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Hi-tech devices – especially those made by Apple – spawn a whole ‘ecosystem’ of peripherals and accessories to enhance the user experience and to extract further cash from people’s wallets. It’s refreshing, then, to come across an accessory that is avowedly low-tech, easy to use and inexpensive.
Such is the Gramophone – a simple amplifier and stand for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Made in bright colours and of light-weight silicone, the Gramophone puts me in mind of the old-fashioned ear-trumpet. What’s more, it’s based on roughly the same principal: dock your device in the stand, play some music and the sound will be carried from the built-in speakers and directed towards a sort of horn – a miniature version of the wind-up apparatus of the same name.
Such simplicity would be impressive in its own right: it is all the more so since the Gramophone was conceived and marketed by students at a girls’ school in Kingston-upon-Thames. A group of 50 girls in year 12 of Tiffin Girls’ School have formed a company called Prime which is part of Young Enterprise – the UK’s largest business and enterprise charity. Each year about 250,000 students get involved in running a business under the guidance of entrepreneurs.
The Gramophone’s strapline is “Amplified. Simplified.” and this accurately sums up the product. The iPhone version sells for just £5 and is battling with the limited dynamic range of the device’s own speakers. The result is a bit like listening to music on the phone and reminded me of the Dial-a-Disc service so beloved of teenagers – though not their phone bill-paying parents – in the 1970s.
The iPad – even my iPad Mini – is blessed with much better speakers. Placing the device into the £10 iPad version of the Gramophone results in a pleasing and slightly louder sound. You may need to think about buying something more up-market for your next party though!
It’s fair to say that these ambitious young women have largely succeeded in their stated aim and raised a smile in the process – an extremely promising start.