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Sure, there's the popular Inspector Gadget character — but if ever a Professor Gadget exists, and in real life, no one can top Dick DeBartolo. He's the man behind the website GizWiz.Biz and the weekly Giz Wiz netcast. Long before the iPhone was even a glimmer in Steve Jobs' eye, DeBartolo showed off his gadgets on national TV, appearing on Live with Regis and Kathy Lee more than 100 times.
DeBartolo is in fact a regular pop culture Renaissance Man. As MAD magazine's "Maddest Writer," he holds the record for consecutive issues in which he's appeared, dating back to 1966. If that weren't enough, he's also written for scores of game shows, including the legendary Match Game.
Yet gadgets will always hold a special place in DeBartolo's heart — so much so that he keeps all gizmos he's collected over the years in a New York-based storage facility. We didn't make DeBartolo root around in there, but we did ask him to name five of his recent favorite electronics. In typical DeBartolo fashion, he gave us 10. So as to not overload your system, we'll feature five of his faves here and five in a future column.
Scosche clipSYNC Charge & Sync Cable for Android ($19.99 with free shipping, a low by $4) or iPhone ($19.95 with free shipping, a low by $5)
DeBartolo loves this gadget because it's a really easy way to carry a charging sync cable, as it simply clips onto a backpack. They're available for both Apple and Android phones, to boot. Especially handy for travel, these pocket-sized dandies measure less than 2.5" when closed, but are constructed from rugged aluminum. The iPhone model also works with the Apple iPod.
Nokero RayCel Solar Mobile Phone Battery Charger
($20 with about $5 s&h; $9 off)
While this charger can't service devices with non-removable batteries (such as iPhones and iPods), it's an inexpensive way to use renewable energy to recharge other gadgets, including many cell phones. "Nokero's premise is to produce really inexpensive solar products, and get companies to buy thousands of them so they can provide them to their people," DeBartolo says. But don't wait for your boss to spring for one — not when you can get it at the current introductory discount.
Belkin @TV Plus Portable TV
($179.99 with about $6 s&h, a low by $10)
DeBartolo sounds like a kid when passing judgement on @TV: "This is neat!" he exclaims. "You hook this up at home, you download the @TV app, and anywhere you go, you can watch the cable TV that's in your home. Now I have the portable TV system." DeBartolo adds that the Samsung Note, with its 5" screen, is the ideal starting size for an @TV screen.
Undercover 10" Tablet Sleeve
($19.95 with $5.99 s&h, a low by $3)
Talk about a smart way to hide your tablet from thieving eyes and hands! This sleeve looks like a crummy, beat-up mailing envelope on the outside. But on the inside, it's first-class protection for your iPad or similar-sized tablet. DeBartolo, who's a New Yorker, says: "You carry it on subways where you think that people might steal it from you. It's a very clever idea."
Fred Lunch Bugs Sandwich Bags
($5.99 with $5.99 s&h, a low by $1)
Those who know Fred Studios know they've got a wicked sense of humor, what with naming toddler utensils shaped like a plane "Air Fork One." This isn't exactly a gadget in the traditional sense, but it is high on the crafty scale. It keeps away office lunch thieves with a convincing looking bug photo plastered on the side of the bag. "It's a fool-proof anti-theft device if your office is plagued with freeloading fridge raiders," DeBartolo says. They come in boxes of 24.