The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No.204
Friday September 2, 2005

1. Sharp "Papyrus" PW-J5000
2. PLAY-YAN micro
3. Panasonic TH-65PX500

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Sharp "Papyrus" PW-J5000

Category: Children's electronic dictionary
Price: Open Price; estimated around 50,000 yen
Release date in Japan: September 7, 2005

The Gist: Sharp Corporation announced their latest handheld dictionary,
called the "Papyrus." Although the device looks nothing like hammered
out strips of vegetation dried in the sun, it does offer an attractive design
and full-color screen.

The screen is a 480 x 272, 4.3" TFT color LCD. Sound familiar?
Yep, those are the exact same specifications of the screen on Sony's
PSP. Since Sharp makes the PSP's screen as well, it would be safe
to assume this screen is in fact taken right off of the same assembly
line. Interestingly enough, the Papyrus also offers a video output jack
for displaying the screen's contents on a TV.

"Papyrus" is aimed at first through third graders. The device intends to
give children a head start on learning English, offering "Moomin English
Dictionary" and "Moomin Story (with voice)" to help them on their way.
Moomin characters also guide children through the device's various
menu levels.

Of course you wouldn't want a Japanese child to learn only English, so
the device features some other contents useful in grade school such as
a Japanese dictionary, basic mathematics, and similar contents.

An SD card slot allows new dictionaries, JPEG images, and XMDF
formatted e-book data to be accessed. Finally, the device is also
equipped with rubber on the edges to protect it from shock-based
damage should it be dropped. The internal lithium ion battery should
last your child roughly 20 hours.

More info:

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: PLAY-YAN micro

Category: Portable multimedia
Price: 5,000 yen or 6,000 yen (with software)
Release date in Japan: September 13, 2005

The Gist: Nintendo's answer to the PSP's multimedia capabilities came
in the form of the "Play-yan." The Play-yan itself was released in February
of this year, and was covered in Gadget Watch #174.

Nintendo this past week announced an update to the Play-Yan called
the "PLAY-YAN micro." The "micro" part surely coincides with the
company's announcement of the Gameboy Micro (Gadget Watch #203),
and given the unit's specifications, we won't be arguing. Even with an
integrated SD card slot, the PLAY-YAN micro is only slightly larger than
normal Gameboy Advance game cartridge.

The downer with the PLAY-YAN micro is its specifications. It's not that
they're bad -- just that Nintendo didn't really add anything in the seven
months it's been since the Play-yan was released.

A bit of background information: back in July, Nintendo released an update
to the Play-yan software that allowed it to play MPEG-4 (MP4) videos.
This unfortunately required users to store the actual software update on
their SD cards.

This is the only difference, specifications-wise, between the Play-yan and
the PLAY-YAN micro. The former did NOT have hardware-level MPEG-4
playback, but the latter DOES. This MPEG-4 support goes as far as
352 x 288-sized video up to 30 frames per second, which is nice considering
this is a higher resolution than what the PSP supports. Ouch.

There are a couple other minute differences between the Play-yan and the
PLAY-YAN micro (besides capital letters). The GUI has been changed
from blue coloring to green, and many of the goofy character animations
have been removed. 12 games were also released for the Play-yan, but
you're unable to play these on the PLAY-YAN micro. That's fine, though,
since you will already have a Gameboy Micro sitting right in front of you.

More info:

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Panasonic TH-65PX500

Category: Plasma TV
Price: Open Price; estimated around 990,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 1, 2005

The Gist: Here it is... the world's first plasma TV that supports Full HD

You can take advantage of that 1920 x 1080 resolution as much as you
want, assuming you're one of the 12,000 people who is lucky enough to
slap down a cool near-million yen to pick up one of these units.

In a dark room, you'll see a contrast ratio (difference between light and
dark areas of an image) of about 3,000:1. For a comparison, Sharp's
65-inch LC-65GE1 LCD TV has a contrast ratio of only 800:1.

Panasonic has loaded the TH-65PX500 with a newly developed circuit
board called "FULL HD PEAKS," which takes a digital broadcast's HD
signal and process it as is, with no quality loss whatsoever.

Another advantage of this screen is its addition of a "sub-pixel controller,"
which allows dots (a pixel consists of three dots: red, green, and blue) to
be controlled independently of one another. This protects against
false-outline noise, which typically plagues plasma display panels.

The TV has two digital tuners with support for terrestrial, BS, and 110 CS.
It also features two terrestrial analog tuners, and has integrated
dual-display support.

Also offered by the unit is an SD slot, which not only allows playback of
MPEG-4 video and JPEG still images, but can actually record MPEG-4
video as well. It will record video up to 320 x 240 pixels at 30 frames per
second. Wait a minute, SD card? MPEG-4 video? Sounds familiar. Right,
we were just talking about Nintendo's PLAY-YAN micro, which supports
this exact setup. These two products would make a killer combination.

I won't even bother mentioning this one's audio/video inputs and outputs.
If you want it, it has it. From composite all the way up to HDMI,
it's all there.

More info:

ICA Event - Sept 15

Presenter: Daniel Lintz, Director of Corporate
Communications in Japan for Visa Int'l Asia Pacific Ltd.

Topic: Security Threats in Japan: Changing Attitudes,
the Legal Framework, & Credit Card Industry Countermeasures

RSVP Complete event details at
Date: Thursday, Sept 15, 2005
Time: 6:30 Doors open, sit down dinner included
Cost: 3,000 yen (members), 5,500 yen (non-members),
Open to all - Location is Foreign Correspondents' Club

SUBSCRIBERS: 8,308 as of September 2, 2005

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

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