The Y-Brush NylonStart Sonic Electric Toothbrush

A whole-mouth toothbrush for those tired of doing it the old-fashioned way

It pays to be slightly skeptical of public-health advice. Sometimes, it’s merely a political expedient. British people, for example, were advised that eating extra carrots during World War II could improve their eyesight at night. It emerged later that this was part of a ruse to explain to the Nazis why Royal Air Force pilots had seemingly superhuman nighttime vision. What was actually helping Spitfire aces “see” was radar.

Other health advice has often been mistaken, oversimplified, or made up for commercial gain, whether it’s the mantra about five servings of fruit and vegetables a day (we probably need more), the idea that cholesterol is always bad for you (it’s way more complicated than that), the notion that fat makes you fat (faulty but heavily promoted by companies making low-fat products), or that we need to “hydrate” more than is probably necessary (heavily promoted by beverage companies).

But one exhortation that has always sounded dubious to your columnist—that you need to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes—seems to have held up over time. You would imagine that scrubbing anything, especially with a fast-moving, electric-powered brush, for more than a few seconds would remove all the necessary gunk. But dental experts are more or less unanimous on the matter.

Except, that is, for Y-Brush, a dental start-up in Lyon, France, which claims that its newly released, mouth-shaped electric toothbrush can do the job in 10 seconds—5 seconds for the top set, 5 seconds for the bottom. The Y-Brush claims to clean all your teeth simultaneously from all possible angles. The company says that with the brush at its most intense setting, its 35,000 filaments subject each tooth to four times more scrubbing than a traditional brush as it works its way through the nooks and crevices of your bouche.

Your reporter, well aware of lazy tropes concerning both British teeth and French oral hygiene, has been trying the Y-Brush for a month now. He has to admit that while the contraption looks like a cross between a sex toy and Hannibal Lecter’s latest headgear, his teeth feel smooth and polished. As smooth and polished, indeed, as they do with Landing Gear’s normal two-minute toothbrush, the $150, Japanese-made Ion-Sei.

Y-Brush has its own toothpaste brand, but the brush works just as well with other ones, too. Better, in fact, because the official toothpaste is transparent, making it difficult to see how evenly you’ve applied it to the brush.

There have been a lot of attempts at whole-mouth toothbrushes these past few years. Few have done well, and one Danish effort was a scam that raised almost $3 million in crowd-funding but never delivered and went out of business. Its founders turned out to be two teenagers. We think Y-Brush may be among the first serious contenders, though. The bathroom minutes saved are exceptionally welcome.

The Montblanc MTB 03 In-ear Headphones

The Montblanc MTB 03 In-Ear Headphones, $395.

The purveyor of perfect pens has a new trick up its sleeve …

The esteemed German pen company Montblanc might have been accused of cultural appropriation had it borrowed its name and its white, six-pointed snow-cap logo from countries other than its European neighbors France and Italy, where the eponymous mountain is actually located.

As it is, Montblanc seems to have gotten away with using the name of Western Europe’s highest peak since 1934, when the Hamburg-based pen-maker Simplo Filler Pen Co. changed its name to that of a mountain almost 700 miles away.

But since 1993, Montblanc has been Swiss-owned, as part of the Richemont group, so finally there’s at least a tenuous rationale for the Alp-jacking.

Not unlike many other German enterprises, Montblanc is an exceptionally smart company. So, sensing that fountain pens are not exactly the future, it has long since diversified into other luxury goods, from leatherware to watches.

As of last month, there are even Montblanc Bluetooth earbuds, their new MTB 03s, which succeed in transferring the Montblanc aesthetic and feel to portable audio without making it look as if you have fountain-pen caps stuck in your ears.

The MTB 03s aren’t just a brand exercise in which Montblanc slapped its name and logo on a pair of headphones. They are an exceptionally good audio product devised by audio engineer Axel Grell, who spent 30-plus years as a senior designer with Sennheiser, the long-established German headphone-maker.

The sound is in the same high-end league but a little lighter and brighter than that of the otherwise similar Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2s, which we featured in May. The Montblanc offering, though, is glossier and more impressively built—they look truly stylish, while probably too refined for the mugging community to find very interesting.

The MTB 03s have active noise cancellation, water resistance, a black-coated aluminum charging case, and an app we love. Clear and precise, they offer a fine range of personal sound-tuning options you will spend happy hours experimenting with.

The Murena Fairphone 4

The Murena Fairphone 4, from $629.90.

A cell phone you can fix without trekking to the Genius Bar

Despite the “sustainability” claims of cell-phone manufacturers, the fact remains that their business model relies on consumers’ replacing their phone every few years.

For the past decade, the Dutch company Fairphone has been advancing the admirable cause of modular cell phones, which are user-repairable and upgradable with little more than the use of a screwdriver. They’ve also been offering a five-year warranty, long-term software support, and enhanced data privacy.

Their latest Dutch treat, the Fairphone 4, is an up-to-date 5G Android-based phone with a modest but perfectly acceptable set of specifications. It’s a nice phone, and fine for probably 99 percent of what regular users might want to do.

Fairphone also has a policy of allowing other companies to adapt the software of Fairphones. The Murena Fairphone 4 is a product of this policy, the work of a French nonprofit that takes Fairphone’s ethics a stage further by “de-Googling” Android. The Murena Fairphone will run the same apps as any Android, but, they say, without sending your data—and, arguably, selling your soul—to Mammon on an hourly basis.

The Wanna Walk Youtube Channel

The Wanna Walk YouTube channel, free.

See the sights without paying the price

In the first edition of Landing Gear, nearly two years ago, we introduced Drive & Listen, a free Web app that offered the mesmeric experience of driving around cities the world over without leaving our coronavirus-blighted house arrest.

And now for a different form of traveling without traveling (or paying): a growing series of immersive and highly evocative walking videos on YouTube under the banner “Wanna Walk.”

While the still-extraordinary Google Street View—surely one of the greatest phenomena of the Internet Age—allows you to pilot yourself around anywhere, from villages in Siberia to one-horse towns in Nevada, it is a snapshot without sound. The navigation is also rather slow and clunky.

Wanna Walk volunteers around the world film videos, with sound, of the view while wandering about their home city. All yours are the backstreets of Havana, Cuba, and Asunción, Paraguay, on a rainy evening—and even, if you must, a Madrid branch of Ikea.

In truth, the edits and camerawork can be annoying; the commentaries, a little amateurish; and the ads, which sometimes appear, irritating. You may also find that however interesting and engaging the tour is, after a few minutes you’ll feel a kind of: Enough Havana, already.

But isn’t that just a little bit like walking around foreign cities as a real-life tourist, if we’re being honest?

Based in London and New York, AIR MAIL’s Tech Columnist, Jonathan Margolis, spent more than two decades as a technology writer at the Financial Times. He is also the author of A Brief History of Tomorrow, a book on the history of futurology