GW-171

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
G A D G E T W A T C H
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
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Issue No. 171
Thursday December 3, 2004
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)

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Name: VisualWear "Video Eyewear"
Category: Head-Mounted Display
Price: "Under 70,000 yen"
Release date in Japan: December 1st, 2004

The Gist: I've always been skeptical of head-mounted display systems, or HMDs,
and frankly, I still am. Actually an American product from a company called
"Icuiti," the Video Eyewear system will provide the effect of a 42" display
if it were viewed from a distance of 2 meters. Inside of the glasses, you'll
find two 1cm displays, capable of displaying a total of 640 x 480 dots of
resolution.

There's a couple reasons my skepticism was at a minimum for this product --
namely, the fact that it accepts both standard video and D-Sub 15 pin VGA
input signals. I'm not entirely sure if you'd really want to use your PC
while walking around with both eyes covered, but this would be extremely
useful for newly downloaded movies (completely legal of course) and such
you don't feel like transferring to another medium. The next reason I somewhat
took to this new display is the fact that it can display 3D images, due to
some simple parallax techniques. Clearly a gimmick, but if you've got two
screens, you may as well provide that sort of functionality. Finally, the
70,000-yen price tag isn't exactly pocket change, but still low enough that
one could potentially save up for it should they want to.

More info: http://www.visualwear.co.jp/index3f.htm
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Name: Thanko USB FlowerPot Speaker
Category: USB Speaker
Price: 2,980 yen
Release date in Japan: November 29th, 2004

The Gist: Since it's quite difficult to cover the world of Japanese gadgets
without mentioning something downright odd, here's a new USB speaker shaped
like a flower pot. Or more specifically, it is the flower pot. Although you
cannot actually remove the fake flower from the pot and plant your own, I guess
the plastic looks realistic enough that it would still confuse some people.
The stereo speaker, which connects via USB 1.1, operates off of bus power,
so you won't need an external AC adapter.

More info: http://www.thanko.jp/flower_speaker.html
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Name: Evergreen ANC-01
Category: Noise-canceling headphones
Price: 3,979 yen
Release date in Japan: November 26th, 2004

The Gist: Noise-canceling headphones are of particular interest for international
travelers, as plane rides can get quite noisy. One thing that has always kept
me from purchasing a pair, however, was their restrictive price; they would often
be upwards of $100 or so. There didn't seem to be an "entry level" set anywhere.
Until now, anyway.

Evergreen Corporation has released the "EVERGREEN ANC-01" noise-canceling
headphones at their "Shanghai Donya" online store, for the ultra-low price of
3,979 yen. Given that price, you'd expect these headphones to be cheaply made;
that could be the case, but the specifications make them out to be just the same
as any other pair. They still use the same method of canceling noise: recording
outside sound waves with a microphone and creating "counter-waves" to act against
them. Supported frequencies for noise canceling are from 20Hz to 20kHz. Using
two AAA (size 4 for Japanese readers) batteries, they will operate for about
50 to 60 hours. Let's hope the baby sitting next to you on the 12-hour flight
from the USA to Japan cries from 20Hz to 20kHz.

More info: http://www.rakuten.co.jp/donya/527108/527063/550940/
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Name: Sony CMT-A01MD
Category: Micro-component system
Price: 42,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Early December 2004

The Gist: Announced by Sony this past week is the "CMT-A01MD" micro-component
system, or what I like to call a "desktop stereo." Equipped with MiniDisc,
CD, Cassette, and an FM/AM tuner, you certainly have plenty of access to music,
but there's more -- the system can also playback ATRAC3/ATRAC3plus and MP3
files from CD-R/RWs. Between this and support for MDLP-formatted MiniDiscs,
you'll rarely find yourself switching discs.

The focus of this and any micro-component system, of course, is a conservation
of space. The center unit is a mere 180mm (7") deep; the entire system, including
speakers, measures 424 x 208 x 302mm (W x D x H). Sony can't seem to walk away
from a product without putting some sort of appealing design element on it, so
the CMT-A01MD is equipped with a sort of "moveable front panel." Rather than
having a permanently exposed CD or MiniDisc slot, the front panel of the unit
itself needs to be "opened" before you can insert discs into either slot.
Apart from MP3 playback and an interestingly designed from panel, the A01MD
appears to be pretty straightforward; it has 4x CD to MD dubbing, illuminated
function keys, and a 4 direction "multi-lever key." The speakers each have a
maximum output of 25W each, so for a system of this size, it's certainly not
underpowered.

More info: http://www.ecat.sony.co.jp/audio/systemstereo/products/index.cfm?PD=1814...
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STAFF
Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (editors2@japaninc.com)

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