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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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    Back in 2007 LG solved the Blu-Ray/HD DVD compatibility problem – but then HD DVD went away.


    Dick’s Gadget Warehouse Friday, January 22nd, 2010

    It was CES 2007 when LG introduced the first player that could play both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. Wow, now you didn’t have to worry which format to go with. And that did solve a problem because some studio were releasing their movies only on Blu-ray and others were releasing them only on HD-DVD. So if you were a real movie buff, the format you bought would depend on which format your favorite movies were available in. But LG fixed that problem with Blu-ray Disc / HD-DVD combo player. The logo for both formats where on their new BH100, but it only needed on drawer to play either one. The only problem was the cost, which was $1199! As a demo at the show, an LG spokesperson would play an HD-DVD, then switch to a Blu-ray disc to prove the one player, could indeed do as claimed. The spec sheet indicated 1080p at 24 and 30 frames per second via HDMI. And there were 5.1-channel analog audio outputs. There was also an Ethernet port. I think it was because HD-DVD players were able to download new “coming attractions” and I assume it was also a way to update the software. Then just as everyone was deciding to jump on the Blu-ray bandwagon, LG introduced the BH200 Super Blu Blu-Ray HD DVD Combo Player. But it was just a bit too late, since HD DVD was pretty much done for. Just for a lark, I looked for that LG unit on the web just before I wrote this. Lo and behold you can still find it for sale. I thought it would be offered for some pennies on a dollar price. But I don’t know who’s going to buy one these days, especially since it’s selling for $1699.00 on Amazon!

    Hear this Netcast:   


    This SRS Labs’ gadget can end annoyingly LOUD TV COMMERCIALS!!

    Thurs, January 21st,  2010, Netcast 1009

    For a few years now you could buy certain TV brands and models that had TruVolume built in. When I first heard a demo of this device which keeps commercials at the same sound level as programming so you don’t jump when one comes on, I said: “I need this”. But the only way to get TruVolumewas to buy an entire new TV that had it built in. But at CES, SRS labs launched a stand alone version of TruVolume. This small box knows when an overly loud TV commercial is about to air and lowers its volume to match the volume of the show being watched. Coincidentally, legislation working its way into Congress called CALM - the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act,(shouldn’t it be CALMA?) which would prevent commercials from being broadcast louder than the TV program it’s on. SRS technology is designed to Stop The Spikes, as the company puts it.  It’s an easy-to-iinstall adaptor that connects between your TV and Set-top Box, DVD/BD player, Gaming Console or any other CE device you wish to connect to your television.  Using right & left RCA cables (a set is included)  just connect it between the “audio out” of your program source & and the “audio in” of your TV. Then connect the AC adapter which is also included.  Cost is under $50. An HDMI HD version will be along in a couple of month for under $100.

    Hear this Netcast:


    An inexpensive headphone/mic great for Podcasting.


    Wednesday, January 20th,  2010, Netcast 1008

    It’s the Plantronics Audio 476 DSP. It uses (DSP) digital signal processing to provide enhanced sound quality in a comfortable, foldable stereo USB headset. The noise-canceling mic and acoustic echo cancellation help make calls or Podcast voices sound clearer. This is an updated version of the headset TWiT has been sending to guests who are to appear on a show via Skype. They’re also excellent for listening to music, watching a movie without disturbing others or when playing a video game. USB plug-and-play connection means there is no software to install. (Also Leo says a USB connection is always more desirable than the separate mic/headset plugs for best sound. I wore them for a few minutes when we started recording this Netcast and Leo didn’t notice the difference between this headset and my regular mic. Of course we were also dealing with video problems, since Leo could only hear my voice, because my video wouldn’t come up. The 476 has an easy to-use inline control box with volume up/down and mute. Although this unit features a folding design, it doesn’t fold up real small, but it does fold to about 1/3 the size. One of the best things about his new unit is the price. The list price is $54.95, but when it’s in full supply, it will probably be available for under $40. (As in $39.95.)  At of January 18, 2010, it is shown on Plantronics website, but not yet available.

    Hear this netcast:


    Leo gets another _______(Blank).

    Sounds like a Match Question, doesn’t it. With Leo the blank could be filled with car, flashlight, camera or phone. This time though, the correct answer is “another phone.” Leo bought the new Google Nexus One. As you would expect, the Nexus One runs Google’s Android. But it’s the first phone to be marketed by the folks who came up with the operating system. I bet it was in the works for a long time, because I remember when I first showed the Palm Pre, I was told to make sure I didn’t call it the “Google phone!” Guess they wanted to save that name for the real Google phone. The Nexus One is built by HTC, and available through You can purchase it without a carrier if you wish, but it will cost you! Leo paid $529, but there’s no contract. It will cost $179 from T-Mobile online with a two-year contract. And then you need service that’s about $80 a month. Leo said Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and Vodafone in Europe will sell the Nexus One, probably in the Spring. Prices are not set yet. Leo showed us that the Nexus Phone has the shape and size of the iPhone, but it’s a bit thinner. There’s an OLED 3.7-inch display, which Leo considers better than the one on the iPhone. (480 x 800 OLED  compared to iPhone’s 480 x 320 display. It has a 5MP camera with flash, shoots video and has something I really love in a phone, a real (non-menu driven) volume control. It has enough different screen so Leo can do all the multi-tasking he likes. I believe he said the Nexus has 5 customizable screens. I haven’t handled one of these phone yet and Leo’s 3,000 miles away, but there’s a ton more info on the phone at Google’s website at

    TTTT, Tuesday, January 19th, 2010, Netcast 1007
    3D tour from Google:
    Hear this Netcast: 


    Charge your cell phone and exercise at the same time!

    Daily Giz Wiz, Monday January 18th, 2010, Netcast 1006

    CES had a lot of “green products” on display. The YoGen by Easy Energy was one of them. It’s a slim pocket-sized, hand powered electric charger that the company says produces a previously unmatched level of charging power when driven by the repeated pulling of a cord. A spokesman at the booth said it generated 5 watts of charging power, which is pretty much the same as your AC charger at home produces. The “Yo” part of the name came about because the way you use the device is sort of like using a Yo-Yo. The “Gen” part of course is for generator. Once again, quoting the company: The YoGen represents a major break-though in hand-powered chargers in that it offers an industry leading ratio of power output to input effort and that its ergonomic design allows for extended charging effort with minimal operator fatigue. When the user repeatedly pulls the YoGen’s T-handle, an internal alternator spins continuously, generating power to recharge the batteries of your cell phone or any other like-sized portable electronic device.  (Back to me.) There are several versions available depending on what you want to charge. The YoGen device is the same but you should order a package that includes the proper tip for your phone or iPod. Each package includes tips for four devices. It also comes in various colors, but I like the clear plastic model so you can see the inner workings. There’s a green LED that glows when you are sending charing power to your device. The only switch on the YouGen is one that lets you custom tailor the output of the YoGen to the gizmo you’re charging. You try either the "up" or "down" position to see which appears to be generating more power. $39.99.


    Hear this Netcast: