Gadgets: Siemens S55/Quickpic <br></br>Sony SRS-RF80RK <br></br>Morph-1 <br></br>MOSCD002 <br></br>Sony NW-MS70 Network Walkman

Charlotte Ricca-Smith
Monday 24 March 2003 01:00

Siemens S55/Quickpic, £200 (without contract) 0870 533 4411;

While everyone is banging on about video messaging, most of us haven't even got our heads around the concept of taking and sending photos with our phones. But it really isn't as scary as you may think, and you might even have some fun. The S55's Quickpic camera comes as an attachment, so when not snapping you've got a great-looking compact phone. Also, it has finally had its interface updated, making it second only to Nokia in terms of usability, and you can synch contacts and appointments to your computer via Bluetooth. What makes the camera worth a second look is its built-in flash: for the first time you can take pictures in low light (and send them via MMS or e-mail). Don't expect to put the results on your mantelpiece, but for computer viewing the quality is pretty impressive.

Sony SRS-RF80RK, £150, 0870 511 1999;

Why has Sony created this tower of sound? Perhaps it is simply because it can. Then again, one speaker does takes up less room, and there is something slightly Star Trek about its perspex shield – all the better to hear it with, because in order to create a stereo effect, music is bounced off the screen and around your room. The results are fairly average, and the sound quality little better than a set of portable speakers you might plug your Walkman into. But the SRS-RF80RK has another trick: it's wireless, so you can plug the base into whatever source you're listening to (CD player, TV, MP3 player etc) and then take the speaker with you anywhere in the home – or garden – within a 75-metre range. Handy eh? There are also three channels to flick between, should you get interference, although I didn't have any problems with reception. Nice idea, shame about the sound.

Morph-1, £39.99, 020-8364 7711;

Apparently, since the onslaught of popstar TV we all now consider ourselves to be budding Dariuses and Gareths, God forbid. At least with this karaoke machine, the UK's attempts at "Unchained Melody" are kept safely within the confines of our homes. All you have to do is plug the 9 by 3cm box into your TV and any DVD player (including the PlayStation 2 and Xbox) and your front room is instantly transformed into a dodgy pub in Croydon. Comes with microphone (reverb recommended) and a sample 17-track DVD that allows you to choose between backing track only, backing vocals, or – if you're really bad – lead vocals. Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be wearing industrial earplugs.

MOSCD002, £39.95, 0870 010 5676;

The Ministry of Sound has a lot to shout about. It recently launched a new range of funky gear aimed at the clubbing masses, which is sure to fly off the shelves in 2003. However, it has to be said it doesn't always get it right. Take this CD player, for instance: I cannot see how this clumsy, oversized, portable (and that's debatable) music player ever slipped through their image-conscious net. At this price, can we really complain? Yes we can: a low-priced product doesn't have to be cheaply made. Everything about it just screams poor quality, from the awkward opening and shutting of the player to the muffled audio. Come on, Ministry, you can do – and have done – much better than this.

Sony NW-MS70 Network Walkman, £280, 0870 511 1999;

I had read about the dimensions of Sony's latest Walkman, so I knew it was going to be pretty small. But somehow, seeing 36 by 40 by 18mm written on paper is never enough to prepare you for the reality. So when I opened the box, I thought they'd forgotten to put the player in. I finally found it nestling behind its charger. Thankfully, the one thing Sony hasn't miniaturised is its memory: a whopping 256Mb, which can be doubled via the slot for the Memory Stick Duo. Using Sony's new Atrac3+ compression system should give you about 22 CDs worth of high-quality music. The downside of a player this small is its tiny controls, which in some case are almost invisible to the naked eye. But if you want a gadget with the "wow" factor, this is definitely one to stick on your wish list.

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