GW-221

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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. 221
Thursday January 12, 2005

1. Sony Mouse Talk
2. Pioneer BDR-101A
3. Pegaso AudioBone

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Name: Sony Mouse Talk
Category: Peripheral
Price: Open Price; estimated around 8,000 yen
Release date in Japan: February 18, 2006

The Gist: Sony's new "Mouse Talk" combines all the functions
of a USB mouse with those of a USB phone handset. Sony
usually isn't the company to come out with multifunction products
like this; perhaps it's a sign of things to come?

At first glance, the Mouse Talk seems to be a standard mouse.
But upon closer inspection, you'll see a hinge along its inside
edge that enables it to open like a clamshell-style mobile phone.
Voice over IP support means the phone can be used with
software such as Skype. Apart from the standard phone
handset configuration, the Mouse Talk can also be used
hands-free by pushing a button on the reverse of its body,
opening it to a 50-degree angle.

If a call comes in while you're using your computer, simply pick
up your mouse, open it, and begin talking. Hopefully, you won't
need to access anything on your computer while you're on the
phone. While in phone mode, the mouse's scroll wheel adjusts
the volume, and clicking the wheel will mute the microphone.
Finally, an LED and sound (customizable through Skype) indicate
an incoming call.

Standard mouse functionality is provided at a resolution of 800dpi
and with a scroll wheel. The Mouse Talk will also be available
in white, black, bright red, and leaf green colors, so finding
something to suit your style should be easy enough.

More info: http://www.ecat.sony.co.jp/vaio/acc/acc.cfm?PD=23389

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Name: Pioneer BDR-101A
Category: Peripheral
Price: Unknown
Release date in Japan: Unknown

The Gist: Consumers are in for a wild ride this coming year,
as Blu-Ray and HD DVD will battle over which format can
become the successor to DVD. Dual layer Blu-Ray discs offer
a 50GB capacity, while dual layer HD DVD discs offer a 30GB
capacity. Furthermore, advanced multi-layering technologies
will supposedly allow Blu-Ray discs to reach hundreds of
gigabytes of capacity on a standard DVD-sized optical disc.
From a capacity standpoint, Blu-Ray clearly has an advantage
versus HD DVD.

It is therefore significant that Pioneer is reporting they will ship
the first internal ATAPI drive to Original Equipment
Manufacturers (OEMs) at the end of this month.
The "BDR-101A" won't be available to consumers just yet,
but since the drives begin shipment at the end of this month,
expect to begin seeing them installed in desktops and
notebooks as early as the first quarter of this year.

The BDR-101A supports writing to Blu-Ray's write-once "BD-R"
and rewriteable "BD-RE" discs. It can, of course, read both of
these formats in addition to "BD-ROM," Blu-Ray read-only media.
Not only can the drive write to single-layer BD-R and BD-REs, it
supports writing dual-layered discs, so you'll be able to store 50GB
on a single Blu-Ray disc the day they become available. Writing
is done at 2x, and the maximum data transfer rate is 72Mbps.

DVD reading and writing is also supported, where DVD-R discs
can be written at 8x, DVD-RW discs at 4x, DVD+R DL disc
at 2.4x, and DVD-R DL discs at 2x.

Unfortunately, you'll need to hold on to your current optical drives.
The BDR-101A offers no CD support whatsoever; it can neither
read nor write standard CDs. This is puzzling considering how
prevalent CDs still are in today's world, but Pioneer probably
figures this drive will become a second optical drive for most people.

More info: http://www.pioneer.co.jp/press/release516-j.html

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Name: Pegaso AudioBone
Category: Headphones
Price: 14,490 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: "Bone Conduction" is a technique that involves
transmitting sound through the skull so that it reaches the inner
ear without passing through the ear canal. Normally, humans
hear because vibrations traveling through the air hit our
eardrums. Bone conduction, however, physically vibrates
the inner ear via the skull. As you'd expect, bone conduction
is frequently employed by hearing aids.

Pegaso's new "AudioBone" headphones utilize bone conduction
technology to deliver audio to listeners. Instead of placing the
headphones on the ears, they are placed closer to the temples
to ensure proper transmission of audio. The AudioBones are
also the world's first bone conduction headphones that do not
require an amplifier; this means they can be plugged right into
your iPod, or any other device with a standard 3.5mm audio
jack. The maximum output of the AudioBones is at 70mW,
and the frequency response from 50Hz to 4 kHz. Another nice
feature of the AudioBones is their inability to cause ear damage;
since the audio doesn't actually travel through your ear, you don't
risk damaging your ears by blasting your music all the time.

More info: http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/av/docs/20051227/pegaso.htm

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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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