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Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, and co-host of The Giz Wiz at GizWiz.TV, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now, and on Tech Guy Labs with Leo Laporte on But wait, there's More »

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    How much was a really top-end cassette deck back in 1975? Read on.

    Friday, May 14th, 2010, Netcast 1090

    It was 1975 and I see an ad for the Marantz 5120 Stereo Cassette Deck in one of the audio magazines. Not only is this machine a beauty, but it has a ton of lights, and two volume level meters –left & right channel - that also light up. But wait there's more. Each one has an LED  peak overload indicator! (They're so new the ad has to explain that LED stands for special "Light Emiting Diodes.")To add to the professional look, the side panels are walnut wood veneer. Other top-of-the-line features include: Dolby NR, Bias/Eq Selector, Limiter (in case you didn’t feel like riding the volume controls yourself  / Left and Right Mic inputs with volume sliders / Left and Right Line Audio inputs, Master Level / and state-of-the-art Ferrite Heads. There was a "panpot system" for mixing mic and music too.  It even had servo control for total shut off. Cheap tape machines back then would not disengage the heads when you shut the machine off. You had to make sure you pushed "stop" before turning off the power. That could deform the tape where it touched the recording/playback heads, not a good thing. The cost of this beauty some 35 years ago was $330! But it was a Marantz, which was really about as high tech as you could get in the consumer market. Leo recalls buying the same unit so you know it must have been top notch!

    Hear this Netcast:


    A neater, easier way to charge three devices at one time.

    Thursday, May 13th, 2010 Netcast 1089  

    This is a new way to charge three gizmos at the same time. The IDAPT I3 charging station works for just about all your portable devices and eliminates the pain of finding and switching around AC adapters. This neatly organized power dock charges up to three of your devices simultaneously.  What’s nice about it is that there are no messy wires dangling everywhere. The only cable you'll see is the one running from the IDAPT platform to your wall outlet and that’s at the back of the unit. The charging station comes with a variety of interchangeable tips — you plug in the three that you use most often. To release & change any of the interchangeable tips is easy. Just push down to the two silver tabs at the base and it pops out. I have my IDAPT I3 set up for charging my cell phone, my MP3 player and my mini camcorder. The included tips cover a wide range of smartphones, mobile phones, GPS units, point-and shoot cameras, and more. Additional tips are available separately, including one that can charge rechargeable AA batteries. I recommend using a bit of care when plugging and unplugging your device since your gizmo will be suspended over the IDAPT via the charging port. It’s not a big worry, just something to be careful of. I had no problems charging my devices. If you go to the company’s website you can see a list of the tips the unit ships with and the optional tips that are available. There is also a two device charging IDAPT, but who has only two devices to charge? UPDATE:  I just spoke to Matt Shumate at IDAPT’s PR agency and got the lowdown on the rechargeable battery tip. Here it is:

    IDAPT i3 does not have a rechargeable battery tip as one of the 6 tips in the pre-packaged order.  If you customize the IDAPT online to include 4 tips for the same price as getting 6 of the most popular tips you can choose to get a battery tip.  Battery tips are available for sale as are all other extra tips at  and amazon: direct link:

    To my mind the way to go would be to order the exact four tips you want instead getting the six that are prepackaged. But you can decide for yourself after checking out both websites above and comparing prices. The 2 device IDAPT I2 is under $40, and the three device version IDAPT I3 is under $50. There are available in black, silver and red.

    Hear this Netcast:


    What’s the computer gadget most non-tech folks fear the most?

    Wednesday, May 12th, Netcast 1088  

    If you answered “the router”, you are correct. Belkin did some research and found folks often keep old routers because they’re afraid they won’t be able to set up a new one. Well help is here. Belkin made a giant step forward in removing the fear of setting up a new or replacement router with their four new wireless N models. Not only are they designed for easy set up, they have a built in self-healing app that automatically detects and resolves network problems. It even runs routine maintenance scans to give you the clearest wireless channel.  Each cable in the box is labeled and the routers are shipped with network names & passwords. Don’t worry – that info is printed on a tag stuck to the side of the router and there a place to hide under the router if you wish. You can change them when & if you want. Instead of a maze of blinking lights, there’s just one. And if it doesn’t glow green when it’s supposed to, there’s a 24-hour toll free number to help you find out what’s wrong. I use Verizon DSL and they’re known for not making things easy. I had one of the very first of the new routers and I did have to upgrade the software. After I did that, it set up my Verizon modem/router easily. These Share, Play, and Play Max Routers have a Print Genie app that lets you wirelessly print from any computer on the network in your home. Memory Safe automatically backs up your photos and files to an external hard drive (sold separately).  With their Advanced Dual-Band N technology (well they have to call it something catchy) you can use Mover to play your music library on smart devices, like the Xbox or PS3. Another app, the Daily DJ serves up daily-personalized playlists to match your mood. The top model in the line is the Play Max Wireless Router and it retails for under $130. (MSRP) You pick the router you need based on what you want to do with it.  Belkin has models that start at under $50. All of them have pre-configured wireless security which removes another scary part of set-up. MAC and PC compatible. You can check out all the features of the four new routers at the company website. 

    Hear this Netcast:


    Barnes & Noble does a good job with their new wireless nook ebook reader.

    Turn The Table Tuesday, Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 Netcast 1087 

    Leo likes his new nook ereader a lot. It looks different from the similar sized Kindle because it features dual displays, one of which is a color screen. (Both the nook & the Kindle use the same 6-inch E Ink Vizplex grayscale display.) The nook adds a 3.5-inch color capacitive touch screen. There are other pluses to the new B&N entry. While they both have integrated ATT 3G wireless, the nook adds WiFi. When you’re in a B&N store you get free wireless access, and probably a chance for them to send you messages as you roam the shelves. (I believe you can even preview books on the nook while in the store, but you’ll find that out for sure when you listen to the Podcast. (link below.) The nook charges via a microUSB port, but Leo didn’t have it long enough to judge battery life. There’s a built in speaker, headphone jack and microSD card slot for adding more memory. (You get 2GB of onboard memory). Even though the nook uses the same sort of E Ink panel as the Kindle Leo said the touch screen allows for faster navigation. And another thing he likes is that the nook offers periodicals, which can be downloaded automatically via the wireless connection. (I assume that’s after you subscribe!) You can play music on the nook, but only in the MP3 format. And you can view most photo formats too. A neat feature called LendME is a way to lend ebooks between friends and family. BUT the person you lend your ebook to doesn’t need to own a nook! They can use Barnes & Noble’s free eReader app. Leo thinks the nook is an easy winner over the Kindle with its dual screens, WiFi, touch screen and ability to get daily content delivered via WiFi. At $259, it’s the same price as the Kindle.  

    Hear this Netcast:


    Tired of Long, Boring Meetings? Bring TIM! 

    Monday May 10th, 2010, Netcast 1086

    This is a very different kind of clock. You bring it to meetings, not to watch the time, but to watch how much that time costs a company! TIM stands for Time is Money. Brutally long business meetings are not only boring, but they’re expensive. The Bring TIM! Clock can give you the power to break the cycle. It prominently displays the total cost of everyone's time that ticks by. When people understand the cost, the discussion becomes brief, topical, and productive. To use Bring TIM you take the best guess (unless you know exactly) how much each person makes per hour. You enter that into the clock. It can be set in $5 increments from $5 to $995. Next you enter the number of people in the meeting, any number from 1 to 99 people. Then as the meeting goes on you can see the total cost of having all those people discussing things. It’s probably a lot higher than anyone would have guessed! The inventor, Brad Johnson says: “The inspiration in developing Bring TIM! came from working at a company that regularly held 4 hour weekly staff meetings. (Yes - that’s right - 4 hour staff meetings!!!) At the end of each meeting, I walked away wondering what did that accomplish? It became my personal quest to make sure no one endures that type of torture in the workplace! The Bring TIM! office clock is designed to keep your business meetings on track. Everyone will appreciate that this lighthearted device might actually keep your meetings more focused, effective, and shorter in duration. So the next time you want a shorter, more effective business meeting...Bring TIM! - The ultimate Office Clock & Meeting Cost Calculator!”  $24.99 

    Hear this Netcast: