GW-223

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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. 223
Friday January 27, 2006

1. Casio XD-ST600
2. Hitachi DZ-GX3300
3. Yamaha NX-A01

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Casio XD-ST600
Category: Electronic dictionary
Price: 47,250 yen
Release date in Japan: February 17, 2006

The Gist: Casio's new "XD-ST600" electronic dictionary may not
have a color screen like many of Sharp's recent offerings, but it
is strikingly modern: rather than packaging the latest technology,
it takes after the latest trends. "Trend" may not be the best
word for what's going on in Japan -- students becoming
interested in other foreign languages -- but it's certainly
better than "fad." Call it whatever you'd like. It's hard to
deny the fact that more and more Japanese people are
discovering there are more languages in the world besides
English. Korean drama? The 50th anniversary of the end
of the Allied Occupation? Tough call.

Either way, this dictionary packs text-to-voice functionality for
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese.
The voice may be synthesized, but it's certainly better than
trying to guess the pronunciation of a French word like
"mutuellement." The XD-ST600 is loaded with 19 dictionaries
for daily life, 18 for business, 14 for hobbies, 11 for health,
10 for travel, 8 for just Japanese, 8 for just English, 7 for
computers, and 5 for studying. That's a total of 100
information sources, yet the XD-ST600 measures just
144.5 x 99 x 14.7mm with a weight of 250g.

For native pronunciation recordings (rather than voice synthesis),
you may want to look into other options. Only 14,000 words
and 3,000 example sentences have been recorded, and only
for English. Of course, if you're reading about a Japanese
product in an English newsletter, this probably isn't an issue
for you.

The screen of the XD-ST600 is a 420 x 320 dot LCD that's
around 5 inches across. It also has 20MB of internal storage
space, as well as a USB port and SD card slot. If you purchase
additional information sources for the dictionary, you'll easily
be able to add them to an SD card or its internal memory using
a USB connection from your PC. 5MB of text data, per file,
can be browsed on the dictionary itself. Words from this text
data can be copied into the other dictionaries for easy searching.
Combined with a resource for electronic books (such as Project
Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org), studying the Japanese
equivalents of your favorite English words is mere key presses away.

Two AAA batteries will power the XD-ST600 for about 130 hours.
It'll be available in gold, black, and red body colors.

More info: http://www.casio.co.jp/release/2006/xd_st6200.html

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Hitachi DZ-GX3300
Category: Digital video camera
Price: Open Price; estimated around 120,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Late February 2006

The Gist: Hitachi has unveiled the "DZ-GX3300," a DVD camcorder
with one of the world's quickest recording startup times, at around
one second. When in "Second Record Mode," turning the
camera off actually puts it into "Half Hibernate" -- this allows
it to startup and begin recording in about a second when the
"Second Record" button is pushed. Previous generations of
this same camera required as many as 16 seconds to
begin recording.

Available in both silver and black models, the GX3300 features
an effective 2.18MP image sensor for video. It will record DVD
video to virtually any type of 8cm DVD media, besides DVD+R.
Still images with resolutions up to 2016 x 1512 can be
captured with the GX3300, and individual frames of movies
can be taken as stills and saved to a SD memory card using
its integrated slot. The LCD monitor is 2.7 inches, so it
should be ample considering the camera's dimensions of
48 x 132 x 91mm. There's also a 10x optical zoom and
electronic image stabilization. Finally, the camera comes
equipped with a 16:9 widescreen recording mode, which
should help to recreate that true "DVD" feel.

Newly included with the GX3300 is Mac editing software called
"Pixe VRF Browser EX" and "ImageMixer VCD/DVD2." This
is in addition to "ImageMixer 3" for Windows. It's nice to see
Hitachi moving towards having their products supported under
more platforms. The GX3300 is also equipped with a standard
USB 2.0 port with support for High Speed mode.

As a final side note, you may want to hold off on this camera
if you're planning to switch to Blu-ray when it becomes
available -- Hitachi announced they're currently working on
a Blu-ray digital video camera, and they hope to have it ready
before the end of the year.

More info: http://www.hitachi.co.jp/New/cnews/month/2006/01/0120.html

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Yamaha NX-A01
Category: Speaker
Price: Open Price; estimated around 12,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Mid-February 2006

The Gist: This past week, Japanese mobile provider au announced
they would be offering the country's first handset with an integrated
hard drive. The "MUSIC-HDD W41T" from Toshiba contains
a 4GB hard drive and has integrated Bluetooth functionality.
Not only did au announce new handsets, they announced
a new service to go along with them. "AU LISTEN MOBILE,"
or simply "LISMO," offers high-quality AAC tracks with
a two-pronged approach: users can download tracks to their
handset using its integrated internet capabilities, yet they can
also download them on their computer, and then later transfer
them to their handset. Some have called this service
a competition to Apple's massively successful iTunes, and
given the circumstances, it's easy to agree. Perhaps all that
can stop the reign of iPod+iTunes Japan is a service that takes
advantage of something literally half the population of the
country owns: a mobile phone.

Toshiba's MUSIC-HDD W41T offers USB connectivity with
a computer, so you're able to transfer roughly 2,000 tracks to
its internal 4GB hard drive. From there, you have three options:
listen to music with the phone's speakers, on earphones,
or wirelessly. Indeed, the W41T supports Bluetooth for wirelessly
delivering those audio signals to devices nearby. However, these
signals are sent out using a unique audio profile developed for
use exclusively with au phones. In other words, don't expect
standard Bluetooth equipment to interface with the W41T.

Enter Yamaha's NX-A01. It is amongst the first items of equipment
to support this new au-only Bluetooth audio standard. It is a cube
that measures 84mm in each direction, and weighs 310g.
"Swing Radiator Bass" allows for large-style speaker sound,
despite its small size. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a catch.
The NX-A01 itself is not compatible with the new au Bluetooth
audio profile -- you'll need to purchase a separate add-on unit
named the "TRX-R01BT." Its cost? About 14,000 yen. If au
wants their LISMO service to be a viable competitor to iTunes,
they'll certainly need to try to bring down the price of
related hardware.

More info: http://www.yamaha.co.jp/news/2006/06011901.html

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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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