GW-240 -- Digital Cowboy Movie Cowboy

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. 240
Friday June 16, 2006

(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)

Name: Digital Cowboy Movie Cowboy
Category: Media player
Price: Open Price; estimated around 24,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Late June 2006

The Gist: Amongst Digital Cowboy's latest is the "Movie Cowboy," a media player
featuring an open 5-inch drive bay for adding either a hard drive or an optical drive.
The unit supports both; if you've been on the bridge about whether to get a media
player with an optical drive versus a media player with a hard drive, this will be a
good product as you'll be able to decide even after you buy it.

The 5-inch drive bay supports DVD drives that connect using IDE, and hard drives
when using casters (which are not included). There's no word from the company about
support for next-generation optical drives (HD DVD or Blu-ray), so at this point we'll
assume that means "no."

Inside is the 8621L chip from Sigma Designs, offering a wide range of media playback
support. This includes MPEG-1/2/4, DVD-Video (IFO/ISO/VOB), and WMV9 HD video
formats, MP3, AAC, WMA, OggVorbis, and WAVE, audio formats, and finally JPEG
and PNG still image formats. It's also great to see a DVI output jack on the unit; if you
have a DVI jack on your PC's LCD, this makes connection painless. It also means
you can connect the unit to your HDTV if you pick up an HDMI converter. The Movie
Cowboy supports output of video as large as 1920 x 1080, so this should be a good
media player for those that need High Definition support from end to end.

Another convenient feature of the Movie Cowboy is its USB 2.0 connector. While
some media players require server software to interact with PCs on your network,
the Movie Cowboy's USB connection ought to make transferring media to it relatively
painless. Expect to see this one later this month for around 24,800 yen.

More info: http://www.digitalcowboy.jp/products/mc50u2/
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Name: Sony Walkman E series
Category: Portable audio
Price: Open Price; 512MB: 10,000 yen, 1GB: 13,000 yen, 2GB: 18,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Already released

The Gist: The newest models in Sony's Walkman "E" series of portable audio
players are set to be released on June 10th in Japan. In the lineup is the "NW-E005"
with a 2GB capacity, the "NW-E003" with a 1GB capacity, and the "NW-E002" with
a 512MB capacity. Black, violet, pink, blue, and lime green color variations will be
available. But, for some reason, the 2GB model will be available only in black and violet.

Amongst the new features of the player is support for the AAC format. It's pretty clear
that Sony has been making internal efforts to increase the format support of several of
their products -- the company also recently introduced WMA and AAC support to the
PlayStation Portable -- and the Walkman line seems to be no exception. Added to the
existing support for the playback of WMA, MP3, ATRAC3, and ATRAC3plus files, it
seems Sony's players are actually becoming what might qualify as "versatile." To go
match this AAC support is the recently released "SonicStage CP" audio management
software, otherwise known as SonicStage 4.0.

On the top of the E series players, you'll find a 108 x 16 dot organic EL display that
will show song names in Japanese. The menus are only in English, but hopefully that's
not too much of a problem for anyone reading this newsletter.

A nice addition to these new players is an actual USB plug. Simply remove the cap,
plug it into your PC, and you're ready to get going. The USB Storage class is
supported, so you can also put non-audio data on the device. Put plainly, you can also
use the E-series players as USB memory devices. Another feature of note is the
"Sports Timer," which displays a special playback timer on the GUI that measures
from 1 to 99 minutes.

Speaking of minutes, the battery life of the E series players does not disappoint:
recharging it for only 3 minutes gives 3 hours of playback time, and a full recharge
(which takes about 1 hour) gives as many as 28 hours of playback time.

Sony also has a full range of accessories planned for the E series: waterproof cases,
armbands, clips, silicon cases, neckstraps, and neckstrap earphones.

More info: http://www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200605/06-0525/
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Name: Fostex eA
Category: Speaker
Price: Open Price; estimated around 16,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Late June 2006

The Gist: If you have a spare table or board in your home or office and want to
turn it into a speaker, there's the new "eA" (pronounced "air") from Fostex company
that will make your dream a reality.

The eA employs magnetic materials that will contract rapidly when their surrounding
magnetic field is changed. The resulting vibrations are transferred over to the surface on
which the eA sits, causing the surface to act as a speaker. According to the company,
this means you don't have to worry about things like directionality or whether or not
your speakers match your home's interior.

Power is supplied only by an included AC adapter, which is a bit unfortunate
considering the "portable" aspect of this product. Audio is delivered via a standard
3.5mm audio jack, so the eA can be connected to devices such as an iPod,
notebook PC, or mobile phone.

More info: http://www.fostex.jp/
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SUBSCRIBERS: 8,530 as of June 15, 2006

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

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