Clips, clamps, indoor aerials and good
vibrations, just some of the gadgets and widgets Rick Maybury has been playing
with in this monthís accessory roundup
DIGITAL IMAGES MICROVIBE, £29.90
Over the past year or so weíve seen several
silent vibrating ringers, mostly designed for Ericsson 200/300 series phones,
but none of them have been as small as this one. Itís the MicroVibe, from
Digital Images. Itís one of the cheapest too, costing just £29.90. We only wish
more phones had this sort of facility; silent ringers are a great idea, especially
when you need to be able to receive incoming calls, but donít want to attract
attention, or annoy those around you.
In common with other Ericsson-compatible
vibrators it clips on to the bottom of the handset. It is fitted with a row of
spring-loaded contacts, that mates with the accessory connector on the base.
The device is held in place by a couple of small clips, that are released by pressing
a pair of buttons on the side. The clips are quite strong, but our sample didnít
sit flat on the phone; this was due to a small rubber pad on top of the
vibrator, which seemed just a millimetre or so too thick. Shaving some off with
a sharp knife soon fixed that!
As self proclaimed seekers after the truth we
took it upon ourselves to have a peek inside the device. To be honest thereís
not much to see, just a microchip, and what must be one of the worldís smallest
electric motors. An unbalanced weight is attached to the spindle, and this is
what produces the vibrations. For its size itís amazingly powerful, the
vibrations are quite intense, and can be easily felt through a couple of layers
of clothing. Itís not quite silent though. The motor makes an audible buzzing
noise. Itís even louder if, for example, the phone is resting on a table. Itís probably
not a good idea to leave the phone on a hard surface in any case, as when it
rings it moves about, dropping onto the
floor if youíre unlucky.
Apart from the slightly uneven fit, the
MicroVibe gets a clean bill of health. Itís certainly as good, maybe even a
little better than the otherís weíve tested, itís small and very good value.
Definitely worth considering if youíre an Ericsson user, who needs a little
discretion now and again.
Typical Price £29.90
vibrating call alert
To fit Ericsson 200/300 series phones
Images, 0171-636 7122
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 88%
CTI MULTI-FUNCTION SUCKER HOLDER, £12
Just when we thought weíd seen every type of
cellphone holder there was, along comes the CTI Multi-Function Sucker Holder.
So why is this one different? Well, to begin with thereís the sucker, which
means thereís no need to drill holes, or muck around with clamps or unreliable
sticky pads. It will fix to any smooth surface, and stay there! The sucker is a
real industrial-grade design, made from an unusually thick rubbery material; once
itís in place it just wonít let go.
For such a relatively inexpensive accessory itís
quite a complex design, and very well made. The sucker is attached to a simple mounting
plate. Into this slides a pair of adaptor brackets, theyíre held together by a sort
of double ball and socket thingamajig -- it should be clearer how it works in
the photograph. This means the two adaptor brackets can freely rotate and twist
around to a wide range of angles. Once set,
the two ball joints can be locked into position, using a cross-head
screwdriver. The top mounting plate slots into the phone holder. This is a
simple bracket, with a moulded loop for the belt clip on a soft carry case or
holster. All of the cases we tried it with slipped in and out of the clip quite
easily. Both sets of mounting plates lock into place and can only be released
by pressing a fiendishly tight button.
Weíre probably the worldís leading experts on
mobile phone holders, and we can say, with some conviction, that this is one of
the most versatile oneís weíve seen in quite a while. Itís solidly built,
versatile, and that sucker has a tenacious grip. The price is sensible and we
commend it to anyone looking for a secure holder for their phone, that will
attach to any flat, smooth surface, in a car, boat, caravan, desk top, filing
cabinet, or indeed anything else you can think of.
Typical Price £12.00
holder for cased phones with belt clips
To fit most makes and models
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 90%
DIGI 1800 INDOOR CELLPHONE ANTENNA, £29.50
It comes as a nasty shock to a lot of people,
that their fancy new cellular phone either doesnít work, or performs badly inside
buildings. Modern office tower blocks are often the worst offenders, the metal
frames are a very effective screen for cellular radio signals. In marginal
coverage areas even a couple of layers of bricks can be enough to cut you off.
This can be especially galling for those who depend on their phones at home.
Standing by the window, or having to go into the back garden to use the phone isnít
much fun, not when youíre paying twenty or thirty quid a month for the privilege...
Clearly the problem lies with the squitty
little antennas fitted to most mobile handsets, but the old coat-hanger trick
simply doesnít work with cellphones... Ordinary car cellphone antennas arenít much
use either, they depend on the metallic mass of the vehicle to act as a Ďground-planeí,
that increases the antennas effectiveness. Nevertheless, they can be made to
work, which is precisely what Advanced Mobile Technology (AMT) have done.
Theyíve developed a modified car cellphone
aerial, for indoor use, called the Digi 1800. Itís an update of an old idea, much
favoured by amateur radio and CB enthusiasts. They found they could use their magnetic-mount
mobile antennas indoors, by attaching them to biscuit tins and metal trays, to
provide the essential ground-plane effect. The ground plane on the Digi 1800 is
formed by a 240 mm square sheet of thin galvanised steel, with a car antenna
mount in the middle. It comes supplied with a 5-metre length of cable, outdoor
mounting bracket and fixing bolts. The outfit also includes a whip antenna, and
a handset antenna coupler, both chosen to suit the phone the outfit is going to
be used with. Most makes and models are covered, and networks as well,
including GSM and PCN, (which operate on different frequency bands). AMT can
also supply an optional desktop phone holder and a 12-volt mains adaptor, with
an integral cigarette lighter socket, that can be used with a car cord, to keep
the phoneís battery on charge.
Itís simple to set up and use; the
manufacturers advise trying the antenna in a number of locations in, around and
outside the building, whilst checking the phoneís signal strength meter. Extra
lengths of connecting cable can be supplied, so the handset can be sited in the
most convenient location. The brief instruction sheet contains some useful
hints and tips for DIY installation, but itís all self explanatory, and thereís
very little to go wrong.
Performance is excellent. We tried it in
several difficult building, and on a number of phones; in all cases there was a
noticeable improvement in the quality and reliability of the connection, when
compared with just the handset on its own. Typically it boosted a one or
two-bar signal to three, four or even five bars, which in practice means all
the difference between a clear call and a dropped or unstable connection. It
works even better when the antenna is outside, in some cases providing a
stronger, cleaner signal than the handsetís own antenna. It canít perform miracles, though, and it
will only work in an area where thereís at least a vestige of coverage. Itís
also worth pointing out that attaching wires to your mobile handset limits its
mobility, itís also somewhat ironical, especially if there is a BT phone or
If youíre in the habit of using your mobile
indoors, or you would like to, but canít then the Digi 1800 is certainly worth
thinking about. Do make sure thereís a signal to begin with; if you can get at
least a bar or two on the phoneís signal strength display whilst hanging out of
the window, then it should work for you too.
Typical Price £29.50
To fit most popular makes and models
telephone (01323) 505252
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 90%
VOCALL UNIVERSAL PHONE CLIP AND BRACKET,
It seems an odd thing to say, but one of the problems
with owning a cellphone, is that theyíre a bit too mobile! You can use them in
the car, pop them in a jacket pocket or holster and wear them on a belt. However,
that involves fitting or removing cases, inserting and unplugging connectors,
detaching cradles and fumbling about with press-studs or Velcro straps. Add up
how much time each of these operations takes and youíll probably find that in
the course of a lifetime youíre going to spend the equivalent of a couple of
days, messing about moving your phone from one type of holder to another...
Get a life, get a Universal Phone Clip and
Bracket, like this one from Vocall. Itís a simple two-piece design. A
spring-steel clip fits onto the back of the phone -- usually on the battery
pack -- using a pad of double-sided adhesive. This acts as a belt clip, and it
also slips over a dash-mount bracket, which is supplied as part of the outfit.
This is a V-shaped piece of spring steel; one end has screw holes, on the other
thereís a shaped moulding, to lock the belt clip into position. The beauty of
this bracket is that transferring the phone between your car, and your belt or
pocket, takes no more than a couple of seconds, think of all the time youíre
going to save!
Itís simply and sturdily made, about the only
thing we can see that might go wrong is the bonding of the clip to the phone
battery. The instructions warn that the adhesive takes 24 hours to cure, and not
to use the phone during that time. We
suspect a lot of people wonít wait that long, and risk weakening the joint, in
which case theyíll be putting their phone at risk. We would also have liked to
have seen a second belt clip, assuming that most cellphone users will
eventually acquire at least one spare battery pack. Otherwise it works well,
and the price is fair.
Typical Price £6.99
and car bracket
To fit most makes and models
telephone (01707) 266222
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 80%
PHONEY OF THE MONTH
WOTOROLA ACRIPTOR DZ2, £7.50
This will amuse the chaps at Motorola... Itís
a blatant rip-off of one of their digital message pagers, right down to the cunningly
inverted ĎMí logo, belt clip and chain. Itís actually a fag lighter, one of
those wind-proof types. Thereís also a built-in a digital clock, but our one
refused to tell the time, and we couldnít figure out how to set it, or change
the battery. Tacky crap, but it might get you a few laughs down the pub. A
couple of words of warning. The flame is so fierce you could weld with it, and
it comes perilously close to your thumb. If that doesnít get it, the lid will.
It comes down with an almighty thwack, if you try to use the lighter whilst it
in the belt clip.
Typical Price £7.50
fire, time and finger whacker
To fit most trouser belts
novelty stall in your local street market
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 40%
” R. Maybury 1997 1202