Globalgig SIM card (www.globalgig.com)
With its moniker of ‘1 plan, 1 price, 36 countries’, Globalgig offers users the ability to roam abroad on the cheap.
Data plans can be ridiculously expensive depending on your carrier and contract, so Globalgig gives you a new SIM card to slip inside your phone or tablet when you hop off on holidays. You can purchase a SIM card for a set initial price and activate it for use over a set period (our test card came with a month’s subscription), during which time you can download and upload data in any of the 36 supported countries at no extra charge – providing you don’t exceed your data limit (ours came with a gig of data).
The card takes some set-up initially: we had to register our card online and enter our credit card details in case we got carried away and downloaded too much. We then had to set up the APN settings on our Apple device, a simple task but you need to know what you’re doing. Alternatively you can slot it into a 3G Wi-Fi dongle and use it to broadcast a signal to multiple phones and tablets at once, which also worked well.
Innergie mMini DC10 (£19, www.myinnergie.com)
As if weaving your way through horrendous M25 traffic isn’t bad enough, we hate it when your phone dies halfway through texting your boss to tell them you’ll be late. This nifty little gadget from Innergie is the answer, plugging straight into your lighter socket to charge your mobile devices on the move. Best of all, there are two USB ports so you can charge a couple of items at once – for instance, your mobile phone and your satnav.
The Innergie mMini DC10 is dinky enough to throw in a bag or your glove compartment, so you can always have it handy. You’ll need your mobile devices’ USB chargers too, of course, to plug into the Innergie – it’s one more thing to remember, but if your gadgets use the generic Micro USB cables we’d recommend picking up spares (they’re dead cheap online) and leaving them in your car too.
Griffin Reveal slim-fit case for Samsung Galaxy S4 (£19, griffintechnology.com)
If you love your Samsung Galaxy S4’s glossy design so much that you can’t bear to cover it up with a case, perhaps the Griffin Reveal slim-fit will change your mind. Rather than adding some sparkly new design, the Reveal sports a see-through rear so your Galaxy’s original look isn’t changed. There’s a rubber border which snaps around the edges of your phone and holds it tight, while helping to absorb any impact if your precious mobile takes a tumble. You can still easily access your buttons and ports.
The transparent backing is tough enough to tolerate some stabbing with pens and other sharp objects, although it does scratch fairly easily – still, better a case gets scratched up, rather than your gorgeous Galaxy.
STK Tempered Glass Shield for iPhone 5 (£20, www.stk-acc.com)
We’ve seen a fair few cracked iPhone screens on our daily commute, and it’s something you can easily avoid with a simple screen protector. The STK Tempered Glass Shield for iPhone 5 is one such protector. This slender cover sticks onto your screen and makes it harder than Jason Statham – it has a hardness rating of 8H, which sounds mighty impressive indeed. STK tested it out by attacking it with scalpels and electric drills, and our own personal stabby trials – scissors and pens – had no effect.
The Tempered Glass Shield comes with a tiny cloth for giving your iPhone screen a wipe down, before you remove the sticky backing and push the protector down onto your smartphone. Application is simple and your phone’s immediately good to go. For the price, the STK provides great peace of mind and is highly recommended.
Pear Sports Training Intelligence for iPhone (£80, www.pearsports.com)
This full fitness package is ideal for serious joggers. Buy the kit and download the free iPhone app and you’re ready to plan out a fitness regime, which can be as gentle or intense as you like. The kit features a heart rate monitor which straps around your torso, as well as nifty sports earphones which can be used to listen to music during sessions and also update you on your progress.
The app is a great incentive to keep up with your regime, and an excellent training partner. On runs you can get regular updates on time, distance and calories burned, while instructions are relayed through the earphones – speed up, slow down and so on, depending on how hard your heart’s working. The ‘phones themselves are comfortable to wear, with enough housing to keep them firmly seated in your ears even during those sweaty sessions. Audio quality is a little tinny, but you can always replace them with your own ‘phones as the ear pieces are removeable.
STK SMC950 Bluetooth Mini Speaker (£18, www.stk-acc.com)
This tiny speaker charges via USB in a couple of hours and connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet, so you can rock out to your favourite tunes wherever you roam. It’s the size of your fist and impressively light, so you can happily stick it inside a pocket or a bag and whip it out when you need to. Expect around three hours of music playback per charge.
Unlike most portable speakers, you can actually use the STK to pick up calls if your tunes are interrupted – an excellent feature that sets it apart from the competition. As with all miniature speakers, audio quality isn’t quite powerful enough to shake the timbers. You won’t be able to fill your entire garden with sound, for instance. However, if you just want to enjoy some music at your desk or when lazing on the beach, the STK is a great little option. You also get an anti-slip mat included.
CaseMate Sony Xperia Tablet Z case (£18)
Sony’s beautiful Xperia Tablet Z is one of the best-looking tablets around, which raises quite the dilemma. You want to show off its sexy ultra-thin body to all and sundry, but you also don’t want it to get scuffed up and scratched. This CaseMate cover will protect your beloved tab, but it also covers up that gorgeous body and adds a few mm onto the thickness – decisions, decisions.
The padded material will keep your tablet from disaster if it’s dropped (although the outer corners could do with a little extra protection, just in case), with a handy strap to keep it all closed up and safe when not in use. It may lack sex factor, but it’s the smart way to keep your Xperia Tablet Z fresh and new.
Bayan Audio Soundbook (£149.99)
Between opening the Soundbook’s box and reclining to enjoy our tunes took around fifteen seconds, as setup is impressively quick and simple: just switch on this portable speaker and it’ll pop up in your smartphone or tablet’s Bluetooth menu, and then it’s just a simple tap to pair and connect. You can also apparently connect via NFC, although this didn’t seem to work with our Samsung device.
The Soundbook delivers a powerful sound for something so dinky, with bass-heavy audio for dance and rock tracks, and a crisp, clear output for more mellow tunes. We like the funky fold-up design, and you can expect around eight to nine hours of playback from each charge, making it a handy travel companion for any music fan.