J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan

Issue No. 163
Tuesday,October 5, 2004
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)
========= Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - October Seminar =========

This month's EA-Tokyo seminar introduces Naota Hamaguchi, President and
CEO of JCI Inc, an international consulting firm assisting non-Japanese
companies in conducting business with Japanese companies and assisting
Japanese companies in expanding their businesses overseas.
His presentation is entitled, "How to succeed as an entrepreneur in Japan."
For more information please visit the EA-Tokyo website.

Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct. 5th at 7:00 pm City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room
(Canadian Embassy Complex)
Language: English Email:
Name: Sharp Mebius PC-TX26GS
Category: "AV Center PC"
Price: Open Price; estimated around 350,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Middle of December, 2004

The Gist: Sharp has introduced the first desktop-based Mebius PC, though
they insist on calling it an "AV Center PC." Given the case's form factor --
it looks much more like a DVD recorder than it does desktop PC -- I tend
to agree.

There's really two parts to this new setup from Sharp: the PC and the
included screen. I'll go over each one in that order.

The PC itself, as I mentioned, looks more like a DVD recorder than it
does PC. But frankly, considering its intended application, this is a
great idea for Sharp. Audio/Video related functionality includes an
integrated TV tuner, hardware video capture, DVD recording, and enough
inputs and outputs to shake a stick at. But that's not where the
innovation in this PC lies; I believe PCs with plenty of junk integrated
and almost too many inputs and outputs already exist. Rather, the
innovation lies in Sharp's "StationAV" software. This software appears
to be similar in functionality to the launcher software that is included
with Windows XP Media Center. That being said, I'll go out on a limb and
say Sharp's software works better. To top off the AV functionality, Sharp
includes wireless keyboard and mouse, as well as a remote controller.
Furthermore, the front of the case is equipped with an LED screen that
shows track name, the time, and so forth. As far as specifications are
concerned, you'll find a 2.66GHz Celeron processor, 512MB of memory, 250GB
hard drive, and 8x multi-format DVD drive. Interestingly enough, this PC
runs not Windows XP Media Center Edition but plain Windows XP Home Edition.

If you noticed the price above, 350,000 yen probably seems quite steep
for a PC of these specifications. It may have a flashy looking case, but
in all honesty, I'm sure you could come up with a far cheaper mini-ITX
based machine on your own. But relax. Sharp has attempted to justify that
price by including a 26-inch widescreen LCD. The maximum resolution on the
screen is 1266 x 768 (TV mode) and 1360 x 768 (in PC mode). That would
provide enough resolution for 720p HDTV, if you're in to that sort of thing.
It's also got an integrated TV tuner, so if you don't feel like hooking it up
to your shiny new PC, you don't have to. Alternatively, you can combine the
TV tuner of the PC and the screen itself to allow for fun activities such
as picture-in-picture.

Sharp plans on selling just this screen for around 230,000 yen beginning in
December as well. When you subtract this from the purchase price of the
screen + PC combo, you come out with a cost of 120,000 yen for the PC alone.
Seems like a pretty good deal if you ask me. But unfortunately, Sharp hasn't
announced plans to sell just the Mebius PC-TX26GS by itself.

More info:
Name: Toshiba gigabeat F60
Category: Portable audio player
Price: 64,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Early December 2004

The Gist: The industry's first portable audio player containing a 1.8"
60 gigabyte hard drive was unveiled by Toshiba this week, dubbed the
"gigabeat F60." This would be the same 60GB hard drive that many were
thinking would be included in Apple's fourth-generation iPod lineup.
So much for that idea.

As I was saying, Toshiba's "gigabeat F60" isn't just same old gigabeat with
higher capacity -- no, Toshiba has gone on to add a 240 x 320 dot full color
TFT LCD. I really can't do too much justice for this screen with words alone,
so please be sure to follow the "More Info" link listed below, since images
are included in the Toshiba press release. Whether or not portable audio
players actually need color screens is of no consequence -- this one has color,
and that's that. Personally, I like Toshiba implementation of color, because
you cannot only view album art, but also change the player's "wallpaper."
All's well that ends well, right?

Apart from the color screen, Toshiba has also added a couple new buttons
such as the "A" button which can be programmed to provide access to "any"
function. Genius. Another addition is the "Plus Touch" touch-sensor interface.
I'm thinking this is a crack at the iPod's "O" scroll-wheel, but it's only
speculation on my part. One more cool feature I'd like to note is the new
"RipRec" button on the cradle, which will rip an entire audio CD to the PC's
hard drive, encode it to MP3, and transfer it to the gigabeat, all with a
single button push. Very nice Toshiba, very nice.

You're probably wondering what sort of detriment that big color screen
would be to the battery life. It's certainly not the greatest battery
life we've seen on a hard-drive-based player (remember the 40-hour
i-Audio M3L from last week?), but the 11 hour life of the F60 is what
I'll call "acceptable."

More info:
Name: Seiko Epson Photo Fine Player P-2000
Category: Portable photo storage
Price: Open Price; estimated around 50,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Late October, 2004

The Gist: Portable photo storage devices have been around for a couple
years now, but I felt as though there hadn't been too much innovation
going on. Well, I guess I was wrong. Seiko Epson will be releasing the
"Photo Fine Player P-2000" in a couple of weeks, which has quite a bit
of innovation.

This storage unit, housing a 40-gigabyte 2.5" hard drive, features both CF
Type II and SD (SecureDigital) memory card slots. But why would a photo
storage unit have a 3.8-inch, 260,000 color polysilicon screen, with a
resolution of 640 x 480?Simple: it's not just a photo storage unit.
Epson not only uses the large screen for JPEG photo playback, but also
MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG video playback. In fact, it's even equipped with a
video output so you can potentially use this as a portable media server.
Or even portable audio player -- the Photo Fine Player can also playback
MP3 and AAC files. For video other than MPEG-4, though, you'll need to first
convert it to MPEG-4 before you can play it on the Photo Fine. The maximum
single-file file size is 2 gigabytes, which should be more than enough for a
feature-length film. Movies up to 640 x 480 at 30fps, with a maximum bitrate
of1.5Mbps, can be played.

Using the internal lithium ion battery, MPEG-4 can be played for about
2.5 hours, and audio for about 4 hours. Personally, I'm waiting on a version
that will support DivX and XviD playback, but hey, that's just me.

More info:
Subscribers: 6,428 as of October 5, 2004

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

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