GW-313 -- 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. 313 Friday September 12, 2008
Subscribers: 9467
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New Sony BRAVIA line-up includes world's thinnest TV

Name: Sony BRAVIA ZX1, W1, XR1, and X1 series
Category: digital TVs
Price: see below
Release date in Japan: October 10 and November 10, 2008

Sony recently announced its new BRAVIA flat-panel TV lineup: 8
new models in 4 categories, with some impressive bragging
points.

The first models to hit shops will be the X1 and XR1 series,
screens with Full-HD (1920x1080) resolution and a contrast ratio
of 3,000:1. The two series' shared selling point is 'BRAVIA
ENGINE 2 PRO' technology, incorporating what Sony calls the most
advanced realization of its 'Digital Reality Creation'
technology for rendering pictures. The XR1 series further tweaks
its RGB LED backlighting to increase dynamic contrast to an
impressive 1,000,000:1. It also offers an improved version of
Sony's 'Motionflow 120Hz' technology, which interpolates frames
to boost 60 frame-per-second video to an effective 120 frames
per second.

Next up: The W1 series further upgrades the Motionflow tech to
'Motionflow 240Hz', what Sony calls the 'world's first 4-speed
display' offering unmatched crispness and smoothness of display
for sports and other fast-moving scenes.

Finally, the ZX1 series' claim to fame is a record-setting
9.9-mm slim profile; the ultra-thin 40-inch TV is an amazing
12.2 kg light. Of course, that svelteness leaves less room for
internal components. The ZX1 lacks the above series' video
enhancements, and in its quest to downsize, outsources the usual
gaggle of input/output connectors to a separate 'Media Receiver'
box that sends video to the screen via 'BRAVIA 1080 Wireless'.
There's nothing on the display unit itself but a power cord and
single HDMI connector. With its barely-there thinness and lack
of cables, Sony calls the ZX1 the ultimate big-screen TV for
freedom of placement in any room layout.

The X1 and XR1 series go on sale October 10, and the W1 and Z1
series on November 10. Model names and prices are below. (It's
easy to decode: after 'KDL-' comes the screen size in inches,
followed by the series name.)

KDL-40ZX1: JPY490,000
KDL-46W1: JPY400,000
KDL-40W1: JPY290,000
KDL-55XR1: JPY750,000
KDL-46XR1: JPY600,000
KDL-52X1: JPY530,000
KDL-46X1: JPY430,000
KDL-40X1: JPY320,000

More info (Japanese):
http://www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200808/08-0828/

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Thanko USB Nandemo Charger 2 morphs to fit your batteries

Name: Thanko USB Nandemo Charger 2
Category: battery charger
Price: JPY1480
Release date in Japan: September 5, 2008

Thanko's 'USB Nandemo [Anything] Charger 2' offers to
consolidate your gadget charging needs - mobile phones, digital
cameras, and PDAs - into one USB-powered unit. Not via a
hydra-like nest of power connectors to fit any device, but via a
universal charger that morphs to fit a variety of device
batteries.

It's actually pretty simple. The Charger draws power from a USB
cable connected to your PC. The base is essentially a big
plastic clip, with two metal contacts whose distance is
adjustable. Take out your device's battery, place it on the
base, adjust the contacts so they touch the battery's points of
contact, and let the clip hold things in place while for a 5V
recharge.

It's a nifty idea, though with drawbacks. The device has to be
one with a removable battery (so no iPhones/iPods), and the
battery has to have two side-by-side metal contact points
(generally, that means the flat batteries in mobile phones, and
some cameras, PDAs, and game machines). Removing your phone's
battery for a recharge is a bit more of a hassle than using its
regular recharger. Further, you need to have a PC handy to
supply power, or a wall outlet-to-USB connector. All in all,
unless you really have the need to power a variety of battery
types, it may be easier to just make sure you take your gadgets'
normal rechargers with you on travels.

Still, it can be handy at times to have an extra means of
charging on hand. For those wearing down the phone battery
often, the following may be even better: the USB Nandemo Charger
mini. It's similar to the above but plugs itself directly into a
USB port without a cable (like a USB drive), and is intended
only for 3.6/3.7V batteries (generally phone batteries). The
upside: it's a tiny keychain, easy to always have on hand.
Cheaper, too, at JPY980.

More info (Japanese):
http://thanko.jp/usbcharger2/

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New S730F Walkman improves noise cancellation abilities

Name: Sony Walkman S730F Series
Category: portable audio player
Price: About JPY27,000 (16GB)
Release date in Japan: October 11, 2008

Everyone on the planet knows Sony's fabled 'Walkman' portable
casette player that revolutionized music appreciation in 1979.
There are those, though, who don't realize that the Walkman name
still lives, in a growing line of music player products. These
include the MD (MiniDisk) Walkman, the CD Walkman, and yes, even
cassette Walkman models, should you still be hanging on to your
80s mix tapes.

As you'd expect, though, the primary Walkman format for the past
five years has been digital audio players with hard disks or
flash memory. Like all other portable music players, this form
of Walkman (technically dubbed the Network Walkman) has had its
lunch thoroughly nabbed and devoured by the iPod, with no sign
yet of a respite. But it soldiers on, keeping the Walkman name
on its feet and offering maverick audiophiles a few features
that the iPod doesn't.

Sony recently announced several new configurations in the S
Series of Walkmans, including the S730F. The player carries
forth the S700 series' key feature, noise cancellation (which
requires use of the included headphones). Hit a switch at the
bottom of the unit, and the Walkman will digitally filter out
3/4 of the surrounding noise, letting you play your music at a
comfortably modest volume even in noisy environments. (Or just
use the feature without music, to reduce noise during study or
sleep.) A nice added ability: you can use noise cancellation
while an external sound source plays through the Walkman via its
audio input. Sony suggests it's a good way to enjoy a standard
in-flight video system, with the Walkman cutting out engine
noise.

The Walkman's iPod-like aluminum body is only 7.5-mm thick - the
thinnest in Walkman history, says Sony. (That's still over a
millimeter thicker than the new iPod nano, and at 46 grams,
almost 10 grams heavier.) The vertically-oriented, two-inch
320x240 screen is similar to the nano's. Video playback (MPEG-4,
H.264 AVC, WMV) is a decent 30 fps, and uses the screen held
sideways.

Supported audio formats include MP3, WMA, AAC, HE-AAC, and
Sony's own ATRAC. The Walkman wants to add some automation to
your music selection: it analyzes music tracks and automatically
creates 'channels' such as Active, Relax, Slow Ballad, Sofa
Lounge, and Extreme, to match your listening mood. Sony says
it's the first such intelligent channel creation in a portable
device - though Apple just undid that claim, if its new iPods'
'Genius' playlist feature counts as the same thing.

Still, the Walkman gets to boast of its noise cancellation, and
a few more capabilities that surpass the iPod: FM radio, the
ability to record music directly from MD or CD, the ability to
record video directly from TV or camera (requires separate
docking station), the ability to snag video from BluRay disc
recorders (BDZ-A70/X95/X100 models), and 40-hour playback time
for MP3 audio, 10 hours for video.

Available colors are red, gold, black, or pink. Expected prices
are JPY27,000 for 16GB memory (NW-S739F), 21,000 for 8GB
(NW-S738F), and JPY17,000 for 4GB (NW-S736F).

More info (Japanese):
http://www.ecat.sony.co.jp/walkman/product.cfm?PD=32350&KM=NW-
S739F

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Short items

Spotted elsewhere in the news:

1) Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation Portable 3000 was
revealed earlier, with price and shipping date unannounced. SEC
has now filled in those missing details: the PSP 3000 ships on
October 16 in Japan for JPY19,800. There'll also be a Value Pack
that adds a 4GB MemoryStick ProDuo card, pouch, handstrap, and
cleaning cloth, for JPY24,800.
Press release (Japanese):
http://www.jp.playstation.com/info/release/nr_20080902_psp3000.
html
PSP 3000 details (English):
http://www.tekronomicon.com/gadget/2008/08/sce_psp_3000

2) Another oddball USB gadget from Thanko: to complement its
fan-equipped mouse and keyboard for cooling your hands, Thanko
also has a fan-equipped seat for cooling your... er, seat. The
'USB Cooler Cushion' straps onto your work chair and, taking
power from a USB cable to your computer, sends cooling air
upward through pores in the cushion. With a USB adapter for your
car's cigarette lighter, it'll keep you comfy on the road too.
Says the company's English page: 'No more sweaty nasty seat for
me!!' JPY4800 (JPY5280 with car USB adapter).
More info (Japanese):
http://thanko.jp/usbseatair/
(English):
http://www.raremonoshop.com/us/product-information/usb-cooler-
cushion.html
USB Cooler mouse and keyboard (English):
http://www.tekronomicon.com/gadget/2008/07/usb_cooler_mouse
http://www.tekronomicon.com/gadget/2008/08/usb_cooler_keyboard

3) Elsewhere in the Walkman world: Sony announced that it's
opening up the device's proprietary WM-PORT connector to
third-party hardware developers via a 'Designed for Walkman'
licensing program, similar to Apple's existing 'Made for Pod'
program. Expect to see add-ons soon, beginning with speakers,
microphones, and GM transmitters from Logitec in October.
More info (Japanese):
http://www.sony.co.jp/SonyInfo/News/Press/200809/08-118/index.
html

4) JustSystems' popular ATOK software for Japanese input is
going SAS (software as service). Starting this month, ATOK for
Windows is available as a JPY300/month service, with access to
ATOK upgrades (input system, dictionaries, etc.) as they come
out. JustSystems says it hopes the new service will entice those
PC users who have passed on ATOK so far and rely instead on
their OS's bundled input system.
More info (Japanese):
http://www.justsystems.com/jp/products/atok_teigaku/
----------------------------------------------------------------
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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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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---------------- ICA Event - Sept 18 ---------------------

Presenter: David C. Fender
- Director, Asia Pacific, Hyland Software, Inc.

Topic: Enterprise Content Management
- Challenges and Opportunities for IT Managers

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

Date: Thursday, Sept 18, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:30pm - includes light buffet dinner
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
http://www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map

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------------------------- JMEC ----------------------------
The Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) will conduct
information sessions for attendees to learn about the
fifteenth year of this experiential business training program.

Sessions are free but registration is required.
Sep 18th, Oct 1, October 14, 7:30pm-9:00pm,
Temple University Japan Campus.
www.jmec.gr.jp to register.
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