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Gizmos A - Z

Accoson Sphygmomanometer

Acoustic Coupler

Advance PP5 Stabilised PSU

Aibo ERS-111 Robotic Pet

Aiwa LX-110 Linear Turntable

Aiwa TP-32A Tape Recorder

Alcatel Minitel 1 Videotex

Aldis Folding Slide Viewer

Alpha-Tek Pocket Radio

Airlite 71 Aviation Headset

Aitron Wrist Radio

Aiwa TP-60R Tape Recorder

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Amerex Alpha One Spycorder

Amstrad NC100 Notepad

AN/PRC-6 Walkie Talkie

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

Amstrad CPC 464 Computer

AlphaTantel Prestel

Astatic D-104 Desk Microphone

Atari 2600 Video Game

Atari 600XL Home Computer

Audiotronic LSH 80 'Phones

Avia Electronic Watch

Avid Pneumatic Headphones

AVO Multiminor

AVO Model 8 Multimeter

Bambino Challenger Radio

Bandai Solar LCD Game

Baygen Freeplay Lantern

Bellwood, Bond Spycorder

Benkson 79 Mini Tape Recorder

Betacom BF1 Pianotel Phone

Betacom CP/6 Ferrari Phone

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Binotone Radio Binoculars

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

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Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

BSB Squarial

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BT Rhapsody Leather Phone

Cambridge Z88 Computer

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Cartex TX-160 Multiband Radio

Casio VL-Tone Keyboard

CD V-700 Geiger Counter

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Channel Master 6546

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Citizen ST555 Pocket TV

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CocaCola Keychain Camera

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Commodore 64 Home PC

Commodore PET 2001-N

Computer Novelty AM/FM Radio

Compact Marine SX-25

Concord F20 Sound Camera

Coomber 2241-7 CD Cassette

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Dansette Richmond Radio

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DP-66M Geiger Counter

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Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart Radio

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Ferguson FHSC 1 Door Cam

Fi-Cord 101 Tape Recorder

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Fidelity HF42 Record Player

Fisher-Price 826 Cassette

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Franklin LF-390 Guitar Radio

Gaertner Pioneer Geiger Counter

Garmin GPS III Pilot Satnav

GE 3-5805 AM CB Radio

GEC Transistomatic

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General Radiological NE 029-02

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GPO Headset No. 1

GPO Keysender No 5

GPO RAF Microphone No. 3

GPO Telephone Series 300

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Henica H-138 Radio Lighter

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HMV 2210 Tape Recorder

Homer KT-505 Phone Amplifier

Homey HR-408 Recorder

Horstmann Pluslite Task Lamp

Ianero Polaris Spotlight

Ingersoll XK505 TV, Radio

International HP-1000 Radio

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James Bond TV Watch

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Juliette LT-44 Tape Recorder

Jupiter FC60 Radio

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JVC HR-3300 VHS VCR

King Folding Binoculars

Kodak Brownie Starflash

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Kodak Disc 6000

Kodak EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kodak Pony 135

Kvarts DRSB-01 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-88 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-90 Geiger Count

Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

La Pavoni Espresso Machine

Macarthys Surgical AM Radio

Magnetic Core Memory 4kb

Maplin YU-13 Video Stabilizer

Marlboro Giant  AM Radio

Mattel Intellivision

Maxcom Cordless Phone

McArthur Microscope OU

Memo Call Tape Recorder

Micronta 22-195A Multimeter

Micronta 3001 Metal Detector

Micronta S-100 Signal Injector

Microphax Case II Fiche

Midland 12-204 Tape Rccorder

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

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Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

Motorola 8500X ‘Brick’

Motorola Micro TAC Classic

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone

 

Widget Of The Week

Philips SBC RU 098 Football Zapper, 1998

Every so often you come across a gadget that looks like it was designed by someone who was either high on drugs, or suffering from a serious mental disorder. What other explanation could there be for the Philips SBC RU 098 Football Zapper? It’s like a horrible genetic experiment gone wrong. What depraved mind could have conceived the unnatural mating of a universal TV remote control with a bottle opener?

 

On the other hand… Check out the date, it’s 1998, a World Cup year and my guess is the boffins at Philips were persuaded by the marketing department to come up with a gimmick to cash in on the football competition. Philips would have been promoting their TVs anyway; international events like the World Cup have always seen a big surge in TV sales -- especially high-end models. Booze makers would also be busy peddling their wares, so the Football Zapper was actually a marriage made in heaven. Who wouldn’t want to wind up the volume and celebrate with a beer watching their team score the winning goal (or switch channels and drown their sorrows in the case of England supporters…)? 

 

Little or no new technology was involved in this hybrid design. The remote part is very similar to at least one other model in the Philips range at the time. There really isn’t much to say about bottle openers, except this one is a thick metal plate, sandwiched between the two case halves of the remote. This is imparts strength and leverage. Simply tacking a bottle opener onto the end of a remote box would quickly come to grief.

 

But back to the remote control part. It’s a fairly basic four-function design, able switch the TV on and off, mute the sound, step through the channels and turn the volume up and down. It can control several hundred different makes and models of TV and needless to say it’s factory set for Philips models. To program it for another make it’s necessary to either enter a 5-digit code, or use the Autosearch facility. There’s a list of manufacturers and codes in the back of the instruction manual. All you have to do is hold down the mute and power buttons for 3 seconds, an LED comes on and the code is entered by pressing the control buttons, each of which has been assigned a number from 1 to 7. After the code has been successfully entered the LED blinks twice and it’s set.

 

If it doesn’t work there’s usually a several alternative codes for each manufacturers and there’s the fallback of Autosearch. For this to work the TV has to be switched on. As before the power and mute buttons are pressed for 3 seconds then the power button and it starts stepping though the codes for turning TVs off. As soon as it does you have a second or so to press the power button to stop the search.

 

Philips gave this one to me at the press launch for their World Cup promotional campaign. It wasn’t a tricked up PR freebie but a proper retail product and I seem to recall that it was priced at £30 or thereabouts. I am happy to be corrected but the only thing I can remember is thinking was that it was way too expensive for a fancy bottle opener; World Cup or not… I came across it recently, still in its original packaging, in a box in my loft where it has remained undisturbed for almost two decades, complete with its original batteries. I neither know nor care if it works; it probably does but the TVs it was designed to control have long since disappeared so it is at least 50 percent useless, though the bottle opener is probably still okay…

 

What Happened To It?

Off the top of my head I cannot recall any other novelty or combo remote controls as crazy as this one. It might even be unique which, by rights, should make it quite valuable. Philips probably shifted a few of them but I have never seen another, or can find any record one selling on ebay. Back in the real world I doubt that any sane person or even football fan would pay more than a couple of pounds for it. But its day might come. I’ll be putting it back into secure storage for the benefit of future generations who will either marvel at its ingenuity and originality, or have a good laugh…. 

 


GIZMO GUIDE

First seen:           1998

Original Price:     £30

Value Today:       £2 (0117)

Features:             Universal infrared TV remote control, 4 functions: power, mute volume & channel up/down, and integral bottle opener

Power req.                    2 x 1.5v AAA cells

Dimensions:                  170 x 58 x 40mm

Weight:                         150g

Made (assembled) in:   Singapore

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest): 7