Gadgets

This week we weigh up the merits of the new Dyson handheld and give you some tips on how to cancel your virtual life after your death.

Go ahead, buster, make my day!

Dyson vs Black and Decker

1979 witnessed some very significant advances in consumer technology. Sony started selling the first Walkmans - meaning commuters now faced arduous journeys listening to somebody else's tinny music tastes. Philips and Sony had also jointly developed the compact disc - which eventually meant that we would all have to restock our record collections with its digital equivalent.

Dustbuster

That year also witnessed the invention of the first practical hand vacuum cleaner that did not need to be plugged in all of the time, the Black and Decker Dustbuster - which quickly dominated this new market segment and has continued to do so ever since.

At about the same time, Sir James Dyson was putting the final touches to his dual cyclonic upright vacuum cleaner, but it would be more than a decade before the Dyson company would challenge the dominance of Black and Decker in the handheld market.

Dyson's first handheld was designed and sold almost exclusively for the Japanese market in 2006. Last month, the company unveiled the DC31.

Using Dyson's latest motor technology, The Dyson digital motor V2, the DC31 and the DC31 Animal handhelds promise a constant strong suction with a battery life of up to 10 minutes.

The DC31 features Dyson's patented Root Cyclone technology to spin dust and dirt out of the air. It has a dual power mode - allowing you to flick a switch for six minutes of higher suction to deal with stubborn dirt, trodden-in cereal or muddy footprints. It also weighs far less than the competition at 1.32kg (1.51kg for the DC31 Animal).

The motor, which powered the original Dyson hand vacuum cleaner and the Dyson airblade hand dryer, is what gives this hand vac its unique proposition.

It's fast, light and brushless - enabling great performance and a longer life.

The impeller spins over three times faster than a conventional motor, and ten times faster than the engine of a Boeing 747 aircraft - according to Dyson.

Magnetic attraction

There is no contact to the rotor, just a strong electromagnetic field generated in the stator using neodymium magnets. The polarity of this field is switched digitally (by a microprocessor) situated within the onboard power electronic circuit.

But lets not dismiss the Black and Decker just yet, as it has moved on a great deal over the past three decades. The latest Dustbuster Pivot range is also very powerful with an 18 volt motor which can also handle the most stubborn dirt on carpets and upholstery.

The PV1805N 18V Pivot Nose Dustbuster was introduced in November last year and was claimed at the time to be the most powerful cordless handheld vac on the market with a much higher input power than the Dyson.

It also features bagless cylonic vacuum cleaning technology. With the 18V battery, it certainly adds to the weight, but the power is more than adequate for most stains in the home or the family car. It will run for approximately 13 minutes - although the output did diminish for the last five minutes during our test.

Overall, it picked up more dirt than the Dyson on a single charge.

Energy efficiency

Black and Decker can also boast a larger range for different uses and requirements. For example, the Dustbuster Eco Extreme uses 66 per cent less energy than standard Dustbusters.

Nevertheless, Black and Decker clearly sees the Dustbuster as its territory - and no doubt there will be claim and counterclaim over the next few months. However, its good to see that students now have a choice of handhelds to 'hoover' up the crumbs without moving from the sofa.

This week

Web affairs after death...

When we are prepared to shuffle off this mortal coil, most sensible people make a last will and testament so that their affairs can be arranged with little stress to their family. This would usually involve allocating ownership of assets and treasured possessions.

In the digital age, many of us have virtual lives through social networking sites - and we may have a dozen or more profiles with separate companies.

With social networking sites, a great deal of personal information - such as phone numbers, company website and email addresses; may still be available after you or a close relative or spouse dies.

Consider also e-commerce related sites which would have your credit card, debit card or current account details, like eBay and PayPal. These also need to be closed as do recurring payments for Web hosting or your blog.

You will need this information removed for security purposes, to stop people incessantly phoning and emailing the deceased and, worst of all, the limit the stress of dealing with hundreds of people who believe you are still alive and need to be informed of your passing.

Typically, your nearest and dearest would have to email the privacy division (if available) of the social networking site and demonstrate to them that the person is deceased and that they are the next-of-kin.

This can be very arduous. It would be far simpler for them to be able to deactive your membership by having access to your username and password. Perhaps renewal dates and amounts should be included in your instructions.

There are a number of password databases, such as the password vault, available as standard on Blackberry devices. If you arranged a way for your next-of-kin or your executor to obtain access to this device and its password, they would be able to cancel each account, one-by-one, very simply.

An alternative method would be to write this information down on a Word or Excel document that could be password protected.

In summary:

  1. Make a note of all usernames and passwords and store them in a secure place;
  2. Make sure that your next-of-kin or executor has access to this information.

Apologies for being very morbid in this column, but it does happen and is occurring more frequently. The solution is simple. Although not comprehensive, it will allow your surviving heirs to handle your passing with far less aggravation at a very stressful time.

Technology clinic

Adding Freeview

I have a Bush Integrated television. It was purchased two weeks before ON Digital failed. The set still works perfectly, but there are very many more channels available than the TV can receive. I have been told that if I re-scan the tuner I may lose those stations that I can currently receive. Is this true, and if so is there any method by which I can add channels to those already available?

Regards

Roger Jefferies

According to our sources at Freeview, it should be fine. You should not lose access to existing channels and you will gain access to many of the new channels that are available. Rescanning is advisable on a regular basis to ensure that you are getting the most up-to-date channel list. This will also work with Top-Up-TV channels which took over the subscription services from ITV Digital when it went into liquidation.

However, your EPG (electronic programme guide) may not function correctly as it was introduced after Freeview took over the service.

Untruths

Flicking through Vol 4, #5 of E&T, I was surprised to read this blatant untruth in the Technology Clinic section: "The iPod Touch, iPhone and, I suspect, the Nano will only allow you to transfer media files that you have purchased from iTunes. It will not allow you to transfer any other files that you have ripped from your CD collection, for example."

This is a lie. The standard way of putting music onto an iPod has always been to rip from CD and this has been the case since the launch of the product range. The iTunes Music Store is, by comparison, a recent alternative source of media files.

Cheers,

Rob Hague

Hi Rob, I would like to clarify that the original enquirer was referring to the transfer of already ripped music files from their iPod Touch to another computer. This will only be possible with items bought from iTunes. I hope this clears up any confusion.

Recharging primary batteries

For some years now there have been advertisements for a battery recharger which the vendors state may be used for primary batteries. The manufacturers of primary batteries advice that they should not be recharged. Could you provide some information on these devices?

Yours faithfully,

RJ Wagner MIET

Without knowing about the exact device that you are referring to, this would be very difficult. However, generally I would concur with the advice by the primary battery device manufacturers.

As you probably know, primary batteries are manufactured without needing to be fully charged - which makes them cheaper to make than rechargeable batteries. However, rechargeable batteries are designed for this very purpose. Because they can be used up to 1,000 times - according to most suppliers - overall they will work out very economical.

I would refrain from trying to recharge a primary battery as the chemicals they contain may combust.

Help!

If you have a tech question for our clinic, post it on the consumer tech forum and see if our editorial team or your fellow members can solve your gadget issues: www.theiet.org/forums [new window].

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