anyone wanting to get connected needs to choose their equipment carefully. There are no industry standards for the hardware and software at the moment, moreover cellphone data communications are significantly slower (2400 to 9600 baud), than fixed-line systems. Only digital phones have data compatibility, and only a handful of models have the necessary interfaces, moreover they can only be used with matching Data Cards. Not all palmtops have Data Card slots, and the communications software tends to be quite crude, compared with more familiar desktop packages.

 

The Nokia 9000 Communicator is an alternative to integrating a phone with a palmtop. It’s a palmtop computer with a digital cellphone built in. It has fax, e-mail and Internet facilities software, as well as the usual word-processing, organiser and software utilities. There’s also the Hewlett Packard Omnigo 700LX, a palmtop computer with built-in docking station for a Nokia 2110 phone, with all the necessary communications hardware and software installed, for sending faxes, e-mail and SMS messages.

 

It may be worth waiting a few months. A new generation of palmtops are due to be launched this year, using the new Microsoft Windows CE (Compact Edition) operating system, that has extensive data communications facilities.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

HP Omnigo 700LX

Nokia 9000, £1000

Psion 3a/c, £250 to £350

Sharp ZR5800, £530

 

PAGERS

Pagers, largely overshadowed by cellphones in the past fifteen years, are making a comeback. Modern pagers don’t just let you know someone is trying to get in touch, they can display short text messages, with the callers number. Pagers cost less than cellphones, and they’re cheap to run. ‘Party-Pays’ packages transfer the cost of sending a message onto the callers phone bill. Pager design has advanced too, with lots of different styles and colour to choose from. There’s also an eye-catching wristwatch pager, made by Swatch, called appropriately ‘The Beep’.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

BT Mobile, 98% UK coverage, full range of rental and Party-Pays packages

Hutchinson Paging, UK & Euro networks

Mercury Paging, 98% UK coverage, zonal packages, rental and Party Pays deals

Vodapage, 98% UK coverage, zonal packages

 

PC/PCMCIA CARD -- see DATA CARD

 

PERSONAL NUMBERS

It is possible to have just one phone number, that will enable callers to reach you, wherever you are, whether you’re at home, in the office, or on your mobile. So called ‘personal number’ services are programmed to redirect a call, made using your special number, to any of your specified phones. Pay extra and you can have a cherished number, or a ‘word’ number -- e.g. dial 07000 ‘TERRY’, using the letters on an alphanumeric keypad to spell out the name (TERRY = 83379) -- which could be a useful way of getting people to remember your number or business, or make an interesting birthday gift. In addition to one-off connection charges, and an annual subscription, callers to personal number services have to pay a premium, of between 10 and 16 pence per minute.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Personal Number Company, £75 to £250 connection plus £36 pa subscription

FleXtel, £120 to £150 connection plus ££36 to £40 pa subscription

 

POWER ADAPTOR

Simple plug-in adaptor, that allows two or more accessories to be powered from a car’s cigarette lighter.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Hama 3-Way Adaptor, £20

Maplin Multi Socket (HVO7H), 2-way adaptor, £5.94

 

 

POWER CORDS -- see CAR CORDS and CHARGERS

 

Q

QUARTER WAVE -- see AERIALS

 

QUICK-FIT HOLDERS -- see also BRACKETS

If you don’t like the idea of drilling holes in your vehicle’s dashboard, or maybe you need to be able to quickly transfer your phone between two vehicles, then a simple quick-fit holder could be he answer. This type of holder can normally be used with a car cord, to keep the phone’s battery charged. Several holders use double sided sticky pads to keep them in place, however, we’re not confident the adhesive is always strong enough, and could fail if not fitted properly, possibly damaging the phone or threatening road safety. Holders that attach to air vents, suction pads and formed metal brackets (custom designed to fit onto existing dashboard fixings), are generally satisfactory.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Powerwave Universal Vent Mount, £10

Telewing Mobile Holder, universal window holder, £25

Uni Mount, air-vent holder, £23

Universal Vent Mount, simple ‘no-holes’ fitting, £10

 

R

REFRESH MODE -- see CHARGERS

 

REPLACEMENT COVERS

After just a few months use hard working mobile phones can end up looking tatty and tired. Gunge and grime can be easily removed with a quick wipe over, but scratches, dinks and dents are another matter. Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do as cellphone companies are reluctant to exchange old phones, without a entering into a new contract. You may be able to change the case, though.  Several companies are now marketing replacement cases for a number of popular phones. In addition to standard black housings, they offer a range of wacky designs, in a variety of finishes, including wood, marble and bright colours. There’s’ also semi-transparent and theme styles. Most kits include new keypads and display windows as well, so you’re effectively getting a new phone. Unfortunately case replacement is not an easy job; special tools are required to dismantle a lot of phones, so it’s best to have the job done by a service engineer, even so it should still end up costing you less than a new phone.

 

If you’re on a tight budget Ora’s Facelift Collection stickers are a quick and simple way of cheering up an old phone. Available in three eye-catching colours.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

BTG Covers, Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola, £35-45

Ora Facelift Collection, cover-up stickers Ericsson, Motorola & Nokia, £13 for 3

New Face Designer Fascias, classy cases, most models, £30-45

Twinchoice Phone Covers, wood, colour and transparent, £35 to 45

 

RG58 & RG174

Types of low-loss coaxial cables, commonly used for aerial connections in mobile cellphone installations

 

S

SAVER CHARGER -- see CAR CORD

 

SIM CARD

All digital phones have subscriber identity modules or SIM cards. The cards have an embedded microchip, containing the subscribers details, management and security software and a small phone book, capable of storing a dozen or so numbers. There are two styles of SIM in use: standard credit-card sized types, and mini SIMs, the latter being a push-out insert in a standard SIM. Problems can arise when subscribers change from a phone using a mini SIM to one that uses a full-size card. Those with the foresight to retain their full size SIM card can usually replace the mini SIM and keep it in place with a strip of sticky tape (on the opposite side to the contacts). Otherwise it will be necessary to purchase a SIM card adaptor, which has a cut-out, designed to hold a mini SIM. 

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Hama SIM card Adaptor, £9.99

Vivanco Micro SIM Adaptor, £11

 

SMS

SMS or Short Message Service is available on most digital phones and networks, and some pager systems. In the case of digital cellphones it enables a short text message, up to 160 characters long, to be sent to a specified phone. The subscriber is automatically alerted, and can then retrieve, display and store their messages. A few cellphones can compose and transmit SMS messages, otherwise messages can be sent from any ordinary phone, via a bureau, or from PCs equipped with suitable communications software and a modem.  In the past year several low-cost SMS packages for the Windows PCs, laptops and palmtops  have appeared. These contain full text editing facilities, phone books, and in the case of the Mobile Messenger, a facility to verify that the message has been sent, and received.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Pagemail 1.5, SMS send/receive for PC, £39

Vega Mobile Messenger, top-end comms package for PC, £99

 

SWAN-NECK MOUNT -- see BRACKETS

 

T

TALK ‘N CHARGE -- see CAR CORDS

 

TNC

Type of screw-fit connector used on some cellphone aerials and cable fittings

 

U

UNITY GAIN -- see AERIALS

 

V

V-BRACKET -- see BRACKETS

 

VIBRATORS

In many situations -- business meetings, in restaurants, cinemas or the theatre -- a warbling cellphone is considered to be at best irritating, at worst, downright rude. The sensible thing to do, when a ringing cellphone would be likely to cause annoyance to those around you, is to subscribe to your network’s call answering service and switch the phone off for the duration, or turn down the ringer volume and hope no-one else will hear it, if it goes off. Clearly either course of action is likely to mean you’ll miss any incoming calls. The third alternative is a silent ringer, a small module -- or replacement battery pack on some models -- that quietly vibrates in response to an incoming call. This gives you the option to discretely adjourn, to take the call in private.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

Hama Vibrating Pocket Pager, GSM and ETACs compatibility, £30

Ora VibraRing, Nokia fit, £60

Twinchoice EV237, to fit Ericsson models, £49

 

VENT MOUNTS -- see QUICK MOUNTS

 

W

WALK AND TALK

Walk and talk kits enable cellphone users to carry on a conversation, without having to hold the phone. This can be especially useful when you hands are otherwise occupied, or you want to continue what you’re doing, without having to stop to take a call. Most kits include an in-ear headphone, fitted with a small tie-clip microphone. The microphone/earphone cable plugs into the phone’s accessory connector or adaptor, though some models have a special socket for that purpose. When in use the phone’s own earpiece and microphone are disables, on some models the ringer is cut off as well, but can still be heard through the earphone. The phone operates normally, and calls are made and received in the usual way.

 

ICC RECOMMENDED

ORA Personal Hand Free Kit,

Penguin (Cymontel) Portable Hands Free, fits Ericsson models, £35

Westar Walk And Talk, for Nokia and Ericsson only, £45

 

X

X-RAYS

A lot of people are worried about allowing their phones to pass through airport x-ray machines, in case it damages the microchips, or wipes the phone-book memory. In fact the radiation levels of modern ‘micro-dose’ scanners and security-check metal detectors are very low, and pose no threat to cellphones, or, for that matter, laptop and palmtop computers, camcorders, cameras and all other electronic devices, including  cardiac pacemakers

 

Y

YACHT CELLPHONE -- see MARINE

 

Z

Z-BRACKET -- see BRACKETS

 

CONTACT LIST

Allgon Antennas, 27 Manor Road, Didcot, Oxon OX11 7JZ.

Telephone, 01235 811119

 

Aerial King,

Telephone 0171-483 2281

 

AMT, 29 Church Street, Upper Willingdon, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN20 9HR

Telephone (01323) 505252

 

Andrew Corporation, Ilex Building, Mulberry Business Park,

Fishponds Road, Wokingham RG11 2GY

Telephone (01734) 776886

 

Apex Distribution, Apex Point, Travellers Lane, Welham Green, Hatfield, Herts AL9 7HB.

Telephone (01707) 266222

 

Atec -- Lemon Accessories, Unit 5-31 Newcastle Enterprise Centre, High Street, Knutton, Staffs,  ST5 6BX

Telephone (0973) 282104

 

Bandridge Ltd., Premiere House, 18 Deep Park Road, Wimbledon SW19 3TU.

Telephone 0181-543 3633

 

BT Mobile (0800) 313000

 

Banner Twinchoice Group, (BTG), 110 Brooker Road,  Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 1JH.

Telephone (01992) 825825

 

Cymontel/Capital Car Radio, 150A West End Lane, London NW6.

Telephone 0171-328 2843

 

Dashmount -- Connoisseur Products, 1 Mortlake Road, Key Green, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3DT.

Telephone 0181-948 0067

 

Dialogue Communications, The Work Station, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield S12BX.

Telephone (0114) 281 5275

 

Digital Images (Pocket Liberator & Telewing), PO Box 2316 London W1A 1ZR.

Telephone 0171-636 7127

 

Ericsson Telecommunications, Middleton Gate, Guildford Business Park, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5SG.

Telephone (01483) 3033666

 

Excell Direct,

Telephone (01253) 878760

 

FleXtel

Telephone(07010) 700700

 

GRM Ltd.,  GRM Building, Copse Road, Fleetwood, Lancashire FY7 6RP.

Telephone (01253) 773177

 

Hama UK, Unit 4 Cherrywood, Chineham Business Park, Basingstoke, Hants

RG24 OWF

Telephone (01256) 708110

 

Hewlett Packard, PO Box 471, Chesham, Bucks HP5 1BR

Telephone (0990) 474747

 

Hutchinson Paging, telephone (0800) 282826

 

Kondor, Airfield Way Estate, 17 Airfield Way, Christchurch, Dorset BH23 3TA.

Telephone (01202) 481133

 

Maplin Electronics, PO Box 777, Rayleigh, Essex SS6 8LU.

Telephone (01702) 554000

 

Mercury Paging,

Telephone (0800) 801808

 

Motorola, PO Box 500, Swindon SN2 6FA

Telephone (01252) 801801

 

New Face Communications, PO Box 523, Wembley, London HA9 7HN.

Telephone 0181-951 4535

 

Nokia, Headland House, London Road, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE18 8NX.

Telephone (01480) 434343

 

Online Accessories, 1-15 Kingston Road. Freemantle, Southampton SO15 3DB

Telephone (01703) 237111

 

Optronix -- Jenoptic, PO Box 71, Ripon Way, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 2AR

Telephone 0181-953 1688

 

ORA Electronics, 28/29 Faraday Road, Aylesbury, Bucks HP19 3RY

Telephone (01296) 41545

 

Panorama Antennas, Frogmore, Wandsworth, London SW18 1HS

Telephone 0181-874 5300

 

Panasonic UK, Panasonic House, Willoughby Road, Bracknell,

Berkshire RG12 4PF. 

Telephone (01344) 862444

 

Personal Number Company, 37b Cavendish Street, London W1E 8DL

Telephone (0374) 500500

 

Psion plc, Alexander House, 85 Frampton Street, London NW8 8NQ

Telephone 0171-262 5580

 

Powerwave, (see GRM)

Telephone (01253) 773177

 

Sharp UK, Thorp Road, Newton Heath, Manchester M10 9BE.

Telephone 0161-205 2333

 

Tanyard, Unit 2, The Tanyard, Leigh Road, Street, Somerset BA16 OHD

Telephone (01458) 442371

 

Trafficmaster,

Telephone (01908) 249800

 

Twinchoice Ltd. (see BTG)

 

Vega, Bamford Village Centre, Martlett Avenue, Rochdale OL11 5QY

Telephone (01706) 44177

 

Vivanco UK, Maxted Court, Maxted Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7BY

Telephone (01442) 403020

 

Vivox -- see Aerial King

 

Vocall -- see Apex Distribution, telephone (01707) 266222

 

Vodapage, telephone (01399) 1111

 

Wallen Antennas, Unit 1, Trinity Place, Ramsgate, Kent CT1 7HJ.

Telephone (01843) 582864

 

Westar Connections., 

Telephone 0181-903 3903

 

 

---end---

Ó R. Maybury 1997 2401

 

 


 

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