GW-312 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

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Japan Inc Magazine Presents:
G A D G E T W A T C H

READ GADGETWATCH ONLINE AT:
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The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
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Issue No. 312 Friday September 5, 2008
Subscribers: 9467
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Nikon D90 brings movies to digital SLR

Name: Nikon D90
Category: digital still and movie SLR camera
Price: About JPY120,000 (body only)
Release date in Japan: September 9, 2008

It's the norm now that digital still cameras include some sort
of video recording feature, and video cameras offer still-shot
capability. Nikon's adding a new twist to the combination, with
what it calls 'the world's first digital SLR movie function that
delivers genuinely cinematic results.'

The D90 is the latest in Nikon's popular D line of digital SLRs,
featuring 12.3-megapixel still shots. Its movie function records
video at resolutions of 320 x 216, 640 x 424, or HD720p (1,280 x
720) in motion JPEG format, at 24 frames per second. (Sorry, no
higher-resolution HD1080 video.)

What makes that exciting is not just the combination of a great
still cam and decent HD video cam in one unit, but the ability
to use Nikon's array of interchangeable lenses for video
shooting. Fish-eye, wide-angle, telephoto... you'll swap lenses
like a Hollywood movie-maker, something you can't do with
general consumer video cams.

Aiding the moviemaker is a large DX-format 23.6 x 15.8mm CMOS
sensor ('far larger than that in typical camcorders,' says
Nikon) with a sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 3200. A microphone
and built-in speakers handle audio recording and playback.
(There's speculation that the D90 will function as an audio
player if you load it with MP3s, though Nikon itself doesn't say
this.)

Still, this may not be your tool for feature films. When
shooting video, you lose both autofocus and the viewfinder. (Use
the LCD panel on back instead, via Live View previews). You
can't go beyond 24 fps, which is fast enough for many but not
all shooting purposes. Some pros are also wondering about the
maximum video scene length before sensor overheating (hastened
by Live View) becomes a problem.

In addition to that Live View preview in the 3-inch LCD display,
other functions include Nikon Vibration Reduction (when used
with compatible lenses), Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus module with
11-point AF system, face recognition, built-in flash, Image
Sensor Cleaning, 0.15-second quick start-up time, and
comprehensive image editing tools. Body weight 620g.

More info: http://nikon.com/about/news/2008/0827_d90_01.htm
(English)
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Panasonic Viera TH-PZR900 HDTV sports terabyte drive, YouTube

Name: Panasonic Viera TH-50PZR900
Category: Hi-Def TV
Price: About JPY540,000
Release date in Japan: September 10, 2008

Panasonic Corporation's latest Viera Hi-Def TV further narrows
the gap between TV sets and PCs: it boasts a 1-terabyte drive
for recording shows and a LAN Ethernet port to access Internet
content, particularly YouTube.

What will a terabyte of storage hold? Not quite as much as you
might expect, given the heavy storage needs of digital
broadcast: about 86 hours of BS digital TV, or 121 hours of
terrestrial digital TV. (That same 1 TB drive could store
several hundred hours of current analog broadcast TV; alas,
that's what's being phased out in Japan by mid-2011, and the
Viera won't even deign to record such old-timey signals.)

There's no dual-recording capability, so you can record only one
channel at a time; there's also no external DVD player/recorder.
So while the built-in hard drive is a nice feature, you'll
probably end up getting a dedicated HDD/DVD recorder to go with
the Viera. (Panasonic suggests its own line of DIGA BluRay DVD
recorders.)

The flat-panel wide-screen plasma display with 'Dynamic Black
Layer' technology has an impressive contrast ratio of 30,000:1.
Supporting that is a huge laundry list of color management
technologies that Panasonic says provide the best picture you've
seen in a plasma screen that size.

On the network side, a custom built-in YouTube player (like that
on the iPhone) brings funny cat videos and the like to your
Viera starting September 30. (What does YouTube video, which is
grainy even on an iPod screen, look like at 50 inches? One
shudders to imagine.) The Internet connection also brings in
expected features such as electronic program guide and viewing
recommendations, though there's no general web browser,
video/music store, etc.

Other specs: Full-HD (1920x1080) resolution, digital and analog
TV tuners, 36W speakers, and connection ports for HDMI, i.Link
(FireWire), composite video, S-video, analog audio, monitor,
optical audio, analog RGB, and headphones.

Panasonic introduced two smaller models at the same time: the
46-inch TH-46PZR900 and the 42-inch TH-42PZR900, with key tech
specs the same as the 50-incher. The former is available from
September 10 for JPY480,000; the latter, from September 20 for
JPY420,000. (And if none of that impresses you, ask your
Panasonic dealer about the new special-order TH-103PZ800: 103
inches (!) of plasma goodness for about JPY5.6 million, before
considerable shipping and set-up fees.)

More info:
http://panasonic.co.jp/corp/news/official.data/data.dir/jn080826
-3/jn080826-3.html (Japanese)

(Incidentally, if you're still using the name Matsushita
Electric Industrial Co, you've got just one month left. From
October 1, it's officially Panasonic, with both the Matsushita
company name and the National home appliances brand disappearing
under the Panasonic nameplate.)

----------------- ICA Event - Sept 11 ---------------------

Event: SUMMER NETWORKING PARTY!!

Topic: Joint event with ACCJ ICT Committee and the
Indian IT Club

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, Sept 11, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:30pm - includes open bar and buffet
Cost: 6,000 yen (members), 7,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-Venue is Monsoon Cafe, Azabu Juban
http://www.monsoon-cafe.jp/en/azabu_juban/home/location/printer

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Epson Photo Fine Player P-7000 is traveling photography
assistant

Name: Epson Photo Fine Player P-7000
Category: photo viewer
Price: About JPY80,000
Release date in Japan: September 4, 2008

Here's a gadget category that isn't too well known outside
professional photographers. But it's an interesting item that
even hobbyist fotogs could find really handy on those longer
shooting excursions.

Photo viewers are compact little combinations of hard drive and
display. Their simple purpose is displaying photos in a
photographer's work environment (as opposed to recently-popular
digital photo frames that show pics as decorations). It's a tool
that lets the photographer transfer shots to a hard drive to
free up storage on the camera (or as a backup), and then study
those shots on a larger screen than the camera's.

A good example is the new Epson P-7000 Photo Fine Player. The
433-gram device combines a 160-GB hard drive with a wide-angle
4-inch LCD. The screen displays over JPEG and RAW format images
in 16.7 million colors, encompassing 94% of the Adobe RGB color
space, so you can expect detailed color reproduction (advance
reviewers have raved about its brightness and sharpness).
Although it's a compact screen, zoom functions let you confirm
details up close. Basic editing tools let you play with
brightness, contrast cropping, etc., or add text; organization
tools allow photo rating and creation of collections and
slideshows. A new jog wheel makes it all easy too, says Epson.

There's support for audio (MP3, AAC) and video (MPEG4, Motion
JPEG, H.264); video and audio outputs let you also display
things on a big screen. (These additions are the reason Epson
adds 'Multimedia' to the product line's name overseas. Yes, you
can use it as an expensive iPod if you like.)

The new model boasts data transfer (via CF or SD memory card) up
to 35% faster than its predecessors: transferring 1GB of data
from CF card to the hard drive takes 100 seconds. A full battery
charge allows around 75 such 1GB transfers. All in all, the
drive will hold about 9000 10-megapixel RAW photos (almost 4
times as many if JPEG), or 166 hours of 2Mbps MPEG4 video.

Also included is a battery charger and car adapter for travel,
plus software to transfer Fine Player data to a PC.

A good photo viewer isn't an inexpensive addition to a weekend
shooter's collection. (If the JPY80,000 tag is a tad more than
you can afford, there's also a new P-6000 model with 80GB hard
drive for JPY70,000.) But for anyone taking and reviewing lots
of shots on the go, it's a more refined tool than a clumsy,
expensive laptop with iffy battery life and disk space largely
eaten up by data and software.

More info:
http://www.epson.jp/products/colorio/photoviewer_digitalcamera/
p7000_p6000/ (Japanese)

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Short items

Spotted elsewhere in the news:

1) Compared to its current HHR-3MPS rechargeable batteries,
Panasonic's new EVOLTA rechargeables will not only run your toys
about 10% longer on a charge, but last through 20% more
recharges, about 1200 - the best in the industry, says the
company. JPY1600 for 4 AA, JPY1500 for 4 AAA. From October in
Japan.
http://panasonic.co.jp/corp/news/official.data/data.dir/jn080828
-1/jn080828-1.html?ref=news (Japanese)

2) Amazon Japan's ready to get in on that iPhone action. Just
head to http://www.amazon.co.jp/ on your iPhone, and you'll find
a new site layout custom-made for your handheld. It's not all
products and 'buy' links; while not all full-sized Amazon
features are there, bestseller lists, reviews, recommendations,
photo close-ups, and more will keep you busy inside the World's
Largest Bookstore while you ride the Chuo Line. Works with iPod
touch over WiFi too, of course.

3) Tokyo-based package software seller SOURCENEXT is leaving
disks behind for its line of consumer software titles. From
September, its core postcard-printing, homepage creator, and
utility software titles will ship on your choice of frumpy
CD-ROMs or trendier USB drives, with 30 titles making the move
to thumb drive by the end of the year. The sales strategy,
dubbed 'U-Memo', recognizes that mobile PCs are moving away from
optical drives, and that USB drives have become a commodity
storage media. Prices will stay the same as CD-ROM versions, and
space not taken up by software on the 1-GB 'U-Memo' drives can
be used for general data storage. That means 'U-Memo' offers
buyers that same software as the CD-ROM versions, with a thumb
drive tossed in. Together with downloads, this looks like a sure
end for CD-ROMs as a software delivery method.
http://www.sourcenext.com/titles/usb/?i=img_usb (Japanese)
----------------------------------------------------------------
STAFF
Written by: Timm Tuttle
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--------NEW GADGET BLOG: TEKRONOMICON.COM------------------

In collaboration with Gadget Watch, Gadget blog Tekronomicon
offers a detailed look at select gadgets - shiny and strange,
from gizmo ground zero in Tokyo.
See the gadgets introduced in Gadget Watch,
with photos and more at: www.tekronomicon.com
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Buyout and Leveraged Financing Japan 2008
Tokyo, Japan 10th and 11th Sept 2008

This conference on Buyout and Leveraged Financing Japan 2008
is well-timed and provides the opportunity for participants
to assess buyout and leveraged buyout activities in Japan.

It aims to explore the business opportunities for investors,
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for venture capitalists and private equities.

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bankers, investors and sponsors.
Featuring distinguish speakers from Nomura Securities,
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RidgeRunner Niseko International Cricket Competition
20-21 September 2008

Join us as a player, spectator or to party for two days of
fun at Niseko’s annual charity cricket tournament.
Hosted by international greats Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh,
the event benefits the Tyler Foundation for Childhood Cancer
and Hokkaido International School through our Hokkaido-style-
glamour charity dinner dance and auction.

For more information, please visit www.ezocricketclub.com
or contact Billeigh Waaha 080-3597-6307
or e-mail cricket@rad-development.com

Thanks to our sponsors RidgeRunner, TK6, Paddy Foley's,
Commonwealth Bank, Green Leaf Hotel, National Australia Bank,
Hokkaido Tracks, Australian Meat and Livestock, ANZCCJ,
Village Cellars, Metropolis, Japan Inc, Peter Lehman Wines,
Black Diamond Lodge and Niseko Physio.

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