GW-31

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
G A D G E T W A T C H
A Free Newsletter Covering the Latest Cool Stuff in
Japan
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Issue No. 31
Thursday, October 4, 2001

Note: It's the quiet before the storm just now,
because Japan's biggest electronics show, CEATEC,
opens this week at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. If you
like gadgets, you're gonna love this show, so get over
there! Just be careful not to accidentally wander into
the considerably less-exciting industrial components
part of the exhibition, staged in a separate hall from
the funky, cool consumer stuff!

Name: DVD walkman D-VM1
Category: Portable DVD
Price: Open
Release date in Japan: November 21

The Gist: The DVD walkman comes with a separate
3.5-inch color LCD display that features Sony's handy
"jog" control for simple, one-handed operation. One
nice feature here is that the display is compatible
with both NTSC and PAL, so it's good to go for all you
world travelers out there. I think Sony's usually
imaginative industrial designers have got a bit
carried away with the "industrial" tag this time --
the D-VM1 is molded into what Sony is terming a "car
disc brake" look. Yummy. Cos the company just knows we
gadget freaks love our cars more than life itself. Or
something. The D-VM1 incorporates a multi-channel
"virtual surround" sound system to simulate the
full-blown 5.1 channel effect we all crave from our
kit nowadays. Best of all, the new walkman will spin
up anything you care to throw at it, including DVD,
DVD-R, DVD-RW, video CD, music CD, and music files
burned onto a CD-R or CD-RW.
More info:
http://www.sony.co.jp/sd/CorporateCruise/Press/200109/01-0927/

Name: SD-AT100 Home Theater System
Category: 1-bit audio
Price: n/a
Release date in Japan: Open

The Gist: When an innovative company attempts to
introduce a new technology, it's always a bit of an
uphill struggle. I can still remember all the fuss
when CDs first hit the market. "What?!! I have to
ditch my tapes and LPs and go out and buy all my music
again?!" came the cry, "No way!" But we all eventually
realized the error of our ways and -- unless you're a
top DJ -- have pretty much all made the switch. Well,
in an effort to make us even more aurally
sophisticated, if that were possible, Sharp is pushing
its 1-bit audio kit even harder than ever, and has
just released an all-in-one unit. Called the SD-AT100,
the new system is an all-in-one box, finished in
silver (of course) and categorized under the "Auvi"
range of kit, which is noted for its clean,
minimalist design ethic. The AT100 is a combined DVD
player and 5.1 channel home theater surround sound
system, which is not that unusual, but it's also the
world's first 1-bit audio combined home theater
system, which is. A 1-bit amp, as I'm sure everyone
knows by now, conducts sound sampling 2.8 million
times per second, 64 times more often than for CDs.
The result is more faithful and energy-efficient sound
reproduction with little or no signal degradation. Run
in tandem with the DTS-capable DVD player, this means movie buffs
look set for a real treat later this year.
More info: http://www.sharp.co.jp/press/p010925.html
http://www.sharp.co.jp/press/jpg/SD-AT100_1.jpg

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Name: Panasonic DMR-HS1
Category: DVD
Price: 200,000 yen
Release date in Japan: December 1, 2001

The Gist: Japan may be ahead of the pack for most
consumer electronics kit, but it falls strangely short
in a couple of areas. One of those areas is personal
video recorders: machines that are basically a big
hard disk, allowing TV addicts to record their
favorite programs without the need for clunky old
videotapes. Enter Panasonic, with its new DMR-HS1
machine. This little beauty is not just closing the
gap between Japan and the US/UK, but leaping over the
other countries' shoulders. The HS1 is a
combined DVD video recorder AND hard disk. This
obviously means that, rather than be limited in how
many programs you can store by the size of the hard
disk, punters can now make hard copies of the movies,
sports events or whatever, by recording directly onto
a DVD! Heralding a new wave of DVD players from
Panasonic, the unit can use both the DVD-RAM and DVD-R
formats, allowing up to 12 hours of recordings on a
single, double-sided DVD-RAM disc. The HDD itself will
accommodate up to 52 hours or programming in EP mode
before you need to burn your own hard copies -- and
hey, if you're that far behind in your viewing, it's
probably best to do a bit of housekeeping anyhow. Hard
disk recorders are magical too, because with machines
like the HS1, you can simultaneously record and watch
programs at the same time -- even play back the first
part of a show that you're still recording! And, if
you feel the need, you can dub from a DVD-RAM disk to
the HDD. We'd have been burned at the stake for this
kind of thing two hundred years ago.
More info:
http://www.matsushita.co.jp/corp/news/official.data/data.dir/j
n010926-1/jn010926-1.html

Name: Masushita SD Memory Card
Category: Memory storage
Price: Open (both)
Release date in Japan: (256 MB card) December 21, 2001
(512 MB card) January 21, 2002

The Gist: Panasonic has just announced a brace of new
SD memory cards, the rival storage format to Sony's
Memory Stick that was jointly developed by Panasonic,
Toshiba and San Disk. The big deal here is not, in
fact, the bigger capacities, but the transfer speeds.
Five times faster than even previous SD cards, the new
256MB and 512MB versions are capable of data transfer
at 10 MB per second. The 512MB card, says Panny, can
store three hours of (MPEG-4) video and 400
4-megapixel digital camera images. Very big, very
fast. For comparison purposes, the current, now
similarly-priced Memory Stick equivalents have a
maximum write speed of 1.5MB/sec and a maximum read
speed of 2.45MB/sec.
More info:
http://www.panasonic.co.jp/Ptop/news/index.html

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Subscribers: 994 as of October 4, 2001

STAFF
Written by Max Everingham (max@everingham.net)

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