GW-53

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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. 53

Thursday, March 21, 2002
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)

Name: Sharp MI-E25DC
Category: PDA
Price: Open (approx 60,000 yen)
Release date in Japan: March 15, 2002

The Gist: Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA, strikes me as a pretty
good description for today's smart little handheld organizer/music and
video player things. Sharp apparently doesn't think so, though, and
dubs its Zaurus machines 'Personal Mobile Tools', which has the
unfortunate abbreviation PMT.
It reminds me of Vauxhall putting its Nova cars on the Spanish market
before discovering that Nova means "Doesn't go" in Spanish.
Nevertheless, the MI-E25DC is a sprightly, feature-loaded handheld,
with the major improvement over its predecessor being the digital
camera sunken into its back. Created in response to the growing number
of keitai (mobile phones) that sport tiny digital cameras and the
apparently pressing need we all have to create our own personalized
web pages (is this true?), the E25DC has a 310,000 effective pixel
capability, which is easily good enough for Internet-based images.
Users can take advantage of Sharp's Machikomi Club service on the
company's website and create their own spaces, uploading the pictures
seconds after taking them. You can even send or post moving images.
The pix are saved to either CompactFlash or SD memory cards and
there's a wireless LAN CF card for network freaks. Even cooler is that
CE-VCR1 video recording card we mentioned in a previous GW, which
allows the recording of TV programs and the like by connecting the
MI-E25DC up to a VTR or television. The camera and cool cards are in
addition, of course, to all the normal PDA (sorry, PMT) functions,
including a scheduler diary thing, address book and memo pad.
Great color screen, too. Just remember; if you wake up one morning and
the MI-E25DC PMT doesn't appear to want to communicate, just leave it
alone, keep your head down and don't, for God's sake, ask any
questions.
More info: http://www.sharp.co.jp/corporate/news/020305.html

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Name: Casio EXILIM
Category: Digital Camera
Price: Open
Release date in Japan: Available now

The Gist: This week's crop of digital cameras have a definite focus on
size, which -- as we all know -- matters.
The three contenders have all announced cameras that are cunningly
disguised as credit cards. First up is the EXILIM from Casio. It has a
1,310,000-pixel CCD, giving 1,240,000 effective pixels. Recording to
its 14 MB of internal flash memory or to the usual SD and MMC
suspects, the EXILIM can also play back MP3 music files. At 11.3 mm
thick, it looks very much like a rather fat credit card, only with a
bulging round eye sticking up on one corner. Amazingly, there's still
room for a 1.6-in color TFT LCD screen. There's no optical zoom at
this size, of course, but the EXILIM does have a 4x digital zoom.
If you want to check to see if it really will fit in your shirt
pocket, the full dimensions are 88 x 55 x 11.3 mm and it weighs 86 g
(the MP3-capable model is slightly larger, at 12.4 mm thick and 87 g).
More info: http://www.casio.co.jp/release/exilim.html

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Name: Fujifilm Axia Eyeplate
Category: Digital Cameras
Price: Open
Release date in Japan: April 1, 2002

The Gist: But wouldn't you know it - despite Casio's claim that its
EXILIM card digital camera is the smallest, thinnest and lightest in
the world, it isn't. Doh!
That accolade currently belongs to Fujifilm Axia's Eyeplate. It isn't
a plate and you don't put your eye on it, but it is a totally mad 6 mm
thick (Casio's is 11 mm) and weighs only 35g, or about the same as one
of Takanohana's eyelids. The technological wizardry to make the camera
this wee comes from Cambridge, Massachusetts firm SMaL Camera
Technologies, who are clearly better at making really, really small
things than naming them afterwards, since they've dubbed the
technology "Ultra-Pocket".
Despite its size, the Eyeplate is still capable of producing up to 16
640x480 images, thanks to its 310,000-pixel CCD and 8 MB of internal
flash memory. The PC connection has to be made via mini USB. With
these specs, the Eyeplate isn't going to replace any serious user's
digital camera, but as a 'whip it out of your pocket and amaze the
ladies' snapper, it's going to be hard to beat.
More info: http://www.axia.co.jp/news/an028.html

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Name: Benq Mini300 credit card digital camera
Category: Digital camera
Price: Around 10,000 yen
Release date in Japan: April 2002

The Gist: Our third contender for world's smallest digital still
camera this week comes from Benq (formerly Acer).
Weighing in at 49 g, it's neither the lightest (Fujifilm Axia wins
again, by 14 g) nor the smallest, with dimensions of 85mm x 40mm x
19.8mm. But it's still smaller than a credit card and can be shoved
easily into a pocket -- just don't sit on it. The Mini300 has 8 MB of
internal memory, just like the EXILIM and beats its more svelte rival
with a 350,000-pixel CMOS, producing up to 107 640 x 480 shots. It can
even be hooked up to a PC via USB and used as a webcam. The only
really bad news is that the Mini300 comes in a melange of gray,
orange and white, and Benq thinks that's cool. Er, OK then.
More info: http://www.benq.com.tw

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STAFF
Writer: Max Everingham (max@everingham.net)
Editor: J Mark Lytle (mark@japaninc.com)

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