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The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 293 Friday April 3, 2008
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SoftBank 922SH 'Internet Machine'
Name: SoftBank 922SH
Category: mobile phone
Price: JPY95,520 (varies with account specifics)
Release date in Japan: March 28, 2008
More than a mobile phone (then again, almost all mobile phones
are now more than a mobile phone), SoftBank's new 3G 922SH is an
'Internet Machine'. It folds open book-like into a horizontal
configuration that's a lot like a really tiny laptop: 3.5-inch
VGA LCD screen on top, QWERTY keyboard below. SoftBank says the
screen, with 'Reflect Barrier Panel' and 'New Mobile AVS LCD'
technology derived from Sharp's AQUOS TV expertise, is easy to
read even in bright light. On that little keypad you'll find
scroll and zoom keys to further aid browsing, as well as easy
access to memo-taking and dictionary functions.
Folded shut into phone configuration, the W-CDMA + GSM 922SH
still allows text message checking on an OELD Sub Display, as
well as media playback. Also on the feature list: 2.0 megapixel
camera, One Seg TV (with 3D Surround stereo speakers!), microSD
memory, Bluetooth, IrDA, and a choice of gold, black, white, or
More info: http://mb.softbank.jp/mb/en/product/3g/922sh/
Sanyo Xacti DMX-CG9 digital movie camera
Name: Sanyo Xacti DMX-CG9
Category: digital still and video camera
Price: Open price (about JPY40,000)
Release date in Japan: April 18, 2008
As digital movie cameras become ever cheaper and simpler, Sanyo
Electric updates its Xacti line with the DMX-CG9. The new Xacti
boasts easier operation than its predecessors, an easy-to-like
price, and improved still image capabilities.
Xacti cameras sport an ergonomic 'pistol-grip' body; 'shooting'
video becomes an apt term. A 2.5-inch LCD screen folds out from
the side. With this update, Sanyo points to a more comfortable
rounder form, larger buttons, and simplified on-screen menus as
support for the 'easier' claim.
There's also no fiddling with tapes on a Xacti. The DMX-CG9 has
about 40MB of internal memory, and takes SD memory cards up to
32GB. Movies are saved in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format, at up to 60
frames per second in the highest-quality TV-HR mode (640x480
pixels - sorry, nothing higher). For less-demanding web use,
there's a 320x240-pixel mode.
How much video can you shoot? Using internal memory only, under
10 minutes using 15 fps web mode, and less than a minute using
TV-HR. With an 8GB SD card, those become 30 hours and a bit
under 3 hours, respectively.
In still camera mode, the CMOS image sensor yields 9.1 million
pixels, about 50% more than the earlier DMX-CG65's 6 million.
You can set your image size from as low as 640x480 pixels to
3456x2592, with an option to go beyond the physical pixel limit
to a digitally-processed 12 million pixel-equivalent
(4000x3000). Super macro mode allows shots from as close as 1cm,
and rapid shooting will record up to 10 shots at 5 shots per
second (at 1600x1200 pixels). You can also shoot photos (though
only 2 megapixels) while recording video.
Additional features include 5x optical zoom (with another 12x
digital zoom), flash, shake reduction, face recognition, voice
prompts for warnings and navigation feedback, wind noise
reduction, composite vidThis week's Gadget Watch takes a look at the eo output, NTSC/PAL compatibility, voice
recorder mode, and USB 2.0 connection. Operation menus are
Japanese only. Weight is 180g (200 with battery and card);
colors are white, red, or black.
A tangent on marketing: While easier operation is a laudable
feature, Sanyo repeatedly touts it via that charming phrase
still beloved of many marketers here: 'Easy even for beginners
or women.' A portion of the product text specifically mentions
the camera's new, larger buttons as being easier to operate for
'women with long fingernails,' so maybe gender-related nail
configuration is all that's implied. Then again, the 'easy for
women' phrase gets repeated again following mention of the
simplified on-screen menu. Sanyo might wish to move its
marketing into the same century as its technology.
SEGA TOYS Karada Trainer 'Walking and Jogging Navi'
Name: SEGA TOYS Karada Trainer
Category: health-related electronics
Release date in Japan: May 24, 2008
If your 'get fit' New Year's resolution got sidelined to 'get
fit when spring rolls around,' now's the time to get moving with
the Karada (Body) Trainer. It's a 45-gram headset that pings you
with reminders to keep up the pace - or in the maker's words, a
'walking and jogging navi' that will 'support your aerobic
exercise' to the tune of a '20% boost in workout effectiveness.'
After you've primed the simple controls with your age, weight,
and desired intensity of workout, you place the earphone cup
over your right ear and clip a pulse monitor onto the left
earlobe. Measure your pulse and commence movement. Karada
Trainer pumps pace-setting electronic music into the earphone
and keeps an eye on your pulse rate. Move out of the pulse rate
target zone, and the device picks up or slows down the rhythm to
keep you in the zone. Vocal cues too tell you when you're over-
or under-doing things, reminding you to pay attention to the
rhythm. Toward the end of the workout you'll get a memo to start
cooling down, and when the clock runs out, a warm 'Good job.'
That's all in one of the three operation modes. A second mode
simply acts as a timer for unpaced workouts, and a third just
plays audio from the separate audio player you've brought along.
But the Karada Trainer has only one speaker 'for safety
reasons,' so forget that last mode; when you tire of your
Muzak-playing virtual coach and want real tunes, put away the
Trainer and use your iPod's own (unsafe) stereo 'phones.
Yes, it's all similar to the Nike + iPod training aid gear, but
simpler - no recording or analysis of run data, no fancy
integration with music playlists, no calorie-burn estimates, and
so on. But the Nike/Apple kit requires special shoes, and
doesn't keep tabs on your ticker.
The Karada Trainer runs on a single AAA battery and connects to
audio players via a stereo miniplug (sold separately).
Recommended user age is an oddly precise 16-79 years old.
Okay, all ready to jog? Wait - you get an extra month's reprieve
from exercise. SEGA originally planned to release Karada Trainer
on April 26, but announced at the end of March that massive
pre-orders have forced it to delay launch to May 24.
More info: http://www.segatoys.co.jp/karadatrainer/index.html
Spotted elsewhere in the news:
1) SoftBank offers a peek at 'Japan Texture' lacquerware-style
mobile phone shell designs, coming soon to an 823SH near you.
2) Porsche fans of Japan: Get your Porsche news, photos, movies,
engine sound downloads, etc. on your mobile with the new Daily
Porsche Magazine. KDDI, WILLCOM, or au; JPY315/month.
3) From the end of March, bring your Suica, PASMO, or ICOCA
electronic money cards with you when crawling home late at night
on a Nihon Kotsu or Kokusai Jidousha taxi, thanks to the two
taxi firms' tie-ups with JR East, JCB, NTT DoCoMo, and Mitsui
Sumitomo Card. From fall, add QUICPay and iD cards to the list
4) Got a Kyocera W42K mobile phone from au? If so, your battery
is under recall for possible shorting, smoking, and rupture.
Batteries with lot number 'KY-YDA' are okay; 14 other numbers
are no good. Stop use of the battery and call 0120-600-924 (or
157 from an au mobile).
5) That iPod touch is so beautiful, you don't even want to - eww
- touch it with your grubby fingers. DIATEC Corp. has the
answer: a rubber-tipped 'Tap Pen' stylus for the iPod touch or
iPhone. It's good for clicks, double-clicks, dragging, and
scrolling/sliding. No two-finger 'pinching,' capability, though,
says the maker. (Come on, DIATEC, work the marketing! Tell
buyers they need TWO Tap Pens, chopstick-style, for pinch
Written by: Timm Tuttle
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