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. 179
Thursday February 10, 2005
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========================= ICA Event =============================
ICA Feb. 17 Event
Presenter -John Kirch, Regional Director for Asia/Pacific,
Ubiquity Software Corporation
Topic - VoIP & SIP are the Future of Telecommunications
RSVP required Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
Date: Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005
Time: 6:30 Doors open, sit down dinner included
Cost: 3,000 yen (members), 5,500 yen (non-members),
Free drink at bar for this event
Open to all - Location is Foreign Correspondents' Club
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Name: Sanyo HDR-B5GM
Category: Portable voice recorder
Price: Open Price; estimated at 53,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Early March, 2005
The Gist: Voice recorders haven't seen too many improvements
in the past few years; the only improvement I can really
think of is when they went from analog tapes to digital
But that all changed this past week, as Sanyo unveiled the
"HDR-B5GM," a portable voice recorder featuring a 5GB hard
drive. This provides an enormous amount of space to record
audio -- Sanyo rates the HDR-B5GM as having a maximum
recording time of 693 hours for monaural audio, and 173
hours for stereo audio (recorded from an included stereo
microphone). 693 hours is about 29 days; perfect for stalking
that special someone for an entire month. Err wait, the
recorder's battery life of 7.5 hours while recording would
prohibit such a feat.
Interestingly enough, the HDR-B5GM also features MP3 and WMA
audio file playback capabilities, so it's not as though you'll
be using it exclusively for recording boring meetings or
lectures while you practice the ancient Japanese art known as
"Sleep-jutsu." If you find 5GB is simply too skimpy for your
needs, you're in luck; the HDR-B5GM also features an SD card
slot. Connecting with a USB cable, the recorder is recognized
as a removable disk by your computer, so copying files to and
fro is as simple as drag-and-drop. The HDR-B5GM weighs 93g, and
measures 45 x 19 x 94mm (W x D x H), so it will easily fit into
a shirt pocket.
More info: http://www.sanyo.co.jp/koho/hypertext4/0502news-j/0204-1.html
Name: Sony "LocationFree TV," LF-X5
Category: Wireless TV
Price: Open Price; estimated at 125,000 yen
Release date in Japan: March 10, 2005
The Gist: How often have you traveled outside of Japan and
wish you still had access to your favorite shows such as
"Ainori" or "SMAPXSMAP?" Sony has finally made your dreams
come true, and perhaps someone else's dreams, too -- the
LF-X5 not only allows programs to be delivered to the TV
over the internet, but it does this in real-time. So how
does this work?
The LF-X5 consists of two pieces: a base station and a
wireless LCD TV. The base station is connected to the video
source (it has inputs for TV signals as well as video
inputs), which then wirelessly connects to the LCD TV.
Bammo, instant wireless TV. But there's obviously more to
it; the base station, when connected to the internet, can
also be accessed from outside locations through a
function called "NetAV." The ramifications of this function
are huge -- it essentially means that anywhere in the
world you can get a wireless internet connection, you can
have access to the base station in your home. Whether
this is at a library in Moscow, a Starbucks in San
Francisco, or a college campus in Brazil, it makes no
difference; anywhere providing a wireless internet
connection means you have an instant connection to
your base station, and thus Japanese TV (providing
the base station is in Japan, of course).
Nevertheless, you probably have a few questions, by now.
For example, what about the time difference? Surely, you
don't want to watch programs that are on at 11 AM in
Japan while sitting in your New York hotel room at 9 PM.
You're in luck, here too -- Sony has equipped the LCD
with touchscreen capabilities, and the base station with
connectivity with video recording devices. So, before
you leave Japan, just set your video recorder to record
you choice programs. You can then control your video
recorder, and in turn access various programs from the
"Surely this requires some sort of monthly fee," you say.
In fact, it does not; this is an all-inclusive package.
Because the LF-X5 utilizes your existing internet
connection and cable TV line (at your home in Japan),
there is no need to apply for additional services or
fork over some sort of usage fee.
On the technical end of things, the LF-X5 is fairly well
equipped: the base station has an analog tuner, S-Video
input, composite input/output and analog audio
input/output. The screen itself is a 7" widescreen TFT
LCD, with a resolution of 800 x 480. Though both 802.11a
and 802.11b/g bands are supported, Sony's "Dual
Transmission Hi-Bit Wireless" technology means you needn't
worry about which to use where. In fact, having none of
these isn't a problem either -- the LCD TV is equipped
with a wired LAN port as well.
Other functions of the LF-X5 include access to e-mail, a
basic web browser, and the ability to playback MPEG-1
videos via a CompactFlash slot. In fact, the only thing
I could really ask for is some sort of camera, so that
the LF-X5 could perhaps also provide a sort of poor-man's
videoconferencing solution. The lithium ion battery of
the LCD TV portion will provide about 2 hours of viewing
time, though charging takes about 80 minutes.
More info: http://www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200502/05-0201/
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Name: NOAX CSV HDD PLAYER
Category: Portable hard drive
Price: 12,980 yen for just casing, 26,630 yen
with 20GB hard drive
Release date in Japan: Already available
The Gist: We've addressed options for transportation of
your favorite audio and video files from time to time,
but the NOAX CSV HDD PLAYER has what is probably
the most robust feature set thus far... at least
for hard drive cases.
The NOAX CSV HDD PLAYER, hereafter simply "NOAX," is
available in two versions: an empty version so you
can add your own hard drive later, and a version that
includes a 20GB hard drive. The empty version will
accept hard drives as large as 80GB, but you'll need
to format them first. The NOAX connects via
USB 2.0, so transfers between PC and hard drive
should be speedy.
The glory of the NOAX lays in its audio/video playback
capabilities; it is equipped with an AV output port,
and even a digital audio output. Supported playback
formats include DivX, MPEG-1/2, JPEG, multi-channel VOB,
and the ever-popular MP3. My favorite function of the
NOAX, however, isn't a certain format it can play --
it's the USB On-The-Go functionality. This means you
can connect the hard drive directly to a digital camera,
USB memory device, MP3 player, or even Sony's new PSP,
and copy the contents of the connected medium to it.
This sort of functionality will likely be in higher
and higher demand in the years to come, as consumers
look to integrate their numerous devices. As an added
bonus, the NOAX also supports Japanese file names.
More info: http://www.thanko.jp/noax_csv.html
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