Jan 162010

There’s so much pressure these days to update, renew, improve. The concept of built -in obsolescence may have originated in whitegoods – but it’s gadgets that have the shortest life-cycle of any consumer item these days.

Well-heeled teens replace their ‘old’ 3G mobile smartphones with a brand-new model every year because phone fashions move so fast.

Even the landline (should you be low-tech enough to own one still) is victim to fashion, with the latest offerings pumping out enough hertz between station and cordless handset that you can take the thing to the shops and still receive calls – who needs a mobile?

So here I am, the jaded reviewer, hunting down the latest and greatest in cellphones and thinking if these phones get any thinner they’ll need vitamin supplements when – lo and behold – a low-tech and yet awfully yummy phone fashion solution rears its yellow head.

The folk at Cellfoam have come up with the Banana Phone. It’s not a phone – it’s a phone holder. But, as many have discovered, this is a phone holder with loads of appeal.

Yes, it is yellow and shaped like a banana. Any flip phone or candy-bar style phone that is no more than 12.7cm long and 4.5 cm wide can be stuffed into this phone holder, though sadly the wider iPhones and Blackberries aren’t a good fit.

With the Banana Phone song by Egyptian Canadian children’s entertainer Raffi now an all-time sensation on YouTube, the Banana Phone Cover is the perfect foil for those wielding a less-than-trendy so-last-year mobile phone.

And should you purchase a banana phone holder, there’s no prizes for guessing the appropriate accompanying ringtone.

Bottom line: Day-Oh! Daybreak comes and I wanna phone home
How much : US $ 10

Dec 022009

Before waxing lyrical on the joys of this particular gadget, I’d better start by outing myself as a recovering arachnophobic.

Actually, the word ‘recovering’ right there is possibly a bit of an exaggeration. Let me tell you, spiders and me just do not work together. NOT a fan.

So, for some sick reason, I get to be the one who is sent to review this Gravity Defying Gizmo in the form of an infra-red remote controlled spider which can climb walls and ceilings, just like a real one.

The rather creepy spider has an inbuilt fan system that creates enough suction to defy gravity while its tracks keep it moving along the walls. Or if you prefer (hey, I prefer, alright?!) you can flick a switch that turns the fan off, so the spider stays on the floor.

This – thing – requires six, count ‘em, AA batteries and measures a completely over-the-top 13 x 11 x 3.3 cm, which is seriously way too big for any spider-shaped object.

Still, not quite big enough to rival the world’s largest spider, the Goliath Birdeating spider which lives in the Amazon and has been known to grow to 30cm and live for 14 years, though I do need to point out that no birdeating spider living in my suburb would get the opportunity to grow anywhere near that big or live for .. well, live.

If you’re into remote control and you’re into spiders, this could be an absolute beauty. I would imagine there are many arachnophiles who would be hugely appreciative should they find it under their Christmas tree.

But should a Gravity Defying Spider of this size appear unannounced under the tree of an arachnophobic, recovering or not, I fear it risks total annihilation with a large blunt object.

Bottom line: Not happy, Tim
How much : £29.99

Aug 082009

If you’ve watched any late-night television at all in the last year, you’ve probably heard of a dodgy beauty device for feet called the Ped Egg, courtesy of the shudderingly awful commercial that, according to CNN, is currently the subject of a lawsuit by Kelly Parks-Corso and Jonathan Corso, the married Florida foot models starring in the ad.
(How does one become a Foot Model? Do Foot Models always marry other Foot Models? And is this lawsuit partly inspired by concerns these two Foot Models have about the viability of their careers, now that PedEgg is marketing Foot Beauty to the masses? Will there be a veritable flood of Foot Models storming the Foot Model market and driving Foot Model fees through the floor?)

The two Florida foot models (only in America!) claim to have been duped by Telebrands, the manufacturer of PedEgg, who applied ‘horror makeup’ to the before shots of their feet – and to top it off, didn’t pay for all the broadcast rights due to any self-respecting high-profile Foot Model.

I have deliberately digressed from describing the PedEgg in detail, dear Reader, because quite frankly the ad gave me the heebie-jeebies.

The gadget itself is essentially a cheese grater for your foot. For foot-cheese. And it collects the foot-gratings in a little container. It’s truly revolting.

The egg-shaped foot file has over 100 “stainless steel micro files” stuck to the grating side of the “convenient storage compartment.” And that’s it, that’s all it does.

To get your hands on this little beauty involves three payments of $19.95 plus postage plus handing your credit card number over to a late-night phone sales assistant. Me, I’m wearing closed-in shoes instead.

Bottom line: Foot scrapings, eeeuw!
Where: www.pedegg.com
How much : about Au $ 60

Jul 152008

If you’re a born luddite – or just a little on the tight-fisted side – and you’ve been lost any time in the last year, then you’ll be sick of being asked “When are you getting a GPS for the car?”
Or perhaps you’re sick of your other half constantly banging on about the dulcet tones of the ever-patient, wise and understanding Jane, who talks him through the directions to some place he’s probably been to dozens of times already.

For anyone, whatever the reason, who has resisted the exhortations of friends, family and colleagues to fork out hundreds of dollars for an irritatingly calmly-speaking electronic street directory, here’s the ultimate gadget.

The distributors promise that the Sat-Nag is a “joke that just keeps on giving.”

The Sat-Nag doesn’t perform any useful directional function, has no on-board map and doesn’t connect to anything at all.

The holographic screen glued to the front of the plastic gadget points to roads named Whiny Lane, Backseat Drive and Earache Avenue.

And press the button on the front and the random-nag generator will deliver a fabulous gem that can only have been written by someone who has been married a long, long time.

The rather well-spoken and ever-so patronising woman’s voice issuing from the Sat-Nag has a host of driving direction one-liners like: “I know you’re a man, but it’s been 35 minutes now, so can you please admit you’re lost and ask someone the way.”

Other gems include “In 100 metres turn left. No right, err, no left. Sorry, I never can tell my left from my right,” or even “In 50 meters I’m going to put on my most annoying voice and say ‘Is your short cut really faster when we get stuck in traffic like this, well, is it darling?”

You can only buy it online from the UK, so order now for the perfect Christmas gag gift.

Where: www.iwantoneofthose.com/gadgets-gizmos/sat-nag
How much : About Au $16.50 plus freight

May 122006

Have you morphed from a jovial party-animal to a cranky old party-pooper? Was it you that called the police at 2am to complain about the noise from your neighbour’s kid’s 18th? Or are you just tired of gangs of pimply youths hanging around outside your shop, wrestling and blocking the footpath?

Here’s a gadget to warm the hearts of the anti-teen brigade everywhere.

Welsh inventor and cranky old party-pooper Howard Stapleton solved the problem of rowdy teenagers for a local shopkeeper in 2005 with a device called The Mosquito which sends out a high-frequency sound that can be heard within a range of about 15 to 20 metres by most people under 20 and hardly anyone over 30.

Stapleton tested the device on his children before coming up with the perfect pitch – a pulsing tone broadcast at 75 decibels designed to irritate young people so much that they move away from the area after a few minutes.

The shopkeeper was delighted with the results on local troublesome teens and was quoted saying – “It’s very difficult to shoplift when you have your fingers in your ears.”

Now marketed by UK company Compound Security Devices, the device takes advantage of a phenomenon called ‘presbycusis’ – age related hearing loss. From the age of about 18, all humans slowly lose their ability to hear upper-frequency sounds.

Unfortunately the spread of the iPod may render the Mosquito ineffective – studies have shown that some 18 year olds have hearing loss equivalent to that of the average 60 year old following years of listening to personal stereos at too-high volumes.

Bottom Line: Unleash your inner party-pooper
Where: http://www.compoundsecurity.co.uk/teenage_control_products.html
Price: about Au $1350