The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No.202
Friday August 19, 2005

1. Runat's Nightmare Before Christmas iPod
2. Thanko USB Radio
3. SolidAlliance Design Grand Prix Mouse

Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo-September 6th Seminar

This coming September EA-Tokyo's featured speaker will be
Gordon Thom, Chairman of Dyson. Don't miss this great
opportunity to hear more about how Dyson has achieved such
rapid growth in the Japanese market.

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 6th 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room
(Canadian Embassy Complex)
Language: English

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Name: Runat's Nightmare Before Christmas iPod

Category: Portable audio
Price: 52,500 yen
Release date in Japan: Preorders now accepted; ships in August 2005

The Gist: Unless you've been living in a hole for the past two years, you
already know what an iPod is. Apple's little white box of joy isn't just
a portable audio player -- it's the first truly successful digital audio
player. Sure, there were other MP3 players in the past; but until the
iPod came around, they weren't even close to being mainstream.

Riding on the coattails of Apple, several companies have issued
"special edition" iPods. And I don't mean the U2 Special Edition
(which is offered by Apple itself) -- I mean the "special" editions from
other major companies that don't receive any sort of official permission
from Apple. Off the top of my head, I can recall a Neon Genesis
Evangelion iPod and you guessed it, a Hello Kitty iPod. These are
"traditional" iPod models that feature some sort of special illustration
on the back casing, and generally include a number of related

The "Nightmare Before Christmas iPod" follows this formula. It's been
years since I've seen the Tim Burton film (released Stateside in 1993),
but it's hard to forget the main character, Jack Skellington. You'll
find an illustration of good old Jack on the back of your iPod.

Otherwise, the iPod itself is the same. It's a 20GB "MA079J/A,"
for those of you keeping score at home.

Included with the iPod itself are some wheel stickers with various
characters from the film printed on them, as well as a carrying case
with Jack. You'll also receive a free t-shirt! No kidding.

More info:

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Name: Thanko USB Radio

Category: PC peripheral
Price: 2,980 yen
Release date in Japan: Shipping in September 2005

The Gist: USB radio devices have been around for a couple years, and
now Thanko has decided to enter into the running with their uniquely
named "USB Radio."

The unit operates on bus power, and after you install the included
tuning/recording software, you can receive FM broadcasts on your PC.

One nice feature of the "USB Radio" is that it features an integrated
stereo earphone jack; you can easily connect it to headphones or
speakers. In order to record audio, you'll need to connect this earphone
jack to your sound card's line-in jack; from this we can gather that
the USB port is only for a simple interface between the computer
and the tuner, and for power.

The software included with the USB Radio allows for recording in
WAV and WMA formats, and you can schedule recording to be done
at certain times. This feature could be handy when combined with
something like a Nightmare Before Christmas iPod.

The frequencies that can be received by the radio are from 76 to 91
MHz, so American purchasers will find themselves unable to receive
many of their favorite stations. Oops!

More info:


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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: SolidAlliance Design Grand Prix Mouse

Category: PC peripheral
Price: 3,990 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: SolidAlliance announced the release of two "Design Grand Prix
Mouse" models this week. They're little helmets. No really -- they're
little racing helmets that are 1/5 scale models of real helmets, and
happen to be mice you can use with your PC or Mac. What?
You expected SolidAlliance to create a product that was normal?

The two models that are available are the "SIMPSON Super Bandit,"
and the "SHOEI X-Eleven." Since each helmet (mouse) is designed to
be a 1/5 scale model of its real-life counterpart, they are each recognized
as officially licensed products by Simpson and Shoei (respectively).

I can't say how comfortable it would be to try to use a helmet as a mouse,
but specs-wise, you'll be fine: they feature an 800dpi resolution, and USB
cable that can be detached from the helmet section.

More info:

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Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

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