GW-215

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G A D G E T W A T C H
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
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Issue No. 215
Friday November 18, 2005

1. Sharp DV-TR series
2. Buffalo RUF2-LD series
3. Sony PCM-D1

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Name: Sharp DV-TR series
Category: Digital video recorder
Price: 160GB: 75,000 yen; 250GB: 85,000 yen; 400GB: 110,000 yen
Release date in Japan: December 1, 2005

The Gist: Patience may be a virtue, but catering to impatience has
become an organizational goal for many of today's companies.
Sharp is the latest to exemplify this with their "DV-TR" line of digital
video recorders announced last week. "One Shot Start" takes the
units from standby mode to on in about one second. We wouldn't
really have minded if it were two seconds, or even three seconds
(gasp!), but "one second" does roll off the tongue more easily.

All models of the DV-TR series feature a VHS video deck, a hard
drive, and a DVD recorder. Besides the capacity of the internal
hard drives (160GB, 250GB, or 400GB) and case coloring, the
three models have similar specifications. The "Title Window" will
display the title of the program that is currently being played, and
the "Media Circle" buttons will glow blue when playing, or red when
recording. Hopefully this will take some of the guesswork out of
answering questions such as "am I recording this episode of 'Quiz
Hexagon' to the hard drive, or a DVD?"

The "One Shot Start" represents a drastic improvement versus the
previous generation, which had a 20-second startup time. We hope
you're not worried too much about power consumption, though,
because while Sharp mentioned that the unit takes 0.4W while
the One Shot Start feature remains off, they didn't publicize how
much power it uses while the One Shot Start feature is turned on.
Plenty of recording modes are also available; if the four presets
don't float your boat, feel free to use the manual settings to make
up to 65 different quality settings.

One downer of the series is its lack of a dual layer DVD-R/RW
burning capabilities. We sort of expected such a modern device
to support this, but it isn't a big deal -- last time we checked,
a blank dual-layer disc cost more than two single-layer discs.

Otherwise, you'll find all the standard digital video recorder features
such as simultaneous recording, electronic program guide support,
and sports delays. Input jacks include S-video, and i.Link,
while D2, S-video, and optical digital outputs are provided.

More info: http://www.sharp.co.jp/corporate/news/051111-a.html

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Name: Buffalo RUF2-LD series
Category: USB flash memory
Price: 256MB: 4,980 yen; 512MB: 9,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Early December 2005

The Gist: Before everyone rolls their eyes and thinks "oh boy,
another crazy Japanese USB memory device," give Buffalo
a chance. They are, after all, one of Japan's largest computer
peripheral makers.

Considering we covered no less than three USB memory devices
in last week's Gadget Watch, there has to be something special
about the RUF2-LD series, right? Err, maybe not. But there is
anyway: it's amongst the first such devices in the world to feature
an LCD screen. The screen is simple, but serves its purpose:
it will display the drive's remaining memory capacity and its volume
label. You've probably already figured this out, but it means you're
able to see how much space you have left without having to insert
it into a computer. Of course we here at Gadget Watch tend to
overanalyze such features, so we came up with a question for
Buffalo: why would someone be concerned with how much space
they have left when they're not trying to write data to the device?
In theory, they should only be worried about remaining capacity
when putting data on it, so they'll already have the device inserted
into a computer's USB port. Oh well.

The RUF2-LD series consists of two models: the "RUF2-LD256M"
with a 256MB capacity and the "RUF2-LD512M" with a 512MB
capacity.

More info: http://buffalo.melcoinc.co.jp/products/new/2005/000097.html

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Name: Sony PCM-D1
Category: Digital linear PCM recorder
Price: 200,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 21, 2005

The Gist: Sony's new "PCM-D1" linear PCM recorder may look bizarre,
but it is packed with plenty of recording-based functionality.

First of all, the PCM-D1 contains a whopping 4GB of flash memory. At
the recorder's highest audio quality setting -- 24 bit/96kHz -- you can fit
roughly 2 hours of audio. Your first reaction to that is probably "huh,"
but linear PCM audio is uncompressed, so you certainly won't get the
recording times like you do with a format such as MP3. You trade that
in for quality; linear PCM recorders are designed for recording birds,
sounds of insects, musical performances, and other sounds that
demand high ranges of frequency response. Your high quality audio
won't be locked into some device that only features low quality
outputs -- not only does the PCM-D1 offer a Hi-Speed USB port,
but it has an optical digital audio output.

In an interesting twist, Sony has also equipped the PCM-D1 with
a Memory Stick PRO slot. Only those Memory Stick PROs supporting
"Hi-Speed" can be used in the device, though, given its demands for
minimum reading and writing speeds.

The two microphones of the unit are positioned such that they can
"focus" on a particular point and accurately record left and right audio
channels appropriately. Putting two microphones too far apart from each
other will result in decentralization of the audio source, while putting
them too close together results in the channels being mixed. In fact,
the microphones can tilt a whole 30 degrees to make sure they're
appropriately positioned for whatever situation.

Other display-based features of the device include a monochrome LCD
and analog style level meters. You should see around four hours of
recording or playback using the unit's included four AA NiMH batteries.

More info: http://www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200511/05-1109/

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STAFF
Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (editors2@japaninc.com)

(C) Copyright 2005 Japan Inc Communications KK. All Rights Reserved.

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