It's another top ten list. Here, in no particular order, are ten gadgets & gizmos I thought were outstanding. The list came about because people have asked what my favorite gadgets were during the past year. So here they are, my ten favorites for 2008 from episodes of The Daily Giz Wiz.
A very clever new gizmo.The Nirvana Organizer If you travel, this is a great new way to have everything you need at your fingertips. On planes and trains, the Nirvana Organizer mounts on the seat back tray table creating an entirely new space for work (and play). It keeps all necessary items within armís reach during your trip. There are special pockets designed to fit cell phones/PDA's, plan tickets, passport, credit cards and cash. There are more compartments and pouches for a water bottle. cup holder, key chain clip and pen/pencil holders. The open-access travel organizer bag essentially turns "inside-out" to permit direct access to internal contents. Itís also great for cars, strollers, airplanes, trains Ė anywhere you need to carry essential items on the go. But this is really the neat part Ė when itís time to move on, the Nirvana Organizer folds and zips closed! Now you have a shoulder bag with your gear, or itís small enough to fit inside another bag or backpack. It comes with itís own adjustable shoulder strap and carry handles. The shell is100% polyester microfiber; the lining is polyester micro-fiber and nylon mesh. Water resistant, spot clean only. Available in black or brown. Cost is a very reasonable: $39.99 www.zenclasstravel.com Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw691 A Very Handy and Inexpensive Travel Scale Airlines are changing the carry-on rules quite often these days. And they are no longer inclined to let a few extra pounds slip by without an extra charge. So you should know exactly how much your luggage weights before you leave for the airport. Also some airlines are also restricting the linear measurements of your bags. So you should also have a tape measure to make sure you comply. The redesigned Travelon Luggage Scale is the perfect accessory for makingsure youíre not going to be charged for overweight luggage. It lets you weigh and measure your baggage. Itís especially important if you feel your suitcase case might be close to the fifty pound limit most airlines have set. Whatís the linear measurements of your luggage? (L+W+D). Check that with Travelon Luggage Scaleís built in tape measure. This new version lets you lift your luggage and weigh it bag quickly without having to hold the bag while you look at the scale. Now a ďmemory handĒ stays at the top weight of the bag even after you set it back down. The best news is that this useful travel gadget is only $7.50. http://tinyurl.com/5qu45 A real clever idea from the folks at Travelon. Travelon Sheets are available for shaving, body wash, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, and laundry. They are TSA (Transportation Security Administration), carry-on compliant and provide an easy way to pack light for short trips. No need to worry about the ever-changing airline regulations because youíre not carrying a liquid at all. You can carry a pack of fifty sheets of the Conditioner Sheets in one compact case about half the size of a cellular phone. Just add water and a sheet will dissolve instantly.. Use the conditioner in conjunction with Travelonís Shampoo Sheets and have all the hair care treatment you need in two tiny containers weighing two ounces total! Biodegradable and safe for the environment, the Travelon Conditioner Sheets should be removed with a dry hand so to not damage the balance of the remaining sheets. Travel well, travel fresh and most of all, travel often! Under $3.00 per set of 50 sheets. This is a real clever item. Itís also great for boats, the glove compartment, office, or any place you do where you need soap, etc. and canít find it. http://tinyurl.com/5evfwk Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw689
The Stanley 3-in-1 Tripod Flashlight
This neat flashlight can be used in a large variety of ways. You get three identical flashlights, each one with a head that swivel 90 degrees. And each one takes its own two AA batteries which you supply. Then thereís a separate holder into which you can place the three separate flashlights to make them into one very bright and very useful flashlight. The center piece has tripod legs that pop open so the 3-in-1 flashlight can stand upright. Even in the tripod position the individual lights each have their own tilt-able lens. The single LED on each individual light puts out a decent amount of light. A neat little trick is that when the three lights are put together, any of the on/off buttons on the individual lights controls all lights. The tripod legs of the 3-in-1 are held by a small magnet in the center holder. Push a button, and you can separate the legs to make the handy tripod. Each individual flashlight has a head that can swivel 90 degrees. So you can wear one in your belt and swivel the head down to light your way. Thereís a ring near the top of the flashlight that glows when itís on. That way, even if you put the flashlight straight down on the floor you can see at a glance that its on. Under $30.
Now you can add a lot of professional effects when you broadcast or video tape with your webcam.
Itís a great piece of software called WebcamMax. And it works with most all webcam programs. In seconds you can add a variety of effects over your webcam pic. You can add moving titles, water effects, nighttime effects, etc. Many come with the program, but you can also download thousands of online effects from the web. Then you can record video with these effects and broadcast the results on YouTube or your Blog.In the program you can select webcam, screen Ė selecting screen means you can move your mouse around and show viewers items you have on your computer screen! You can show movie clips or put on a slide show with your favorite pictures.And you can do PinP (Pic in Pic)! You can be on one part of the screen while you describe what youíre showing viewers on another part of the screen. You can paint on the video box directly.Effects you can use include: Transform: apply Distorting Mirror, Fire, Mosaic, Line, Color, Snow or Water. With Mask, you can wear all kinds of glasses and hats, or change your hairstyle. Background: Change your background to the place you like and put yourself there! Itís kind of like having your own professional green screen. I liked this program the minute I started using it. You can try it for free for 30 days. Theyíll be a WebCamMax watermark on the screen, but you can still try all the great features. If you want to buy it, itís $20 for a 6 month license, $30 for a year, $40 for two years, or probably the best bet, $50 for a lifetime license. Iíve been using this and I like it a lot.
Clickfree recently released some DVDís that are quite unusual. Itís probably one of the most inexpensive ways to protect your data. Each Clickfree Automatic backup DVD is category specific. They can back up music, photos or documents. Itís the easiest back up Iíve ever seen. Just Insert the rewriteable DVD in the computer disc drive. That automatically starts the backup. If the back up program on the disc finds it needs more than one DVD, it will tell you that right on the screen. Then you simply insert recordable DVDís until all your info is safely backed up. A set of 3 DVDís with the built in software is $10.You have to realize though that the Clickfree DVD only backs up your data to the point you make the copy. If you add more files then you need to start over again. But Iíd do it every few months or so. This is a back up system for someone who knows nothing about making backups. I used it to move a lot of photos from an old computer to a new one. The ClickFree 160 GB hard drive is for folks with a touch more computer savvy, but that device too is real easy to use.Hereís the show on the Clickfree hard drive: http://www.twit.tv/dgw629
Well, a lot. Itís the Lifegear LED Flashlight/Reading Light /Clock/AM/FM / NOAA Weather Radio with 3 way power Itís easier to remember it as the Life Gear Model LGTF38. But it does have a LOT of features!Letís list them:
3 super-bright LED flashlight/ 4 LED reading or map lamp / Cell phone charger. (It comes with an adapter for Nokia but you get another for free for your phone.) /NOAA emergency radio with alert, AM/FM and weather band Alarm clock / Emergency signal flashers and siren / 3 power options: crank, AC or DC / Suggested Price : $59.95 / Do a web search. I found it here for about $41: http://tinyurl.com/47oblyNOTE: I have not shopped at that vendor's website. I found itjust doing a price search.
Hereís a very easy way to put video on your iPod, PSP, or a USB device!
Itís the Pinnacle Video Transfer (PVT). This is the one of the easiest ways to record video Iíve ever used. I was recording video within 5 minutes of opening the box. On the bottom end of the PVT just connect the DC power and a USB flash drive. The other end of the unit has the video connections. Thereís the usual RCA, red/white/yellow composite and an S-video input. LEDís are also positioned above each of the video/audio inputs and the USB port. When the unit is turned on the blue LEDís let you know the unit ďseesĒ audio & video and the USB drive. For better quality recordings, as you would expect, Pinnacle advises using the S-video input rather than Composite Video. You get the composite A/V cable, but you have to supply your own S-video cable.After connecting the cables and plugging in a USB storage device, turn the device on by pressing the MODE button. When all the LEDís have turned blue, select the recording quality. Pressing the MODE button lights the LEDís - (one LED for 'Good', two for 'Better' and three for 'Best').To record Ė hmmm, letís see. Oh right - press the REC button. All the LEDís then turn red to confirm that youíre recording. To stop, just press the REC button again. Thereís a warning not to remove the USB drive until its LED turns blue. But that only takes a few seconds after you stop the recording.When you search the drive on your computer youíll find the recordings in the Video directory. The unit has no clock, so thereís no time or date stamp of the recording. Each video is numbered according to the sequence in which it was recorded, but you can easily change the file name yourself. Although the PVT can record directly to most iPods and the PSP, I only tried it with a USB flash drive and it worked perfectly. I took the USB flash drive from the PVT and was able to watch the show I recorded from my cable box on my laptop. I did a price search on Amazon and see it can be bought for about $115 to $120.00.
OpenIt looks so much like pruning shears, when I got a product sample in the mail, I put them aside. I thought I'd look at them in the spring when people started thinking about gardening. But then at CES I heard someone talking about OpenIt and how quickly they could cut through heavy-duty plastic shell packages. So when I got home I took them out and tried them. The first thing you see is that the OpenIt is packaged in - a plastic shell!But they were clever and there's a way to remove them easily through the back of the package. Squeezing on the orange pliers handles allows you to cut your way through those thick plastic shells. But wait, there's more! Built into the handles there's also a retractable box-cutter that's spring loaded so you won't accidentally cut your latest gadget in your excitement. (You still have to be careful with this device. Itís not for kids!) And guess what -- that's still more! Built into the other handle is a mini screw driver so you can open the battery compartment of your new gadget. Pretty neat, especially the price. $10.95 and it comes in three other colors if you don't like orange. I like orange because it makes it easy to spot under all the clutter on my workspace!
The Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger. Hotel rooms and airport terminals never seem to have enough power outlets to plug in andcharge all the devices us geeky types bring along when we travel. Belkin knows that too because those folks are on the road a lot. Thanks to their new gizmo you can now you can add 3 AC outlets, two USB charging ports, and peace of mind on business trips and vacations with the Belkin Mini Surge Protector. It has a rotating plug so you can face the device in the direction that is most convenient. And thereís a green LED to let you know the surge protection is on. It even comes with a full size to mini USB charging cable. And Iím sure you know this, but Belkin has this important warning on their website: Important: This productís USB outlets cannot be used as a USB hub and does not transmit data. The powered USB outlets on this unit are intended solely for charging devices that can be charged via a USB interface$24.99.
Thatís it for 2008.Hereís to even more and newer gadgets in 2009!
It's not fair to put it on my "Top Ten List", but I still like, no love, my LED Giz Wiz Baseball Cap! They're World Famous! (Well at least they're famous in the US and Canada.)
New Year Special! An extra pair of CR2032 Lithium Batteries will be included with every LED hat ordered before January 31st, 2009. The manufacturer says this new hat offers up to 30 hours of burn time on the included batteries. With an extra set of batteries you can double that to 60 hours! (Your burn time may vary.)
Perfect for doing any job where you wish you had someone to hold a flashlight.
Changing fuses in the dark. / Working under the sink. / Working under the hood of your car, or even under your car! / Hooking up cables behind your computer, HDTV, or under your desk. / Perfect when walking the dog at night. / Finding stuff in the closet. / I've gotten many emails saying the LED hat was almost a lifesaver when a storm knocked out the power.
It features the Giz Wiz two color embroidered designer logo! / A on/off switch is built right into the brim! / The battery holder is built into the liner so it's easily change batteries! / And there's an easy-to-adjust to size Velcro strap!
Cost? $22.99. Shipping is $5.99 and it goes Priority Mail!
IMPORTANT!!!! Here's the bad news on postage to Canada. Postage to Canada has gone up again! Priority Mail to Canada is now $16.10. That's what I pay, I don't make any money on postage. It requires a customs form and the package has to be delivered in person to the post office on the same day as the date on the label. The only good news is that it's the same price to mail one hat or two hats. So you if live in Canada and have a friend who wants to order one, you can at least share the postage. PayPal isn't set up to apply the proper postage to Canada, so if you order one or two hats, I'll send you PayPal invoice for the difference in postage. I wish was cheaper and easier, but it's not.
IMad About the Movies Directors' Cut'
MAD About the Movies: Directorís Cut features more than sixty zany parodies of classic (and not-so-classic) movies first featured in MAD Magazine and rendered in full graphic glory by The Usual Gang of Idiots. Covering nearly seventy years of movie history, these classic spoofs show that thereís no film so sacred that it canít be treated irreverently, no movie star so famous that he or she canít be made fun of, and no script so dramatic that it canít be twisted to show its amusing side. Some of the best-loved films of all time get their comic comeuppance here, among them: Gone with the Wind / Bonnie and Clyde/A Clockwork Orange/ Brokeback Mountain/Spider-Man / Harry Potter and the Sorcererís Stone/The Lord of the Rings (all three films!)
The book is another exclusive with Barnes and Nobleís own publishing division. So B&N is the only place youíll be able to get a copy. But itís one heck of a deal at $9.98! The book is 400 pages thick with a hard, color cover. I wrote 88 of the 400 pages. (Residuals? Yeah, right. Forget it! MAD owns everything they buy forever!) Hmm, maybe thatís why itís so inexpensive!