What Cellphone






This month two new hands-free kits, a carry case for gymnasts and a data card for surfing the net from your mobile...





Walk and talk hands-free kits got off to a fairly slow start but they seem to be gaining ground, judging by the number of new products appearing on the market. This latest one comes from GRM, it should be appearing on an accessory rack at a mobile phone dealer near you for just £30. On the outside it doesn’t look significantly different from most of the others we’ve seen, inside it’s a different story. The module that clips onto the bottom of the phone (we’ve been trying a pre-production Ericsson version), is crammed full of electronic circuitry, most of the others are full of air... The manufacturers are being a bit cagey about how it all works, to the extent of grinding off the numbers on the chip, but we’ve been informed that it’s a noise cancellation and amplifier circuit.


There are two minijack sockets on the module, one is for the mike and earphone cable, the other is for an optional car cord. The tops of the gold plated contacts that mate with the accessory connector on the base of the phone are rounded and lightly sprung, to ensure a more effective connection.


The earphone and in-line microphone look familiar, but again there are subtle differences. They’ve used a higher grade cable with a larger than average number of thinner conductors, which both improves audio quality, and provides better screening, to reduce the chance of interference, from things like strip lighting and computer monitors.   


All well and good, but do any of they make a difference? The short answer is yes. Immunity to noise is clearly better than average, comparisons with another recently tested kit showed it to be less affected by interference, and levels of background hiss were marginally lower. However, the most significant change was in earpiece volume, which was slightly higher than normal, making it easier to hear the caller when there’s a lot of background noise. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, even with cellphone accessories, and the extra circuitry has to get its power from somewhere, in this case the phone battery. The current consumption is actually very small, in the order of a few milliamps. This will impact on power drain, but we suspect that at worst it’ll knock a few minutes off the running time, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Taking into account the price and performance this one is definitely worth shortlisting. Recommended.



Typical Price            £30

Features            personal/walk-and-talk  hands-free kit, full-duplex (supported models)

To fit                 selected Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia handsets

Contact GRM Ltd., telephone (01253) 773177





Keeping a mobile phone safe but accessible when it’s notbeing used has taxed the finest minds in the accessory industry for years. Ordinary soft cases with belt clips protect the phone, but they’re easily pinched. On some designs, the controls can be hard to get at, or the case obscures the earphone and microphone holes. Pouches and holsters are one solution but they can be expensive moreover buckles and clasps can make the phone difficult to get at. Pivo Clip is an attempt to solve both problems. The phone is contained within a rugged carry case, but it is fixed to the belt-clip by a quick-release mechanism. This allows the phone to pivot, so it won’t jab you in the thigh every time you sit down. The makers go so far as to suggest you can safely cartwheel with it on, though we couldn’t find any volunteers in the What Cellphone office to verify this claim...


The case is made from a mixture of tough Cordura and composite materials, it has a definite military bearing. The controls are protected by a transparent panel on the front. The handset is held in place by straps top and bottom and a pair of strong press-studs, the sides are elasticated, to accommodate fatter, heavy-duty batteries. On the back there’s a circular lug that slides into a V-shaped groove on the belt clip. Once in place it’s locked in position, and can only be released by pressing a pair of buttons on the side of the clip. The clip has a strap that goes around the belt, it’s backed with Velcro to make sure it stays put.   


For an extra £9.95 Deben can also supply a panel-mounting clip, for a car dashboard, or mounting in a boat, caravan etc. This comes with a screw fitting, and a set of industrial-grade Velcro pads. A cleaning swab is also included, to get rid of any greasy deposits on the surfaces they’re going to be attached to.


All of the items are made to a high standard, the case was a good fit on the Ericsson phone we tried it with. The clip mechanism is very strong and despite our best efforts, it wouldn’t come away from the belt holder. Compared with regular carry cases it seems fairly expensive but if you’re concerned about the safety and security of your phone, it could be money well spent.



Typical Price                 £25 (case and belt holder), ‘Extra’ holder £9.95

Features                       phone case with fast release swivel fixing

To fit                             most popular makes and models                  

Contact             Deben Group Industries, telephone (01394) 387762





If you’re in the market for a hands-free car kit, one of the last things you’ll be thinking about is what will happen to it, when eventually you replace the phone. Given that the average mobile phone user changes their handset every three to five years it’s something to bear in mind. Normally you will have to buy another car kit, most models are dedicated to one particular type of phone, but the Kondor Universal Kit is different.


It’s a ‘two-pack’ outfit, comprising a control box plus ancillary components in one box, and the dedicated cradle in the other. The control box is a standard design, but the cradle is tailored specifically to the phone. Inside there’s a programmable micro-chip with details of the phone, so when you change the handset, all you need to do is buy a new cradle, costing around £45.


Included with the kit is a compact external speaker, microphone with visor clip and power lead. Two types are available, one is terminated with a cigarette-lighter plug; the other one is intended for a more permanent installation and has bare wires for radio mute, ignition sense and connection to car stereo speakers. The wiring colour codes are the same for both types -- details are in the instructions -- so you could just chop off the cigar lighter plug and hard wire it yourself, if you’re handy with car electrics. Incidentally, the control box can be powered by a 12 or 24 volt supply, making it suitable for use in lorries and vans.


The cradle is an elaborate design. The phone fits inside an frame-type holder, that carries the accessory connector and ID microchip; a curly lead, fitted with 15-pin D-type socket plugs into the side of the control box. On the back of the D-socket there’s an FME aerial socket, for an external antenna. The phone -- in its support bracket -- clips into a separate dashboard holder. The arrangement makes it a little easier to remove the phone, when you leave the vehicle. A mounting bracket sits between the cradle and the dashboard, it’s articulated, so the phone can be set to the most comfortable position for the driver. The bracket attaches to the dashboard using a sticky pad, coated with 3M adhesive. It’s stong stuff, but we would have preferred a more permanent alternative, though there’s nothing to stop you drilling a few holes in the bracket or buying a ‘clamshell’ type mount. The control box and speaker are both screwed in place, fixings are supplied. The instructions are quite easy to follow and whilst it’s a little more complicated to install than most other car kits, it should be well with the scope of most DIYers.


Sound quality from the speaker is very good indeed, volumes levels should be adequate for the majority of family saloons, if not there’s the option to route the audio output through the car stereo speakers. Microphone sensitivity and directionality are satisfactory, you may need to speak up a little to make sure the caller can hear you, but background noise and road rumble were not a problem during our tests.


Overall performance and the quality of construction are both well above average but it’s the flexiblity of the installation that impressed us most, and the fact that changing your phone doesn’t mean having to rip out the car kit. Worth considering.  



Typical Price            £140

Features            full car kit with ignition sense and radio mute, intelligent charger, full-duplex (supported models), optional connection to car stereo speakers

To fit                 most popular makes and models

Contact Kondor Ltd., (01202) 481133




Ó R. Maybury 1997 1806



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