The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No.208
Friday September 30, 2005

1. Toshiba gigabeat X30
2. Thanko "Gorone de Mouse"
3. Sharp "Miracle"

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Name: Toshiba gigabeat X30
Category: Portable audio
Price: Open Price; estimated around 37,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Toshiba has introduced a new model in their "gigabeat"
line of portable audio players. The "gigabeat X30" offers a 30GB
capacity and smooth 2.4" color LCD with a resolution of 240 x 320.
Those screen specifications should sound somewhat familiar --
in issue #163 of Gadget Watch, we looked at the "gigabeat F60,"
which has a similar setup.

The X30 ultimately replaces the "F20" in Toshiba's series. Not only
has the screen size been increased from 2.2 inches to 2.4 inches
(though the resolution remains unchanged), the unit is about 20%
smaller in every dimension and lighter to boot. And that says nothing
about functionality either.

All sorts of new image management features have been added to
the X30, such as its ability to read EXIF data from images and
automatically create necessary folders for arranging the photos
chronologically. A slideshow feature, with transitions, should allow
you to take advantage of the unit's nice-looking screen. As is
the case with many new portable audio players, the X30's screen
supports both horizontal and vertical display modes, making sure
you get the most out of your resolution. Of course, the unit also
has the normal array of other photo features, such as album art,
wallpaper, and so on.

"RipRec" still allows users to transfer the entire contents of a CD to
their X30 with a single mouse click, and a new feature in the
"gigabeat room" software will automatically save a backup copy
of the songs to your computer's hard drive. Transfers are no pain
whatsoever using USB 2.0 thanks to the Mass Storage class,
so you can go ahead and bypass any sort of proprietary
synchronization software should you so choose. The X30 will also
be able to grab images directly from digital cameras using its USB
port under the "Picture Transfer Protocol."

The X30 is set to be available in Piano Black, Pure White, and
Crimson Red color variations.

More info:

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Thanko "Gorone de Mouse"
Category: Peripheral
Price: 3,980 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: I'll be the first to admit that I've fiddled with the optical
sensor of my mouse. Back in the days of mice that actually used
a ball, you could turn your mouse on its back and still control it by
manually pushing the ball around. Unfortunately, this tradition sort
of died when people realized the sensors in their shiny new optical
mice weren't exactly cut out for such use.

But here comes Thanko to the rescue with the "Gorone de Mouse,"
which (very) roughly translates as the "Slacking Off Mouse." It has
actually been designed so that it can be used while upside down --
a sensor inside the mouse can detect when it has been turned on its
back, and will automatically reverse your y-axis so things are closer
to normal. To control the mouse, just drag your finger across the
optical sensor in the direction you want your cursor to go. You can
also still click and even use your mouse wheel as you normally would.

The mouse can be used in the air from a distance of as much as
8 meters, so it could be suitable for use as a presentation pointer.
Supported operating systems are Windows 2000, XP, Mac OS 9.x,
and Mac OS X.

More info:

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Sharp "Miracle"
Category: Office equipment
Price: 48,000 yen to 60,000 yen
Release date in Japan: October 21, 2005

The Gist: Ever so often, a product comes along that essentially
dominates its entire market. It has everything you could possibly
want, and probably some features you don't want. Sharp's "Miracle"
line of all-in-one office units are such products.

Let's go through the list of devices the Miracle will replace: printer,
fax, copier, scanner, PDF mailer, cordless phone base station.
The party isn't over.

One stunning feature of the Miracle line would be the 4.3" ASV color
LCD screens that each unit is equipped with. The screen will be
used to display the same boring old information that your copier
currently does -- but will actually be used more frequently given
each Miracle unit has a memory card slot for making direct prints
of those digital camera shots. Things get even more enticing when
you learn about features such as "PDF Save," which makes turning
documents into PDF files completely effortless, and "Scan to Email,"
which creates pre-prepared messages with scanned documents
as attachments.

A common misconception with all-in-one office units is that they're
useless outside of the office. Sharp has addressed this concern,
and added "Idle Screen Save," which lets users manage their mobile
phone's wallpaper, and "Phone Book Read Function" for reading
data directly from your mobile's phone book. No more punching
in fax numbers, hooray! Taking things further still, Sharp integrated
the Miracle's cordless phone system with this feature, so you
theoretically never have to program it with even a single phone number.

Models with and without automatic document feeders are set to be
available, and you can also choose between models that include
a single cordless phone handset or two handsets.

More info:

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SUBSCRIBERS: 8,379 as of September 30, 2005

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

(C) Copyright 2005 Japan Inc Communications KK. All Rights Reserved.