GW-77

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
G A D G E T W A T C H
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
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Issue No. 77

Thursday, October 3, 2002
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your
browser.)

Name: Sharp innovative display
Category: Visual displays
Price: n/a
Release date in Japan: n/a

The Gist: Good lord, what will they think of next? Sharp takes the
prize for most gob-smacking innovation this week, announcing the
establishment of a new display consortium and a TV that allows you to
view in 3D! Capable of being switched between 2D (planar mode) and 3D
(stereo mode -- go figure), the display doesn't require viewers to
wear any of those dumb plastic glasses that make you look like an
extra in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." According to the company, the LCD
can be installed "as is" in current display applications and, while it
will display such things as spreadsheets in boring old 2D, can really
ramp up the visual delights with games and so forth in 3D mode. But
this kind of thing is obviously a lot better if there are dedicated
bits and pieces available for it, and to that end Sharp is
establishing a kind of consortium of hardware, software and other
content providers, which will specially design products for the new
system. Sharp apparently achieves the 3D effect by "controlling the
path of light" from the display via a "parallax barrier" and into our
eyes, which sounds as close to magic as anything I've ever heard. The
left and right eyes consequently receive slightly different images,
resulting in the 3D wizardry. (Oh, right, hence the "stereo" bit
earlier. Sorry.)

More info: http://www.sharp.co.jp/corporate/news/020927.html

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Name: Takara MChoroQ
Category: Portable Audio
Price: 18,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Spring 2003

The Gist: Since we've given Sharp the "most stunning technical
innovation" award this week in GW, I reckon Takara should get the
"Ahhhh! Kawaiiiiiiii!" award for the MChoroQ portable audio player.
Due early next year, the MChoroQ (alert readers will by now have
realized that that's an abbreviation for "Music Choro Q") is not just
any portable audio player but rather a Memory Stick Duo-powered
machine that -- and here's the kawaii bit -- is shaped just like one
of the supercute ChoroQ superbugs, the mini racing toys devised by
Takara. All the controls for playing back the ATRAC3-encoded music
files can be found on the base of the wee little car, with the Memory
Stick Duo slot up the tailpipe. The batteries are rechargeable and will
last for approximately two hours, although it's a fairly bulky looking
little widget even if it does only weigh 50g. So, perhaps not quite as
portable in the pocket as, say, a proper portable audio player that
will actually fit in a pocket, the MChoroQ is nevertheless bound to
get you some odd looks and -- possibly, but only very, very possibly
-- a few admiring glances. Unfortunately, the admiring glances will
likely come from young boys who like playing with small plastic cars
rather than beautiful young women. The price of living on the tech
cutting edge.

More info: http://www.takaratoys.co.jp/top.html

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Name: Sony VPL-HS2
Category: Home Theater
Price: Open (but approx 200,000 yen)
Release date in Japan: November 18, 2002

The Gist: Basically, a bloody great Sony Cineza Home Theater LCD
projector. The upside being that it's capable of projecting a 150-inch
picture -- bigger than a fully grown ogre. And for those non "Lord of
the Rings" fans, that's well over 12 feet. The downside is probably
your wall, or your ceiling, depending on where you try to hang the
thing. Compared with its HS1 predecessor, the HS2 now employs a wide
panel that will handle input signals from 480i through 480p, 720p and
1080i, and the new 150W UHP lamp puts out 850 ANSI lumens with a
contrast ratio of 600:1. The projector features a Cinema Black Mode
to address that most nagging of LCD projector drawbacks and is, of
course, capable of the Sideshot function, whereby the lens can be
adjusted (up to 30 degrees sideways) so the actual projector can be
placed on a (very) sturdy sidetable at the edge of the room rather
than occupy the traditional center-of-room pride of place that normal
projectors demand. Shell out another 15,000 yen and you can buy a
Sony-branded dedicated stand to support all of the projector's 4.5kg
mass (OK, maybe it isn't that heavy after all).

More info: http://www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200209/02-0926/

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Name: Victor HM-HDS4
Category: AV
Price: Open (but approx 90,000 yen)
Release date in Japan: early December 2002

The Gist: The HM-HDS4 is a hybrid HDD and S-VHS video recorder,
sporting an impressively large 80-gig hard disk drive in its nether
regions and differing from its HM-HDS3 by dint of having a bigger
number at the end. Oh, and the hard disk is twice the size, as well as
it having a new LSI and GUI which is nothing to SNEZE at. Sneeze at,
sorry. The HDD records MPEG-2 images at a variable bit rate (2.1 to
8.6Mbps) and sound at MPEG-1 layer 2. There are four recording modes:
LP, SP, EP and SEP (and no, I'm not making all these letter things
up), with the SEP mode giving owners a potential 80 hours of
recording, albeit at the lowest bit rate of 2.1 Mbps. The integral
tuner can handle BS, terrestrial and cable TV transmissions and the
S-VHS recorder bit can take HG tapes. All the other features are
pretty much the same as the HDS3 model, but then you are getting a lot
more space and a far prettier graphical interface for about the same
money. And you only had to wait a year.

More info: http://www.jvc-victor.co.jp/products/vcr/HM-HDS4.html

Name: Sharp Aquos
Category: AV
Price: from 103,000 yen (LC-37BT5 37V-inch Home Theater model is 1
million yen)
Release date in Japan: November 25, 2002

The Gist: Announcing new additions to the family, Sharp is proud to
present a veritable army of LCD televisions with the lineup now
including two 37-incher Aquoses (or is that Aquoi?). Sharp isn't being
modest about these seven new models, claiming "AQUOS Reaches A New
Level!" With 25 models now available, I'm not sure whether they mean a
new level literally, or metaphorically, cause if you stacked them on
top of each other they'd form a pretty good viewing platform for going
to the races or getting a better line of sight at the theater. But if
you insist on using them to watch stuff, you could do worse than the
new, massive 37-incher, the LC-37BT5. Focusing on making the units
ever more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, the biggest
of the new AQUOS televisions is a direct assault on the best-selling
size of CRT television, given that Sharp has for some time now been
totally committed to phasing out the production of 4:3 TVs. Appearing
at the excellent CEATEC show from this October 1, the seven new models
run the gamut from a regular 13-inch baby television size through to
those two 37-inch widescreen monsters (the 4:3 aspect ratio versions
all have PC card slots and the widescreen models are digital).

More info: http://www.sharp.co.jp/corporate/news/020925-1.html

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STAFF
Written by: Max Everingham (max@everingham.net)
Edited by: J@pan Inc editors (editors@japaninc.com)

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