GW-39

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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. 39
Thursday, November 29, 2001

Name: Compal BB Tell
Category: Telephony
Price: Open (but about 128,000 yen)
Release date in Japan: December 2001

The Gist: Tokyo-based PC peripheral company Compal has
come up with one of those products that really
illustrates just how far, and how quickly, we've come
in technological terms. That's because its new BB Tell is an
Internet-capable TV phone. And instead of using the
Net to download whatever you might normally
download, this phone uses it to relay low-cost voice
and video. With a 5-inch color display and a wee
camera built into the unit, the BB Tell is claimed to
be capable of acting as a fully functional video
phone, so you can stare at your loved one's best
features while chatting to them on the blower -- but
that's just the most mundane application. More useful
ones include showing your doctor all your odd or
frightening symptoms as you chat to him or her from
the comfort of your own home, doing some "cyber studying"
without having to sit in class, or, if you're a
top-flight executive (or want to pretend you are),
conducting meetings without having to ensconce yourself
in a boring old board room. This, reckons Compal, is
the stuff of dreams; something only Star Trek fans
ever truly believed would happen. Happily though, we
now have a working video phone without having to
get dressed up in some skintight but oddly still
ill-fitting primary-colored body suits to use this
spacey form of communication. So consider yourself
blessed. The BB Tell is broadband compatible,
providing high-speed, super cheap communications by
using the VoIP service to conduct your dulcet tones
over the Internet. Additionally, a "hands free"
function means you can have several attendees in on
your cyber meeting using just the one machine. Well,
two I suppose, but you know what I mean.

And just in case all those companies have been right
all along and those consumers who don't use the Net
really are utter idiots incapable of effecting the
simplest of computer operations, Compal assures
that the BB Tell can be operated with an absolute
minimum of button pushes.

More info:
http://www.compal.to/products/products/vp-77c/index.phtml?ID=0

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Name: Che-ez Movie camera
Category: Digital camcorder
Price: Open (but under 10,000 yen)
Release date in Japan: September 2002

The Gist: Nichimen, along with Hong-Kong-affiliated
company NH Japan Holdings, has gone one better than
the current vogue of knocking out cheap, novice-level
digital cameras, producing instead a cheap,
novice-level digital camcorder. For under 10,000 yen,
the 500,000-pixel CMOS "Che-ez Movie" camera is
capable of recording 30 minutes of moving sound and
images at low(er) quality and 10 minutes at the
highest quality setting. Hey, what do you expect for
10,000 yen? The movie is laid down on a dinky 128 MB
Smart Media card which is -- gulp! -- sold separately.
The Che-ez Movie weighs only 100g and can also snap up
to 150 still digital photos.

More info: http://www.che-ez.com/english/index.html

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Name: ProNote FG Handy Type CF-P1
Category: Handheld computer
Price: 143,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 22, 2001

The Gist: Panasonic has recently announced the
CF-P1, which is effectively its rugged ProNote
wireless computer stuffed into a tiny
PDA-style casing. A sturdy handheld for the telephone
engineer who has everything, the "Handy Type" ProNote is
still aimed at the same user group -- namely, industrial
field workers who find themselves in dusty, dirty, wet
or otherwise unpleasant surroundings as a matter of
course -- and will keep fighting the good fight long
after its wimpy, blue-collar counterparts like the
Palm m500 have given up the ghost and made their own entry
in the Big Scheduler in the Sky. Panasonic claims that the
P1 can be dropped from heights of up to 120 cm without
incurring irreparable damage, and it's also shock, water,
and wind proof. Better yet, the ProNote is a
wireless series of machines, and there are GPS and
barcode reader modules that can be just slotted into
the handheld. The screen is a backlit touch panel
display, so these outdoor types don't have to
scrabble around for a pen when they're out in the
field (it also has a 38-key mini-keyboard), the OS is
Microsoft Windows CE3.0 and there's an SD memory card
slot for easy loading of maps, images or other useful
data. The P1 only weighs 480 g, and the battery should
last for an entire day (24 hours) if you don't use
the light.

More info:
http://www.matsushita.co.jp/corp/news/official.data/data.dir/jn011120-1/...

Name: Mobile Digital Music HyperHyde Exrouge
Category: Portable audio
Price: (MDM-H205) 16,800 yen
(MDM-H205R) 19,800 yen
Release date in Japan: mid-December 2001

The Gist: These fancy miniature portable digital audio
players are all very well, but there's something most
of them have been missing until now: The ability to
speak another language, or display one, at least. But
the two new Mobile Digital Music HyperHyde Exrouge
players from IO Data have no such handicap. The 32MB
MDM-H205 and the 64MB MDM-H205 (the memory capacity is
the only difference) are very clever little polyglots
that can display Japanese and English characters and are
housed in the smallest, lightest casings in the world for
this week (smaller than a MiniDV cassette, they hardly even
tip the scales at just 34 g). Since the H205 is so small,
and you're likely to want to stick it in a pocket and then
pretty much forget about it, the player has an "Any Key
Start" function so you can push any button on the unit
to start the music playing. They're not too greedy,
either, going for 12 hours on the one battery, and if
you pop in a bigger 128 MB Smart Media card, they'll
store 2 CDs' worth of music. Both units are supplied
with proprietary CD ripper and music management
software which is compatible with both Windows and
Mac-based computers (although the MP3 encoding
software will only work with PCs -- Mac users will have
to use iTunes for the encoding process).

More info: www.iodata.co.jp/news_rel/200111/192htm

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Subsribers: 1,363 as of November 29, 2001

STAFF
Written by Max Everingham (max@everingham.net)
Editor: Bruce Rutledge (bruce@japaninc.net)

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