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. 161
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
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Name: Sony DSC-M1
Category: Digital camera
Price: Open Price, estimated around 63,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 19th, 2004
The Gist: Sony last week introduced the 5.1MP "DSC-M1" digital
camera. As you will discover, however, it's not your typical camera.
Without going into any technical aspects (yet), the first thing most
people will notice is this camera's atypical form. It may
resemble a normally shaped digital camera when closed, but when open,
it looks much more like a cellular phone. The screen assembly not only
slides out to the side of the camera at a full 90 degrees, the 2.5"
screen itself can be flipped so that it faces either in the same or
opposite direction of the camera lens. Yes, it is quite complicated.
Many have been quick to praise this new "shooting style," as Sony has
dubbed it. In all honesty, however, I find that this configuration may
cause people to inadvertently cover the lens or flash when taking a
Getting back to what's inside the camera, Sony's primary push with this
device is a new recording mode called "Hybrid Rec." This feature will
record five seconds of video before and three seconds after a still
image is captured. And here's where some more improvement comes in:
the DSC-M1 uses a new "MPEGMovie 4TV" video recording mode, offering
50 percent more average resolution versus an older "MPEG MovieVX" of
the same file size. In fact, according to Sony calculations, a 1GB
Memory Stick PRO Duo can fit about 8.5 hours of 320 x 240 video at
15 frames per second using this new video format.
But why record at 320 x 240 when you can also record at 640 x 480?
One final new feature about the DSC-M1 is the addition of a
"5 second record" button, which quite obviously records 5 seconds of
video. Personally, I welcome this feature; changing recording mode
from "still" to "video" is often a pain on many of today's digital
Name: JVC Road Theater KD-PAV7000
Category: DVD/CD receiver
Price: 210,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Early November 2004
The Gist: Last week also saw the announcement of JVC's "Road Theater
KD-PAV7000" DVD/CD receiver. The specifications of this unit really
aren't that stunning. But as an interesting innovation, JVC has added a
7" monitor that can be removed from the headunit itself. It can then
be attached to a cradle, presumably in the back seat, to be enjoyed by
whoever happens to be sitting back there. JVC even sells separate
screens as well, so if you are searching for a cheap solution to having
screens in both front and back seats, this entire setup (basic system +
one extra screen) can be had for under 300,000 yen.
You may think that one disadvantage of this system (since the receiver
and cradle are connected by a single cable) would be that the front
and rear seats must view the same image on their respective screens.
But you'd be wrong; JVC is one step ahead by offering the "Dual Zone
Function" allowing for front and rear seats to view programs from two
The system's GUI is controlled by touchscreen input. The DVD/CD receiver
supports Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro-Logic II audio formats, as
well as the playback of DVD-Video, DVD-R/RW and MP3 files stored
Name: Sony HDR-FX1
Category: Consumer HDTV camera
Price: Open Price, estimated around 400,000 yen
Release date in Japan: October 15th, 2004
The Gist: The Sony "HDR-FX1" is the world's first consumer-level camera
that supports Full HD (1080i, meaning 1080 horizontal lines of resolution).
The 400,000 yen price may not be considered "consumer-level" to some, but
I believe they've pegged it there because the camera records HDTV using
the "HDV" standard. HDV, developed by Sony, JVC, Canon and Sharp in
2003 allows for recording HD video on standard DV tapes. Unfortunately,
I haven't been able to come up with how much of this 1080i video can fit
on a standard DV tape; I presume more details will emerge when the
release date nears.
You may remember JVC's "GR-HD1" as the world's first consumer-level
HDTV camera, and this could create some turbulence for Sony. While the
HDR-FX1 supports 1080i, the GR- HD1 supports 720p. And while 1080i
clearly offers more lines of resolution, it's worth considering whether
these lines are worth it.
There is higher resolution, but the video is interlaced (that's the
"i" in "1080i") -- while the GR-HD1's 720p video is progressive. I
can't vouch for either, but if you are considering purchasing
one of these cameras, I suggest you do your homework on both devices.
I think it's important to point out that the FX1 camera has an integrated
down-converter, to allow for playback of 1080i video on HDTVs
that do not support 1080i, and even standard TVs. One final thing:
this camera does not include a battery. It is sold separately in the
"ACCKIT- D10" accessory kit (for 32,550 yen), which includes battery
adapter and charger.
Subscribers: 6,365 as of September 22, 2004
Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Japan Inc editors (email@example.com)
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