Unless you’re reading this in sunnier climes, it’s cold outside. So cold that you’ve been forced to stop using your phone when you’re out and about for fear of your fingers falling off.
If that sounds familiar, don’t panic, it’s a problem most of us addicted to our smartphones have (okay BlackBerry users you can stop gloating now).
There are plenty of gloves dedicated to helping you out of this fix by including a conductive material within the gloves that allows you to confuse your capacitive touchscreen into thinking that the gloves are in fact your fingers.
For those nerdy enough to care or want to know, a "capacitive touchscreen panel is one which consists of an insulator such as glass, coated with a transparent conductor such as indium tin oxide. As the human body is also a conductor, touching the surface of the screen results in a distortion of the screen's electrostatic field, measurable as a change in capacitance," so says Wikipedia. To put in terms that most of us will understand our resident go-to-man for science stuff here at Pocket-lint says that means:
"Basically the body acts as a path for the charge to dissipate to earth, and the screen picks the point of maximum discharge and decides that's where the finger is..."
Great until you put a layer of material between your finger and the screen to kill the magic.
To get around that problem you need something that is super conductive to pass that bioelectricity through the glove and on to the screen.
In this case that means silver-coated nylon fibres knitted into a comfortable fabric that puts the conductivity back in your touch.
In steps the Agloves, made by Hindsight Investments from Boulder Colorado, or as the logo would have us read Ag loves, with the Ag the symbol for silver on the periodic table - clever huh?
So instead of North Face Etip gloves that have the conductive material woven in to just the tip of the thumb and index finger, Agloves have silver woven into the entire glove so you can use all your fingers, if you can find a device to support that.
The resulting effect makes the gloves look like they are made with chain mail as the metal element shines through the black acrylic spandex material. It's also worth pointing out they are machine washable.
Aside from that there is a small Agloves logo on the back of the glove facing out for all to see, but it’s not overly intrusive to disturb most users.
As for the gloves themselves they are comfortable to wear providing enough warmth for “town” use, but don’t expect them to keep you warm up a mountain as you push for the summit. They are just about thin enough, however, to replace the liners of your snowboarding gloves.
But these gloves are really for when you’re freezing your arse off on the platform, bored because the 7:23 has been delayed again.
In practice with a range of touchscreen smartphones we had no problems using the Agloves at all.
We tried them on while using the iPhone 4 and the LG Optimus 2X, that we just happened to have lying around the office.
We also tried the gloves on Apple’s Magic Trackpad so we could enjoy the multi-finger (more than 2) experience more than anything else. We are happy to report this works well, paving the way for multi-touch support for tablets, when they start to ask you to use more than one finger to get the most out of the device.
At £15.91 for Brits and $17.99 for Americans, the Agloves are certainly a cheaper alternative to The North Face Etip gloves we’ve previously tried.
That said, you can see where the extra money has gone on The North Face offering, with the company producing a more stylish glove that is likely to appeal to a different audience.
The Agloves offer function over style.
Here the benefit is the multi-touch offering and while The North Face gloves look great and are comfortable, they can’t deliver that. If that’s what you need, then the Agloves work, are comfortable, and as long as it doesn’t get too cold, will keep your hands warm as well.
Now where’s that snowball?