The Pulse 2

Back to Contents of Issue: October 2002

The best of J@pan Inc Newsletters - Gadget Watch, Wireless Watch and Music Media Watch

* DoCoMo to Offer Discounts to Some i-Mode Customers Source: Nikkei on
Extract: NTT DoCoMo will start offering a discount September 1 to people paying more than JPY30,000 per month for the firm's i-mode Internet access service for cellphones, company sources said. Charges in excess of JPY30,000 will be reduced by 33 percent. The aim is to improve a corporate image tarnished by complaints from customers claiming to have been overcharged.
More info: 

-> COMMENTARY: Nice problem to have! The move appears to be a response to growing complaints from users about excessive monthly usage fees. Now that Big D has caught up to J-Phone and has a camera phone on offer and considering the hyperpopularity of Java games (which are now up to 30KB in size), i-moders are receiving a heck of a lot more data than before -- and paying through the nose at JPY0.3 per 128-byte packet, thank you very much. This discount will only affect the top two to three percent of heavy users, and will likely shave JPY5 billion off DoCoMo revenues for the current fiscal year.

* Matsushita Electronic Components Debuts Panel-Shaped Speakers for Mobile Phones, PDAs
Source: Nikkei BP AsiaBizTech
Extract: Matsushita Electronic Components Co. and Matsushita Electronic Industrial Co. have introduced panel-shaped speakers for personal digital assistants (PDAs). They are: an acoustic panel with no touch-panel functions and an acoustic touch panel with those functions. The Sound Window technology of the company is employed so sound is emitted from a panel. Natural and fully realistic sound can be accomplished by emitting sound from the whole screen.

Unconventionally, this technology, featuring an air indirect drive system (aero drive), does not require a firm backing panel. Rather, a panel to emit sound can be made from a thin film. Even if the film touches some other part of the device, sound distortion can be kept to a minimum level, since the films are pliable and allow the other parts to vibrate too.

Also, while current mobile phones generate the received sound through small sound holes, the sound-receiving area can be extended to the whole screen using an LCD protection panel in combination with this technology. Furthermore, as sound holes in the speaker will no longer be needed, special dust- or water-proofing measures will not be necessary.

More info:

* Infineon Announces Development of Wearable MP3 Player
Source: Nikkei BP AsiaBizTech
Extract: The Japanese subsidiary of Infineon Technologies held a preview session recently where it displayed a wearable, washable MP3 player that was woven into a jacket. Users operate the player via a sensor also on the clothes. Designed to showcase Infineon's wearable electronics technology, the MP3 player is still being refined in the research lab and is not expected to be commercialized for another three to four years.
More info: 

* Fujitsu to Supply RAN System for KDDI's CDMA2000 1xEV-DO 3G Network
Source: Fujitsu PR
Extract: Fujitsu announced in August that it has received an order to supply a radio access network (RAN) system for KDDI's synchronous IMT-2000 CDMA2000 1xEV-DO-standard 3G mobile network operating in the 800MHz band. KDDI's new CDMA2000 3G mobile network is expected to begin offering commercial services in the second half of 2003. For this project, Samsung Electronics, which has operational experience with CDMA2000 3G wireless communications networks in Korea, will supply Fujitsu with base transceiver stations and base station controllers.
More info:

-> COMMENTARY: KDDI already operates a 3G CDMA2000 1X network (max data speed: 144Kbps), whose infrastructure was supplied by Motorola; the system opened on April 1 and is kicking NTT DoCoMo butt in the Japan 3G race. This announcement is significant as it is the first time in recent memory that a Korean equipment maker has been brought in to serve as a major infrastructure supplier (albeit as sub-contractor). The more intriguing question is, what happened to Motorola? As the current CDMA 2000 1X vendor, wouldn't it make the most logical choice to serve as 1xEV-DO vendor as well?

* E-Let's Win-MX
E-Let's new Windows Music eXplorer (JPY4,000) is a USB 1.1 compatible audio adapter, or 'interface,' that allows the high-quality recording of music files you've downloaded to your PC onto MD or other digital media by way of optical audio connection or regular analog output. Digital to digital recording means you can then listen to all that goodness through decent hi-fi speakers rather than what's on your PC setup. And your girlfriend won't think you're quite such a geek. The sampling rate of the digital output is 48kHz, so your recording machine (MD or whatever) will need to have a built-in sampling rate convertor. Unfortunately, it won't handle 5.1 multichannel surround sound formats like Dolby Digital or DTS. Bah!

More info:

* Personal Media PMC CD Shredder Lite
A widget designed for the high-tech 'creative accountant,' for the man that has it all and has it all to lose, we welcome the PMC CD Shredder Lite from Personal Media. This thing would have had Worldcom leaping with joy if only they'd got to hear about it sooner -- word has it that the ailing company has already placed orders for 100,000 units of Personal Media's next brilliant invention, the Fuzzy Math Calculating Machine, due for release sometime next fiscal year. Just kidding folks...

The PMC CD Shredder Lite (JPY89,000) doesn't actually cut the CDs into long, thin strips, but rather, before scrapping the disc, renders the data on the CD unreadable. It embosses the recorded surface of the disc with markings that make any attempt to read the media -- be it CD-ROM, CD-R or CD-RW -- fruitless. Et voila! One shiny new drink coaster. All bark and no byte. The shredder will destroy up to 20 discs a minute, which means that, in a single day, you could totally demoralize literally gadzillions of those tiny little digital people who live inside your PC painstakingly copying all that stuff down onto your discs in the first place. And, best of all, if you're already deep in 'The Lone Gunmen' territory and a regular user of the Disk Shredder series of data elimination software, you can pick up the PMC Shredder Lite for just JPY59,000. Just keep to the shadows when you go to the store, move fast and stay low.

More info:

* Victor UX-Z11WMD Mini Combo
Sometimes, some piece of gadgetry comes up that is not only a world's first, heroically pushing the awe-inspiring boundaries of technological innovation further apart, but is also insanely, utterly, mind-bogglingly useless to boot. The Rainbow Illumination Double MD Mini Combo (JPY55,000) is such a gadget. The 'world's first' bit comes in the form of the double MD player in a mini combo which, apparently, has never been done before despite being so obviously useful (recording MD to MD, for instance, or CD to MD at four times normal speed), not to mention indispensable to modern day living. And the mind-bogglingly useless bit comes in the form of the 'rainbow illuminational' mode, which lights up the front panel of the machine with a dizzying and ever-changing array of eight types of light in 64 different color combinations to er, to, oh what the hell! I have no idea what for! The UX-Z11WMD is available in two different versions: the UX-Z11WMD-S with silver speaker surrounds and the UX-Z11WMD-M with wooden surrounds.
More info: 

* Logitec LVC-HD120 TV Tank
It can't blow up stuff and would probably get bogged down in a muddy field pretty darn quickly, but Logitec's new LVC-HD120 TV Tank (JPY80,000) can do something your average M1A1/2 Abrams or Challenger MBT can't and that's record television programs. Infinitely more practical, but maybe with less immediate impact, the TV Tank houses a 120GB hard disk, turning it into a state-of-the-art video recorder. Logitec claims that the Tank can record a whole week's worth of TV and helpfully provides an example, saying you could record 17 hours (from 7am to 12pm) of television every day over 7 days and it'd all fit on the hard disk. That's 119 hours in total, fact fans, although unless you have some serious satellite package being beamed into your apartment, you'd be hard pushed to find that much good stuff to record each day, I reckon. Recording at the same resolution as DVD (720x480, it says here) in MPEG-2 format, the TV Tank is compact at 105x145x220mm and finished in silver so that it won't look out of place alongside the rest of your AV gadgetry in the living room. There's a USB 1.1 port for connecting up to Windows-compatible PCs and transferring video -- what's recorded is represented as thumbnail images onscreen for simple navigation.
More info:

Note: The function "email this page" is currently not supported for this page.