Planet Sinclair


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x X1 Radio
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O 1997


Last updated
26 Feb 1998


EVENING STANDARD (London), 12 December 1997


THIRTY YEARS AGO, THAT EXTRAORDINARY British treasure Sir Clive Sinclair, our only gossip-column scientist, launched his bizarre career with a radio smaller than a matchbox. It sold, if memory serves, for 59/6d.

Hot on the tail of the Sinclair Micro 6, as the miniature wireless set was called, came a whole string of techno-triumphs. There was the first digital watch, the first calculator, the first cheap home computer, the first pocket TV, the first consumer electric car. Sir Clive invented almost everything there was to invent, plus several bits and pieces that didn't want to be invented, but which he devised anyway.

With all that brilliance, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect MENSA's recently retired chairman to be up there with Bill Gates. Yet outside of this country, Sir Clive Sinclair is barely known. He's not a poor man, but you won't find him in the Top 500 anything, really. He's just Sir Clive of the C5, clever, English, a bit potty, and, er, that's it.

Well. the news is that Sir C has not another invention on the market, a tiny, sexy little black number, cute as a bug's ear and almost small enough to fit into one. Come on then, guess what it is. An in-ear telephone? A lobe-sized mini-computer? A Eustachian tube-proportioned spacecraft? A car for ants? Nope. It is (roll of drums)... a miniature radio. A little bit smaller than the Sinclair Micro 6 of yore. A lot lighter at half an ounce. A wee bit tackier. But at an amazing price of just 9.50, and a perfectly adequate performer to boot.

The X1 Button Radio is a proper FM receiver with auto-scan tuning, just like a car radio. It runs on a lithium battery, which should last a year, and is guaranteed by Sir Olive to stay put in your earhole even when you're on the dance floor, which he should know about, since he's rarely off one. A slight drawback to the X1 is the long wire aerial which dangles down, but even Sir Clive Sinclair can't change the whimsical nature of FM-radio signals, so he can't be blamed for that.