BODYGLOVE PHONE CASES
Back in the July issue you may recall we
looked at the Bodyglove range of pager cases, made from the same material as the
wetsuits. Bodyglove are the Armani of the wetsuit world and probably best know
for encasing the wobbly bits of the cast of Baywatch, but we digress… Now you
can get them for your phone as well. The cases are made in three styles,
somewhat cryptically called Joey, Flipper and Banana Peel. Joey cases are
actually more like pouches (oh, now we get it…). Flipper cases are for small
flip phones, like the StarTac, and Banana cases have an opening face panel, so
you have to 'peel' them, to get at the keypad.
All of the cases come with belt loops, and
shoulder straps, and needless to say they're available in a range of bright,
not to say dazzeling colours. Despite the moisture repellent properties of the Bodyglove
material, the manufacturers wisely make no claims for protecting your phone, which is just as well, though
the Banana Peel style looks like it should do quite a good job of splashproofing.
The standard of construction is very good
with neat stitching and accurately aligned holes and openings. A fun, eye-catching
alternative to conventional phone cases.
Typical Price £19.99
resistant neoprene material
To fit most makes and models
Ltd., telephone (01425) 474444
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 88%
SMARTEQ HANDS-FREE CAR KIT
Our past experiences with simple DIY hands
free car kits have been mixed. Almost all of them involved some sort of
compromise -- compared with a proper hands-free kit (HFK) -- most of them
suffered from poor audio quality, low volume or both. Judging by the size of
the speaker used in the Smarteq HFK we half expected that to be the same, but
this one is different.
For a start it’s a good bit dearer than most
simple kits, retailing at around £100 it's into the bottom end of the
full-fitting kits market, but don't let that put you off. The kit itself is a
simple, straightforward design, no gimmicks, widgets or style statements. The
main unit is split into two parts: a cradle that holds and connects with the
phone, and the main electronics module and speaker. The two parts are connected
together by a curly lead, the cradle hangs on a hook on the front of the main
module. The power supply cable (fitted with a standard fag lighter plug) and
the external microphone both plug into the main module, and there's an aerial
lead coming out of the base of the unit. Installation couldn't be much simpler;
the main unit has two holes, for screws or bolts that go into the car's dashboard
or centre console. There's no brackets or sticky pads, just two small holes. The
microphone cable should be long enough to allow for window pillar or sun visor
mounting in most cars. We reckon most users will take around half an hour to
fit the kit in a typical family saloon.
Our test sample was designed for the Nokia 2110
but they're available to fit most other makes and models. The first surprise
was the volume; it's loud, so loud in fact that we actually had to turn it down
when it fired up for the first time! Sound quality was unexpectedly crisp;
maybe not hi-fi but speech was clear and intelligible, even at motorway speeds.
The icing on the cake is the microphone, which is very directional and has good
noise immunity; callers at the other end reported clear sound, confirmed by the
fact that we weren't constantly being asked to 'say that again'. The only minor
criticism -- which may only affect the Nokia 2110 -- is antenna switching. When
the phone is in the cradle the internal antenna is bypassed, which is all well
and good if you have an external antenna, but performance is severely
compromised if you do not. In other words the kit practically forces you to fit
an antenna as well, which may not suit some users.
This is without doubt one of, if not the best
simple hands-free car kit we've seen to date. It is easy to install, no special
skills or tools needed, but above all, it actually works well enough to rival
fully fitted kits. Recommended.
Typical Price £100
to install hands-free car kit
To fit most popular makes and models
Ltd., telephone 01235) 811119
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 95%
RETELL DIGITAL TELEPHONE/VOICE RECORDER
Digital voice recording systems are improving
in leaps and bounds and unlike tape recorders, there's nothing to wear out.
They're small too, like this 900 Series Digital Recorder from Retell, which is
about the size of a tiny pocket radio, but it packs quite punch! The most
unusual feature is the number of different ways it can attach to a phone, and
not just normal land-line phones, it can also record two-way conversation on a
mobile, without the need for any physical connections.
It does this using an ingenious device called
a Watson mike. We've seen it before, it's a small foam-rubber cylinder that pops
in the ear canal, attached to the ear-piece is a thin tube that runs down to a
small microphone, built into a jack plug. The ear tube picks up the sound
coming from the phone earpiece, and the users voice. Simple but very effective.
Also included in the kit is an inductive
coupler, that picks up voice signals from the telephone cable, the coupler
wraps around the cable. The other coupler is an in-line connector that plugs
into the lead going from the phone to the handset.
The recording device has a 60-minute capacity
and is capable of making up to 128 logged recordings, individually time and
date stamped for reference, or file management. It has a small but just about
readable LCD readout, the record and play controls work on the same lines as a
tape recorder, though being digital, there's no delay as you skip through the
recordings or files. The recorder can be set to switch itself on and start recording
using voice activation (vox switch), or it can be controlled manually.
Using a direct connection recording quality
is quite good, a tad nasal perhaps, and the volume level of the other end of
the conversation could do with being a bit louder but it's reasonably loud and
intelligible. The Watson mike was a bit hit and miss, prformance varies
according to thephone and ambient noise but on a good day it's as clear as a
direct connection, on a bad day you can have trouble making out both sides of
the conversation. It improves with practice. The induction coupling also needs
trial and error, we found volume levels to be quite low on two out of three of
our test phones, but again the clarity of the recording was good.
This very complete little kit is ideal for budding
secret agents and people on the move, who might want to record telephone
conversations from a variety of locations. Flexible and a good performer, well
worth considering if you need this sort of thing.
Typical Price £140
digital telephone and voice recorder with time/date stamp, 128 file capacity,
manual or voice-operated recording, PIN code security, alarm, Watson mike,
inductive and direct connection kit included
To fit any mobile or land-line phone
telephone (01932) 779755
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 87%
WINDOW MOUNT ANTENNA
It never ceases to amaze us how well most
cellphones work inside cars; nevertheless, they work even better when connected
to an external antenna. The only trouble is, what do you do if the car's not
yours or you regularly need to use your phone in different vehicles? This
window mount antenna from Fone Logistics is a quick and easy solution, it can
be fixed or removed from almost any car in less than a minute but it is very
secure, arguably more secure than most
The whip is in two sections, the top half is
encased in flexible rubber, the lower half is solid plastic, so it's tough, and
weatherproof. The base of the antenna is mounted on a U-shaped metal bracket,
that slips over one of the car's wind-up door windows.. On the inside of the
clip there's a gripper knob, to clamp it into place. With the window wound up
it's not going anywhere… Connection to the phone is via a 3-metre cable,
terminated in an FME type plug.
We tried the antenna in a known dead spot,
where contact on the phone's (Nokia 2110) own aerial is poor. Lo and behold a
1/2 bar signal strength reading increased to 4/5 bars when the aerial was connected.
There was a noticeable improvement in sound quality at both ends and line echo
Typical Price £30
clamp fit, 3-metre cable with plug
To fit most cars with wind-up windows
Logistics, telephone (01670) 717717
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 85%
PHONEY OF THE MONTH
Now here's something you don't see every day.
The Gum Mobile plays My Fair Lady and bleeps, dispenses bubble gum and has a secret
compartment where the earpiece should be, presumably for storing gum -- beats
the bedpost overnight…
Typical Price £1.50
pre-loaded bubble gums, concealed secret box
To fit most kids pockets
local novelty sweetie shop
WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT 80%
Ó R. Maybury 1998 1108