J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
G A D G E T W A T C H
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 139
Thursday, April 8, 2004
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)
Name: Seagrand X-Bar
Category: Portable audio
Price: 16,800 (128MB model), 22,800 (256MB)
Release date in Japan: April 9, 2004
The Gist: OK, I think these things have finally evolved into
everything I want; time to get out the cash. Seagrand's new little
widget is a "USB-key"-style flash memory portable audio player,
nicknamed the "X-Bar" (that's pronounced "Cross Bar," for anyone keen
to get this kind of thing right). Cleverly, it plugs directly into a
USB (duh!) port on your PC or laptop, removing the need for annoying
cables or those intermediary cradle things. Specs wise, you're looking
at a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, SNR of 95dB, a 128x32 dot LCD
display, and support for WMA, MPEG and MP3 files. There's an SD memory
card slot on the side and the Cross Bar also has a built in FM tuner
(triband, in fact, which should work OK in Japan, the US or Europe).
Files are transferred at up to 10Mbps via USB and, of course, you can
also use the gadget as a portable hard disk to transfer files from
your digicam, phone and whatever else over to your PC. It weighs 35g,
comes in silver or red finishes, and your cute, solitary little
battery should last about 12 hours.
More info: http://www.seagrand.co.jp/prod.html
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Name: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LC70
Category: Digital cameras
Price: 37,000 yen
The Gist: The DMC-LC70 from Panny is a 4 megapixel digital camera with
a dry cell battery drive that allegedly uses 45 percent less power
than its LC43 predecessor. I'm trying to work out why the dry-cell-
battery-drive thing is a big deal. Besides the potential cost savings,
I assume it means you're not limited to a proprietary rechargeable
battery? But then my ageing Olympus has that feature already. Maybe
it's because it only needs two of them? Anyhoo, the LC70 has a lovely
Leica (DC Vario-Elmarit) lens, a 3-times optical zoom and, in another
power-saving effort, a new "Eco Mode" whereby the usually power-
sapping LCD viewfinder sucks up to 25 percent less juice. The camera
can snap images up to 2,304x1,728 dots and will take just over three
frames a second in continuous fire mode for up to 10 shots. The LC70
is deliberately pitched by Panasonic to be "beautiful, easy to use and
long-lasting" and comes with a 16MB SD memory card in the pack.
More info: http://panasonic.jp/dc/lc70/index.html
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Name: Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse
Price: 7,000 and 6,000 yen
Release date in Japan: April 23, 2004
The Gist: These two beauties are optical wireless meeces with that
new-fangled "tilt wheel" wizardry built into them. The tilt technology
apparently supplements your regular up-down scrolling action with new,
side-to-side scrolling action; indispensable for accountants,
apparently, or for viewing really wide web pages if your eyes are too
close together. The full names of the two mice are (take a deep
breath): "Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer Night Vision Green" and
"Wireless Optical Mouse Groovy Orange" (or Grooby, if you prefer).
Unfortunately, I think the new "Night Vision" IntelliMouse is
so-called mainly due to the color scheme and sadly won't do anything
to improve your performance on Splinter Cell multiplayer or assist
with your solitary walks in the park late at night. But it looks cool.
More info: http://www.microsoft.com/japan/
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Name: RWC ZVAV-100
Category: Portable AV
Price: Open (but approx 20,000 yen)
Release date in Japan: May 2004
The Gist: The ZVAV-100 portable AV player is dubbed the "Arex
PocketMX," and it's available next month for almost no money at all.
One day, all tech gadgets will be free, and we'll just be paying for
the software and services, you mark my words. Or ignore them, of
course, it's up to you. Anyway, the incredibly cheap ZVAV-100 has a
2.5-inch TFT screen, an SD memory card (or MMC) slot, uses USB 1.1 and
plays back MPEG-4, AVI, DivX (hello peer-to-peer naughtiness!), MP3
and the company's proprietary HHE files. All your portable audio
visual needs satisfied, then. The machine is powered by a Motorola
DragonBall i.MX CPU, weighs a pocket-friendly 125g and comes with
Windows image editing software. And is nearly free.
More info: http://www.rwc.co.jp/
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Special Networking Party and Mobile Technology Round Table
Discussion with Japan and Europe's top mobile strategists
RSVP required, complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
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Food: Buffet dinner and one drink ticket included
Cost: 3,000 yen (members), 5,500 yen (non-members), Open to all
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Subscribers: 5,442 as of April 7, 2004
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