J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan

Issue No. 183
Thursday March 10, 2005

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Name: Sanyo Xacti C5
Category: Digital video camera
Price: 75,600 yen
Release date in Japan: March 25 or April 8 depending
on body color

The Gist: Sanyo Electronics Corporation has announced the
release of the "Xacti C5 (DMX-C5)" MPEG-4 movie camera
series. Available in Luxury Silver, Mannish White and Noble
Bronze, the Silver model will be released on March 25,
with the other two colors following on April 8.

The Xacti C5 is understandably the successor to the Xacti
C4 released in September of 2004. Not only does the unit
have a new design (which personally, I like more), but it
has a better image sensor -- it is now equipped with a
5.08MP 1/2.5 type primary color filter CCD rather than a
1/2.7 type 4.23MP one. Furthermore, the LCD monitor size
increases from 1.8" to 2.0". The unit is also smaller and
lighter than the C4; it is 68 x 23 x 108mm (W x D x H) at
164g including battery and card. What card would that be?
SecureDigital memory cards. The Xacti C5 does not include
a card, which is somewhat of a disappointment considering
the price tag. The specifications I have in front of me do
not mention a size limitation, so I assume the sky is
the limit.

What I found most striking about the C5 is the new design.
Rather than the roundish Ayumi Hamasaki-esque look of the
C4, the "Cutting Edge Design" of the C5 describes not only
the unit itself but also the technology inside. It will
easily fit into the palm of your hand, so be sure to keep
it from falling out of your pocket while on the train.

The X5 also features what is considered one of the Xacti C
series' best selling points -- the ability to take full-
resolution still photographs while recording MPEG-4 video
without having to change modes. Doing so will stop your
video recording for about 2 seconds, but these kinds of
features just ooze coolness. The C5 has five different
recording modes: TV-SHQ, TV-HQ, TV-S, Web-HQ, and Web-S.
The TV-SHQ and TV-HQ both run at 640 x 480 dots in 30
frames per second, TV-S and Web-HQ with 320 x 240 dots
in 30 and 15 frames per second (respectively), and
finally Web-S provides 176 x 144 dot video at 15 frames per
second. Bitrates range from 3Mbps to 256kbps, so it's good
to see Sanyo gives consumers plenty of recording options
for when they're running short on card space.

The battery of the C5 will power it for about 60 minutes when
recording video or 113 still images. I wish digital video
cameras would some day have longer battery life, but that's
just me. The Xacti C5 connects to your PC via USB.

More info:
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Name: Sony Hi-MD PHOTO MZ-DH10P
Category: Portable audio
Price: MSRP 53,000 yen
Release date in Japan: March 10, 2005

The Gist: Continuing in their efforts to revitalize the
image of the company as the go-to man for portable audio
products, Sony this past week introduced the "Hi-MD PHOTO."
There are many features to love of the Hi-MD PHOTO, but
Sony hasn't exactly priced it as competitively as possible.

The Hi-MD PHOTO actually consists of two separate and
distinct function sets: audio and photo. We'll cover audio

Believe it or not, MiniDiscs are still somewhat popular in
Japan. Sony's latest iteration of this format is "Hi-MD," a
1GB MiniDisc. With the introduction of the Hi-MD PHOTO, Sony
not only brings Hi-MD to a wider audience, but they have
added a particular feature many in the industry have been
begging for: MP3 support. Previous models of Hi-MD players
required users to convert their audio to Sony's ATRAC3
format before they could play it on their device; but
this is not the case with the Hi-MD PHOTO. Considering the
700-yen price tag of blank Hi-MD discs, the fact that they
are all rewritable, and how you can store any file on them,
I'd say Sony has finally hit the nail on the head in the
MiniDisc functionality arena. One thing they fall short on,
however, is transferring audio to Hi-MDs; you are still
required to transfer all songs using Sony's often-criticized
SonicStage. You'd think that with the USB Storage Class
support on all Hi-MD devices Sony would have made it as
simple as drag-and-drop through Windows Explorer.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.

But the Hi-MD PHOTO lives up to the second part of its name
as well; it features a 1.3MP camera capable of recording images
directly to Hi-MD. You can't have a camera without a color
LCD these days, so Sony went ahead and slapped one on the
MZ-DH10P as well -- but you can also use this to control your
Hi-MD playback, view album covers and so on. Interestingly
enough, Sony has also included a feature allowing users to
take pictures of album covers and associate them with albums
right on the spot.

The party does not end there; Sony has brought this
functionality to not only Hi-MD with the Hi-MD PHOTO, but
also the spare MDs you have lying around your house. By Sony
estimates up to 7,200 VGA-mode pictures can be stored on a
1GB Hi-MD, and 2,100 pictures can be stored on a conventional
80-minute MiniDisc. We mentioned USB Storage Class earlier;
this is also how you get pictures off discs you've recorded
using the Hi-MD PHOTO.

In an untraditional move, Sony seems to have shorted us on the
battery life -- expect a measly 14-hour playback time from
ATRAC3plus files and 13 hours from 128kbps MP3 files. I thought
one of the primary strengths of the MiniDisc format was long
battery life. Oh well, I guess it's that full-color LCD...

More info:
Name: Dinosaur robot
Category: Robotics
Price: Don't ask
Release date in Japan: Never

The Gist: What could possibly be better than an 80kg
Tyrannosaurus Rex robot walking around the floor of
the 2005 World Exposition to be held in Aichi Prefecture?
Not much, actually, and I guess Japan's National Institute
of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
felt the same way.

There are two robots: a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a
Parasaurolophus, both approximately 3.5 meters long
and weighing 80 kilograms. They can also walk at 1km/hr;
let's hope the real dinosaurs could walk a bit faster
than this (or is that why they all went extinct?) The
T-Rex reportedly has 27 degrees of freedom and the
Parasaurolophus has 26.

Video footage of the robots in action is available below.

More info:
Video footage:
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