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The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 291 Friday March 21, 2008
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Name: DoCoMo NM705i
Category: Cell phone
Price: Open price
Release date in Japan: March 19, 2008
Global roamers will be interested in NTT DoCoMo's new Nokia
Japan-made FOMA NM705i 3G + quad-band GSM cell phone. DoCoMo
promises that the small and slim ‘straight type’ (non-clamshell)
device operates in 156 counties with the company's WORLD WING
international roaming network for DoCoMo FOMA handset users.
Additional fun for the traveler includes a ‘World Clock’ that
packs the time in 15 cities onto one screen, unit and currency
conversions, and a two-way Japanese-English dictionary with over
Tech specs boast a 2.0 inches 320x240 TFT display, 1.9 megapixel
camera, microSD/microSDHC card memory (up to 4 GB), an 89-gram
heft, and Bluetooth for wireless headset connection. Fashion
hounds can ponder the choice of a Stylish Black, Noble White,
or Bitter Orange exterior.
You'll be wanting that WORLD WING capability to make the NM705i
your phone of choice, though. There's a good list of features
not offered on the cellie: ‘osaifu keitai’ contactless IC card,
one-seg TV, bar code reader, PDF and document viewers, and GPS,
as well as some of DoCoMo's fancier music download and text
Nokia is betting on products like the NM705i and its N95 for
Softbank (expected next month) to boost its modest position in
Japan's crowded handset space. You'll have to check your local
DoCoMo shop in Japan to give this latest offering a test;
there's no word yet on the unit becoming available outside Japan,
though bloggers have pointed to an FCC application in the works.
Name: EXEMODE ER-250
Category: Home audio/video
Price: Open price (around JPY10,000)
Release date in Japan: March 22, 2008
Vinyl isn't dead; it's just being copied onto solid-state memory
by EXEMODE Inc.'s new ER-250 audio system. The Tokyo-based
digital device maker's system weighs in at a compact 3.3 kg
(plus two 1.28 kg speakers) and only delivers 2W of sound, but
promises to neatly straddle the analog and digital worlds. The
unit will play LP/EP records and audio CDs, recording the output
to MP3 file format on digital memory (USB, SD, miniSD, or MMC).
There's an AM/FM tuner as well, for more analog joy.
If you'd rather stick with playback from digital media, the
ER-250 accommodates MP3 or WMA audio files in addition to CDs.
Best of all, the ER-250 is expected to cost you only about
JPY10,000. As a low-cost way to liberate vinyl - say, turning a
parent's classic collection into a format the next generation
can enjoy - it's worth checking out. (Sounds to me like the most
fun to be had with record albums since the time we kids
discovered mom and dad's ‘Hair’ LP. That was better than
Saturday morning cartoons.)
Name: SONY PS-LX200USB
Category: Home audio/video
Release date in Japan: April 15, 2008
SONY will tempt platter-spinning old-school audiophiles with its
own offering a few weeks after the ER-250 hits shelves, giving
its device the SONY touch (and SONY price). The PS-LX200USB is a
3.1-kg LP/EP player that you can add to your component stereo
system for vinyl record playback, or connect via USB to a PC for
transfer to digital format.
The PS-LX200USB caters to the music fan wanting to move vinyl to
digital without losing the warmth of the original format. While
the unit includes a tool to reduce analog noise at the digital
recording stage, SONY claims that its compression-less recording
preserves the ‘soft sound quality’ of vinyl. From there, you'll
use the included Sound Forge Audio Studio LE music mastering
software (Windows XP/Vista) to edit your recordings and then
burn them to CD-R/RW or convert them to ATRAC or MP3 for
playback on other devices (such as a Walkman, SONY suggests).
But SONY is pitching the player not just as a way to turn your
recordings digital but as a way to keep enjoying the records
themselves. Some key words for the LP-philes out there:
phonoequalizer amplifier, fully automatic play, die-cast
aluminum alloy turntable, diamond needle MM cartridge, dynamic
balance straight-type tone arm, and more.
Name: SONY MDR-NC500D
Release date in Japan: April 21, 2008
Digital technology can not only preserve analog signals, it can
destroy them as well. That's the premise of SONY's ‘world's
first’ digital noise-canceling headphones, the MDR-NC500D.
Noise-canceling 'phones not only block outside sounds that
strive to reach your ears, they actively reduce it by picking up
sound waves through a microphone, processing the analog signal,
and generating opposite-polarity sound waves that cancel the
outside noise via destructive interference. SONY's innovation in
the new 'phones is to first convert the incoming analog noise to
a digital signal, and then perform high-level processing not
possible on an analog signal. The company claims the device's
DNC (digital noise canceling) software engine kills an unequaled
99% of surrounding noise, while a digital equalizer compensates
for flaws in low-frequency playback sound quality common to
conventional noise-canceling headphones.
The 195-gram circumaural (ear-covering) cans offer three sound
filters, each optimized for specific conditions: one ideal for
aircraft interiors, another for bus or train interiors, and
another for the office environment with its noisy computers and
air conditioners and what not. If you like, press the AI Noise
Canceling Mode Button to let the 'phones sample the outside
world and automatically select the optimal filter from among the
Other features: 40mm CCAW voice coil drivers, 102 dB/mW
sensitivity, 5-24,000Hz frequency range, 100mW maximum output,
AC and airline power adapters, and 16-hour operation with
included rechargeable batteries (10 hours with alkalines). And
for those times when you do want to hear the outside world, a
muting feature silences the music and uses the microphone to
boost the outside sound - no need to yank off the 'phones and
Written by: Timm Tuttle
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