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. 185
Friday March 24, 2005
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Name: SolidAlliance FoodDisk
Category: USB memory
Price: Shuumai & Takoyaki: 8,200 yen;
Ebifurai: 9,200 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available
The Gist: In Issue 166 of Gadget Watch, we told you about
SolidAlliance's "SushiDisk" line of sushi-shaped USB
memory devices. Once again, SolidAlliance is back with
novelty-shaped USB memory devices: this week, the company
adds ebifurai (fried shrimp), shumai (steamed meat dumpling)
and takoyaki (octopus dumpling) to the line. Officially
being called the "FoodDisk" series (because they really
aren't sushi), all models have a 128MB capacity. Though the
8,200-yen retail price for shumai and takoyaki and 9,200-yen
retail price for ebifurai is somewhat expensive for a USB
memory device of such capacity, it is a small price to pay
for a piece of fried shrimp sticking out of your USB port.
Like the SushiDisk, the "food" portions of the FoodDisk series
are thanks to Sato Sample -- a Tokyo company specializing in
realistic plastic samples of food. Be sure to look at the
"More info" link below, because this needs to be seen to
More info: http://www.solidalliance.com/press/press.html#0317
Name: Panasonic D-snap Audio
Category: Portable audio
Price: 14,000 yen - 28,000 yen
Release date in Japan: April 8, 2005
The Gist: Panasonic has announced the "D-snap Audio" line
of portable audio players. Like their "D-snap" digital camera
brethren, the D-snap Audio players feature J-pop idol Ayumi
Hamasaki as their "image character." Not that this has
anything to do with the players themselves...just a notice.
There are four players in the D-snap Audio line. Two are in
the "SV-SD series," portable audio players with SD memory card
slots, and two are in the "SV-MP series" with a "two block"
design. We'll cover each, and start with the SV-SD series.
As the series name would lead you to believe, the SV-SD portable
audio players do indeed have an SD memory card slot. In fact,
that is all they have; the players feature no internal memory
whatsoever. Furthermore, neither SV-SD series player includes
an actual SD memory card -- you're on your own here (though
Panasonic did debut a 1GB SD card along with these players).
In the SV-SD series are the SV-SD100V and SV-SD90.
The most striking aspect of the SV-SD series is its design.
Measuring only 42.9 x 17.5 x 43.2mm, the players are quite small
and can easily fit in the palm of even a child's hand. On the
player's front is a four-line organic EL display with mirrored
surface. In fact, you could probably even use it as a mirror
in a well-lit room.
Both SD100V and SD90 support the playback of MP3, WMA and AAC
audio files. The SD100V also provides an FM tuner and voice
recorder function; recorded files from both of these sources are
recorded in AAC. One thing you might also want to watch out for
is that although AAC is listed as a supported playback format in
the specifications, Panasonic tries to get off with a
technicality: only AAC files created with their included "SD
Jukebox" software can be played. One thing Panasonic may want to
work towards is battery life; both SV-SD players are rated at
around 14 hours and 30 minutes from a full charge. This is quite
a disappointment considering Panasonic still holds the title for
"longest battery life of an MP3/CD player," at 120 hours on the
SL-CT270, released September of last year. Still, the SV-SD series
can be recharged via USB, so assuming you have a PC nearby,
Moving on to the SV-MP series, fans of product design will find
themselves right at home. In fact, previous models of the "SV-MP"
series even won the coveted "Good Design Award," which has also
been awarded to products such as Apple's iPod and quirky Playstation
2 game "Katamari Damacy." As mentioned earlier, the SV-MP series
uses a "two block" design. If you look at the pictures in the press
release below, you'll understand exactly what this means. If you
were to take a "block" for operating an MP3 player and another
"block" for an LCD screen, what you would end up with is close to
the SV-MP series.
There are two players in the SV-MP series, and they vary in storage
capacity, color variations, and pricing. The SV-MP720V has a 512MB
capacity and the SV-MP730V has a 1GB capacity. MP3 and WMA are
supported, and transferring files is as easy as drag-and-drop through
the USB Storage class. Also included is an FM tuner and voice
recording function. Both players measure 71.1 x 14.0 x 23.2mm
(W x D x H), making them fit into your pocket easily.
More info: http://plugbeat.com/
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Name: Nikon COOLPIX S1
Category: Digital camera
Price: 45,000 yen
Release date in Japan: April 15, 2005
The Gist: Nikon has introduced the "COOLPIX S1," the latest camera
from the company with a thin body style. How thin? 19.7mm. Yeah,
it may not be as thin as the Cybershot T7 we talked about last
week, but the Nikon can still hold its own.
Equipped with a 5.1MP CCD, the COOLPIX S1 records images up to
2592 x 1944 onto SD memory cards. Moreover, it can record
640 x 480 video at a maximum of 15fps.
The COOLPIX S1 also has 35mm lens with a 3x optical zoom. But
even more interesting than an optical zoom on such a thin camera
(if you consider such a thing interesting, anyway) would be the
"D-Lighting" feature. Also included on the COOLPIX 8800 and 8400,
D-Lighting is a correction function to brighten areas of images,
during playback, that are too dark because of reflecting light
or some such. The key phrase there is "during playback" -- the
pictures themselves remain too dark until you actually go to
look at them.
Another feature along the same lines is the "Face Recognition
Autofocus" for automatically recognizing people's faces. We've
all seen pictures where you can tell the camera accidentally
focused on the mountain or statue in the background of a group
picture. This function is designed to prevent these sorts of
pictures. It's not exactly something that will shake the very
foundations of the photography industry, but is representative
of some of the nice image-capturing features Nikon adds to
On the back of the S1 you can't help but notice the 2.5" LCD.
Also included with the S1 is a cradle called the "COOL-STATION"
for charging, connection to a PC and connection to a TV.
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Written by: Liam McNulty
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