GW-319 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

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Japan Inc Magazine Presents:
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The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
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Issue No. 319 Friday October 31, 2008
Subscribers: 9467
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King Jim decrees new way to take notes

Name: Pomera Digital Memo DM10
Category: pocket word processor
Price: JPY27,300
Release date in Japan: November 10, 2008

Tiny netbook PCs are already as inexpensive as just a few
hundred dollars. If you want to go just a little cheaper than
even the netbooks can offer, a solution is here from an
unexpected source, Tokyo-based stationery maker King Jim. The
King's offering: the pocket-sized 'digital memo' word processor,
the Pomera DM10.

King Jim coined the name 'Pomera' from 'Pocket Memo Writer'. It
requires a good-sized pocket; the Pomera is bigger than an
iPhone or BlackBerry, though much smaller than any netbook. Yet
there's a full-size (25-cm wide) 'real' keyboard inside the
Pomera, larger than some netbooks' keyboards. Space-warping
pocket dimension? No, clever folding; the keyboard unfolds in a
snap, reminescent of the old Palm Top PC 110 or ThinkPad 701c,
becoming twice as wide as the rest of the gadget. That 'rest of
gadget' includes a 4-inch 640x480 TFT LCD screen, 128MB internal
memory with microSD expansion slot, USB for connection to PCs, a
fantastic 20 hours of life on 2 AAA batteries, and a two-second
(!) startup time. JustSystems' ATOK input method is there to
handle Japanese.

A super-cheap, always-ready netbook that fits in a pocket? Not
quite, as taking notes is all the Pomera does, and in a
decidedly retro fashion. The internal memory has the
ancient-sounding limitation of a maximum 6 text files, each up
to 8000 characters. (It's unclear whether use of a microSD card
removes the 8000-character/file limitation.) The screen is
monotone. There's no Internet, WiFi, or other network
connectivity; no browsers, calculators, games, or other
non-writing software. You write with it, and that's all. Yet
even the word-processing features are few: three character
sizes, very limited formatting, and so on.

That all makes sense, says King Jim. The company positions the
device as an electronic memo pad for meetings and writing on the
go. The quick startup time and long battery life serve those
ends better than a netbook can, and its 14.5x10x3-cm dimensions
and 370-gram weight beat netbooks easily for portability. Think
of the dedicated device as digital-age stationery, says King
Jim, not as a pared-down netbook.

Yet for all the niche attraction of a dedicated device, it's
impossible not to notice that a mere 3000 yen or so more will
get you into the territory of do-it-all netbooks with Internet
connectivity and color 9-inch screens. Further, it's easy to
imagine memo-taking scenarios in which a full keyboard will be
clumsier than a one-handed PDA, such as while hanging on to a
subway strap.

It'll be interesting to see whether the note-taker market and
the Pomera find each other. The Pomera's a one-trick pony; its
great small size and always-ready ease carry a price that's only
a tad cheaper than netbooks. But if its niche scratches your
itch, get a pocketful of Pomera and unleash your inner
stenographer.

More info (Japanese):
http://www.kingjim.co.jp/pomera/index.html
==================== ICA Event – Nov 20 ================================

Topic: Focused on the Bottom Line, Using third party solutions in Japan for SME's

Presenter: Tony Fujii - Partner, Fusion Systems

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

Date: Thursday, Nov 20, 2008

Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included, cash bar

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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YASHICA EZF924 offers 9.1 megapixels for under 10,000 yen

Name: Exemode YASHICA EZF924
Category: digital camera
Price: JPY9980
Release date in Japan: Early November, 2008

Want a camera with an impressive pixel count - say, almost 10
million? Want to spend less than JPY10,000 for it? The EZF924
from Tokyo-based Exemode, recent reviver of the YASHICA brand in
Japan, may fit the bill.

The 85-gram YASHICA's CMOS sensor yields 9.12 million
(3488x2616) pixels. On back is a 2.4-inch TFT display. Other
specs, while not necessarily bad for a camera, do match up with
a low price tag: ISO goes from 100 to a middling (if
serviceable) 800. The 43mm, F3.25 lens is fixed-focus (though a
macro mode lets you shoot as close as 20cm). Internal memory is
only 16MB, not enough for two shots at highest resolution; make
sure to get an SD/SDHC card (up to 8GB) for real shooting.
There's no optical zoom, just 8x digital (i.e., no real zoom at
all). There is video capability, though just 640x480 AVI (Motion
JPEG) at 15-20 frames per second. (That's good enough for
YouTube, and the camera includes software for uploading video to
YouTube.)

The EZF924 follows on the heels of the EZ824 introduced earlier
in October. That model has only 8 megapixels, for JPY14,800, and
weighs 40g more than the new model - but it also sports 3x
optical zoom, the feature that the EZF924 drops to lower its
price and weight so drastically.

Okay, so the EZF924 isn't packed with features. But sounds fine
as a small, hi-res cam that you can buy with a single bill.
(Before tax. And memory card.)

More info (Japanese):
http://www.yashica.jp/pro/f924.html

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Computer displays still getting cheaper

A slim wallet doesn't necessarily mean a cheap netbook PC for
the gadget lover; it could mean a cheap desktop PC plus a
surprisingly big display. The last couple of weeks have seen a
lot of new entrants in the low-cost display market. A notable
handful (all links to Japanese pages):

GREEN HOUSE has introduced the 26-inch, 1920x1200 GH-JEF263SHB
with selectable aspect ratios of 4:3 or 16:10, 5W stereo
speakers, and HDMI, HDCP-capable DVI-D, and analog connectors.
JPY54,800.
http://www.green-house.co.jp/products/lcd/jef263shb/

Yokohama-based DION has rolled out the TEW260SHR that's only
25.5 inches, but otherwise shares the specs noted above.
JPY52,800.
http://www.candela.co.jp/news/n20081001-1.html

I-O Data's 21.5-inch, 1920x1080 LCD-MF221X has 16:9 aspect ratio
and 2.5W stereo speakers, plus the same connectors as the above
displays. JPY34,800.
http://www.iodata.jp/product/lcd/wide/lcd-mf221x/

And going a bit smaller, but a lot cheaper, the Japan branch of
Taiwan's BenQ has announced the 18.5-inch, 1366x768 E900HD, with

16:9 aspect ratio and 1W stereo speakers. There are HDCP-enabled
DVI-D and analog connectors, but no HDMI. The selling point: a
price tag of JPY19,800.
http://www.benq.co.jp/products/LCD/?product=1375

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Short items

Spotted elsewhere in the news:

1) Those WiFi-enabled iPod touches sure are cool, what with the
music and the YouTube and all that. But the 8GB model costs
JPY27,800. What to do?

Osaka-based importer Hallods Corp. suggests you save a bunch of
that money by getting its Italian-designed, JPY12,000 PASEN-F13
audio/video player instead. It's only got a 3-inch, 400x240
screen, compared to the touch's 3.5-inch, 480x320 display.
There's none of that touch-panel stuff in the Pasen screen. The
Pasen shouts about YouTube playback... though on closer
inspection, there's no WiFi, just the ability to natively play
back YouTube vids you've downloaded and transferred via PC.
Memory is only 4GB. Audio playback time is 16 hours, compared to
the touch's claimed 36. You can expect to find many more little
iPod niceties missing from the Pasen.

But on the positive side, there's a MicroSD/SDHC expansion slot
to boost memory, an FM radio, a voice recorder, and a big
selection of file formats covered, including FLV (YouTube native
format)AVI, DIVX, RM, DAT, MP4, WMV, MPG, MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC,
JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, and TXT-format e-books. At 66 grams, it's
lighter than the 115-gram touch. And it's cheap. Available in
Japan from October 25.

More info (Japanese):
http://hal6334-hp.hp1.allin1.jp/1221628579795/

2) Consumers' desire for lower-cost computing affects software
marketing as well. Following up on a couple news items presented
in earlier issues:

In September, JustSystems began offering its JPY8000 ATOK
Japanese input system for PCs as a JPY300/month software
service. The company reports that the low monthly cost is
already a hit. Or so JustSystems says; no actual numbers have
been announced yet, other than a goal of 30,000 users by
September 2009. However, early data does show that 70% of the
new service's users are new to ATOK, and are much younger than
the packaged version's user base as well, suggesting that
software-as-service taps into a young base that's put off by the
high price of packaged software.

More info (Japanese):
http://www.justsystems.com/jp/products/atok_teigaku/
English: http://www.tekronomicon.com/gadget/2008/09/atok

Next up, SourceNext's switch from CD-ROMs to USB drives to
deliver packaged software is also a hit. The company expected to
move 1 million units of its 'U-Memo' series of consumer titles
on USB drives within the first year. The results so far? 650,000
units - after only one month! SourceNext attributes the
popularity to the rapid growth of mini notebook computers, which
typically don't have CD-ROM drives. Needless to say, the company
is rushing to place more games, utilities, and other titles into
the U-Memo lineup.

U-Memo info (Japanese):
http://www.sourcenext.com/titles/usb/?i=img_usb
English:
http://www.tekronomicon.com/gadget/2008/09/sourcenext
Netbooks in Japan (English):
http://www.tekronomicon.com/gadget/2008/10/netbooks

3) Buy the Nikon D700 and save! True, it's anything but a
penny-pincher's camera; the 12.1-megapixel pro SLR's body alone
costs JPY324,300, or JPY405,500 with AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor ED
24-120mm F3.5-5.6G (IF) lens. But buy either of those by
November 30, and you get JPY30,000 cash back.

D700 (Japanese):
http://www.nikon-image.com/jpn/products/camera/slr/digital/d700/
Cashback program (Japanese):
http://www.nikon-image.com/jpn/event/campaign/d700_cashback/
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Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo Seminar-Tuesday, November 4th

Speaker: Mr. Ricco DeBlank, General Manager of
The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo and The Park Residences

Seminar Title: 'Passion to Serve'

Are you interested in improving your customer service?
If so, then don't miss EA-Tokyo's November seminar with
Ritz-Carlton's service expert, Ricco DeBlank.

Hailing from the Netherlands, DeBlank joined The Ritz-Carlton
Hotel Company in 1995 and since then, has worked in Bali,
Indonesia, Shanghai, China and Seoul, Korea as a director
of human resources.

He served as the General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton,
Sharm el-Sheikh after a stint as Executive Assistant Manager,
Rooms in Hong Kong. In 2003, he arrived in Japan as General
Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka and established the hotel as
the city' finest both in Japan and around the world.

Mr. DeBlank was appointed General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton,
Tokyo for its opening in 2007.

Please sign up early while seats are available.

Date/Time: Tuesday, November 4th 7:00 pm
Location: Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com

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STAFF
Written by: Timm Tuttle
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offers a detailed look at select gadgets - shiny and strange,
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