GW-278 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

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Japan Inc Magazine Presents:
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The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
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Issue No. 278 Friday October 19, 2007
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Name: Panasonic RP-WF5500
Category: Home Audio/Video
Price: Open Price; estimated around 20,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 20, 2007

The Gist: It's always handy to have a set of headphones you can
use with your TV. Maybe your baseball game goes into extra
innings as your kids are trying to sleep, maybe you want to
blast Billy's Boot Camp every morning, or maybe you just don't
want to bother your neighbors. For many Japanese households, a
pair of wireless headphones is standard equipment in their home
theater setups.

Matsushita's latest is the 'RP-WF5500' headphones, which use the
2.4GHz band to deliver wireless audio. They're part of the
Panasonic brand, and will be available in white and black
versions. What's nice here is the transmitter supports decoding
Dolby Digital, DTS, and AAC audio signals, all in their full
5.1ch surround sound glory. There's no telling how well that
5.1ch signal sounds when it's piped through the stereo (2ch)
headphones, but it's probably safe to say it will sound far
better than a regular old stereo signal. To assure this,
Matsushita has thrown in a Bass Boost function and two optical
digital audio inputs. Of course, an analog audio input is also
available for those of you who haven't joined the digital party
just yet.

The transmitter itself acts as a recharging stand for these
headphones, and recharging takes about 3 hours for 6 hours of
usage time. The headphones can be as far as 30 meters from the
transmitter. There's also an auto power on/off feature that
turns the headphones on or off as you wear or remove them.

More info: read now
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Name: Sony nav-u NV-U2
Category: Car Navigation
Price: Open Price; estimated around 60,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 21, 2007

The Gist: Sony has introduced the next generation of their car
navigation unit, the 'nav-u' NV-U2.

This model improves upon the NV-U1 by offering MPEG-4 video and
MP3 audio support, sporting a new gyro sensor for determining
the car's position, and being less than half the thickness.

The NV-U2 uses 'Gesture Commands' for input, as the 4.8inch,
480x272 dot screen is a touch panel. These Gesture Commands
involve drawing certain patterns on the screen with your finger,
which should prove easier than simply pushing buttons like a
traditional interface. While the NV-U1 only allowed these
Gesture Commands to be used within the navigation functionality,
the NV-U2 extends this capability into the audio and video
playback features.

Getting into these audio/video playback features, we find the
device is capable of handling MPEG-4 video (QVGA, 15fps) and
MP3 audio (32 to 320kbps) stored within a Memory Stick Duo.
While most of us are probably 'alright' with only MP3 audio
support, we the limited resolution and frame rate support for
the video feature does leave quite a bit to be desired. For
audio output, there's a 2W monaural speak and headphone output
jack. You may have guessed from the price tag, but as this is
Sony's 'budget' system, you'll need to check your multimedia
expectations at the door. Or perhaps you're interested in this
unit only for its navigation?

While the previous nav-u model split the maps across 512MB of
internal memory and a 1GB Memory Stick Duo, the NV-U2 loads all
of the data onto its internal 2GB of memory. This data consists
of some 10,000,000 place names and phone numbers, which
according to Sony is 'on par with our XYZ series'. Sony is
also taking queues from its PSP navigation software, offering
support for 'Minna no Chizu Guide-ya San' downloadable maps
and data from its 'PetaMap' mapping community site.

Notable in the navigation specs is the inclusion of the gyro
sensor, which will supposedly be of use when entering tunnels
or when going underneath tall structures.

The unit's battery should last for 3 hours. Otherwise, power
is supplied by your car's cigarette lighter socket or an AC
adapter.

More info: read now
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Name: Clarion DUB275MP
Category: Car Audio/Video
Price: 34,650 yen
Release date in Japan: Late October 2007

The Gist: Previously available as a dealer option in some car
models, the double-DIN DUB275MP is now ready for aftermarket
sale, even in some new color variations.

'Modern Living' is the design concept of the 275MP, and there
is indeed something quite modern about its appearance. While
many head-units are decked out with metallic dials, organic
EL displays, all sorts of slots, and flashing lights, the 275MP
looks like it belongs in a laundry room. Clarion said, 'We
created a design that makes you want to somehow touch and
feel it'. Or maybe that's not specific at all. Either way, the
275MP's design is unique. The large knob in the smack-dab in
the middle not only adjusts the volume, but also displays the
current mode. Also of interest is the 'Variable Illumination',
which allows you to choose from some 728 different colors. One
of those colors is sure to match the rest of your dashboard.

In terms of functionality, the 275MP offers a USB slot and CD
slot. MP3 and WMA files that are stored on USB devices can be
played from memory inserted in this USB slot. As many as 15,000
songs are supported, so presuming the USB slot also provides
power, you should be able to connect a hard drive. When not
using the slot, it can be hidden underneath a small cover.
This unit can also be connected to Clarion's 'BLT370' Bluetooth
adapter.

More info: read now
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STAFF
Written by: Liam McNulty
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