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. 189
Thursday April 21, 2005
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)
=== Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - May Seminar ====
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Date/Time: Tuesday, May 10th 7:00 pm
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Name: BuzzStyle Stripy BZST-01S
Price: 19,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Late April 2005
The Gist: Newcomer BuzzStyle introduced their designer
"Stripy" speakers this past week. At least I thought
BuzzStyle responsible -- reading the fine print reveals
the speakers were actually developed by Beans
Electronics of Hong Kong. That's fine by me, though.
"Stripy" is a two-channel active speaker system that
features the ability to rotate 180 degrees. Sure, any
speaker can rotate 180 degrees if you are to manually
pick it up and rotate it, but the Stripy speakers do it with
finesse. In fact, they rotate along an axis that isn't
parallel with a flat surface. This will make a lot more
sense if you see a picture of the speakers themselves,
but they can rotate so that they are facing the ceiling.
"This allows for directed or 360-degree audio," says
Another interesting feature of the Stripy speakers is
the center control unit. When you push the button once
while the unit is off, it will light up white. From there,
you can adjust the volume by turning it or you can push
it again; the second push will cause the button to shine
diamond blue, allowing for adjustment of bass. Pushing the
button a third time will cause it to shine green, at which
point you can adjust the treble. Pushing it twice in quick
succession will mute the speakers, and the button will
shine red. This isn't exactly a miracle of modern
technology, but it's refreshing to see an alternative
approach to intuitive control occasionally. What's
more intuitive than colors (unless you're colorblind)?
The speakers themselves contain 33mm drivers, and
each weighs roughly 112g. They are each about 48mm
in diameter and 62mm high, so they're easily small
enough to fit in front of an iPod dock.
More info: http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/av/docs/20050412/buzz.htm
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Name: Evergreen EG-MPW256CII
Category: Portable audio
Price: 9,979 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available
The Gist: We'll continue with our weekly tradition of
reporting on strange MP3 players. This week have
another from Evergreen. The "EG-MPW256CII" is a
wristwatch-style MP3 player.
As far as specifications go, the EG-MPW256CII offers
no surprises. It has a 256MB memory, can play MP3
files from 32kbps to 256kbps, and offers USB Storage
class support through a USB 1.1 connection. Mac
users should look elsewhere, as the 256CII does not
feature Mac support. Expect a 10-hour battery life from
3 hours of charging via USB.
The 256CII is available in blue and pink, which in
Evergreen's words means they are "meant for couples."
More info: http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/av/docs/20050415/everg.htm
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Name: Sony PIT-IN
Category: Portable storage
Price: Open Price; estimated at 15,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available
The Gist: Years ago, Sony introduced a data storage
format called "MD-DATA." They even went as far as
releasing "MD-DATA" drives meant to be put inside
of computers. MD-DATA, or the data version of
MiniDisc, was more or less dead on arrival. There's a
number of reasons for its failure, but the largest
contributor would be the spread of MO, or
Magneto-Optical (which uses technology almost
identical to that of MiniDisc, but we won't go into that).
Why the history lesson? Well, you now know Sony has
already tried (and failed) what they're trying again. The
"PIT-IN" is unfortunately not related to F1 racing, but
is actually the name of Sony's first "Hi-MD" compatible
external storage drive.
Hi-MD is Sony's modern iteration of MiniDisc, featuring a
1GB capacity. Figuring consumers might also be
interested in this 1GB of storage space for something
other than audio, Sony went ahead and made all Hi-MD
devices compatible with the USB Storage class. A nice
move on their part, but as you'll see in a second, not
everything is as sugarcoated as you would be led
The PIT-IN takes advantage of the USB Storage class
to offer a simple application of Hi-MD: a storage medium.
Just plug the PIT-IN into a modern Windows machine,
insert a Hi-MD or standard MiniDisc for 1GB of 340MB
of storage space (respectively), and you now have an
instant storage solution with removable media. From a
cost-per-MB standpoint, Hi-MD is effective; when you
consider the 700-yen retail price of Hi-MDs and the fact
that they're all rewriteable, you're looking at a decent
replacement for something like a USB flash device.
However, the potential of the PIT-IN to breathe new life
into the MD-DATA concept falls flat on its face out of the
gate. Why? Many of you may remember the dark ages
of computing, when we had to use this thing called
"USB 1.1." With a maximum outbound transfer speed of
12Mbps, we were forced to wait ages and ages to
transfer data to USB devices. For some reason, Sony
chose to equip the PIT-IN with only USB 1.1 functionality.
As a result, it has a maximum transfer speed of 9.83Mbps.
Assuming you can retain the maximum throughput, filling
a 1GB Hi-MD disc with the PIT-IN would take about 14
minutes. Sure, that's not too shabby for using a disc here
or there, but the only way for Hi-MD to be successful as
a data format is for it to have a decent transfer speed.
Until Sony can improve upon this, don't expect this
concept to go anywhere.
More info: http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2005/0413/sony.htm
SUBSCRIBERS: 7,664 as of April 21, 2005
Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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