The Pulse 2

Back to Contents of Issue: May 2002

The best of J@pan Inc's newsletters: Gadget Watch, Wireless Watch and Music Media Watch.

SonicBlue Releases Stereo
While all of the major electronic manufacturers are busy making MP3 players, here's a digital music manufacturer going the other way. SonicBlue's Rio EX1000 ($299) is a 120--W stereo system that plays MP3s, CDs and cassettes.
Get it online now at

Morpheus Owners Announce Plan for Restricting MP3 Use
Nashville-based StreamCast Networks, the firm behind Morpheus, announced in March that it would introduce new technology for restricting the use and distribution of MP3 files. The new technology, called CintoA, will allow providers to program restrictions into MP3 files, such as the number of times a file can be played or saved. Although StreamCast is hoping to appease the entertainment industry, representatives from the RIAA and MPAA are skeptical. The move comes fast on the heels of Morpheus' split with former ally Kazaa and its shift from Kazaa's FastTrack network to the open-source Gnutella protocol.
Source: BU235474.DTL

Avex to Copy-Protect CDs
In March, Avex became the first Japanese record label to release a CD which uses special technology to copy-protect some of the tracks. Made by Israeli security company Midbar Tech, the CD-protection technology, called Cactus Data Shield, blocks users from playing protected tracks on a computer. By using Midbar's technology, Avex hopes to prevent the rampant copying and distribution of CDs on the Internet.

Sharp MI-E25DC

Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA, strikes us 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.
Nevertheless, the MI-E25DC (around JPY60,000) 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 Web site 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 the CE-VCR1 video recording card that allows the recording of TV programs and the like by connecting the MI-E25DC up to a VCR 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.

Toshiba FACE 15ZLC7
The line is becoming increasingly blurred between the PC and AV worlds and the FACE 15ZLC7 (around JPY120,000) from Toshiba isn't helping. The 15ZLC7 is a high-luminance 15-in XGA LCD color TV panel. There are three models in the series: 15ZLC7, 15ZLC7K and 15ZLC7R, which are silver, black and red. The 15ZLC7 has digital D1, S-Video and composite terminals, a 160-degree viewing angle and weighs a sprightly 3.2 kg. The monitor -- sorry, panel -- creates a rich soundstage thanks to TruBass sound technology from SRS Labs Inc and speakers with 4 cm by 7 cm cones.

Sony CMT-M700DVD
In the US, UK and Australia to name a few, the bookshelf combo system is dying. Most manufacturers are scaling back production and instead focusing their efforts on portable personal audio, this year's big boom market (along with widescreen TV and home theater). In Japan, however, companies like Sony, Sharp and Kenwood just keep on knocking them out. It's that size thing again, probably. So all hail the CMT-M700DVD (JPY60,000), Sony's new combo creation that sticks an MD, CD, cassette, FM/AM tuner and DVD player all together in the same box. It does this because, um, because it can, probably. And because Sony reckons the 15,000 DVD titles out on the Japanese market mean that a whole load of new customers can be persuaded to jump onboard the DVD bandwagon if they just have the right kind of 'one box does all' sound system at home. The CMT-M700DVD has digital D1, S-Video and composite connections and packs a Virtual Enhance Surround (VES) sound system which tries to make a decent job of 5.1 channel sound with its two wee bookshelf speakers. The combo system will even handle playback of CD-R/RW discs.

Mobile Phone Shipments Down
EXTRACT: The Japan Electrical Information Technology Association (JEITA) announced on March 12 that Japan's total shipments of mobile telephones in January, including car telephones and PHS receivers, fell to 3,274,000 units; a drastic decrease of 28 percent compared with the same month a year previously.
Source: Nikkei AsiaBizTech, March 13
>>> COMMENTARY: This marks the eighth consecutive month of decline in shipment volume from the year previous. Note that PHS phone shipments fell a steep 49.8 percent year on year, to 191,000 units. According to JEITA, this was caused by makers limiting their shipments in view of the decline in PHS subscribers. Ironically, the declining sales will actually help the Japanese carriers, especially NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, which have to pay out less in handset subsidies when fewer are sold.

Sign of the Times
The Fortean Times reports that Florin Pirliceanu of Romania misplaced his Nokia 3310 cellphone, and then hanged himself after leaving a suicide note that read, "I have lost my phone so I have no alternative but to take my own life." Rather an overreaction we think, although reasonable, perhaps, if it had been the new dual-camera D2101V ...

Three to Launch Dual-CPU Cellphones
EXTRACT: NEC, Matsushita Electric Industrial and Matsushita Communication Industrial said that they will market new 3G mobile handsets with jointly developed technology in the second half of this year. In a joint development that started in August, the three companies have designed the core architecture for a 3G mobile handset platform. The architecture features two central processing units, which will enable 3G mobile handsets to transact a large volume of data more quickly than comparable models with a single CPU, an NEC official said.
Source: Japan Times, March 1
>>> COMMENTARY: The trio said they had set up a new '3G Mobile Collaboration Office' in Yokohama with about 50 workers, which should increase to 100 by October 2002. Handsets are becoming computers ...

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