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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 TWiT.tv. But wait, there's More »

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    A Gadget From 13 Years Ago That Still Hasn’t Taken Off, But Should.

    Friday, October 9th, 2009, Netcast 935

    It was early in 1996 that I saw a demo of the Glowmaster GMI-2000 tabletop induction cooker. This was a single burner electric stove that cooked efficiency without heating the entire surface of the stove, but just the pot & the food. As a matter of fact the surrounding area stayed so cool, I was able to put an ice cube next to the boiling water, and the ice cube didn’t melt. I also put a $10 bill between the pot and induction coil and that didn’t burn! (After I saw this demo, I did the same demo on the Regis show.) You can’t use every pot with induction cooking.  You don’t exactly need special cookware, but the pot must have magnetic properties. The easiest way to test a pot is to see if an ordinary kitchen magnet sticks to the bottom. If it does, it will work with induction cooking.   Checking the web, I see table propane single burner stoves with the Glowmaster name, but no induction cookers. Induction cooking certainly didn’t die, and many new homes have built-in induction stove tops. But considering the easy clean-up, safety and efficiency, I’m surprised it is taking so many years for more people to jump on the technology. If you do a web search you’ll find many small single burner induction cooking available for as low as $100. They use up to 1500 watts so they need to be on a circuit all their own when you’re cooking with one. The Glowmaster GMI-2000 I have still works fine.



    Another external battery charger for your iPod/iPhone!

    Thursday, October 8th, 2009, Netcast 934

    Yep, there are a lot of chargers out there for the iPod/iPhone, but the ChargeBlock from Miccus has some nice features. First of all it’s very compact. It can easily fit it a pocket without making a bulge. And when it’s plugged into your iPhone/iPod it doesn’t add a lot of weight or bulk. The ChargeBlock charges iPods and iPhones anywhere, even while they’re in use. Controls are minimal. There are three indicator lights to signal remaining battery life. One of the LED’s doubles as a light to let you know when the ChargeBlock is charging, and when it’s fully charged. A full charge takes about 4 hours and it charges from your PC or laptop. It comes with a mini-USB charge cable. Here are some operating times from the manufacturer:  Up to 11 hours of audio / Up to 3.5 hours of talk time. Up to 3 hours of video / Up to 2.5 hours of Internet browsing. Specifications: 800mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery lasts 500+ charges. Input: DC 5V/Output: DC 5V/+/-0.25V. Weight: 1.23oz (35g) / Size: 2.4"x1.24"x0.68" (61x31.5x17.5mm). $39.95. This is a new gizmo so perhaps the price will drop a bit once it’s gets into wide distribution, but $39.95 isn’t a bad price.


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw934


    A Hot Android Phone Joins The Sprint Team.

    Wednesday, October 7th, 2009, Netcast 933

    This was written a few days before the Sprint Hero went on sale. I knew right out the box it would offer some stiff competition to Android phones out there already. The Hero has a lot of new features and very aggressive pricing. Plus almost everyone who has gotten their hands on an early review unit agrees the speed of Sprint’s EVDO Rev A network is really impressive. Plus it has built in WiFi. The Hero features HTC Sense, which allows you to customize your interface screens. But as soon as I turned it on I liked the opening screen with the big flip down digital clock at the top of the screen. The Hero doesn’t have a slide out or slide down keyboard but uses a virtual one. You get touch feedback from the screen when you hit a key, and the letter you hit appears big for a moment so you can verify it’s what you wanted. At first I had to type really slowly to make sure I hit the correct key, but my speed picked up as I got used to the virtual keyboard. The Hero has a bright a 3.2-inch screen which you can pinch-to-zoom or expand photos like on the iPhone. And you flick your finger to move screens right & left, or up and down. There’s also an integrated GPS, accelerometer, and light sensor for automatic screen brightness. I choose to shut off that feature because it didn’t seem to respond fast enough for my taste. It also has a 5-mega pixel camera, with camcorder mode. There’s microSD slot that handles cards up to 8MB. To snap a photo you use the Hero’s trackball as the camera shutter. I wasn’t crazy about that. When I pushed on the trackball to take a picture I caused the camera to shake, which blurred a lot of my photos. Later on I learned the Hero has image stabilization, which I didn’t turn on. But image stabilization that should help you get clear photos. Call quality was very good. There’s a built in speaker, but I thought the sound quality was just okay. For some reason boot-up time is fairly long. I thought it might be my phone, but I asked others reviewing the phone and they agreed. But these are minor compliments compared to all the features packed in the Hero. What is going to generate a lot of interest with this phone is the price. With a 2-year contract and rebate, the price comes to $179.95. That’s a very attractive price for a full-featured Android phone. 


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw933


    On This Turn The Table Tuesday Leo reviews another Bluetooth Headset!

    Turn The Table Tuesday, October 6th, Netcast 932

    Leo said people keep asking his advice about a good Bluetooth headset to use with their cell phone to both listen to music and to make calls. So he's going to do a series to Turn The Table Tuesday talking about Bluetooth headsets. This is the second is a series of who-knows-how-many! Today, Leo reviews the Iqua BHS702. The BHS-702 has a different look. You wear the main unit like a pendant with the earbuds attached via an adjustable lanyard. On the front of the pendant is a multifunction button. A small microphone sits atop the multifunction button. Leo says the call quality is improved because the mic is closer to the mouth than it is on some other units. You can even move the mic closer to your mouth if you need to. Iqua has included small and large covers for a more custom fit to your ears. The medium covers are already in place on the earbuds. Features on the headset include answering, ending, and rejecting a call, last number redial, voice dialing, call waiting, call transfer to a handset and vice versa, and call mute. It meets the full stereo Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, and AVRCP. There’s a rechargeable battery included. All in all, Leo likes the music quality and the call quality of this Bluetooth Headset, although he said you might feel it looks a little nerdy or dorky when you wear it. It’s probably not good for joggers since the pendant could bounce on your chest. Iqua says talk time is about 9 hours, music playback about 7 hours and standby time about 150 hours on a full charge. List price is $90. I did a quick web search and you can find them for much less, about $65.


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw932


    Shortest, least feature laden, cheapest device ever!

    Monday, October 5th, 2009 Netcast 931      

    If you own a cell phone with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack you don’t need this gizmo. But if you have some LG phones, some Blackberry devices, some Motorola phones and a few others, this Universal 2.5MM male to 3.5mm female stereo adapter could solve a big problem. If you’re trying to use your standard 3.5mm headphones with a cell phone that has a 2.5mm jack it’s easy to buy an adaptor. But it turns out many of them let you hear music in only one ear. I bought 3 different adaptors and none worked properly. Then I did a web search and found many people had the same problem. It seems some phone manufacturers use their own proprietary wiring for the headphone jack which makes a standard adapter useless. But I found a place – The Cell Shop – that makes a Universal 2.5MM male to 3.5mm female stereo adapter that gives me full stereo when I use my 3.5mm headphones. You can pretty much tell if an adapter is going to work by just looking at it. If has a two-ring plug, it probably won’t work. The male 2.5mm end of the adaptor the Cell Shop sells uses a 3-ring design. And the cost is under $3! They price it differently on different parts of their website. In one place it’s $2.99 with free shipping, in another it’s $1.99 + $.100 shipping. I just ordered a second 1 and it was just $2.64. But in every case, it’s under $3.00!


     Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw931