The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 213
Friday November 4, 2005

1. Toto Apricot N5A
2. Sanyo W33SA

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Name: Toto Apricot N5A
Category: MP3 toilet seat
Price: 180,600 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Japan is renowned worldwide for its toilet technology.
If you were to ask people outside Japan for a good example of
an area in which they are more technologically advanced, half
would likely respond with "toilets." Japan's largest manufacturer
of toilets is Toto, a pioneer of toilet technology since its founding
in 1917.

The momentum has not slowed down. Last week, Toto introduced
their "N5A," the latest addition to their "Apricot" line of toilet seats
with integrated "bidets." A bit of a cultural note here -- "washlet"
is actually a brand name of Toto's, which began with their
"Washlet G Series" in 1980. A "washlet" is a toilet seat with
an integrated bidet. For those of you who have never had exposure
to such a device, a bidet is a small nozzle that squirts water to
"where it needs to be," for cleaning purposes after you've gone
about your business on the toilet.

That brings us to the N5A, which is Toto's latest and greatest.
Packaged with the seat + washlet unit is the "Sound Rimocon,"
a wall-mounted remote control that offers various buttons for
controlling all of the N5A's functions. Toto has integrated an SD
card slot in the Sound Rimocon, and it supports the playback of
the MP3 format. If that doesn't float your boat, there are 16
classical/healing tracks pre-loaded on the Sound Rimocon,
including four original tracks by Toto.

It's important to point out that this isn't the first time Toto has
announced MP3-supporting bathroom components. The Sound
Rimocon was included with their "NEW Neorest" and "New Z Series"
toilets released in April of this year -- but the N5A is a toilet seat
that you can retrofit to pretty much any standard toilet.

The features of the N5A don't stop with MP3 playback. The "A" is for
"Automatic" -- not only can it automatically open and close the
toilet lid, but it will automatically flush as necessary. Now, how
about something to detect if you're male or female and automatically
put the toilet seat up or down?

More info:

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Sanyo W33SA
Category: Mobile phone
Price: Open Price; estimated under 25,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Early December 2005

The Gist: Sanyo's "W33SA" handset will be available for KDDI's
"au" mobile phone service beginning in early December. The phone
is amongst the first in Japan to feature support for "single-segment"
broadcasts. "Single-segment broadcasts" refers to those terrestrial
digital broadcasts that are intended solely for mobile devices such
as phones, PDAs, in-car navigation systems, laptops, and so on.
Purchasing a device that supports "one-seg" means you'll be ready
to receive single-segment broadcasts when they launch nationwide
on April 1, 2006.

The W33SA is equipped with a 2.4" QVGA (240 x 320) dot LCD,
which is mounted on a dual axis hinge. This means the screen
portion can be twisted 360 degrees, allowing you to close the
phone with the LCD sunny-side up.

Sanyo has integrated a number of their services with data provided
by one-seg -- their "EZ TV" program guide service, for example, now
supports one-seg broadcasts. Because the W33SA has tuners
capable of receiving terrestrial digital, terrestrial analog, and FM
radio signals, you'll have plenty of options at your disposal for
accessing content traveling around the airwaves. Their "EZ Navi
Walker" pedestrian navigation system has also been integrated
with one-seg: when a program is talking about a new store opening,
for example, you'll quickly be able to access walking/public
transportation directions to that location from wherever you may be.
"Lemme Hear It Search" also allows you to search for the "Chaku
Uta Full" (a service offered by KDDI that provides full-length, CD
quality music downloads) versions of songs that are currently
being played in one-seg broadcasts.

Besides the ability to receive a variety of broadcasts, the handset
has support for "SD-Audio," and can thus act as a portable audio
player. Several recording features are also available -- you'll be able
to record terrestrial digital broadcasts, FM radio broadcasts, and,
of course, your own voice. Unfortunately it looks like Sanyo shorted
us on the digital camera portion, supplying a paltry 1.26MP
sensor -- well below the 2MP that has become the Japanese
mobile phone industry standard. Other features of the W33SA
include SD-Video support for playing MPEG-4 movies from
a miniSD card, infrared for controlling A/V equipment, and support
for au's new "Hello Messenger." Hello Messenger is similar to other
"Push-to-Talk" services of the world, but also allows for transmission
of text and images, in addition to voice.

Keep an eye out for the W33SA, as it is set to launch before the
end of the year.

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Category: Digital camera
Price: Open Price; estimated around 50,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Early December 2005

The Gist: Canon is set to release the "IXY DIGITAL WIRELESS" in
early December. It is the first compact digital camera from the
company to feature integrated 802.11b wireless LAN support.

Canon has made an extra effort to include functionality in the
IXY DIGITAL WIRELESS through its 802.11b support in both
Ad-hoc and Infrastructure modes. Besides having the ability to
wirelessly transfer your digital camera's pictures from your memory
card to your PC, the DIGITAL WIRELESS can wirelessly print
images, and even be remotely controlled from the PC. Unfortunately
you'll need an actual SD card for all of the above; you cannot simply
take pictures directly to the PC. As long as you have a printer with
"PictBridge" support (which most modern photo printers have),
however, you'll be able to print images directly from the camera
without needing to even be next to the printer. This feature has
a range of about 30 meters. Being able to wirelessly control your
digital camera may put some thoughts about clandestine activities
in your head, but Canon provides the cheery example of "being
able to take pictures of your cat having babies." Uhh, thanks?

On the IXY DIGITAL WIRELESS is a 5MP image sensor, allowing
for the recording of images with resolutions up to 2592 x 1944.
There is a 3x optical zoom to match, and the camera can also
record videos at 640 x 480, at up to 30 frames per second.
The included lithium ion rechargeable battery should last you
for around 150 pictures. The IXY DIGITAL WIRELESS also
includes the "WA-1" USB wireless adapter, for those of you who
haven't become untangled just yet.

More info:

SUBSCRIBERS: 8,455 as of November 4, 2005

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

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


I never once imagined that there is a chapter of technology called toilet technology