GW-287 -- 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. 287 Friday January 18, 2008
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Article: Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. to change name
to Panasonic Corporation

The Gist: Once again we felt it appropriate to cover an item in
the news rather than a specific product. This time around we
look at Matsushita Electric Industrial's decision to change the
company name to ‘Panasonic Corporation’ from October 1, 2008.

While it’s a shame to see Japan’s only major consumer
electronics company named after its founder abandon this name,
it’s easy to see how this is a good move. Without a doubt,
‘Panasonic’ is a household name right alongside the likes of
Casio, Mitsubishi, Sony, and all the others. The primary
difference is that until this announcement, ‘Panasonic’ was
simply not the company’s name (at least in Japan). Panasonic
is a brand of Matsushita Electric Industrial. The company’s
other major brand in Japan is ‘National,’ a name known for white
goods and household appliances. Some products in Japan were even
marketed under the brand name ‘Matsushita’ itself, making things
still more confusing.

The National brand is slated to be completely phased out by
mid-2009, leaving the Panasonic Corporation branding all new p
roducts as Panasonic. Sounds simple enough. This factor,
combined with the high recognition of the Panasonic brand
throughout the world, makes the company’s move understandable.
his will hopefully lead to more brand equity for the company,
greater unity for employees, and perhaps most importantly, less
confusion for consumers. Company president Fumio Otsubo
explained that the name Matsushita also ‘has a rather local
image,’ for obvious reasons.

It’s important to point out that this move is likely to go
largely unnoticed outside of Japan; the company’s North
American division is already named ‘Panasonic Corporation of
North America.’ Panasonic UK, Panasonic Deutschland, and
Panasonic Australia are a few more examples. It’s difficult to
even find references to Matsushita outside of Japan.

For those who are wondering, ‘Panasonic’ allegedly comes from a
combination of the Greek-rooted ‘pan’ which means
‘of everything’ and the Latin ‘sonus’ for ‘sound.’

More info:
http://tinyurl.com/36yzep
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Name: Brule/Wibrain B1
Category: UMPC
Price: B1E: 119,800 yen; B1H: 139,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Late February 2008

The Gist: Brule is responsible for the Japanese release of the
‘B1’ line of Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) from a Korean company
called Wibrain. The B1E and B1H will be available, where the B1E
features a 30GB hard disk and 512MB of memory, and the B1H a
60GB hard drive and 1GB of memory. Otherwise, the units are
identical.

‘Ultra Mobile’ is making a full showing on the B1 series, as the
unit somehow manages to squeeze 1024x600 dots of resolution on a
4.8-inch touch-panel LCD. On either side of the screen you’ll
find keys arranged in a QWERTY layout, as well as some
additional keys for volume adjustment. The dimensions are
192x82x28mm, making it look like an elongated mobile phone.

Under the hood lies a C7M processor at 1.2GHz and a VIA VX700
chipset. As mentioned earlier, the memory and hard drive
capacity depend on which model you select. There’s also a USB
2.0 port, integrated 802.11b/g wireless LAN, Bluetooth 2.0, a
pop-up web camera, and audio input/outputs. The battery should
last roughly 3 hours.

More info: http://brule.co.jp/B1/main.shtml
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------Metropolis Magazine Valentine`s Glitterball---------------

Glitterball is back!
Tokyo's favorite party makes its triumphant return on
February 14, 2008-Valentine's Day.
An institution for nearly a decade, the Metropolis-hosted
Glitterball was on hiatus this year due to the closing of
Velfarre nightclub, but 2008's version promises to be better
than ever.

Roppongi hotspot Alife will host over 1,000 V-Day revelers
for a night of eating, drinking, dancing, making friends-and
who knows what else.
Prize drawings, swag bags, and Tokyo's funnest crowd will make
the reborn Glitterball the highlight of the Tokyo social calendar.

CORPORATE SPONSORS WELCOME
www.metropolis.co.jp/glitterball

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Name: Panasonic SD9, HS9
Category: Digital video cameras
Price: Open Price; estimated around 130,000 yen
Release date in Japan: January 25, 2008

The Gist: Matsushita is slated to release two new very small
digital video camcorders this month. The ‘SD9’ and ‘HS9’ are
both capable of recording high definition video at 1920x1080
(1080p/Full HD) using the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec. Both cameras
are ‘SD Card Hi-Vision Movie’ cameras, meaning they record video
to SD or SDHC cards.

The models vary in their configurations. While the SD9 has only
the SDHC card slot and includes an 8GB SDHC card, the HS9
features an integrated 60GB hard drive yet includes no SDHC card.
They’re the same price, leaving consumers with the decision
between recording video to a hard disk or to a flash memory
card. According to the company, one of the problems with the
previous model (the SD5) was how the included 4GB SDHC card
only left room for about 40 minutes of recording Full HD video.

Recording times will indeed vary depending on the chosen
recording mode. HA (17Mbps), HG (12Mbps), and HX (9Mbps) all
record at a resolution of 1920x1080, where the respective
recording times onto the 8GB SDHC card at 1 hour, 1 hour and
20 minutes, and 2 hours. Also available is HE at 6Mbps for a
resolution of 1440x1080, which is roughly 3 hours on the 8GB
SDHC card. Obviously recording allowances of the HS9's 60GB
hard drive are going to be significantly higher.

Under Panasonic’s new ‘UniPhier’ platform, these new models
offer a smashing 45% lower power consumption. Four LSIs became
one LSI, also allowing the company to make the models lighter
and smaller; these new models can continuously record for about
1 hour 45 minutes using the included battery.

‘Face Recognition’ technology proved massively successful for
digital still cameras in 2007, so Panasonic is making 2008 the
year of Face Recognition on digital video cameras. The SD9 and
HS9 are allegedly the world’s first digital video cameras to
feature face recognition technology. The technology involves
polling the scene 60 times per second for a face, and when a
face is detected, the camera will automatically adjust its AE
level, contrast, and skin tones, so you can be sure faces won’t
be too dark or hard to distinguish. Up to 5 faces can be
recognized simultaneously, and this same feature can also be
used when recording still images. Maybe in 2009 we’ll find this
same technology adapted to handle dog or cat faces, since it
seems a lot of home videos feature pets just as frequently as
humans.

Both models use the same optics and CCD as the SD5, which means
a 3CCD setup where each CCD is 560,000 pixels and an effective
520,000 pixels, yielding a 16:9 aspect ratio. There’s a 10x
optical zoom and optical image stabilization called ‘Advanced
O.I.S.,’ but because obviously we need yet another acronym. The
SD measures 65x126x67mm at 275g, and the HS9 is 75x126x74mm at
390g, making it the ‘world's smallest and lightest digital
hi-vision video camera with a hard drive.’ Say that three times
fast.

Another nice feature is the ‘Gun Mic,’ where the microphone can
be focused on a specific subject in conjunction with the zoom
function of the lens. This may not be 007-level technology, but
at least there’s some directionality going on. The 5.1ch surround
sound microphone should make your 1920x1080 videos seem more
environmental.

More info: http://tinyurl.com/37shyr
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STAFF
Written by: Liam McNulty
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