Most people (well mostly men, I guess) never outgrow the lights, sounds and motion of a Lionel train. You can be transported back to the day when railroads ruled every time you sit and work at your desk. (Yeah, it’s the company’s copy I’m quoting!) But you can celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Lionel Train Company with a working reproduction of the American classic that’s also a desk lamp. (To be honest I think we're probably at the 102th anniversary of Lionel.) Press the button, listen and watch the Lionel locomotive. It has light, sound and motion. It’s only lasts about 20 seconds, but it’s well done. A Tiffany look shade mounted on a wood base. (Both fake finishes, but they look good from a few feet away.) It uses a 40 to 75 watt light bulb (not included). Price:is $70, but do a web search and you can find it for less. As a matter of fact the lowest price I found was online at home depot -- $49.95.
It was high tech state-of-the-art, but only for about a week!
Compaq iPaq Mini CD Player PM-1 Just before MP3 players came on the scene I thought was going to be a big market for mini-CD players. You could burn your favorite music on mini CD discs. With the music compressed you could get up to three traditional CDs on one mini CD. The Compaq's PM-1 had an appealing design, came with a lot of accessories and sold for under $100! 8cm CD-Rs and CD-RWs allowed these devices to be much smaller than standard portable CD players - 3.9 by 3.9 by 1.2 inches and just 7.1 ounces. The storage capacity was185MB, which Compaq said would allow you to record up to 80 songs--or six hours' worth of music--to them. Of course less compression would lead to less music. The PM-1 had Random and Repeat modes as well as four preset EQs. It came with a handy in-line remote, which also displays ID tag information on a small built in LCD screen.
The DAILY GIZ WIZ for Monday, September 4th Labor Day - Podcast 141 So you have a hot invention! How do you make a million dollars?
Since its Labor Day, we had a slightly different Podcast. Both Leo and I get emails from folks who have an invention and/or an idea for an invention. They want advice on how to proceed. On this Podcast we each express our views on the subject. To sum it up as quickly as possible, it its possible to make money with an invention, but it’s a long hard road. Unfortunately it’s something neither Leo nor I can help with. And beware of those commercials that boast ‘we can help you market your invention. According to the BBB (Better Business Bureau) only 1 or 2% of people who spend their money with those companies make more then they spent!
Photo at the right --- Dick's with some weird inventions. Extenda-Fork so you can eat off someone else's plate, Sun Squirt to keep you cool at the beach, and the Arm Alarm, a combination horn/watch!
Tuesday, September 5th – Turn The Table Tuesday Podcast 142
Leo’s choice for this week Turn The Table Tuesday was his Etymotic in ear earphones. Listen to the Podcast for the grim details of just how far into the ear they go! Info on the company that makes Leo’s favorite can be found at their website:
San Disk introduces the largest capacity in a flash memory MP3 player....plus video, photos, FM tuner, & microphone.
Sansa e280 is the newest model. Go back to school, or to the office with the latest MP3 player. This is a recorder/player with a 1.8-inch TFT color screen. It plays MP3 audio, let’s you view photos, even video playback. And something most MP3 players don’t have is a built in microphone which means you can use it to record notes in class, or friends at a party! The brand new Sansa e280 has 8GB of built in memory, .the world's largest capacity flash memory MP3 player! (Well at least when this was written in early September! And with an expansion slot you can add a 2 GB memory card for a total of 10 GB! Pricing is very aggressive, under $250!
Power your gadgets with the sun as you carry them!
Voltaic Solar Backpack. Solar panels charge a battery pack inside the backpack (or use the included AC travel charger or the car charger). Then you can transfer power stored in the battery pack to your device whenever you need it. A voltage converter switch on top of the battery pack allows you to adjust the power output to suit the device being charged, 5, 6, or 7.2 Volts. Charge virtually all cell phones, most PDA's, and digital cameras and iPods. You can tell when the Solar Backpack is charging by an LED that lights up in the Voltaic Logo. It looks real neat. There’s also two built in LED’s so you can use the battery pack as a flashlight if you like! $239.00
DejaView - means never having to say "I'm sorry I didn't get a video of that!"
Like when you kids hits a home run or you knock all the pins down in one shot at the bowling alley. It's a super mini color camera, with sound, that you wear on your cap, or even your eye glasses. At a kid’s little league game, or at any event where something unique might happen, you don’t have to worry that you missed taping it, because you didn’t miss it. This device is taping all the time, and can “save” the past in 30 second sound/video clips. It comes with a 64MB memory card that should be enough to save about twenty 15 second video clips. The website is still up and running and it even has video of me showing Deja View on the Screen Savers four years ago, and Leo showing to it Regis Philban. There’s a new model listed, but there’s no button “to buy”, so I don't know what the state of the company is right now. Also the latest press release on the site is over a year and a half old. I spoke to the PR person, but he said he's no longer there and doesn't know what's happening with the company. Under $400.
Monday, September 11th Podcast 146 ---- We pick three people who had gizmos or gadgets published on my website between mid-July and the end of August.
They each won a Kingston 512 MB Data Traveler II Plus Flash Drive with Migo Software. Migo Software lets you take your browser favorites, computer files, Outlook emails and setting with you. Use them on another computer and leave no trace when you’re done! Thank you Migo Software for making this possible!
The three winners are 1. Larry Blakely 2. Carl in beautiful Richmond, BC, Canada 3. Bill Erkison. I’ve awarded a fourth Kingston USB Flash Drive to “Sinclair” who has sent in more gadget and gizmo suggestion that anyone!
Hopefully the four winners all live in the US or Canada. (Or can provide a US or Canadian address for the prize.) As in posted on my website we can only send MAD Magazines and prizes to addresses in the US and Canada. Winners please Email me the address and use the same email address you used when you sent in the gizmo or gadget that was posted at www.gizwizbiz.com.
And now on to the gadget of the day!
Kids too young for school?
They can still learn at home starting at 9 months thanks to the Little Leaps Learning System. From baby steps to toddler play Little Leaps Grow-with-Me Learning System has a library of interactive learning discs specifically designed to work with activity controller as it transforms. Baby titles work only in Baby Mode and Toddler titles work only in Toddler Mode so that your child is exposed to the age-appropriate learning concepts at the correct time and pacing. Simply flip over the top of the activity controller to transform from Baby Mode to Toddler Mode! Under $40. This is from the folks at Leap Frog who also make the amazing Fly Pen.
Right now the Chocolate is available only through Verizon. It’s $149.00 with a two year contract.
Thank you Migo Software for donating the prizes!
Wednesday, September 13th Podcast #148 ---- Now you can “drive” in your pool! (Assuming you HAVE a pool!)
The Motorized Lounger by Excalibur lets you enjoy hours of fun under the sun zipping around the pool. Just hop on, and this float gives you a fun ride. Two quiet, but powerful motors propel you around your backyard pool. Easy-to-use handles control two independent propellers, moving you forward, reverse, right and left. You can even position the handles in such a way so you turn in circles. Large backrest and armrests cradle your body in comfort. Cup holder in the armrest keeps a cold beverage within easy reach. Includes an electric air pump. Holds adults up to 250 lbs. MSRP is $150.00. And you’ll need 12 D batteries which are not included.
Thursday, September 14th Key Buoy Podcast #149 Are you a boater? Then here’s a gizmo for you.
The self-inflating Key Buoy from Davis Instruments ends the nightmare of keys dropped overboard. Even if your keys are on the Key Buoy, if you drop them into the drink, they sink. But wait about 30 seconds and your keys come bobbing back to the surface! Once you see that inflated orange tube breaking the surface you have approximately 25 minutes to grab them before they sink forever. Since it only costs about $7, I wondered how it worked. The guys at the Davis Instrument booth were happy to explain. When you drop the Key Buoy in the water, a tiny piece of sponge inside the device expands and forces the plastic clam shell to open. When it opens, a tightly folded 14” plastic tube is released. Then a small tablet which contains baking soda dissolves. This creates a gas that fills the tube that floats your keys. The package says the Key Buoy is suitable for items weighing up to 4.2 ounces. Davis Instruments said you can even attach them to other things that often fall in the water like the water fill or gas cap key. We have a few to give away. Listen to the Podcast to see the strange idea Leo came up to determine who gets a free Key Buoy.
Where’s the remote control for the TV? Oh, here it is, right on my wrist!!
It was difficult to misplace the TV/VCR remote when you had the Casio Wrist Remote Controller. The was able to memorize infrared signal codes to control your TV, VCR, stereo and other infrared remote controlled devices. You couldn’t control everything, though. Remote control TV functions included power on/off, channel up and down and volume p and down. The more elaborate Casio Wrist Remote Controller/Calculator watch added direct channel selection via number input. Using a window built right into the watch you can use the learning function to "teach" the watch to control any device with an infrared remote control codes. It stored data for up to 16 functions. Hmm, it seems like you still might be able to buy one overseas. Follow the link below.
The Joby Gorillapod SLR is an ultra-versatile mini-tripod that can be used with a mid-size SLR camera up to maximum load capacity of 2.5 lb/1.1 kg. Its has three multi-segmented flexible legs that can be twisted, bent and formed to grip almost anything handy such as the arm of a chair, a branch, doorknob, fence, etc. Each of the joints can bend and rotate 360į so it can be wrapped around all those various objects. The rubber feet on the legs allow it to be used in the traditional way one would use a mini-tripod. Thereís also a mini quick release system that can left screwed into the camera tripod socket for fast set-up and removal. The maximum height is 8", the minimum height 2". The unit itself weights 5.8 oz. Retail is under $50. The plain Joby Gorillapod (not SLR) is an smaller version for lightweight. compact cameras, but it works the same way as its big brother. The maximum height is 5", minimum height 2". The load capacity 12.5 oz, and the weight of the junior version is1.6 oz. Both are small enough to be carried in backpacks, even small camera bags. About $22.
DGW, #152, Tuesday, September 19th, 2006 Turn the Table Tuesday.
This was a slightly different Turn the Table Tuesday. Leo has just come from the Apple Press Affair where Steve Jobs introduced the new iPods and other products. So Leo talked about whatís coming now and in the future from Apple, including a new 1 GB Shuffle that they claim is now the smallest MP3 player in the world. (For now, I guess.)
ROADMASTER FM MODULATORS. Hereís a way to play your music files through your car radio. But there are a lot of models starting as low as $13.95. And some models lets you play your music directly from a USB flash drive or a memory card without your music player! Roadmasterís newest gizmos is their Power Inverter with FM Transmitter Power Inverter features 110 VAC outlet, USB 5VDC, 12 VDC outputs & Audio Input. And Digital LED Display. So you can plug in your AC Devices in your Car, Truck or SUV up to 100 watts. You can charge portable devices Including i-Pods, Laptops, Mobile Phones, Cameras and More! A neat innovation is the fully adjustable position angle.
DGW # 154 Ė Thursday, September 21st Faucet Light Ė
Yes! Another LED light! Faucet Light adds a brilliant blue light stream to any faucet. The running water activates the bright blue LED that lights up the water. Turn off the water and out goes the light. Itís great for getting the little ones to wash their hands, perfect for running the water in the middle of the night, and just a hoot anytime. Actually itís good for a nice Ďscareí too. When someone doesnít expect the water to suddenly turn on vivid blue, they do jump back the first time they try it! It installs in less than a minute and easily connects to almost all standard household faucets. Includes 3 button cell batteries, wire screen and 2 universal adapters. $18.98. Itís from the www.thingsyouneverknew.com website. But to go to the actual page for Faucet Light follow the link below which has been shrink for your personal enjoyment!
DGW #155 Friday, September 22nd Back To The Warehouse Friday.
The Forever Ribbon.
The Forever Ribbon turned out not to be forever. As a matter of fact it looks like it didnít even make it to the two year mark. The Forever Ribbon is a ribbon bow with a built in recorder that allows a gift giver to record a personal 10 second message. One button lets you record the message and the second button lets the receiver of the gift play the message. I got a product sample of it at the 2004 Toy Fair. But when checking their website recently www.foreverribbons.com it comes up as unknown. And strangely, neither Leo or I can find anything about it on the web. I thought it was a good idea, and I donít know why it came and went so quickly.
Monday, September 25th Podcast #156
The Saitek Eclipse II keyboard builds on the success of the first Eclipse backlit keyboard.
At first I thought you had to choose the color of the backlight when you purchased one. But then I discovered you get all three colors at the push of a button Ėblue. red and purple. And thereís even a dimmer mechanism. Although with my over 50 eye sight full up is the only way to go. Actually I wish it could go even a touch brighter, especially the number keys because of they share the spotlight with the symbol keys and so the lettering is smaller. The construction feels solid and the weighted base and big rubber feet at each of the four corners keep it firmly in place. The throw of the keys is perfect and you can type quickly and silently. For fast typists this keyboard can easily keep up with you. The keys not only have illumination around them but light also shines up through the laser-etched numbers and letters. There are also media keys for volumel, play/pause and to go forward and backward through music tracks. And Iím not quite sure why, but the sides of the Eclipse II shed light too and itís the changes with the color as the keys. I have to tell you, its look very high tech! Thereís plenty of angle adjustment with a choice of extended short or long legs. It comes with an extendable wrist rest, but thereís not quite enough room in front of my computer to use it. As mentioned above I wish it were a touch brighter, but outside of that, this is a great keyboard! MSRP is about $70, but I did a web search and found for under $50 at Amazon.
Tuesday, September 26th, Podcast #157 Turn the Table Tuesday
Leoís choice for this Tuesday was the Around the House Remote Extender
From Next Generation Products. Unfortunately it does sound like a great product, so once again I didnít get to ridicule him like so many of you have been asking me to do in your emails! But he canít be on a winning streak forever! Hereís the info on the Around the House Remote Extender from their website:
The greatest thing to happen to the remote control since infrared! Simply install the Remote Control Extender in place of one of the AA or AAA batteries inside your remote control and point the receiver or attach the bright eye emitter to the component you wish to control. Now you've converted your existing IR remote to digital RF, giving you the freedom to go from room to room and control your components up to 100+ feet away. No direct line of sight is needed. Now you can control your components from anywhere inside the house. Works through closet doors and closed entertainment system doors. Unlike other remote control extenders, you don't have to attach anything to the front of your remote or be limited to using it in one room. By simply installing extra battery transmitters, you can convert as many remotes as you like! Works with virtually any AA or AAA remote control. Available in 433MHz or 418MHz; additional transmitters and triple eye IR transmitters available. PRICE: $49.95
CarChip E/X lets you do your own computer automobile examination. Since 1996 almost about every car sold in the USA adheres to a protocol called an OBDII. So thereís an plug right under the dash that allows you to hook a data scanner like the CarChip. Just plug into the car's computer and download information. The CarChip E/X records up to 300 hours of driving data. The info recorded includes time and date of each trip, distance, speed, hard accelerations and braking, and engine diagnostic trouble codes. In addition, you can pick four other parameters (see them on their website) to record things like RPM, engine coolant temperature, throttle position, fuel pressure, battery voltage, etc. With the included software you can print out a graph which shows you how your vehicle is performing. And if you happen to have accident, (hopefully not caused by listening to the DGW), the CarChip E/X will automatically generate an accident log showing the last critical 20 seconds of speed. The CarChip software is Windows only and the information from your CarChip is downloaded via a USB port. Thereís also a cheaper version of the CarChip that records just 75 hours of trip details. CarChip E/X with Alarm has all the features of CarChip E/X plus an audible alarm to warn driver when user-set speed, acceleration, and braking limits are exceeded. Prices range from about $160 to $200. Now there are a few vehicles in which CarChip does not function properly, and others in which CarChip may interfere with the normal operation of the vehicle. You can review the list of known CarChip Vehicle Conflicts and Exclusions before purchasing or using CarChip at their website.
Wireless Color Camera Ė This tiny wireless pinhole camera (about 1Ē X .75Ē X .75Ē comes ready to install. Itís small enough to hide almost anywhere -- in clocks, pictures, lamps, books, toys and more. The company says it can be used up to 450 feet away from the receiver. I actually moved it on the locomotive of my model trains in my backyard and I can see the view from the small LCD monitor I hooked the receiver too in my kitchen. Itís only a throw of about 50í, but it is through two walls. For under $100 you get the camera, the transmitter, two A/C adaptors and a 9 Volt adapter for the camera if you want to use it wirelessly which is what I did so it could run around my model layout. I think this is an good value. $99.98 (Itís item #80022)
Back in the early 1990ís. Interstate Batteries introduced the Interstate X2 Booster Battery. This was a normal size car battery with 800 Cold Crank Amps. But vuilt into the battery was a booster battery with 275 Cold Crank Amps which was isolated internally from the bigger battery. It looked the same as any other car battery except for a large round orange knob on the top. It was a safety device. If you left the lights on and came back to the main battery charge was not sufficient to start your car, you could turn the knob and kick in the auxiliary battery. Interstate said this would be enough additional power to start the car and then the alternator would charge both the normal battery and the auxiliary battery. However the public didnít think it was as good an idea as I did and shortly after itís introduction, it was withdrawn from the marketplace. However Interstate Batteries still makes a complete line ot auto and marine batteries. I use them in my boats.