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I'm Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, host of The Giz Wiz on TWiT, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now and on Computer America. But wait, there's More »

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    As "Special Correspondent" - once a month, for a full hour, I join Craig Crossman and Co-Host Ben Crossman on Computer America - America's longest running nationally syndicated radio talk show about computers. But when I'm on the show we talk about every kind of gadget! To hear the show, or to go to the archives (which now covers the past two years) click below www.computeramerica.com

    Wednesday
    Jul292015

    Need to charge gadgets out in the wild?

    MyCharge All-Terrain Portable Charger. If you're going camping or hiking or taking any other kind of outdoor vacation, you should know about this portable charger designed to go anywhere. The company, MyCharge, says their All-Terrain charger has a military grade exterior that is water, temperature, dirt and shockproof. It's available in two models ­ a 3000 mAh All-Terrain Plus and a 6000 mAh All-Terrain Max version. It features something the company calls Hyper-Charge, which say will charge your smartphone – including the new iPhone6 Plus - up to 30% faster than the Apple-supplied charger. The All Terrain Plus has a retail of $39.99 while the All-Terrain Max has an Retail of $59.99. The larger model features 2 built-in USB ports and a 2.4A output. The All Terrain+ is the perfect portable charger for tablets, smartphones or other USB devices. These two products are new and much more info is available at the company website: 

    Company website: http://shop.mycharge.com/search/?type=product&q=All+Terrain 

     

    Giz Wiz Video: https://youtu.be/fFYnfEe4Io4 

    Wednesday
    Jul292015

    Three gadgets from the mid-year Consumer Electronics Show.

    Here's an easy way to upgrade your 9-volt battery powered smoke detector to a smarter device.

    It's called the Roost Smart Battery. The company says their Roost Smart Battery for smoke alarms transforms your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm into a smart home device as fast as you can change a battery. With the same form factor as a conventional 9-volt battery, the Roost Smart Battery works with existing alarms to upgrade the safety and convenience. Once installed in your device, download the app to your smart phone, tablet, etc. Then you can have alarm notifications delivered wherever you are. With Roost installed, you'll receive emergency alerts on your smartphone – no matter where you are. It's probably best to ask friends, family and emergency contacts to also monitor your alarms for increased peace-of-mind when you're away from home. And now no more 3 AM chirps! Roost tells you when the smoke alarm’s batteries are running low, so you can take action to avoid those dreaded middle-of-the-night interruptions. Silence your alarm from your phone during false alarms or the times when you burn the toast. Works with select 9V-only alarms. 5+ year battery life. The company says their replaceable battery will last up to 5x longer than most conventional 9V batteries. For fast installation no hubs, wires or professionals needed. Upgrade your smoke alarm in minutes by simply changing the 9V battery and connecting to Wi-Fi. Price $35, available in September, 2015. When you need a new battery, it's $14.95 plus shipping. The electronics from your original Roost clicks on to the bottom of the replacement battery. 

    Company video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjCYUtU9Sh0

     

    Company website: http://www.smartroost.net/

     

    Amazon has a two-pack pre-order for about $65.00 or a single for $34.99 (as of 7/9/15)

    Roost 900-0002 Smart Battery for Smoke Alarms (2 Pack)

    A nice safety addition to a motorcycle or bike helmet.

         

    The MotoGlo Motorcycle Helmet Safety Light provides increased visibility of the rider by adding running light, brake light, and turn signal indicators to the back of the driver's helmet. It uses wireless technology between the mounted transmitter and the MotoGlo helmet device. The company says it attaches easily to any ¾ or full face helmet with 3M adhesive. Some descriptions say there are models for full and half helmets, and other descriptions says full and ¾ helmet. Frankly, I'm afraid don't know the difference, but check before ordering. The rechargeable battery provides a full 12 hours of lighting on a single charge and be recharged in about an hour with the included USB charging cable. Turn signals flash amber, red brake lights pulse twice and then stay on steady. Running lights can be turned off, on steady, or flash. The spokesperson at the booth said the included transmitter module must be “hard wired” to motorcycle, which is a 15 minute operation. (Yeah, I'd figure on more than that.) The module may be paired to support 2 helmets. That way if you have a rider with a MotoGlo helmet, the rear helmet can light. Prices range from about $79.00 to $99.00.

    Giz Wiz Video: https://youtu.be/qCQa2Gha5Qg

     

    It's here on Amazon for about $87.00 (As of 7/9/15) 

    Whistler Motoglo Full and 3/4 Helmet Safety Light (Black) 

    And here's a place that's selling it for under $70, but I never shopped here:

    http://www.compsource.com/ttechnote.asp?part_no=WHL80&vid=1710&src=F

     

    It's $130 at the company website:

    https://www.whistlergroup.com/usa/shop-online/products/motoglo-motorcycle-helmet-safety-light.html

     

     Is there such a thing as a 'better reality'?

     

       

    I was very interested in trying on the Zeiss VR One. The only other experience I had with a VR device is the Google Cardboard VR. Of course the Zeiss VR One is far superior. The big reason are the Carl Zeiss lenses, made by one of the most respected optic companies in the world. The company says their VR One also uses much larger lenses than the competition. Here's a bit more from the company: With already hundreds of apps available on Google Play and AppleApp Store made for mobile VR devices you can simply download and launch the app, lock your smartphone in the VR ONE precision tray and slide it in the VR ONE. Experience VR games, videos, and amazing experiences that were never before possible. The effect is the equivalent of sitting in the best seat of a theatre, being on-stage at a performance with full 360 degree 3D video, and being able to enjoy gaming like never before - inside stunning worlds where imagination becomes reality. And now back to me. There is no adjustment of the lenses in the Zeiss VR ONE, but they can be used with eyeglasses on. That's what I did, with no problem at all. The VR ONE looks extra slick because you buy phone-specific smartphone trays that lock seamlessly inside the device. Trays for the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy 5 are available now, but more on the on the way. Or you can actually 3D Print your ZEISS VR ONE tray for Samsung Galaxy S4 / S5 / S6, LG G3 or Google Nexus 5 if you like! Details and CAD downloads are on the company website. Cost is of the VR ONE is $120 without a smart phone tray, or $129.99 with one tray of your choice. Beware that on Amazon I'm seeing prices far above the suggested retail at some third party sites.

    Company video: https://vimeo.com/123622188

     

    Company website: http://vrone.us/

    Wednesday
    Jul292015

    Brew your own beer! Everything you need is in one single box.

     Okay, I know nothing about brewing beer, except what I learned shooting this video. So I will just pass on info, which sounds impressive, from the company. Mr. Beer is owned by the Coopers Brewery, a family owned brewery with 150 years of experience behind them, and is the world's largest manufacturer of brewing malts. Thus was born the world's # 1 home brewing powerhouse! Mr.Beer brewers are now able to take advantage of a unique water extraction process that uses less heat which means that the malts took a huge leap in quality. The original 550 gram cans of hopped and unhopped malt extracts have been replaced with 850 gram cans of all malt requiring no adjunct to make a case of high quality beer. The entire malt lineup was reviewed and crafted by the brewing geniuses at Coopers. These malts have been thoroughly revised and tweaked to meet Mr.Beer's high standards of quality, ease-of-use, and flavor. Over the past 20+ years, Mr. Beer has introduced millions of people to this great hobby. Whether you do if for the hobby or economics of a great beer at lower cost Mr. Beer is here to help. In fact you can also take this hobby to the next level. Many of our brewers started with Mr. Beer and now run breweries of their own. Rocket Republic Brewery, 903 Brewers, Black Bottle Brewery, and Anthem Brewing to name a few. 

    Gizwiz video: https://youtu.be/bnNcY9m1wsU

     

    Company website: www.mrbeer.com

     

    See or hear this show: www.gizwiz.tv/episode/1527

         

    What looked like an ordinary ladies purse as we walked by the first time at the Holiday in July event, turned out to be something quite different on a second look. According to Jennifer Thomas-Goering, the inventor and founder of the company, her Vivajennz wine purses are the sassy & classy way to carry your favorite beverage in style! All you do is place a boxed wine or fill the bladder with your favorite drink. To serve? There's a hidden spigot is under the flap!No need for bottle openers or a glass bottle that can break... Just put in your beverage bladder with a couple of cooler packs and you are ready to go! Each bag comes with it's own 3 liter bladder. You fill it through the opening, attach the spigot and put it in the purse. Locked and loaded...Ready for the fun...Vivajennz purses are great for picnics, pools, beaches, etc. ...But wait, there's more! There's a man's version too. Prices range from about $50 to $70.00. Jennifer tells her story to me in the video.

    Giz Wiz Video: https://youtu.be/yRa2Rj88kVU

     

    Company Website: http://www.vivajennz.com/

     

    Clean your teeth at 30,000 brush strokes per minute!

     

    Brush Buddies makes toothbrushes of every description and most of them are very unique. They light up, make sound effects, or feature pop stars like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. Often the built in sounds run for two minutes, the recommended time you should brush your teeth. They're a great way to get kids to brush their teeth. Brush Buddies also make very inexpensive toothbrushes. One of their newest is their Soniclean Pro One Battery Toothbrush. I'll tell you what the company says about their new brush before I tell you the price. Here it is: “These ergonomically designed toothbrushes feature Soft DuPoint™ bristles that efficiently clean plaque in hard-to-reach places. The on/off button controls sonic vibrations at 30,000 brush strokes per minute, ensuring a thorough and effective clean. Brush heads are replaceable and it is recommended you replace your brush head every 3 months. Batteries are replaceable and included.” Actually it just uses a single AAA battery. Now I bet if I asked you to guess the price after reading the description of their Soniclean Pro One Battery Toothbrush, you would guess far above the MSRP of -------$5.99! As far as the Lady Gaga toothbrush goes, shop around online. I saw it for sale anywhere from $2 to $15.00! Brush Buddies toothbrushes are available at many drug stores including RiteAid and at the compann website, plus many other websites.

    http://www.brushbuddies.com/ 

    Wednesday
    Jul292015

    You've heard of a Winnebago, but how about Vinnebago?

    When the company said their Vinnebago expands on age-old insulation technology to keep your drink cold for an unbelievable 25 hours, Yes I found it hard to believe. And unlike most insulated bottles, Vinnebago has a sleek design. But I learned that underneath Vinnebago offers three walls of proprietary insulation, stainless steel construction, and 25 ounces / 750mL of capacity. I figured I better try one for myself. So I filled onen with cold water before I went to bed. The next morning the water was still very cold. That night, it was still cold, yes just about 25 hours later. I was impressed. And the company points out some other features. Vinnebago goes where glass bottles can’t…the pool, the beach, the boat. Now you can keep your drinks ice cold without a cumbersome cooler. You don't pre-cool the Vinnebago or do anything special; just pour in something cold or hot. This bottle won't break or leak--making it great for rugged environments. I didn't try the Vinnebago with hot liquids, but they say it can keep coffee and tea piping hot for twelve hours. Suggested retail for the Vinnebago is $29.99. It's a few buck less at Amazon. And the company, Corkcicle, makes a wide assortment of stainless steel lined canteens. They also told me that some time in the near future, they will drop the name Vinnebago and make it another canteen in their Corkcicle line. 

    Corkcicle Vinnebago Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle/Thermos, 750ml, Black

    This is a Giz Wiz link. You pay the same price, but Amazon gives Giz Wiz Biz a tiny credit so I can buy more stuff on Amazon. 

    Wednesday
    Jul292015

    For publishers of monthly magazines, July is when they start thinking about holiday gift guides.

    There are many 'holiday in July' media events for the media. These events were originally presented for print magazines which work three or four months in advance. TV and the web don't require much lead-time, but these events are a great way for all of us get a good idea of what gadgets manufacturers expect to be big sellers each holiday season. So here some more gift ideas from the New Product Holiday Gift Idea Show.

    There are four in this one Giz Wiz video which I discovered when I stopped at the Hammacher Schlemmer table. They're famous for finding off-beat, but useful gadgets. Since I don't own any of these and most are brand new, most of the info is from their website. I think kids will totally love this first one!

    The Car Lover's Engine Repair Set. This is the front half of a car that lets aspiring mechanics pop the hood, change the oil, and tinker with the engine. With a removable cowling, spark plugs, wing nuts, and other lifelike car components, children can practice testing the brakes, changing the air filter, and using the dipstick to check the oil levels. Once a repair job is complete, kids can even get behind the wheel to turn the ignition key and hear how the engine sounds when it starts. The car has a working horn and headlights, and the set comes with a screwdriver, wrench, and other tools sized to fit little grease-monkey hands. Requires eight AAA batteries. Ages 3 and up. 17" L x 15 3/4" W x 20 3/4" D. (13 1/2 lbs.). $119.95.

    The Video Recording Cap is now on the Hammacher website. It went after we uploaded the video. Here's the info: This is the baseball cap with an inconspicuous camera that records high definition video. Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, the cap has a pin-hole sized lens integrated into the front of the crown and captures crisp 720p high-definition video at 30 frames-per-second. The camera also takes 1600 x 1200 still photos in JPEG format and both video and picture content is stored on an SD card (supports up to 32 GB cards, not included). The camera is controlled by three buttons on the brim, allowing you to easily start or stop recording and snap a photo with just a touch. Its rechargeable battery enables up to 70 minutes of recording after a four-hour charge via the included USB cable that also allows you to transfer content to a computer. Videos and photos are time- and date-stamped. One size fits all with adjustable band. $99.95 (There is no mention of a microphone.)

    The Levitating Lamp. This is the lamp with a rotating shade that floats in mid-air above its base. The disconcerting desk lamp creates a physics-defying gap between the base and shade that may perplex guests and amuse the owner, who knows its secret. A magnet tucked into the lampshade is repelled by electromagnetic coils in the lamp’s base, a powerful opposing force that causes the shade to levitate. The computerized coils make 1,000 adjustments per second to ensure the shade stays upright, even when bumped, while the swirling pattern accentuates the natural spinning motion caused by air currents. As functional as it is magical, the lamp has nine bright white LED bulbs: six that shine upward into the shade, three that shine downward to provide accent lighting for the brushed chrome stand. Each group of lights is controlled with a quick tap on the underside of the base. Plugs into AC. 16 1/2" H x 7 1/2" Diam. (5 lbs.) $149.95. Currently taking orders - expected to ship 8/4/2015

     

    Giz Wiz Video: https://youtu.be/fpZej0n3xW8 

     

    Hammacher website: http://www.hammacher.com