TWIG: Three’s Human Hotspots, Chilli WatchCam and LG’s NetCast

The Week in Gadgets

If you see one of these dudes in the streets, sidle up to them, they’ll probably have something you’ll find useful  – wifi. The ‘Human Hotspots’ will use Three’s MiFi®, which uses Three’s 3G network to create a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.


I own a MiFi (I went out and bought one … well it was online so I stayed in and bought one … the point is Three didn’t give one to me) and it’s a spectacularly useful device – especially with the array of tablets, smartphones and gaming devices I carry on my person. Research by Three has shown that one third (31 per cent) of Brits are planning to buy one of this year’s hot mobile gadgets such as a tablet, Sony Playstation PSP and an Amazon Kindle, as a gift this Christmas, while 60 per cent of people already own a mobile gadget themselves.

You’ll find Three’s Human Hotspots in:

  • London  (Friday 19th November, if you can turn back time)
  • Cardiff (Friday 26th November)
  • Bristol (Saturday 27th November)
  • Nottingham (Saturday 4th December)
  • Newcastle (Saturday 11th December)

It seems like only yesterday that we were looking at Swann’s range of spy gadgets. Because it was. But it you didn’t quite get your fill of espionage related goods then you are in lucky as Chilli Technology have released the Watch Cam, a £44.99 time piece with a secret. Well a secret heavily implied in the name. The Watch Cam comes equipped with audio and video recording capabilities and can take jpeg stills as well. Recording is a one-touch affair and videos can be played back or edited on the PC. The internal memory is 2GB, which stores up to 2 hours of video captured via the 1.3 Megapixel/CMOS image sensor. The resolution is nothing fancy – simple 640 x 480 VGA, but you are unlikely to record a feature film on a watch (insert Clockers, Watchmen or War and Timepiece joke here). The battery should accommodate 2.5 hours of recording time. Chilli-Tech.

Own an LG TV? There’s a chance it just got a little bit better. Unlike the rapidly disappearing functionality of the Google TV, LG has enhanced its NetCast service to bring more internet TV services to users. Apps for your TV are the “next big thing” and LG have expanded their service offering to include Acetrax, Picasa, Google Maps, Facebook™, Twitter™ and an internet radio application. Bear in mind that a lot of these TVs feature DLNA, which means they can access your movies, pictures and music streamed over your home network. Which is insanely cool and slowly makes those set-top boxes piling up under your TV obsolete.

Swann’s spy gadget range: Little brother is watching you!

Q would be proud. Those clever spy gadgets so beloved of 007 are now appearing on the consumer market – and here’s Swann’s first – a video camera and DVR concealed in a real, working ballpoint pen.

The Swann PenCam DVR-421 lets you shoot AVI 640 x 480 VGA colour footage, save it to a built-in 2GB memory and then upload it to the likes of MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Photobucket. Swann reckons it will appeal to sales people, lawyers, mystery shoppers, law enforcers – or just anyone wanting a bit of web-based fun. Teachers beware, we say!


Just click the top of the pen to start recording. It can record more than an hour’s worth of film at a time, and the built-in battery can last for up to 90 minutes of recording. The PenCam can be recharged via USB.

The Swann PenCam DVR-421 costs £49.99 and is being sold at Screwfix, Maplins and Costco.

And if you’re out and about, when walking around with a pen might look a bit odd, how about the RemoteCam, designed to look like a car remote key fob?


Stealthily capture still images and full colour AVI files at a resolution of 720 x 480. Still images are saved as 1280 x 1024 JPGs. £49.99. Available from PC World and Screwfix.

And for action fans who are not interested in covert filming, but do want to capture their sporting achievements, Swann has released the ActionCam. The 60g camera is designed to capture footage easily at the push of a button, and is specifically designed for high-impact sports – cycling, jogging, rowing and skiing for instance. It can be attached to handlebars or a helmet with the bundled attachments, and also has a suction cup attachment. The ActionCam has been made to be rugged, has a weather-resistant case, built-in microphone and can capture the event despite vibrations and bumps. It costs £79.99.

The ThumbCam, meanwhile, is also built for recording on the move and comes complete with attachments to fix it to bike handles, helmets and so on. A protective silicon cover protects it from bumps and the elements. You’ll be recording onto its 2GB SD card, and have 40 minutes of recording time – but upgrade to an 8GB SD card to increase that to 160 minutes. You can back up your footage by inserting the card into your PC or connect directly via USB. The price? £49.99.

TWIG: Hawk Eye spy-copter, Lastolite Ezybox and the Powerstrap

The Week in Gadgets.

We take a brief look at something for everyone this week with kids’ spy toys, dog gadgets and photo equipment.

Fans of the Parrot AR Drone quadricopter and of not spending £300 might like to check out the Hawk Eye – an indoor video camera helicopter. Whilst lacking in the AR Drone’s iPhone enhanced augmented reality “omg are you controlling that with your iPhone?!?!” factor the £59.99 helicopter can record 5 minutes of colour video at 320×240 or many more photos at 640*480. Even better, instead of replaceable batteries, the Hawk Eye charges through your computer. It also provides free access to an easy to use online video-editing platform aimed at kids but open to anyone really into taking low res aerial images for fun. The Hawk Eye will be available in late November and is clearly aiming to work its way under some Christmas trees.


If you are really into playing with spy stuff then head on over to which has a range of inexpensive spy toys for children that are more fun than anything you would find in GCHQ. There is the SpyNet Video watch (£49.99), which features on board video, audio and photo recording capabilities, a Flex Neck Snake Cam (£24.99), a Voice Recording Spy Pen (£19.99) a Voice Changer (£9.99) and most intriguingly some Rear View Spy Glasses that give you eyes in the back of your head (£7.99). For some adult spy toys, take a look at Naomi’s review of the Y-Cam.

If you prefer Golden retrievers to Goldeneye then you might be interested in the DOG-e-walk – an ultra sonic gizmo that stops dogs from pulling on the leash, but somehow incorporates anti interference technology (a Non Irritation System) that stops it from annoying passing canines. Interested? Check out the Company of Animals website for more info.

If however you prefer Leica to Laika, Lastolite have released a new Ezybox Speed-Lite a 22 cm x 22 cm mini softbox that can pop straight onto a flashgun and provides an inner and outer diffusion layer. Tiny, collapsible and lightweight it can be yours for £49.00.

Of course the one thing that unites nearly all gadgets is batteries and Orca Trading have a neat gadget that should help with power on the move. The Powerstrap is a wearable rechargeable battery pack that contains 6 LiOn battery cells which is about 1500 mAH of power. It comes with 10 adaptors for a variety of devices (check) and save you in a pinch – or power a short street party. I’m not sure why you’d want to wear it rather than just have it in your bag, but that aside, additional battery power on the go is always welcome. Yours for £39.99.

Inmarsat’s iSatphone Pro: Satellite communication goes handheld

Our mobile phones have become such an everyday part of our lives, it’s almost impossible to imagine what it would be like without one. Well, in the middle of the Atlantic on an oil rig would be a good place to start, or perhaps in deepest Amazonia or even up at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Just spotting a ‘no service’ warning on our handsets are enough to raise the blood pressure levels a notch or two, hell it even happens in central London!


All that angst is now a thing of the past however, with the launch of Inmarsat’s first hand held satellite phone the ISatphone Pro. Once the sole domain of secret agents and government men in black, the satellite phone is now available to mere mortals, for a more than mortal price tag of between $500 – $600.

It’s splash proof, dust proof, shock resistant and able to withstand extreme temperatures from -20 up to plus 55 degrees centigrade. More than enough then for a typical day in the UK countryside. It is however aimed solely at the ‘remote environment market’ such as gas and oil engineering or the construction trade and with 8 hours talk and 100 hours stand by time, it will provide the kind of global portable communications access that has long been needed in those sectors, although as far as main stream public use is concerned, it is another stepping stone in the development of mass global communications.

It has Bluetooth connectivity (unique in this market), a high visibility colour display, text and email capability and a keypad designed to be used while you’re wearing gloves. It will be, as Inmarsat CEO Andrew Sakawaty bullishly predicts, “a game changer” for the industry. The benefits to users such as the military or remote engineering are obvious and while this all sounds very exciting and clearly a step up in mobile technology, the one thing missing so far is detailed information on call charges, something that, at the end of the day will prove crucial in such a competitive marketplace.