The Pulse 2

Back to Contents of Issue: September 2003

The best of J@pan Inc's newsletters

Casio QV-R40
This is a digicam for the impatient. If you get into a rage waiting for the toast to pop up or think three minutes is too long to be boiling an egg, then this is the camera for you. Following on from the company's QV-R4, the R40 boasts the same "shutter release lag" of 0.01 seconds, but its piece de resistance is the 1-second boot-up time. And if you're still worried about losing precious seconds fiddling with the camera's other functions, be assured that the button response time has been improved across the board to initiate power on and off, recording and playback. Owners will be able to get max resolution shots of 2,304x1,712 (that's bigger than my house) and 30 seconds' worth of movies at a stuttering 15 frames per second. The QV-R40 has a 3-times optical zoom, F stops from 2.8 to 4.9, focal range equivalent to 39-117mm on a 35mm camera and range of 60cm to infinity (plus a macro mode for 10-70cm). The camera records to SD memory card, has 10MB of onboard Flash RAM and is compatible with Seiko-Epson's "Direct Print"-capable printers.

More info: QV/Info/qv_r40/

NHJ Japan D'zign
NHJ's D'zign is an astonishingly cheap 1,920,000-pixel MPEG-4 digital camcorder. With an SD memory card slot and 4-times digital (yeuch!) zoom, the D'zign can take 640x480-dot movies at a faltering 15 frames per second, but if you want to get anything other than your granpappy's stroll across the garden down on film, you'll need to go to the lower resolutions. Switching to 320x240 will speed the frame rate up to 20 per second but, bizarrely, going all the way down to 160x120 will have -- wait for it -- absolutely no effect at all! Except that everything will look like you're on the bottom of a swimming pool looking up! If you go for still images, you can, however, squeeze 1,600x1,200 pictures out of the D'zign. It'll work with pretty much any Windows system and the new Mac OS, the battery should last for 90 minutes, and did we mention it's unbelievably cheap for a camcorder? You can even choose between silver or black body finishes. Can't go wrong.

More info:

Maxell BDF120.1P
Maxell has announced its own Blu-Ray disc, with the secret agent name of BDF120.1P. The disc, like Sony's recent effort, conforms to version 1.0 of the new Blu-Ray format, allowing for a 23GB capacity on one disc. That's 120 minutes of digital hi-vision recording, folks, or three times that (360 minutes, or 6 hours' worth, for the mathematically challenged) and up to 12 hours of recording in Long Play mode. Blu-Ray has a 36mbps transfer speed, which is five times faster than DVD, making it far superior. To recap, Blu-Ray is a rewriteable DVD format launched by a conglomerate of nine consumer electronics companies as the optimum format to record high definition broadcasts. The Blu-Ray format uses a blue-violet, rather than red, laser and, thanks to the shorter wavelength, can pack over five times the amount of info of a regular DVD into a single disc. It is, whatever anyone else says, intended to replace VCRs and DVD players in the future. How long it'll take, on the other hand, is anyone's guess.

More info: news/2003/030703.html

Maxell DP-101B
Maxell's DP-101B is a Bluetooth "digital pen," which the company will start supplying on an OEM basis from August. When you use the pen to write on the special paper tablet supplied, the digital pen sensors track the movement over the minute dots printed on the digital paper and beam what you're writing directly across to a PC in real time. Apparently, the digital pen is designed for use in the administrative and financial business sectors and, I'm sure, will prove absolutely invaluable for those nerdy, mathematical types. Darned if I know why. Although you could always copy the boss' signature and then have it in digital form on your computer for signing off expenses. The DP-101B is compatible with USB 2.0 and the polymer lithium ion battery allows two hours of continuous use with 10 hours standby time.

More info: 2003/030722.html

Panasonic Let's Note W2
The W2 from Panny is the world's lightest two-spindle PC notebook with a built-in optical drive. The W2 follows on from the earlier, 999g "Light T1" laptop from the same company that had an 866MHz Pentium III Mobile CPU, a 12.1-inch LCD screen and 20-gig hard drive. The Let's Note W2 also trounces the former world champ at being incredibly light (yet having a built-in optical drive), which was the combo drive-toting X10 from Samsung, weighing in at 1.9kg but having a 14.1-inch display. So the W2 sports a 900MHz Pentium M processor, 12.1-inch LCD screen, combo (DVD-ROM & CD-R/RW) drive, 256MB of RAM, a 40-gig hard drive and weighs just 1.29kg. There's integral IEEE 802.11b support, an SD Memory Card slot, the loading tray for the discs pops up out of the keyboard like something out of "XXX" (the movie with that rock hard Vin Diesel guy) and, possibly more importantly, it has a battery that is claimed to last a whopping five hours and 41 minutes. But 1.29kg -- you can't beat that.

More info:

Elecom USB cables
Many things the Japanese make are ingenious simply because they're a marvel of miniaturization. And then some are ingenious because we'd never have thought of doing it ourselves. These new widgets from Elecom fall squarely in the second category. There are two types of USB cable on offer here -- the "swinging USB cable," which swings through 90 degrees in either direction. And then there's the "magnetic USB cable," which makes metal stuff suddenly fly towards you at great speed. Or sticks to the sides of metal cabinets, and a variety of other surfaces. The point of the swinging cable is to make it far easier to manipulate without being forced to bend the actual cable itself and thereby risk damaging it. Both extension wotsits use the new, high-speed USB2.0 standard, allowing communication up to 480Mbps.

More info (swing cable):
More info (magnetic cable):

Tokyo Needs TN-40RFMOS/B/G
The TN-40RFMOS/B/G is a (two button with scroll wheel) optical wireless mouse designed for use with a laptop PC. It'll work with any personal computer on the market (so long as it's Windows) and the detachable USB receiver part cunningly fits right into the mouse for easy storage when not in use. You need to see the picture of the mouse and receiver to really get that bit. When in use, however, the receiver needs to be taken out of its hiding place in the mouse and stuck in a USB port on a computer. It swivels through 270-degrees (no idea why), has a scan resolution of 800dpi, a range of 1m and comes in silver, blue or gun metal colors.

More info:

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