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Stay in charge when you’re away from home, smarten up your phone, or wear it on your head -- just three of this month’s mobile must-haves...

 

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KONDOR TRAVEL CHARGE PACK

Your phone may be mobile, but much of the paraphernalia needed to keep it working often isn’t. Bulky mains chargers are fine at home or in the office, but they’re not the sort of things you want to lug around when you’re travelling. Kondor have come up with what looks like a rather neat solution, a mobile phone travel pack that includes a compact mains charger and car power adaptor, with an interchangeable connecting lead. The car adaptor is one of Kondor’s standard models, built inside a cigarette lighter plug, it has two LED indicators to show power connected and charge in progress. It uses a standard microchip controller, to vary the charge current according to the condition and charge state of the pack. After full charge has been reached it reverts to a trickle charge condition, to keep the battery topped up, and power the phone. The only unusual thing about this design is the detachable curly lead, which connects to the adaptor using a US type (RJ11) telephone plug.

 

The mains charger also has an RJ11 socket, so the connecting lead can be swapped between the two. The charger is built into a small box about the size of a bar of soap but the really clever feature is a fold-out mains plug. It’s a standard continental two-pin type, that fits shaver sockets the world over. The charger is a universal type, that operates over a range 100 to 240 volts AC, 47-60Hz, which covers pretty well every type of mains supply you’re likely to encounter. The maximum charge current from both the car and mains adaptor is in the order of 1 amp, which means a typical 800mA/h nicad battery pack will charge in under an hour from flat. 

 

Build quality is good, the car adaptor plug in particular has been well thought out, and the four spring contacts, instead of the more usual two, means that its a good tight fit in most cigarette lighter sockets. Well worth considering if you’re thinking of taking your phone abroad, and using it in a car, it’s good value too, cheap enough to keep one in the glove box, just in case you’re called away.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £29.95

Features            mains adaptor with folding plug and cigarette lighter power supply

To fit                 most popular makes and models

Contact Kondor Ltd., telephone 01202 481133

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            90%

 

DESKTOP TWIN CHARGER

Desktop chargers have tended to be lumpy great things but this one from Alexander Batteries should fit into even the most crowded workspace with little difficulty. It’s a dual port design, with slots for the phone and its battery, and a second spare pack. The front phone slot is large enough to accommodate higher capacity batteries.

 

The spare battery can also be treated to a controlled deep discharge, to eliminate any cell-imbalance, which is one of the main causes of the memory effect in nicad batteries, and to a lesser extent, nickel metal hydride packs as well. Discharge mode is engaged by pressing a small grey button on the side of the module, when the pack is fully discharged charging starts automatically.

 

Power for the charger module is supplied by an external plug-in mains adaptor. It has two LED indicators on the front, the one for the spare battery changes from red to green, when charging has been completed. When the charge cycles have finished the charger reverts to trickle charge mode, to keep the packs topped up. Charge current is microchips controlled and varies between 350mA to 500mA, according to the state of the battery. This means a charge time of between an hour and a half to two hours for most standard and high-capacity packs. Discharge time for most batteries will be three to four times as long.

 

Apart from the small size this dual charger is largely unremarkable. It performs satisfactorily and the quality of design and construction is generally good. The price is on the high side for what it is, but if space is at a premium on your desktop then it may be worth considering.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £39.95

Features            fast charger/discharger with twin slots, for a phone and battery,

To fit                 most popular makes and models

Contact            Alexander Batteries, telephone (01327) 301090

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            72%

 

FONE RANGE DESIGNER HOUSINGS

Bored with your phone? Maybe it’s starting to look a bit scruffy, but if your contract still has some time to run, or you can’t afford a new one, then you’re going to have to live with it a while longer. Alternatively you could replace the outer case, or rather pay an engineer to do it for you as it usually requires specialist tools. Fone Range have brought in a range of high quality Japanese replacement cases, in a variety of eye-catching designs and finishes, including custom designs, in small or large quantities. They include wood effects, see-through, tartans and ethnic patterns that wouldn’t look out of place on the tail of a BA Jumbo.

 

All kits are supplied with new membrane rubber keypads and LCD windows as likely as not they will need replacing too. Some models also include a new microphone as well and they are a little dearer. All necessary fixings and fitting are included, and Fone Range can also supply matching batteries. The three cases we’ve been looking at, for the Nokia 1610, 2110 and Ericsson 338 were all well made, the gauge and feel of the plastic was little different to the manufacturer’s original. The fit is very good too, to what appears to be the manufacturers original specification. Clearly replacing the case on your phone will invalidate the warranty and the dealer who does the job may or may not take responsibility if anything goes wrong, but if you’re willing to accept the risk, it’s a quick and simple way of customising your phone or give an old mobile a new lease of life.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £30-£40

Features            a range of replacement cases in a variety of finishes

To fit                 most popular makes and models

Contact Fone Range, telephone 0181-838 8899

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            83%

 

CHEAPIE QUICKIES

 

UNIVERSAL PHONE HOLDER

Normally we give market stalls selling cellphones and accessories a very wide berth but this phone holder caught our eye. It’s quite similar to a lot of other universal holders in that the phone is held in place by a pair of spring-loaded grippers. The side of the holder and the ‘finger’ are padded, so it won’t scratch the case, and they open wide enough to hold most phones. The bracket mount is an unusual design, though. It’s a ‘L’ shaped piece of spring steel, with four holes on the base; this can be either slipped into a ventilation grille or mounted on the top of the dashboard or centre console using the fixing kit supplied. This consists of a double-sided adhesive pad, or a set of self-tapping screws. The only minor problem is that it has obviously been configured for left-hand drive cars, so there’s a bit of a knack getting the phone in and out. Considering the price it is very well made and the grip is secure. Unfortunately the stallholder who sold it to us was less than helpful when asked where it came from and wouldn’t tell us who was distributing it, so you’re either going to have to visit Lingfield Sunday market in Kent where we brought out, and hope he has some left, or keep an eye open at your local markets and car boot sales. 

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £3.00

Features            in-car phone holder, multi-way mount, cushioned, spring-loaded side grippers

To fit                 most makes and models 

Contact Aeolus ??? (seen in several street markets and car boot sales in SE)

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            85%

 

K-TEL PHONE EZE

Despite coming from Poundland, ‘Where everything costs just £1’, this nifty gadget was on special offer in a South London branch for just 50 pence! It’s has to be the world’s cheapest hands-free car kit but unlike most other models on the market, this one works with any make or model of phone, and there’s no wires... The phone is suspended on an adjustable headband, so it rests against your ear. It comes with a pair of self-adhesive Velcro pads, that attach to the back of the phone or its battery. It looks completely daft but strangely enough it actually works quite well and it can be worn for several minutes without discomfort. Getting it on and off is a bit of a struggle, and we’d hesitate to use it whilst driving but if you don’t mind looking like a bit of a wally, and you want to get on with something else whilst making or taking a call then this could be the best ten bob’s worth on the mobile phone accessory market.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            50 pence

Features            hands-free phone holder

To fit                 most makes and models 

Contact Your local Poundland

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            85%

 

PHONEY OF THE MONTH

 

NOKID THUMB SCORCHER

You could kid friends and neighbours that it’s world’s smallest mobile phone -- it’s a very convincing copy of the Nokia 2110 -- but it’s real purpose is to burn the tip of your thumb, whenever you press down the aerial. Presumably it is intended to be a novelty cigarette lighter but it fails on two counts. Firstly it leaks, so it only works for a day or two after being refilled, and second, there’s no way of adjusting the blowtorch-like flame. Incidentally, out of curiosity, we dialled the phone number printed on the front of the lighter, it turned out to be an irate resident of Hong Kong’s Aberdeen district, who was none too amused at being woken at 3am...

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £2.99

Features            leaky piezo-electric lighter with non adjustable flame

To fit                 most pockets

Contact novelty lighter stalls everywhere

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            30%

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1997 0108

 


 

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