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MICRO 70 & 180 TRANSCEPTOR ANTENNAS

Whilst simple hands-free car kits are getting better, cheaper and easier to fit, the same cannot be said of most mobile antennas. Most glass-mount designs are DIY-able but a lot of people are put off by the prospect of having to find somewhere to run the cable. They are quite vulnerable too, not only to attack by vandals, take look around the exit lane of your local car wash…

 

The Micro 70 and Micro 180 Transceptor car antennas are a promising alternative, the Micro 70 is absurdly easy to fit and since it lives inside the car, it is safe from the elements, whirring brushes and itchy-fingers. Micro 180 fits on the outside of the vehicle and takes a little longer to fit, but if it is done properly only you will know it's there.

 

Both antennas are built inside a 5mm thick flat rectangular plastic pad measuring 130 x 75mm, the Micro 70 has a operating frequency range of 0.7 to 1gHz, making it suitable for analogue and GSM operation; the Micro 180 operates from 1.7 to 2gHz, covering the PCN band. The clever thing about the Micro 70 is that it doubles up as a tax disc holder and sticks to the inside of the windscreen. After cleaning the glass with the cleaning swab provided a plastic backing sheet attaches to the glass, the Micro 70 sticks to the backing sheet using two pads of double-sided adhesive tape. A thin (RG 174U) cable, 2.5 metres long, slips underneath the trim and tucks down behind the dashboard. The only small problem concerns the tax disc, which on our sample tended to stick to the edge of the adhesive pads. It was difficult to remove and we suspect that after a few months it may be impossible to extract without tearing it.

 

The Micro 180 is designed to fit to plastic bumpers, the supplied fitting kit is similar to the one provided with the Micro 70, but you get a much bigger cleaning swab. The instructions are not quite so clear either and there is some slightly ambiguous advice about which way up it is supposed to go. Routing the cable is a bit more difficult as well; the 2.5-metre cable is going to be on the short side for a lot of cars, where the cable has to run through the engine compartment and bulkheads. We suspect an extension cable may be needed in some cases.

 

Using a Nokia 2110 test phone in a DIY hands-free car kit the signal strength meter leapt from one bar (with no antenna connected) to a full five bars after plugging in the Micro 70, with a consequent increase in both range and reliability of contact. The improvement in performance was almost identical to a regular glass-mount in good to marginal signal areas, a little more directional maybe as the glass mount reference aerial still gave an intermittent one-bar advantage when the signal was really weak.  

 

The Transceptor are an interesting and unusual design. Bear in mind what we've said about the short cable on the Micro 180 but it's still worth investigating if you have a PCN phone, large plastic bumpers and the need for a discreet external aerial. The Micro 70 is far more practical and easy to fit; it works well too, definitely worth considering.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £25.00

Features            Windscreen tax-disc and car bumper antennas, fixing kits supplied, 2.5-metre cable terminated in female FME connector

To fit                 most vehicles            

Contact            Alexander Batteries, telephone (01327) 301090

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            88%

 

 

SMARTEQ SAFETYCLIPS

We've been wittering on about the importance of hands-free kits in cars for what seems like ages but it is easy to overlook the fact that in a lot of vehicles there's simply nowhere convenient to mount a handset. Even when there is, drilling holes in the dashboard may not be an option, especially if the car isn't yours. The Smarteq range of SafetyClips could provide the solution in a lot of cases.

 

Each one is custom designed to fit a particular make or model of car (over 300 types are available), they clip on to bits of trim and dashboard crevices or protrusions, but without permanently damaging or marking the surface. Our sample, designed to fit a Cherokee Jeep, slipped under the top lip of the dashboard surround; the lower edge of the bracket has a small pad of double-sided sticky tape, to stop it moving around. The manufacturer claims it is designed to break in the event of a crash or collision  -- we'll take that as read -- and positioned to avoid interference with controls or airbags. It should also be sited within the driver's periphery vision, so you won't have to take your eyes off the road, to answer a call -- not that you would do such a thing whilst driving, now would you? Fitting takes around two minutes, less if you're in a hurry…

 

The phone is held in a separate moulded cup, tailored to fit the handset; this attaches to the mounting bracket using two push-fit rivets. Once in place it is as firm and stable as a permanent holder, yet it can be easily removed, when the time comes.

 

Custom brackets are not a new idea but these are amongst the sturdiest and easiest to fit we've seen, and the least likely to leave any permanent evidence when they're taken off. If your car isn't phone friendly it's worth checking the Smarteq range for a possible solution.  

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £15

Features            custom-designed mounting clips

To fit                 most makes of car and van

Contact            Smarteq Telecom Equipment, telephone (01235) 811119

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            88%

 

KONDOR RAPID CHARGER

The increasing number of digital cellphone networks around the world now means there's a very good chance you can take your mobile phone with you when you go abroad on business or on holiday. The trouble is you have to take battery charger as well but some of them are bigger than the actual phone, or only work on UK mains supplies. That's not a problem with the Kondor Rapid Travel Charger, it's built into a plug-shaped adaptor, and it will work on any AC mains supply between 110 and 240 volts AV 50/60 Hz. It's small and light too, weighing in at just 130 grams.

 

There's a red LED charge indicator on the back of the plug module, that flickers as soon as it is plugged in, it lights continuously whilst charging is in progress and goes back to flicker mode when the pack is charged. The charger delivers a constant voltage and current and our sample, designed to fit Nokia handsets, delivers 700mA, which is only slightly less than the standard 240 VAC charger supplied with the phone. It managed to take the standard slimline battery from almost flat to full in a little over 40 minutes. Build quality is good and it never got more than lukewarm, even when left plugged in overnight.

 

If you're taking your phone to a country with a mains voltage different to the UK, and you're keeping an eye on baggage limits this little gizmo might make a useful travelling companion.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £25

Features            110 - 240 volt AC operation, controlled fast charge, light and compact

To fit                 most makes and types, including discontinued models

Contact Kondor Ltd., telephone (01425) 474444

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            85%

 

WAVE BUSTER

Hardly a week seems to pass without the media running scare stories about the harmful effects of using a mobile phone.  The debate began long before cellphones arrived and is likely to continue for a long while yet, until conclusive evidence is found, one way or the other, but the uncertainty has provided fertile ground for accessory manufacturers. Widgets and gizmos claiming to counter the effects of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation have been coming out of the woodwork lately. Some, that put a shield between the phone and the user's head clearly have a basis in scientific fact, though any barrier that restricts the signal coming from and being picked up by the phone can have an impact on performance. Other devices appear to function on the periphery of conventional physics, like Wave Buster.

 

Wave Buster is a small button-shaped object that fixes to the phone, near the antenna. The scant instructions suggest it absorbs electromagnetic waves, though it doesn't go into to any detail, except that it took eight years to develop. Stranger still is the bit in the publicity blurb about using them on pagers, the vast majority of which are passive receivers and entirely blameless, as far as microwave emissions are concerned.  

 

We have neither the time or inclination to conduct the kind of tests that would be necessary to establish whether or not Wave Buster has any impact on heating effects in organic tissue, due to exposure to microwave radiation. We did think about sticking one on a potato and popping it in the office microwave but we weren't sure how to interpret the results… In the end we did what we usually do with these things and see what impact they have on normal phone operation. We tried it on three phones, with no detectable change in performance in any case. Ten quid seems a lot to pay for a small sticky button that doesn't appear to do much but at least we can say it won't muck up your phone.

 

As a matter of interest twenty years ago, when similar concerns were being expressed about the harmful effects of CB radio. A leading expert in the field found that hand-held radio transmitters were indeed a health risk and hospitals had reported an increase in the number of head injuries, caused by CB radio users poking themselves in the eyes with their aerials…

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £10

Features            electromagnetic field absorber

To fit                 any mobile phone

Contact Ball Ltd., telephone 0181-574 0003

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            30%

 

PHONEY OF THE MONTH

We're not sure what this mini flip-style phone is supposed to be but in the course of our extensive tests we discovered an unadvertised feature. If you hold down the 9 button and then press buttons 1, 2, 4, 5 or 7 it plays London Bridge is Falling Down. Are we sad or what?

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £1.99

Features            blinking light, dial and busy tones and 'London Bridge is Falling Down'

To fit                 small hands and pockets

Contact your local toyshop

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            75%

 

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1998 0409

 


 

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