The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 219
Thursday December 23, 2005

1. Pixela Portable One-Seg/Terrestrial Digital Receiver
2. Toshiba TDP-FF1A
3. GINZA TANAKA song for freedom

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Pixela Portable One-Seg/Terrestrial Digital Receiver
Category: Portable audio/video
Price: Unknown
Release date in Japan: May 2006

The Gist: Pixela is amongst the first companies in
the world to introduce a portable audio/video player
with support for "One-Seg" video and "Terrestrial
Digital" radio broadcasts. One-Seg is a classification
of terrestrial digital TV broadcasts for viewing solely
on mobile devices, such as cell phones or laptops.

The device is yet to have a name, but there's no rush --
One-Seg broadcasts aren't scheduled to begin until
April 1, 2006. Terrestrial digital radio is lagging
even further behind, with introduction in Tokyo and
Osaka sometime during 2006, and nationwide by 2011
(when analog TV broadcasts end). One-Seg offers a
number of advantages versus traditional analog TV
broadcasts, but of greatest interest to consumers
is how data integrates into the digital video stream.
This means that information can be transmitted
alongside video data; rather than squinting to see
the weather forecast for the upcoming day (assuming
you can peel your eyes from your local weather girl
for a minute), your mobile device receives the
forecast as data, just like any other data you download
from the Internet. There is a range of other possible
applications for this technology, such as displaying
sports scores, news, stock information, links to the
websites of restaurants you see in dramas, and
downloading ringers or participating in quiz game shows.
It's important to note that One-Seg is a broadcasting
technology, and not a streaming technology -- buffering,
choppy playback, and other issues commonly associated
with streaming shouldn't arise when a One-Seg device
is properly receiving signals.

We've seen One-Seg and terrestrial digital radio support
in other devices, but this Pixela device is amongst the
first created specifically for receiving the signals.
It measures 136.5 x 55 x 25.5mm, and has a 2.17" TFT
LCD with a 320 x 240 resolution. The One-Seg standard
dictates video is transmitted at 320 x 240 or 320 x 180,
so you may have resolution to spare. Video is encoded
using the H.264 video codec, meaning any device that
supports the reception of One-Seg video signals (such as
this one) has an integrated decoder. The digital radio
support is limited to 2ch stereo; though terrestrial
digital radio allows for 5.1ch broadcasts, this unit
will convert any such signals to 2ch with 3D surround.
Pixela's unit has no internal speaker, so you'll need
to pack a pair of earphones.

Expect to see plenty more devices supporting One-Seg
and other terrestrial digital signals in the coming year.

More info:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Toshiba TDP-FF1A
Category: Projector
Price: 99,800 yen
Release date in Japan: January 23, 2006

The Gist: Toshiba announced the TDP-FF1A this past week,
and it is touted as the world's smallest and lightest
Digital Light Projection (DLP) projector in the world.
The 140 x 102 x 57mm projector may not qualify as pocket-size,
but palm-size would be a suitable classification. In fact,
the length and width are roughly the same as that of a
Japanese postcard.

A battery pack that sits on the side of the unit will
give it roughly two hours of display time. It's a shame
Toshiba didn't include integrated 802.11b/g on this unit,
because it could very well have been entirely wireless --
but we suppose they didn't have the room for it in the case.
This unit is Japan's first to have an LED as a light
source, eliminating the need to replace bulbs, and
giving it a faster startup time. The 18 watts of power
consumption also helped Toshiba make the unit
battery-powered when it needs to be.

The image element has a resolution of 800 x 600 dots,
and it gives a contrast ratio of 1,500:1. Input signals
from 480i all the way to 1080i are supported, and it
offers D-Sub 15 pin (analog RGB/Component) jacks, as well
as a composite jack. However, you may not need either
of them, because the TDP-FF1A supports reading and
display of JPEG images from devices inserted into its
internal USB port. Exporting JPEGs of your slides from
PowerPoint will allow you to conduct entire presentations
without a computer.

Included in the package is a folding 23" screen and
carrying case (that fits the projector, the screen,
a notebook PC, the cable, and the remote), so you
shouldn't need to purchase much else to hit the ground
running. There's even an integrated speaker in the
device, not that you should be using sound effects
in your presentations.

More info:

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: GINZA TANAKA song for freedom
Category: DVD Box set replica
Price: 50 million yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: It's the night before the big day. As you
stand outside Tokyu Hands, you look through a puff
of your breath dissipating in the crisp winter air
only to find you're too late. You glance at your watch:
0:07. "Closed," the sign reads as the lights inside
dim only to be turned on again in another six hours.
After all, Christmas in Japan is chalked up as just
another shopping holiday. But it's still too late
for your situation; you don't want to go home
empty-handed, because that would just be unforgivable.
You walk briskly to find one store after another
closed. "Does 7-11 do gift cards? What about TGI
Fridays? Where can I buy an entire bucket of pachinko
balls?" Questions race through your mind, as you grope
for last-minute gift ideas. Nearly slipping on a wet
package of advertisement tissues, you admit defeat
and hail a cab. Upon arriving home, you login to
your email, only to find the answer to your question
in this edition of Gadget Watch: the "song
for freedom."

Masaharu Fukuyama is amongst Japan's most well-known
musicians, and lucky for you, he's one of your
significant other's favorites. GINZA TANAKA is the
name of the company putting out the "song for freedom,"
a solid gold replica of his DVD box set. The replica
is to commemorate the 15th anniversary of his debut.
"PERFECT," you shout into the glow of your computer
screen. Then you read it: 50 million yen. Looking
over the specifications, you realize this is quite
a replica: 14.7cm in all directions, and made of
solid gold, bringing its weight to 15 kilograms.
Even after all the years you've spent in Japan,
you still aren't used to counting things in units
of 10,000, nor do you know the exchange rate.
You punch the numbers into your calculator, and
the result hits you like a Godzilla movie without Raymond
Burr: $415,000 USD.

More info:

SUBSCRIBERS: 8,575 as of December 23, 2005

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

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