The Pulse 2

Back to Contents of Issue: March 2003

Seagrand CardRec RM-300M

Now the market for portable audio players is getting kind of fat with so many different machines out there and not much to differentiate between them. Success, Seagrand reckons, comes from doing things a little differently in order to make a mark, so cue the snappily named "CardRec RM-300M," which strikes out for fame and glory by being not just portable, but really, really portable. A credit-card sized portable audio player, the RM-300M is the latest in the RAVEMETAL series of players from the company, whose previous models in the line included one that looks just like a tape cassette but can, cunningly, be connected to a PC, have your MP3 files downloaded to it, then be slotted straight into your car's tape player for instant aural delight, thereby removing the need to upgrade the stereo in your car. That's genius, but then so is the slim 300M, because, with dimensions of 77x54x9.8 mm, this little baby will slip right into your pocketbook. How's that for convenience? The player's MP3 encoder is based on the one found in that tape-cassette-shaped forerunner, the RAVEMETAL RM200M, and will handle MP3, WMA and ADP audio files.

The new credit-card player is available in three capacities: 128, 192 and 256 MB flash-RAM-wise and is compatible with all flavors of Windows on your PC. It has a line out socket so you can hook it up to an external device (like a compatible CD player or hi-fi) and USB 1.1 for the computer. And there's even a backlit LCD display on the thing -- usually the first feature to go as stuff like this is miniaturized. Open price, but from approximately JPY 23,000.

More info: 

Samsung's Mighty Big TV

The Japanese aren't renowned for boasting about the physical dimensions of the gadgetry they produce -- small is usually better -- but, in this case, Samsung Japan (OK, so they're really Korean) wants everyone to know they've done well. Their new toy is the biggest widescreen LCD panel in the whole, wide world (for this day/week/ month), at a humongous 54 inches -- normally plasma territory. This wallops the LG Philips effort, previously the most massive LCD display, which weighed in at 46 inches. The Samsung set has a 6,220,000-pixel, 1920x1080 dot display, a 170-degree viewing angle in both planes and a response time of 12 ms. There's a contrast ratio of 800:1 and brightness of 500 cd/m2, making this the Daddy of all LCD displays, for all you rich folk out there looking for the perfect complement to your new home theater. But, it's priced at more yen than you or I can afford.

More info: 

Creative NOMAD Jukebox Zen 40GB (CNJBZ40F)

Creative, one of the foremost producers of portable audio players, has released two new models of its "Nomad Jukebox Zen" player. The 40GB version, the CNJBZ40F, has both USB and Firewire sockets and, thanks to that huge capacity, can store and play up to 8,000 MP3, WMA and WAV files.

There's also a new 20-gig model available for around JPY 10,000 less. It doesn't have a Firewire port but uses USB 2.0, which is apparently up to 10 times faster than USB 1.1. Both players are compatible with Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000 and XP, but the 40-gig player is a limited edition, so if you want one, you'll have to be quick. The CNJBZ40F is approximately JPY 53,800.

More info:  

Thomson's portable wizardry RCA LYRA RD2780

The RD2780 combines an audio player with a video player and funky screen, making it the ultimate in portable entertainment machines. Possibly. With a two-and-a-half inch, 20-gig hard disk and a 3.5-inch TFT LCD screen, the "RCA Lyra Audio Video Jukebox" can be hooked up to a PC or television -- acting as a hard disk in the former case and a VCR in the latter. How cool is that?! You can squeeze up to 80 hours of TV or whatever else on the player, listen to MP3 and MP3Pro files, watch WMA clips and, if you're feeling particularly boring, show your mates your latest JPEG digipix of your holiday in Whistler. It'll take an incredible 100,000 images, so you can "entertain" them for, literally, millennia. The RD2780 has video and USB 2.0 connections and a Compact Flash slot. Priced at $399.99. To be released in Japan in June.

More info: 

Wider Wireless LAN Access Expected

IN BRIEF: The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications intends to encourage the growth of WLAN hotspots. Legislation to amend the Telecommunications Business Law is to be put before the Diet, ministry sources said. Present law bars telecom operators from setting up relays on private property without the consent of the owner. In disputes, the telecommunications minister can intervene, seek compromise and ultimately decide whether such installations are "necessary and appropriate." Arbitrators have ruled, however, that LAN services are not covered by the law.

...COMMENTARY: The amended legislation appears to be in response to an incident last year where a venture telecom company, MIS, was barred from installing WLAN base stations in a Japan Railways (JR) station for, it felt, no good reason. Under the current law, if a WLAN network is deemed to be a "telecommunications circuit," JR would have been under much more obligation to accede to the request, and MIS could have appealed to the ministry for arbitration if JR did refuse. MIS did so anyway, but the arbitration commission ruled that WLANs are not "telecom circuits" under the law. Now the ministry wants to amend the law to stipulate that wireless LANs are "telecom circuits," and are thus covered by the consultation and mediation provisions. So it goes in Japan.

More Info: July 2002 WWJ video interview with MIS: "Real Public Access Wi-Fi." 

Sony Digital Camcorders DCR-DVD100/200/300

It's hard to be patient when you're a total gadget freak, but if you can manage it, you reap the dividends. Sony has just released information on a widget that, at long last, makes me want to update my own digital camcorder -- this one records to DVD!

The recorded discs will play back in most DVD players, including PC drives and Sony PlayStation 2s. Being Sony, they don't mention Xbox, but it should play back in those too, unless they've craftily included some software trickery to prevent that! The series (DCR-DVD100, DCR-DVD200 and DCR-DVD300) uses 3-inch DVD-R and DVD-RW discs and will record both still (640x480 on the 100 model, 1152x864 on the other two) and up to 60 minutes of moving images. The lens comes from Carl Zeiss again, so you're guaranteed high quality, with a 10x optical zoom. Instant access to your footage, DVD-style, thumbnails and all that goodness is now at your fingertips, folks, and the cameras are even smart enough to stop you recording over stuff you've already taken. It's possible to edit the discs while they're still in the camera. Sony claims that the special "Super NightShot" shooting mode will allow users to take pictures in total darkness. Open price, but approximately JPY 43,000.

More info: 

Mobile Devices Enter Thinness Battle

IN BRIEF: In the field of digital cameras and cellphones, many thin-style devices came out in the fall and winter of 2002, and these models occupy the top ranks in the best-seller charts. The same tendency can be seen for the cellphone handsets. Although the model is quite expensive, the P504i from NTT DoCoMo, a flip-type cellphone with a depth of 16.8 mm, is ranked high on the best-seller chart. Among the handsets from Tu-Ka Group, the TK12 is the thinnest model in the group with a depth of 19 mm when folded.

...COMMENTARY: Casio's super-thin EXILIM digital camera is also selling well. When it comes to cameras, cellphones, PCs and all sorts of other gadgetry, Japanese consumers believe that thin is in.

Sony Begins Sale of New Copy-Protected CDs

Sony Music Entertainment announced in January that it has started sales of new CD singles that can only be copied once onto a user's computer. Using a new proprietary format called LabelGate, the CDs will direct the user to Sony's Web site for a payment of JPY 200 if the user tries to copy the contents more than once. Sony says that all singles issued from mid January will use the new format and that albums will adopt the format in April.

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