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. 188
Thursday April 14, 2005
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)
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Special Joint Round Table Discussion on Mobile Technology
TOPIC: "Telematics: Consumer Applications Take-off with 3G
RSVP required complete event details at
Date: Thursday, April 21, 2005
Time: 6:30 Doors open, buffet dinner included
Cost: 3,000 yen (members), 5,500 yen (non-members),
Open to all - Location is Foreign Correspondents'
Name: Evergreen Ladybug MP3 Player
Category: Portable audio
Price: 128MB: 3,980 yen; 256MB: 5,980 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available
The Gist: Evergreen once again proves Japan as the world's
capital of the bizarre gadgets, with the introduction of two new
MP3 players shaped like a ladybug. They're not just shaped,
either -- the 128MB model has a red body coloring and features
black buttons for operation.
That brings up one of the important aspects of the new player;
the ladybug's "spots" are the buttons for play, pause, skip track
and so on. I'm not entirely sure how such an arbitrary arrangement
of the controls would affect the usability of the player, but given
its limited 256MB capacity (at the most), it is pretty safe to
assume you won't be needing these buttons too often.
As an MP3 player, the ladybug series is "acceptable." Bitrate
support runs up to 256kbps, and the device can be charged via
USB. The internal lithium-ion battery should provide about 5
hours of playback.
More info: http://www.rakuten.co.jp/donya/573593/594589/
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Name: Thanko iCombi Wireless Stereo Headset
Category: Wireless audio
Price: 15,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Late April/Early May 2005
The Gist: As the trend of putting "i" before any word once again
becomes standard practice in the consumer electronics industry,
Thanko will release their "iCombi" wireless stereo earphones.
Consisting of iCombi adapter that fits all modern versions of iPod
(besides shuffle) and Bluetooth-compatible headphones, this
setup allows for wireless audio from your iPod. Because the
iCombi supports the Bluetooth 1.2 standard, it has a range of
roughly 10 meters; this should be plenty for trips across the
There are a couple of things to like about the iCombi package,
such as the inclusion of basic controls for play, next track and
so forth, on the earphones themselves. Another good idea Thanko
had was to allow the earphones to be recharged by USB. Expect
to see a heap of "wireless audio" products over the next year or
two, as such technologies are just beginning to be accepted.
In fact, I'd be willing to bet the next run of audio players will
feature integrated Bluetooth (or other wireless audio-compatible
More info: http://www.thanko.jp/icombi.html
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Name: Sony NW-HD5
Category: Portable audio
Price: Open Price; estimated at 35,000 yen
Release date in Japan: April 21, 2005
The Gist: Sony finally seems to be getting the point with their
portable audio products, this time announcing the "NW-HD5."
Following after the "NW-HD1," "NW-HD2," and "NW-HD3"
(don't ask me what happened to 4), the HD5 represents a
departure from traditional Sony design in a number of ways.
First of all, it features no wheel, dial or slide-type thing that
has conventionally been included with Sony audio players.
The buttons are laid out in an checkerboard pattern, and are
actually inverted (meaning, they do not "stick out" from the
profile of the player).
Featuring the same 20GB capacity as the NW-HD1, 2 and 3,
the NW-HD5 retains native support for MP3 and
ATRAC3/ATRAC3plus files. But the "native" support is "native"
in the Sony sense -- you're still required to transfer songs using
On the face of the HD5 is a 7-line display with an LED backlight.
It features a sensor allowing the display to automatically rotate
depending on the orientation of the player; when the player is held
horizontally (landscape), the screen will also automatically rotate
A final feature of note on the NW-HD5 are its dimensions. This
isn't considered a "feature" by most, but it is smaller in all
directions and weighs less than the iPod. I just thought I would
point it out.
More info: http://www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200504/05-0406/
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SUBSCRIBERS: 7,602 as of April 14, 2005
Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (email@example.com)
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