Tuesday 22 March 2016

TRE Talk Radio Europe gadgets for March 2016

The gadgets I chose this month for TRE Talk Radio Europe's The Daily all claim to be world exclusives in their way:

New Apple iPhone SE

Yesterday evening Apple announced a new iPad and a new iPhone.

The new iPad is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro – which effectively brings the original size of iPad up to top spec. Six years ago it all started with the 9.7-inch iPad, then came the smaller iPad mini, then came the iPad Air, which was thinner, and then we had the iPad Pro, which was bigger and with better specifications. Now there’s a smarter version in the original size – better display, powerful processor, clip-on keyboard – yours for £499 in the UK (or €679 in Spain).

But it’s the iPhone SE that’s really caught my eye. Apple is calling this “the most powerful phone with a four-inch display” – and that’s the interesting part, because phone screens have generally been getting bigger and bigger. Last September, Apple launched the iPhone 6S with a 4.7-inch display, while the iPhone 6S Plus has a 5½-inch display. In its way, this new handset is turning the clock back to 2013, which is the last time Apple announced a phone this small.

In fact, you could describe it as an updated version of the iPhone 5S, which it’s pretty much replacing. But although it’s the smallest in Apple’s current range of phones, it’s more like an iPhone 6S under the cover. There’s a fingerprint scanner for security, the company’s new 12 megapixel camera, HD video recording and NFC technology for mobile payments – all inside an aluminium body. If you compare it with the iPhone 5S, which was launched around three years ago, you could easily argue it’s more than twice as powerful.

It’ll be available in the shops from 31st March, with the 16GB version costing £359 in the UK or €489 in Spain.

LM Cable

This is being described as “the world's first iOS and Android common connector”. In simple terms, it’s a cable that can connect either an iPhone or an Android phone to your computer – or can be used to charge either an iPhone or an Android phone.

It’s being offered via Kickstarter with prices from 25 Australian dollars including shipping (around £13). Bear in mind that Kickstarter isn't a conventional shop; there are more risks involved if you back a project.

In its way the cable is very simple. On one end is a conventional USB plug. On the other is a 2-in-1 connector that can work on microUSB and Apple Lightning devices. One side of the 2-in-1 connector is for Apple devices; the other for microUSB devices, like Android phones and tablets. It’s just a question of putting the plug into your phone the right way round.

It’s a very neat trick and means if you’re the kind of person who carries a charging cable with you, then you only need one cable... even if you have a mixture of Apple and Android devices. However, if you want to charge more than one device at once, you’ll still need two cables.

LM Cable, the business behind it, say it’ll support fast data transfer and 2.4-amp fast charging. It’s a metre long, it comes with a little loop that wraps round it to keep it tidy and it’s made with tin-plated copper wires, which means it should be tougher than some other cables.

The Kickstarter campaign has about a week to run. They were after 5000 Australian dollars before they went ahead; the last time I checked, they weren’t far off a quarter of a million dollars in pledges.


These promise yet another exclusive: they are being called “the world's first tangle-free high performance headsets with a flexible dual self-winding system”.

If you use a hands-free headset on your mobile phone, the wires can often get tangled. Not just tangled with themselves but you can get them caught on your coat buttons, caught on your belt, caught on your bicycle handlebars, caught on a door handle as you walk past – and it’s the same problem whether you’re talking hands-free or listening to music. Worse still is when your phone rings and you try to plug your headset in but it’s turned into a nest of wires.

That’s where twistear.com enters the scene. They’ve put a retractable mechanism in the middle. Now, there are already other companies out there doing this kind of thing, but Twistear claims to be unique.

To start with, you can set the length of the cables of the Twistear headsets independently. What that means is you can pull or retract the plug part and the headphones part separately. That’s particularly useful because there’s a clip on the winder in the middle of the cable, so you can put it on your belt or your pocket.

The earphones are high-quality, which is important if you like your music, and they’ll clip together when they’re not being used. Plus there’s a microphone on the cable for hands-free calls. If you’re interested in the specifications, the frequency response for the earphones is between 20Hz and 20KHz.

Twistear has been in development for three years, they’re due to start shipping in August and they’re also currently being offered via Kickstarter. Pricing is from $24 including shipping (£17; €21). It’s not quite reached its funding goal but seems to be on course at the moment.