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MOBILE EXTRAS

 

INTRO

Longer lasting batteries, universal cases and smelly phones --  Rick Maybury unleashes this month’s more than usually fragrant assortment of cellphone accessories

 

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VARTA T422 BATTERY,   £49.99

Cellphone batteries tend to be a bit, shall we say, predictable. That’s not to say they’re not interesting. Far from it, we reckon cellphone battery packs are tiny miracles of engineering, but for most mobile phone users they’re the part of a mobile telephone that’s most likely to let them down and are simply just a nuisance. Phone manufacturers are doing their bit to extend operating times, but in the end everything rests on the battery pack.

 

Varta as one of the world’s leading battery manufacturers, have been working long and hard to improve the performance of their products, but they’re not only concerned with a battery’s electrical properties. Take the new T422. It’s designed to fit most Motorola Flips, TACs and Flares, but the smooth curved shape is quite unlike the usual ‘chocolate bar’ designs we’re used to. There’s more. As anyone who has one of these phones will know, fitting and removing the pack requires a certain knack, that is often acquired at the expense of several fingernails. Varta have re-designed the latch, making it much easier to unclip. They’ve even patented it, though maybe that’s not such good news, as it probably means other battery manufacturers won’t use it.

 

The T422 is rated at 1300mAh, which is almost three times the capacity of the standard nickel cadmium packs supplied with most Motorola phones, yet it’s only about twice as thick. That’s because it uses Nickel metal hydride (NiMh) cells, which have a higher power density than nicads. NiMh batteries are also virtually immune to the so-called ‘memory’ effect, which can reduce the capacity of a battery pack by up to 50% in just a few months. Compared with nicad packs of the same capacity the £50 being asked for the T422 looks quite expensive, but in addition to being smaller it has the potential for a longer, more useful life, so it could actually work out cheaper in the long run.

 

So far so good, but how well does it work? To find out we subjected it to a new testing procedure, using the Hahnel Pro 9900 battery analyser. This puts the pack through a series of controlled charge/discharge cycles, to fully condition the pack, eliminate any residual charge, and determine the capacity. It did very well, the average capacity of our sample came out at 1285mAh, which is within a whisker of the spec, and well within the expected tolerance range. But what will it do for you? A Motorola phone with a standard pack will just about make it through a working day, with maybe one or two one minute calls. After six months regular use you’ll be lucky to get through the afternoon without the low battery bleeper going off. The T422 will see you through an average working day with ease, and maybe well into the evening as well, even after several calls, and it should continue to give that kind of service long after most nicads have popped their clogs. Definitely worth considering.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £49.99

Features            1300 mAh capacity, high-performance NiMh cells for increased capacity and reduced memory effect

To fit                 (T422 Motorola fit, T423 Ericsson fit) also available for most popular makes and models

Contact Varta Ltd., telephone (01460) 77470

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            88%

 

ANDREW UNIVERSAL CASES, £20

At a time when cellphone cases are becoming ever more elaborate and manufacturers are falling over themselves to keep up with the tide of new models, Andrew have gone back to basics with their new Universal range. It’s a simple open ended holster type design, and it’s available in just three sizes, which Andrew say will suit most current makes and models. This is good news for dealers too, who will only have to keep a small stock of cases, rather than trying to cater for every phone on the market.

 

The case is constructed form a single piece of thick leather, formed into a U-shape, with elasticated sides. On the back there’s a spring-metal belt clip. The inside face of the case is lightly padded, to prevent accidental operation of any buttons on the keypad. There are no cut-outs or windows, no security strap, and they’re available in any colour you like, as long as it’s black, but at just £20, who’s complaining? The standard of construction is very good, and they feel as though they’re built to last. There are three sizes, 14, 16 or 17cm long, we tried the largest and smallest cases with a variety of phones, including Ericsson Nokia and Panasonic models, all of which were a good snug fit. In all cases the ringer was unobstructed, and the buttons were not affected, though take care when inserting or removing the phone, to avoid pressing any buttons. A simple, well thought out design, fair value, worth thinking about.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £20

Features            Simple ‘universal’ holster style case in three sizes

To fit                 most popular makes and models

Contact Andrew Corporation, telephone (0118) 977 6886, http://www.andrew.com

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            88%

 

PHONEY OF THE MONTH

POLCO IN CAR PHONE FRESH

This cellphone-shaped air freshener is a passable copy of the Sony CM-R11, it’s designed to clip to car’s air vent, to help distribute what’s described as a ‘delightful fragrance’. From a distance it looks quite convincing. It might even persuade the odd villain to smash in your side window, to see if it’s real, which will also help rid your vehicle of unpleasant odours. Incidentally in low concentrations it smells suspiciously like a well-known illegal herbal substance -- so we’ve been told -- though as yet no-one has been tempted to try smoking it...

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £2.99

Features            Neutralises nasty niffs

To fit                 most air vents

Contact Halfords

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            50%

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1997 1501

 


 

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