Wireless gadgets: Motorola Bluetooth handset
Thomson WSP740U active speakers
SolarGuard Wireless Alarms
Thomson Video Sender
Out of sight, but not out of mind - wireless technologies like Bluetooth and infra-red are helping to revolutionise the way we see, hear, talk and play, says David Phelan
Saturday 01 March 2003
There's something magical about technology that works without connecting cables, especially if there's not even a connection to the mains; we just love the lack of clutter and the freedom that they bring. The pinnacle of wireless gadgets is the mobile phone, but that's just the beginning of wireless technology application, a world in which infra-red rules ...
This radio technology is going to be big this year. Named after Harald Bluetooth, the Danish king who unified Denmark and Norway in the 10th century (now pay attention, it might come up in a pub quiz), its strength is its security. You can wirelessly connect your mobile to your hands-free headset (and yours alone) so someone with another Bluetooth headset, even the identical phone, can't get in on the equation. And you can use it to connect your laptop to your printer, or your mobile to your laptop, without the critically demanding need for line of sight that infra-red has. You can dial a phone number on the palmtop computer on your desk which transmits it to the mobile in your briefcase, which relays it to the headset perched on your ear. The possibilities for the application of Bluetooth are endless; one such possibility is that it can be used, say on aircraft, to transmit any movie you want to watch to your seatback screen, saving enormous weight in cables and thus reducing fuel consumption. The Motorola Bluetooth handset costs £129.99; Motorola 08000 151 151
Thomson WSP740U active speakers £80
Similarly, if you have a hi-fi system with a built-in radio it can be a nuisance when you're just out of earshot for the exact details of the football results, the Lottery numbers, the punchline on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue but you can't quite get to the other room. Bring the sound to you with this pair of radio-controlled speakers. Connect the transmitter to the stereo jack of the hi-fi and place the speakers wherever you fancy. They're stereo so it doesn't make sense to split them up too much, but as they're battery-powered you have some room for manoeuvre. There are mains leads for the speakers too, if your batteries run out of juice, and you can use rechargeable batteries, although these are not supplied. The sound is reasonable and it means you can even put them in places where there's no electricity, like the garden shed, for example. Thomson 01732 520920, www.thomson-europe.com
Wirefree home security set-up: SolarGuard Wireless Alarms, from £103
Now you can make your home secure without cluttering it up with cables. SolarGuard promises simple-to-install wireless alarm systems and accessories. The company created solar-powered alarm systems and now ensures its systems are simple but efficient. The basic system consists of the solar-powered external alarm, a movement sensor and two magnetic door contacts. Because there's no mains wiring it's easy to set up with the minimum of work and no need for a degree in how electricity works. There are more expensive systems too, such as the Multi Zone (£195) which has greater flexibility and allows different areas to be controlled in different ways. www.easylife.co.uk
Thomson Video Sender £80 or DigiSender Video sender £69
Annoying, isn't it, when the movie you're watching on TV in the living room is playing on DVD and you fancy seeing the last half-hour from the comfort of your own bed? Annoying because you don't have a DVD player there too. Your options are: wait until tomorrow, lug the DVD player upstairs and fiddle for a good 20 minutes while you set it up, or use a video sender. It's true there are a couple of DVD players on the market (like Sony's stylish Picot at £150, for instance) that are easily portable from room to room, but the Thomson Video Sender means you can transmit whatever is showing on your lounge TV to another elsewhere, whether the main box is showing a DVD, video or satellite. There is also a deluxe Thomson video sender available (VS540CAU, priced at £130) with a colour camera attached so you can send images of who's at the front door (or wherever else you point it) to your TV. Useful for the lazy and the nosy. Thomson claims its senders have an indoors, through-walls-and-ceilings range of 30m.
Some models, like the DigiSender Twin Receiver Pack (£103) let you send the image to two TVs. The sound and picture quality are high – the only drawback of this system is that it doesn't settle arguments about what to watch, only where to watch it. It can transmit signals in widescreen format and stereo sound quality including Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound. It will work at a range of up to 100m through the air, or up to 25m through walls and ceilings, which is probably the more useful statistic. DigiSender: www.easylife.co.uk; Sony 08705 111999; Thomson 01732 520920, as before
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