Gadgets: Blink SiPix, Amstrad E-m@iler Plus, AlphaSmart 3000, Palm m515

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Following in the footsteps of the L'Espion, the Blink is a digital camera that is small enough to get lost among your loose change. But despite its tiny dimensions (5.5cm x 5.5cm) it can hold up to 300 low-res photos on its 8Mb memory, or 100 at a higher resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. (At this size what did you expect?) But picture quality is surprisingly good. You're not going to print them off and stick them on the mantelpiece – but they're perfect for sharing via email. You can also use it as a webcam, and it will even take a series of pictures in streaming mode, which can then be merged to make a very basic video file.

Blink SiPix £40
Blink 020 8899 6026/ www.sipix.co.uk

Following in the footsteps of the L'Espion, the Blink is a digital camera that is small enough to get lost among your loose change. But despite its tiny dimensions (5.5cm x 5.5cm) it can hold up to 300 low-res photos on its 8Mb memory, or 100 at a higher resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. (At this size what did you expect?) But picture quality is surprisingly good. You're not going to print them off and stick them on the mantelpiece – but they're perfect for sharing via email. You can also use it as a webcam, and it will even take a series of pictures in streaming mode, which can then be merged to make a very basic video file.

There's no LCD screen, which means you don't get to see your pics as you take them; in fact it's hard to know whether you've taken a picture at all, apart from a tiny beep ages after you've pressed the button. But apart from that one small gripe the Blink is a great gadget that brings digital photography to the masses.

Nokia 8310 £349.99
Virgin 0845 6000 600/ www.virgin.com/mobile

The 8310 is just one in a long line of new Nokia phones hitting the high street. My reason for selecting this model was primarily because of its FM radio. And I wasn't disappointed. Sound quality is great and you can pre-programme 20 of your favourite stations.

Its tiny size also appeals. On a recent posh night out I could squeeze it into my equally tiny purse, which is a real bonus for the ladies. And that's the 8310 all over – a phone for us gals. From its dainty keys to its nine different snap-on covers, it has a certain feminine appeal. There's nothing girly about its features, which include WAP over GPRS, voice dialling, the ability to record three-minute memos, infrared port and a 700 name phone book. But just one word of warning: turning it on in a dimly lit room could cause serious retina damage, courtesy of (infinitesimally) radioactive backlit keys.

Amstrad E-m@iler Plus £99
Amstrad 0800 138 8879/ www.amstrad.co.uk

If you're one of the remaining few who doesn't want to splash out on a computer, but aren't totally adverse to the idea of e-mail, then the Amstrad E-m@iler Plus is well worth checking out. A new, sleeker version of the original E-m@iler, it also has a few more features that will gently introduce you to the world of internet communication.

There's e-mail of course, as well as the phone and fax, in addition to a web browser, games and text message facility. All of which are easy to use, despite its warning that you have no chance of operating the unit unless you read the manual. Oh, designers of little faith.

However, you can only send, not receive, SMS and faxes. This quite frankly is a pain, and the internet access is no substitute for a computer. But at this price can we really complain?

AlphaSmart 3000 £234
TAG 01474 537 886/ info@alphasmart.com

Looking like "My First Laptop" the AlphaSmart is in fact a simple, portable word processor – simple being the key thing.

Turn it on and it springs to life, and automatically saves your work into one of its eight files. When you get back to your office just connect it your computer via its USB cable, open up Word and hit send, and watch the words download before your eyes. Simple. Even its power source is basic, but very effective – just three AA batteries will keep it running for a stonking 700 hours. But taking simplicity to extremes, it does very little else. At this price you could buy a PDA and get a lot more features.

Palm m515 £369.99
Palm 0207 365 9820/ www.palm.com

On looks alone the m515 is identical to its predecessor, the m505, and the price tag hasn't changed either – so what's new? The key thing is its improved colour screen, which enables you to adjust the contrast, according to the conditions you're working in. Unfortunately, this bright display eats into its battery life and I needed to charge the m515 after just four days. It has also doubled its memory to 16Mb and it runs on the latest operating system, Palm 4.1, which supports USB connection. And, like its older brother, it has a memory slot for both MultiMedia Memory and Secure Digital cards.

In short, if you liked the m505, you'll love this newer model. And if you're still a virgin in the PDA game, then Palm's newest kid on the block is a very good place to start.

Comments