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ELECTROMAGNETIC BIOPROTECTION ANTENNA

There's plenty of hard scientific evidence to show that high and low frequency electromagnetic radiation, of the type emitted by cellular telephones, can have a measurable effect on biological organisms. What is not clear is the extent to which it may affect us. Certainly we would recommend anyone tempted to part with £29 for a Technosphere Electromagnetic Bioprotection Antenna to have their brains tested…

 

We'll put the question of whether or not it works to one side for the moment and consider the value for money factor. The EBA as we'll call it from now on consists of a small aluminium shell and back plate with two sticky pads, so you can attach it to your phone. Inside the shell there are two plastic tubes filled -- so we're told -- with salt water. The cost of the materials, assuming they're not being individually hand crafted by grizzled artisans, hewing shells from solid chunks of aluminium with kitchen knives, comes to about tuppence! 

 

So how does it work? We have to say the theory of operation left us a tad puzzled. According to the supplied literature the idea is the 'paramagnetic aqueous saline solution' (i.e. the salt water) 'has been treated electromagnetically and emits a constant low intensity magnetic oscillation, that on a biological level, re-harmonises the disturbances responsible for the health problems'. It goes on to say that the theory overturns some of the classical laws of physics (they got that bit right…) and quotes studies carried out by the Montpellier University in France. However, much of it is either too complicated for us to understand or plain old gobbledegook…

 

Nevertheless, in a spirit of open-mindedness we duly stuck the gizmo on the back of a phone and used it for a couple of days. That wasn't really long enough to tell whether or not its soothing rays did us any good, but it did give us a chance to see if it had any impact on phone performance. We're very pleased to report that range, transmission, reception quality, and line contact reliability were all totally unaffected by it.

 

The cell phones accessory market has thrown up its fair share of wacky gadgets and snake-oil remedies but this one is a classic. We can't say there's nothing in it, and the fact that we could find no trace of this research, or any reference to the learned Prof mentioned, on the University of Montpellier Web site is neither here nor there. But we have to admit to being just a teensy bit sceptical…

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £29

Features            magnetic oscillator for mobile phones, including dual frequency models

To fit                 all makes and models 

Contact            Marketex, telephone (01227) 831601

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            10%

 

WILLIAMS F1 MOBILE PHONE HOLDER

Its not often we get to test officially licensed Formula 1 products but that's the proud boast of this Williams F1 Mobile Phone Holder. Actually it's a magnet, and a powerful one at that, which sticks to the dashboard of your car and holds your phone in place, whilst you're driving. That's the idea anyway,

 

The disc comes with a pad of double-sided sticky tape on one side and there's a little foam cushion on the other, to protect your phone. It couldn't be any simpler to fit, and by the looks of it, it's built to last, but then there's not much that can go wrong with a magnet. We found that one or two of the heavier phones simply wouldn't stick; others, like the chubby Ericsson fell off on bumpy roads, but handsets with a reasonably flat backside or battery pack tended to stay in place. Seven quid is on the high side for a magnet, even a fancy one like this but there's the undeniable Formula 1 cachet… To be fair it is a lot easier to install than a traditional phone holder but be warned that it doesn't work with all makes and models, so try before you buy.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £6.99

Features            magnetic phone holder for cars

To fit                 most makes and models

Contact Nett Ltd., telephone (01273) 732464

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            85%

 

TOADIE UNIVERSAL CASES

Slipping into something tight and revealing takes on a whole new meaning with these 'Toadie' Universal phone cases from The Accessory People. They're made from brightly coloured and patterned neoprene. It's a bit like the stuff they use for wet suits and swimming cozzies, but without the waterproofing. There are a couple of holes in one end, for the neck strap and the aerial to poke through. We found it fitted most handsets without too much trouble, though it can be a bit of a struggle on some older models. The material feels strong and sounds pass through it easily, so it doesn't matter if the earphone, microphone and ringer holes are covered. The finish is good and the design has been well thought out and the display and keyboard remained accessible on all of the phones we tried it with.

 

The material is quite thin so it only offers a modicum of protection to the phone, but the strap is strong, and adjustable, so it should be quite secure. It's fun, sort of practical and trendy  -- great for the beach and nightlife  -- but it's not up to getting wet and you might get some odd looks if you wear it in the office

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £9.99

Features            elasticated construction, one size fits all, adjustable neck/wrist strap (5-colours),

To fit                 most makes and models

Contact The Accessory People Ltd., telephone 0181-541 5555

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            85%

 

JABRA EARSET

Remember what your mum used to say about shoving strange objects in your ear? Well forget all that and take a look at the Jabra EarSet, objects don't come much stranger… It's a combined microphone and earphone (Jabra call it a 'speaker') but there's no extension tubes of booms, it's all built into one tiny module.  That's fairly unusual, but the really weird bit is the coloured EarGel. The outfit comes with six of them, small, medium and large for the left and right ear. If you're wondering why they've used soft washable gel, instead of foam rubber, well consider this. The gel material is actually more comfy than scratchy foam, and the shape means it fit in the outer ear, so you don't have to poke it in the delicate ear canal, which also means it doesn’t cut out extraneous sounds, and because the gels are washable, it's more hygienic.

 

The big question though has to be, is it comfortable? Well, yes it is, which comes as a bit of a surprise. The knobbly shape makes it look more like an instrument of torture, and you would think our ears are all different shapes, but apparently not. Three out of four of our test subjects reported a snug, comfy fit, the fourth was unsure. The spiky bit makes sure it doesn't drop out, even when you shake your head, and there's a slot cut into the gel, which allows outside sounds to get through. Various plug options are available, so it's available to fit most makes and models. The makers also suggest it can be used with a PC sound system, however, our sample was kitted out for an Ericsson phone.

 

But what about the microphone, surely it can't be much good at picking up the user's voice, stuck in their ear? Surprise number two, it does pick up the voice satisfactorily, though inevitably it also picks up any other sounds in the vicinity and we found callers asked you to speak up when there was a lot of ambient noise. The earphone or speaker is fairly loud and quite trebly which is good for speech. EarSet works a lot better than it looks; maybe if the gels weren't quite so brightly coloured it wouldn't look so strange. If you can put up with that (you won't be able to see it …) the performance is good enough to make it worth a try, and a welcome alternative to conventional headsets.

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £40

Features            one-piece in-ear microphone and speaker with moulded gel insert

To fit                 most makes and models

Contact Mobile Marketing, telephone (01923) 690900

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            88%

 

 

ALLGON SPUTNIK, MINIMAG & COUPLER

There are two parts to an antenna, the radiating element, and the groundplane. The radiator is the obvious sticking out bit, the groundplane is not so obvious, it's the metalwork of a car body, or the Earth itself. Antenna efficiency takes a dive when there's no groundplane, and that is precisely what happens when you try to use a cellphone antenna designed for a metal bodied car, indoors or on a boat or glassfibre-bodied vehicle. That's the problem addressed by the Allgon Sputnik, designed to be used with Allgon's range of Minimag antennas. Just for good measure we've also been trying it with a coupler, intended for the Nokia 6110.

 

The Sputnik certainly lives up to its name.  The two radiating elements coming out of the side are the actual groundplane; they're connected to a round metal disc that's moulded onto a rubber sucker. You don’t need any instructions to figure it out, the Minimag clamps to the metal disc and the cable plugs into your phone -- via the adaptor.

 

The tests were simple, without moving location we made and received a number of calls using the cellphone's built-in antenna, then we tried it with the Minimag on a car, and finally on the Sputnik, attached to a window. Call quality improved noticeably when using the Minimag on a car, signal strength shot up by a couple of bars, and stayed there, compared with the phone's own antenna. Swapping to the Sputnik yielded a similar improvement, though the increase in signal strength tended to dither between one and two bars. It was good result and it could make the difference between a reliable and dropped call, especially in tricky situations, in marginal signal areas, such as an office, or maybe on a moving train. Worth considering if you regularly encounter difficulties.  

 

THE FACTS

Typical Price            £47

Features            portable ground-plane and coupler 

To fit                 most makes and models

Contact Fone Logistics, telephone (01670) 717717

 

WHAT CELLPHONE VERDICT            88%

 

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1998 1507

 


 

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