GW-224

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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. 224
Friday February 3, 2006

1. Sorell SV-15
2. Sony DCR-S100
3. Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z600

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Sorell SV-15
Category: Portable media player
Price: 59,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Our first product for this week's Gadget Watch is the
"SORELL SV-15." The SV-15 isn't actually a Japanese product;
it's from Sorell of Korea, and is being distributed in Japan by
"Beyond the Language Walls Corporation."

Inside the SV-15 is a 20GB hard drive made by Toshiba. It has
a 3.5" display with a 320 x 240 dot resolution. It also measures
116 x 23 x 78mm, so it should fit nicely in the palm of your
hand...if you're a grizzly bear.

One of the primary selling points of this unit is its ability to
record video in MPEG-4, in one of two modes: 640 x 480
at 15 frames per second, or 320 x 240 at 30 frames per
second. The integrated 1.3MP camera is mounted on
a swivel mechanism, so it can face away from or toward
the user. The 20GB hard drive comes in handy with this
particular feature, because it means you're able to fit
as many as 40 hours of video. If video doesn't float
your boat, relax -- this model can also record still
images as large as 1280 x 1024 dots.

Of course, there's a reason the SV-15 is called a "portable
media player." In addition to playback of MPEG-1/2, AVI,
ASF, WMV9, XviD, and DivX 3/4/5 video files up to 720 x 480
in size, it is equipped with a TV output and input. Videos are
recorded at 640 x 480 or 320 x 240. There are a slew of audio
playback options available, such as AC3, MP3, and WMA
as supported formats. An integrated microphone and line-in
jack record audio in the MP3 format at 128kbps. In less
technical terms, the above means the SV-15 can both
play AND record pretty much anything you throw at it.

Sorell's SV-15 connects to a PC over USB 2.0 under the
Storage class. An internal lithium-ion battery allows for about
7 hours of video playback or 13 hours of audio. Beyond the
Language Walls Corporation is also throwing in some earphones,
an AV cable, a USB cable, cradle stand, and a carrying case
that can be turned into a stand of its own.

More info: http://www.blw.co.jp/sorell/index.htm

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Sony DCR-S100
Category: Digital video camera
Price: Open Price; estimated around 135,000 yen
Release date in Japan: March 3, 2006

The Gist: Sony unleashes their first "Handycam" with an internal
hard drive in March, in the form of the "DCR-SR100." You'll be
spending a large chunk of change to pick this one up, as it is
a Sony product. However, this is certainly not to say it's
overpriced, since it seems to offer plenty of functionality.

A Carl Zeiss "Vario-Sonnar T*" lens with a 10x optical zoom
focuses light onto the camera's 3.31MP CCD. When you're
recording video in widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio), there are
2.06 effective megapixels. However, still images use up to
3.05 megapixels. Sony's "Megapixel Engine" is supposed
to help with recording noise-free video, which allows for more
realistic color production. The "New Active Image Area
System" is the digital stabilization system used.

The DCR-SR100's 2.7" touchscreen LCD should make operating
the camera straightforward. Besides the basic functions you
would expect to find, it offers a "Visual Index" for quickly
jumping between videos that have been recorded, and "Date
Index Function" that shows a list of recorded videos by date.
Sony has also improved the search capabilities to match the
capabilities of the camera's internal hard drive.

This hard drive measures 1.8 inches and has a 30GB capacity.
Videos can be taken in one of three modes: HQ (9Mbps),
SP (6Mbps), and LP (3Mbps). HQ will allow for about 7 and
a half hours of video, and LP about 21 hours. Dolby Digital
Audio is also recorded, in 5.1ch at that -- the unit's 4ch
microphone and "Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator" function makes
this possible. Images go as high as 2016 x 1512 and are
recorded to the hard drive. It's important to note that Sony
opted to omit any sort of Memory Stick slot on this camera,
though they're "looking into it" for future models.

One of the concerns with products that contain hard drives is their
ability to withstand a fall; you wouldn't want to lose that footage
of little Junpei's first words because the camera takes a tumble
the next time it comes out of its bag. This is where the camera's
"HDD Smart Protection" comes in. This HDD Smart Protection
offers three lines of defense: a shock dampener around the
exterior of the hard drive, a "3G Sensor" that automatically
retracts the read/write head of the hard drive if it detects it is
falling, and a "Drop Stream Buffer," which works much like
the skip protection of portable CD players.

After you've successfully captured your video, the "One Touch
DVD" button makes things quite simple. Plug the camera into
your computer using a USB cable, and the included "ImageMixer
for HDD Camcorder" software will automatically start burning
the video to a DVD for you.

Included with the DCR-S100 is an InfoLithium P series battery,
the "NP-FP60," which offers about 1 hour and 45 minutes of
continuous recording.

More info: http://www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200601/06-0123B/

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z600
Category: Digital camera
Price: Open Price; estimated around 45,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Continuing their successful line of "Exilim" compact
digital cameras is Casio, who has announced the "Exilim Zoom
EX-Z600." It offers a 6MP image sensor, which is a marked
improvement over its predecessor, the 5MP "EX-Z500."

Another improvement over the Z500 is the camera's LCD. Casio
has literally tripled the brightness of the screen, so viewing it
outdoors shouldn't be a huge challenge as it normally is. Casio
also slightly improved the battery life, which equates to 550
pictures per charge, versus the 500 per charge of the Z500.
Two other improvements are the ability to use the flash in rapid
capture (the flash was forced off with the Z500), and the
addition of the "Reviving Shot" function of the "Exilim Card
EX-S600" from November 2005. This function is specifically
for taking pictures of pictures: color correction and trapezoid
correction will automatically be carried out when the image
is recorded. In other words, Casio expects users to take out
their dusty old pictures, take pictures of them with this
camera, and have enhanced digital copies of them. Sounds
fine to us, though a scanner and some decent photo-processing
software may do a better job.

Otherwise, you'll find the specs to be largely the same as they
were on the Z500, such as the SD memory card slot, maximum
resolution of 2816 x 2112 pixels, and ISO settings from 50 to
400. The lens has an optical zoom of 3x, and while the shortest
focal distance is generally 40 centimeters, macro mode brings
things in to 15 centimeters. Video can also be recorded in
the AVI format at 640 x 480, at 30 frames per second.
The size is 88 x 20.5 x 57mm, and the package contains
a cradle for power, AV output, and a USB connection.

More info: http://www.casio.co.jp/release/2006/ex_z600.html

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

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