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----- IMPORTANT! Some Netcasts may not be online yet. They are usually available starting around midnight of the indicated date... But these are the gizmos and gadgets we'll be taking about, even if the show is not up yet uploaded to the Net.
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Daily Giz Wiz, Week of April 27th
Monday, April 27th, 2009, Netcast 816
Utility knifes donít have to be scary!
My fear about utility knifes is that someone is going to put one in my tool without retracting the blade completely. Then while reaching around for tools Iím going to cut myself. Ouch!! That shouldnít happen with the new Rapid Edge from Rapid Tools. Itís features heavy-duty die-cast construction with excellent ergonomic comfort Ė BUT it has a feature that I think is great! Itís called SafeíTíVue. As soon as the blade tip comes out, an LED light alert comes on! It also features a SlideíníLock button so you can have different secure cutting blade lengths. The light does more than just alert you to the exposed blade; itís great for cutting carpet, drywall, etc. in dark corners of your home. The LED light illuminates the area youíre working in. It makes it easy to follow any line youíre cutting along. It includes 3-patented Rapid Edge serrated blades. And the cost is $8 or less.
Rapid Tools also makes the Shark. Itís the first & only tool to combine a utility knife with a wire stripper. It comes with 5 Rapid Edge blades, their own the patented, serrated blade that lasts longer & cuts easier. The pliers-style, wire-stripper grip locks securely into the body of the knife when not in use. Thereís a spring-loaded wire cutter that opens easily and cuts comfortably. The precision ground stripping holes easily remove insulation from 10 to 18 gauge wires. And built in also is a wire cutter & crimper. The one-button, quick blade change is easy & saves time. No tools required to change the blades. And the four-blade storage compartment opens wide for easy blade access. Itís under $20.
Another Turn the Table & Leo gives a plug to the Pogo Plug
This is a gizmo I showed on World News Now some time back. But when I showed it, it was just in the prototype stage. I had to return my unit right after the show, but Leo was the first person I know of to buy the final ready-for-market production Pogo Plug. And Leo says he loves it! Pogo Plug lets you get files from your home or office computer Ė depending on where you set it up -- from anywhere in the world via the Internet. The set up is easy. You plug an external hard drive or even a USB Flash drive into a USB port on the bottom of this device. Then you run a cable from the Pogo Plug to your router. Then plug Pogo Plug into an AC out. Thatís it. Now where you can get files you need from your device over the Internet. You access it via the Pogo Plug website. Using the included software you drag & drop files into the Pogo Plug icon on your desktop and then those files become available via the Internet. Cost is $99
Can you believe Ė a hand operated washing machine?
Itís call Wonder Wash. It washes a 5-lb. load in just a couple of minutes. It has a patented pressure system that forces detergent into the fabric at high speed for a fast, efficient, economic and very easy wash. This sounded a little strange to me, so the company sent me a Wonder Wash to try. Surprise! It does work. My socks needed to be washed a second time, but the t-shirts and underwear came out perfectly clean! Itís geared toward campers, single people and even for the housewife with small frequent loads like hand washables and diapers. As you can guess it uses far less water than even hand washing. Size? 12" x 12" x 16" (L x W x H) According to the company, the Wonder Wash washes: 7-8 dress shirts or 10 T-shirts or 30 pairs of socks or 2-3 pairs of blue jeans. You put warm or hot water into the drum, put on the lid and screw it tight. The air inside the drum absorbs the heat of the water and expands which creates pressure inside the drum. The pressure forces the detergent (which is diluted into the water) into & through the fabric (which is porous) about 100 times faster than you could by hand or machine. You can try it for yourself too. They offer a 30-day, no-hassle money back guarantee. The price is good too. $42.95
A companion to the Wonder Wash --- The Mini Countertop Spin Dryer
When I first heard about Mini Spin Dryer I wondered how much drying it could do when it only uses 82 watts! And only costs $69.95. But then I read this notice from the company: Important: please note that this is a spin dryer, not a regular tumble dryer. It extracts much more water from the clothes than a regular washing machine spin cycle; they come out slightly damp. So it doesnít dry your clothes completely which would require probably 1500 watts. But after using both the washer & the spin dryer, I see they are a great combination. The clothes come out of the Spin Dryer damp and you might want to hang them up for an hour or so to dry more. Some felt dry enough to immediately press. That way the ironing would finish they drying process. But it does works in only 2-3 minutes. The drum is translucent so you can see the water flying out of the clothes as the drum spins. Itís really neat. You have to balance the load carefully since this is a very small unit that weighs just 11 pounds. It has a 2.2 lb capacity (about 1-2 pairs of jeans per load). And itís fast spinning at 1600 rpmís. Itís compact, measuring 13.5" x 13.5" x 15". For tiny apartments, for single people, for people who want to use very little power the Wonder Wash & Spin Dryer is a perfect combination. The Spin Dyer is $69.95.
Letís go back just about seven years to the summer of 2002. Compaq introduces the Compaq Evo 500 Ultra-slim mini tower. This mini tower was one of the first of a new generation of computers that were up to 75% smaller than standard computer towers. It was powered by a1.3-GHz Celeron processor, and had a 20GB hard drive, and a 128 or 256MB of RAM. Price started at $699.00 The CNET review is still on line and here are a few lines from that: ďThe D500 can sit horizontally as a desktop or vertically as a tower (Compaq provides a stand for the latter position). Inside lies Intel's latest 1.3GHz Celeron, along with 128MB of SDRAM and an Intel 815e graphics chipset. A roomy 5,400rpm, 20GB hard drive completes the basic setup. The stock 24X CD-ROM drive can pop out to make room for a US$189 DVD-ROM drive, a US $249 CD-RW drive, a US $99 floppy drive, or even a second US $160 10GB hard drive.ď Amazing, isnít it, that an additional 10 GB hard drive would be $160.00! The 15Ē matching flat screen monitor added $499! And for about $150 more, you could buy a stand that would hold the monitor & mini-tower together. Imagine what you can buy today for that same amount of money!
Daily Giz Wiz, Week of April 20th, 2009 Monday, April 20th, 2009, Netcast 811 The MINI Cooper adds an electric version, the MINI E.
Leo is still looking for a small car for his teenage daughter, Abby. At the NY Auto Show I looked the Smart Car, which is really small. Leo feels itís a bit too small for his daughterís needs, so heís looking for something a bit bigger. I like the Mini-Cooper and at the Auto show I saw the new Mini E, the all-electric version. Itís not on sale yet, but thereís a pilot program offering loan agreements to select companies and customers in California, New Jersey, and New York. 500 cars will be available at the initial introduction, about half on each coast. I spoke to one of the project managers of the Mini E and he gave me some facts and figures. He said the car is capable of going 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and has a top speed of 95 mph. The car can run 100 to 150 miles on one charge depending on driving conditions. I asked if the Mini-E could be charged anyplace there was AC power. It turns out that it can only be charged at its own charging station which is included in the lease price. BMW will install the system in your garage. (You must have a garage to be considered for a lease!) The battery pack weighs 573 pounds, which pretty much takes up all the room behind the front seat. But there still is some room for storage in the trunk area. Charge times can be as little as 2.9 hours with the supplied 240-volt 48-amp wall box. 110-volt household power really isnít an option because it would take almost 24 hours to fully recharge the Lithium-ion batteries. Power for the Mini-E is a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor, which is 100% emission free. And now for the bad news. If accepted Ė you fill out an application online - itís a one year closed end lease. The price is Ė $850 a month! And you provide your own liability insurance, while BMW provides the collision insurance.
Shooting HD Video and transferring it to your computer?
Leo said transferring high def video to a computer can sometimes take longer than ďreal timeĒ. Image it taking four hours to copy two hours of high def Video. Thatís why Leo likes his Elgato Turbo.264 HD. I donít own one, so hereís some info from the companyís website. This USB stick is the fast and easy way to convert HD camcorder clips and other videos to a format that can be played on an iPod , iPhone , and Apple TV , and shared on the web. Turbo.264 HD is an encoder and accelerator that converts all popular video formats, including HD camcorder video, to a high-quality H.264 file in standard or HD resolutions. It is incredibly fast and comes with an easy-to-use software application.H.264 is the universal video compression standard that can be played on an iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, gaming consoles, selected smartphones, and on the web. It offers extremely high quality video in small file sizes. This is a MAC only device. See link after the listen link for PC version that Leo recommended as doing pretty much the same thing. Itís $149.00. Itís about $15 less at the Amazon link below. I donít know anything about this company. I found it by searching for a lower price via Google.
Happy Earth Day! To celebrate, hereís a green gadget. (It costs some green too, but itís neat!)
Way, way back on Daily Giz Wiz 144 I talked about The Voltaic Solar Backpack. It uses solar panels to charge a battery pack inside the backpack. That product is still available, but now theyíve added the Voltaic Generator. This is the first solar bag powerful enough to charge a laptop! The built-in high-efficiency solar cells charge a custom designed battery pack. It will also charge cell phones and most other hand held electronics. The solar panel generates up to 15 watts using 20% efficient cells. Thatís enough to fully charge the Voltaic battery in about 5 hours according to the company. The battery pack stores the equivalent of a typical laptop charge and automatically delivers the required output voltages. It's shipped with many common adaptors for connection to laptops, phones and other handheld devices. An optional reconfigured MagSafe adapter is available for MacBooks. Weight: 4.5 lbs (2,050 grams) including solar panel and battery. Dimensions: 17"x12"x 3.5" (43x31x9cm) It will hold up to a 17" MacBook Pro. And this is neat: An indicator light inside the handle glows to show when the panels are generating a charge. Even the fabrics are made from recycled PET (soda bottles), which is tough, water resistant and eco-friendly. A note of caution: Some laptop brands do not charge via the Voltaic Generator, so check the companyís website for more info. Returns will be accepted for refund of any bags in new condition for up to 60 days from purchase. $499.00
If you like to build your own solar project, hereís more interesting news from the company: Voltaic has spent a lot of time designing high quality solar panels, batteries, adapters and other components for our solar bags. We encourage you to use our components for your own solar project. If you are willing to provide us with pictures or links of the finished product, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a description. We will give a wholesale discounts on all components. Let us also know if there are parts you need but do not see here.
Back on March 7th, 2009, I talked about the Porter Case. It was on Dickís Gadget Warehouse Friday. The Porter Case is a clever rolling suitcase that converts to a cart so you can pile your other luggage on top. The original Porter Case is still available, but itís a bit pricey at about $300. But the company has come out with a more affordable line of Porter Cases PCX Lite Line. I recently started using the Porter Case PCX Lite 21" Standard Case w/Cart. Like the other suitcases in the line, the PCX can still be used as a cart, but thereís an extra easy step for the conversion. On the lower price line you disconnect the handle and reconnect it in a different place. Itís very easy to do and the new easier engineering cuts the cost of the bag to about $149.00. It carries a little less weight than the original, about 100 pounds Ė but how much stuff do you have?? It fits easily into the overhead bin on an airplane with no problem. One side of the case has a semi-hard construction to carry the 100 pounds on top. Wide high flotation ball bearing wheels make it easy to navigate and thereís a single button control extension handle. Thereís a solid 5/16" steel axle, bag liner with lid elastic cross over strap, and side & end carry handles. I like this suitcase a lot.
Dickís Gadget Warehouse Friday, April 24th, 2009, Netcast 815
One of the first video projectors, but wait until you read the specs!
Okay, itís 1993 Ė16 years ago Ė and the Fujix p701 Portable Video Projector hits the market. (Fujix is a division of Fuji.) On the back are RCA inputs for video and right & left audio for stereo sound. The projector has a built in handle, built in amplifier and built in speakers. But the resolution? About 320x240 powered by a 30 waat bulb! Specs list Ansi 100 lumens. Yes 100, not 1,000. It was most likely designed for use in office presentations because it has a mini plug input for an external mic with itís own volume control. The p701 also has controls for brightness, color, and tint. Thereís a manual focus 40MM lens and a tripod mount on the bottom. The front has itís own elevator screw like a slide projector. No signs of it on Google in the US, but somewhere has one for sale on Ebay in Germany. (Well on sale as on April 10th, 2009. Someone may have grabbed it by now!)
It's on EBay in Germany. Grab it quick, but read the specs first!
Acoustibuds shown installed on a pair of regular earbuds.
Daily Giz Wiz, Week of April 13th, 2009
Monday, April 13th, 2009, Netcast 806
Earphones or ear aches?
Whatís with the majority of those ear buds that are shipped with iPods, and many of other major MP3 players. The audio isnít that bad, but they seem to be designed to fit about 1% of the ears people have. I havenít met one person yet who said: ďWow, the ear buds I got with my MP3 player are SO comfortable!ď Thereís a new product that can go a long way to make those ear buds you already have, a lot more comfortable. Theyíre called Acoustibuds and they fit better, stay in the ears and improve the sound quality. John Burton, who owns the company said: ďWith all of the unique shapes and sizes of ears, achieving this goal without discomfort or the bulk of over-the-ear hooks gives our team a great sense of accomplishment. The surprise came when the twin cone core idea was added for high-fidelity acoustics and in combination with the exceptional sound isolation created by the multi-barrier fins.Ē Come on, heís the president of the company. My personal opinion? I like these a lot. Acoustibuds only come in two sizes and thatís enough. The thin, flexible silicone rubber fins are angled to assure optimum position and contact within many different types and size ears. They will not fit on every kind of earphone, however. Acoustibuds are designed to fit "flat faced" ear-buds like those that come with your iPods, iPhones, mp3 players and some cell phones. They are not developed to work with in-ear headphones. The price is good too. A retail package includes one of each of the two sizes of noise-isolating earphone adapters and two storage pouches. Price is under $15.00 Theyíre available in white or black, and can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Itís another Turn The Table Tuesday and Leo comes up with another camera gadget.
Leo loves photography and high-end cameras. He also likes long zoom lenses so he can get close in on the action. But when looking at a high power zoom lens for his Canon E5, he was taken by surprise when he saw it cost several thousand dollars. But Leo found a much more economical solution. It lets him use his current zoom lens and get 2X closer. Itís the Canon EF 2X II Extender. I donít own one of these, so hereís some info from the Amazon website. ďDesigned to double the focal length of any compatible Canon EF lens, the Canon EF 2x II extender telephoto accessory is ideal for sporting events and nature photography. The lens boasts a new seven-element design, along with the same weather-resistant and anti-reflective internal construction as the companion EF 1.4x II extender. More significantly, the extender supports autofocus with any EOS body provided the lens has an f/2.8 or faster maximum aperture.Ē Leo said people should be aware that the EF 2x II reduces the effective aperture of the lens by two stops. The EF 2x II also maintains an EOS camera's Image Stabilization technology. Cost, far less than a new zoom lens, $290.00.
The Staples Micro-Cut Shredder is an ultra-quiet, jam resistant micro-cut shredder. With its titanium cutter blades, it turns checks, statements, and documents into confetti. Thereís no worry someone is going to reassemble personal documents and steal sensitive information. Staples says the shred size is: 2/32" X 12/32Ē. I still call it confetti. A really good feature is that this device can also shred staples, credit cards, paper clips, CD's and DVD's. And it works great. I got rid of every old DVD I didnít need because itís fun watching this shredder work. This is one of the higher end models from Staples. It features a blade guard and a lockout key. I have is the 10-sheet micro cut model. It has a large 4.3 gallon bin. The viewing window glows blue when shredding and shuts off when the bin is about ĺ full. It may have been designed that way so itís easier to empty. The bin must be back in place for the shredder to operate. A 60 decibel noise level is quiet for a shredder, especially one that shreds DVDís. I like the auto shut off too. When the last paper has gone through the blades, it stops the motor. The unit is still on, with all the controls illuminated, but the motor stops. AntiJam with SmartSense technology is clever too. It prevents jams before they start. If you put in too many papers at once, it stops and flashes an icon to let you know you should put in fewer sheets. Price is $199.99, but right now there is a rebate offer of $50. I notice the rebate offer stops & then starts again, so keep your eyes on the Staples ads if youíre interested in one. Staples has a wide range of shredders all the way down to a tabletop model for about $50 or so.
Most likely you have an emergency flashlight in your car. But will it work when you need it is another story. Usually the batteries are weak or worse yet, dead. Thereís a new device, the USB Flashlight-er that not only solves the dead battery problem, but also adds an extra feature for gadget lovers. The Flashlight-er is an in-dash, rechargeable flashlight that allows you to also charge any small electronic device that uses a USB to USB adapter. Keep it plugged in to charge your phone, PDA, Blackberry, etc., and when you need a flashlight, just remove the Flashligh-er. Three LEDís automatically switch on to give you a small powerful flashlight. Michael Lifshitz, from Flashlight-er told me itís usable with all of the newest Smart phones, including the iPhone! The Flashlight-er is small so it sticks out less than an inch from the dash. Thatís much less than a typical lighter plug device. The USB Flashlight-er comes with the one-amp USB plug which should charge devices back to full power quickly. Michael said that if you plug an iPod with a dead battery into the Flashlight-er, it should come back to full strength as quickly as a home charger would take. Cost is $29.95, plus S & H. For more information, visit www.theFlashlighter.com. Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw809 Friday, April 17th, 2009, Netcast 810
It's back to Dick's Gadget Warehouse!
Light your way to family harmony.
Here's a product from 15 years ago or thereabouts that is still for sale! Really unusual for a gadget to last that long! "Light your way to family harmony!" Thatís what it says on the Johnny-Light website: ďLighting the way to family harmonyĒ. When ďdadĒ lifts the seat, the light comes onÖit goes out when he puts the seat back downÖSo itís a good reminder for dad. Itís easy to install, with no tools needed. Thereís a hidden switch that lights toilet bowl when the toilet seat is raised and then shuts it off when the toilet seat goes down. Itís designed to end the bathroom battle of the sexes by reminding us guys to put the toilet seat down. And this part from the companyís website is pretty funny: Eliminates annoying "fall-ins"! This must happen when you go to sit down not realizing the seat is up. If I remember correctly, according to the little video on the companyís website, 45,000 people have toilet injuries every year! The Johnny-Light is a soft green, so it wonít jar your eyes in the middle of the night. DURACELL batteries included. $13.95, plus $1.75 S & H. Itís also available at Loweís. Available to buy, I don't think itís installed on the toilets there!
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