Philips HDD060 £169 0870 900 9070; www.philips.com
Philips HDD060 £169 0870 900 9070; www.philips.com
If you saw my column last month, and were frustrated that Apple's iPod Mini isn't out till spring, you might want to try the very affordable, very available HDD060. It holds only 1.5Gb, but in the good old days this was considered more than substantial. It's enough for 375 tracks, and unlike the iPod it will play WMA files as well as MP3s, and the sound quality is great, despite the very average headphones.
It is also simple to use, and feels great in the hand or pocket. So far so good - but there is always a 'but'. Here's this one's: the USB connection is 1.1 rather than 2.0, which would be about 20 times faster. Big mistake, Philips, especially when you consider its main competition also uses FireWire (about 30 times faster than USB 1.1). But with a 10-hour battery, great looks and credit-card dimensions, the HDD060 is still a great gadget that ticks nearly all the right boxes.
Motorola V80 £150 0870 9010 555; www.motorola.com
The V80 is Motorola's latest "fashion" phone, but unlike its predecessor, the V70, isn't all form and no function. Despite its pretty face and flashing lights, it is tri-band and has Bluetooth, a VGA camera, great 65,000-colour screen, picture messaging and MP3 ringtones. It does have the familiar rotating cover, but this time it swings open automatically with one tap - although I foresee problems with this after long-term use. You can also make calls and send text messages while the phone is closed, thanks to its (smaller) external display.
Another nice touch is that by rotating the cover back 90 degrees the camera is activated, which also gives you the benefit of landscape photos. As I've come to expect from Motorola, the user interface isn't the most intuitive, but it doesn't take long to get used to. The navigation key is also far too keen to jump to its own conclusions and, again, is rather flimsily constructed. But this is fashion, baby; like the V80, it isn't designed to last.
Sony Ericsson Z200 £149.99 0870 523 7237; www.sonyericsson.com/uk
A chunky, sturdy phone - great for the accident-prone. I have given mine a serious bashing without even incurring a scratch. Build quality is also evident in use, and it closes with a reassuring VW Golf-like clunk. It doesn't look bad either, and comes with two changeable covers, although the strap holder is frankly pointless. Inside is a decent 4,096-colour screen and sensibly sized keypad backlit in a funky orange; the five-way navigation pad is nice to use and, again, robust.
But the Z200 falls down at the most important hurdle: usability. Simple things such as saving a new number you have just entered requires a degree in quantum physics. Deleting text messages is equally tricky - if you can access them in the first place. And while the porthole dual screen is a nice touch, you have to wait for the name or number to pan across before you know who is calling. Indestructible, and disappointing.
BT 1250 £159.99 to April (then £179.99) 0800 328 6738; www.bt.com/homenetworking
Now that broadband has become a bit passé, what could be more de rigueur than having your own wireless home network? This enables you to connect up to 10 computers to your high-speed internet connection and easily share printers, files and games without unsightly cables around your home. And with a range of 250m, think of the possibilities: spreadsheets in the garden, e-mail on the toilet and your iTunes in the kitchen.
The BT 1250 base station is easy to install as long as you have a PC - the manual is next to useless for Mac users. You wirelessly link up your computers to the base station by plugging in the small USB receivers, install the software and you're there. (Except for Mac users, who'll need an AirPort card.) But as the 1250 is a router, wireless transmitter and an ADSL modem in one, you can connect to the base station using traditional cables, or your home phone sockets instead. A great buy for the computer-literate family - as long as, like BT, you don't favour Apple Macs.
Lumix DMC-FZ10 £450 08705 357 357; www.panasonic.co.uk
The DMC-FZ10 is built like a tank and is one of the first digital cameras to really feel, look and operate like a decent 35mm model. It is the only four-megapixel camera with a 12x optical zoom (equivalent to a 35-420mm zoom) and it uses a motion sensor to eliminate any blurring caused by shaking hands, so you can shoot at a slower speed. It also has the usual manual features - just put it in A/S/M mode - or you can stick to automatic.
Whichever you choose, the DMC-FZ10 is fairly easy to use and its menu is functional, if rather ugly. But - handily - you really feel the quality when taking pictures. There's only a one-second delay between shots, while its MEGA burst function lets you take four frames a second - great for action shots. Picture quality is great at any distance, as is the movie mode. You'll need to upgrade the memory, though, because it only comes with a 16-megabyte SD card. Power is supplied by a lithium battery pack that is re-charged outside of the camera. A serious camera at a sensible price.Reuse content