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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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    Fall 1992: Minolta introduces worlds smallest 3.2 MP digital camera. What do you think it cost?

    Back to Dick’s Gadget Warehouse, Friday, June 11th, 2010 Netcast 1110

    The camera was called the DiMAGE Xi. Leo & I both thought Minolta could have done a lot better with the name. People weren’t sure how to pronounce it, but the camera was great! For its time, it had a lot of neat features. Most unique was a 3X folded optical zoom lens that operates totally inside the camera! Nothing sticks out of the approximately ¾ inch thick camera body. Minolta zoom lens technology allows the lens to "zoom" vertically within the camera body. The 3x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 37mm - 111mm on a 35mm camera. Other features included user-selectable ISO settings, optional date imprinting, spot auto focus (AF), and an improved anti-reflection LCD screen. And this was impressive for the time: 3.2 million effective pixels for fine high-resolution images. The pixel resolution of the CCD will produce 10 x 14 inch (B4-size) 150dpi photo-quality prints. A 16 MB SD (Secure Digital) Memory Card was included for image storage. Notice that it’s 16 MB, not 16 GB! The copy said the SD card is “about the size of a postage stamp”. Notice in the photo that the LCD screen is also about the size of a postage stamp! And the price of this beauty some 18 years ago? $499.00. Imagine what features you can get today for the same amount of money, or for less money!

    Hear this Netcast:


    Introducing navigation lights -- for the bathroom!

    Thursday, June 10, 2010, Netcast 1109

    Yes, it’s no joke. Well, it might bring laughs, but this gadget is so simple, it will “bowl” you over. (Sorry about that.) LavNav is the Lavatory Navigation Night Light. The less pleasant sounding name: Toilet Night Lights. Bathroom lights can be so blinding in the middle of the night when you flip on the switch. And they can  disturb your partner's sleep, especially in a small apartment. Sure you can use a nightlight, but non-LED nightlights waste electricity all night long. Worse, they occupy valuable electrical sockets and they don't put light where you need it. The LavNav solves those problems. A motion sensor turns it on when you approach in the dark, and turns it off after you leave. It shines a gentle light that is sufficient for you to do what you have to do. But wait there’s more!! The LavNav uses a RED or GREEN light to cleverly show the position of the seat. RED means the seat is up. Green means the seat is down. This can also end fights between male and females who share the same bathroom. I’ve used LavNav for a couple of days now and it works great. It uses two AA batteries, which you supply. To install them follow the “slide direction arrow” on the front of the LavNav. Pop off the cover and insert the batteries. There is no on/off switch; it’s all automatic. It installs to the toilet seat cover (in the open position, of course) in seconds. Just peel the backing off the attached adhesive tape and follow the two easy-to-understand photos on the package. Now you’re set to “go”. (Sorry again.) $19.95    

    Hear this Netcast:


    A lot of clock for a little bit of money.

    Wednesday, June 9th, 2010, Netcast 1108 

    I just discovered a website called that specializes in gadgets for the dorm. One that really caught my attention is the Calming Blue Alarm Clock. It really does have a great blue glow when you press the button, but the light turns off after only about 3 seconds, so it’s not very calming. I can see why it turns off so quickly though, since the clock is battery operated only. (It runs on 3 AAA batteries which you supply.) This clock is small enough (about 5” high by 2.5” wide” to fit just about anywhere. Great for students living in dorm rooms that are not know for being large in size. This clock does have a lot of features, especially for the low price. You pick from a choice of 7 electronic musical theme wake up alarms and you can also set it for a nap without unsetting the alarm time. But wait, there’s more. It also shows the days of the week, the temperature and it does have a snooze alarm. And if you want, you can set so it plays a Birthday song on that special day – yours or someone elses. The website says other retailers charge $7.99 for this clock, while Dormco's price is a low $5.89. (You save $2.10) I also like that Dormco has a low shipping rate of just $2.95 for your entire order. Leo’s daughter Abby will be starting college in August, so Leo said he expects to stock up with many dorm goodies at this website. 

    Hear this Netcast:


    Here’s A Gotcha! You’re Going To Like!

    Another Turn The Table Tuesday, Tuesday, June 8th, Netcast 1107

    Each of one this sport balls is a single cable Gotcha!This Turn The Table Tuesday Leo comes up with a gadget that solves one of life’s little pains! It’s something that annoys me several times a week. You know it too. It’s time to recharge my cell phone battery. I reach for the charger cable but it’s not there on my nightstand. As usual it slipped off and it’s on the floor, or worse yet, behind the nightstand. This frustrating situation presents itself a lot when you’re a gadget lover. Charging cables for MP3 players. PDA’s, gaming devices, etc. are always falling to the floor and hiding. It’s not only annoying, but stepping on one can render it useless, or might even make you trip. A gentleman named Steve Kwak decided to do something about this problem. And he did! After several weeks of making rudimentary prototypes and trying different ideas, Steve designed the first Cable Wait product called the Gotcha!  These devices, which come in many varieties, including wood grains, colors, even sport’s themes, prevent cables from falling on the floor. Just open it open, place your cable wire(s) safely inside and snap the magnetic lid back on. From now on, you know exactly where the end of the cable is! And the cable length is adjustable, even inside. There’s a Gotcha! for single and multiple cables.

        My favorite is the Gotcha! Glow. (It's shown at the right.) See those little openings next to each cable? This device uses a special sensor to know when you are near it, then it illuminates for you. You will be able to find your electronic devices in the dark quickly and easily with a nice white glow showing through each of those openings. The Gotcha! Glow holds up to three charger cables, making the organization of multiple devices real easy! Prices start under $9 and range up to $14.99 for the illuminated Gotcha! Glow.   

    Hear this Netcast:


    Here’s a gizmo that helps a flat screen TV be flat against the wall.

    Monday, June 7th, 2010, Netcast 1106 

    It’s great that your brand new flat screen HDTV is just an inch or two thick. But then when you start to hook it up, you realize that the HDMI cable has to come directly out of the back panel. By nature most HDMI cables I’ve used have a large hub attached to a very stiff hard-to-bend cable. That means your super-thin HDTV has to stand a few extra inches away from the way because you can’t put bend the HDMI cable. A severe bend can damage in the input, the cable, or even create a short if the pins touch. Or the pins might not make proper contact and you have a picture or sound. That’s where the NextGenTwister 360 Degree HDMI Connector can be a big help. It plugs in between your HDMI cable and your flat screen TV. The Twister is an HDMI jack and plug, connected together with a 360-degree ball joint. This enables you to point the HDMI cable straight down, up, sideways, etc. with no strain on the cable. And it lets your flat screen TV rest closer to the wall. It’s a simple, inexpensive solution for under $20.   

    Also this edition of the Daily Giz Wiz Leo & I talked about the new Verbatim Tuff-N-Tiny 16 GB flash drive. These are the tiniest flash drives I’ve ever seen. It’s from folks who used to make the 5¼ floppy discs that stored 360KB of info. Yes, that’s right, 360KB of info! That means this new 16 GB Tuff-N-Tiny flash drive holds the same amount of info as 44,444 360KB floppies! In addition to storage, it offers password security for Windows users and is enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost for Windows 7 and Vista users. And the price is only about $55. 00. (Floppies that could store that much info would be in the thousands of dollars range.) Here’s the whole story about Verbatim Tuff-N-Tiny from an earlier Daily Giz Wiz episode. Leo & I both use them. 

    Hear this Netcast: