The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 226
Friday February 17, 2006

1. Onkyo BR-NX8
2. IO Data Device DVR-UW8DP
3. Panasonic DVD-LX97

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Onkyo BR-NX8
Category: Hard Drive Audio System
Price: Open Price; estimated around 75,000 yen
Release date in Japan: March 24, 2006

The Gist: The BR-NX8 is a shelf-style audio system from Onkyo
that features an 80GB hard drive, giving it the highest capacity in
its class. We've seen these systems in the past, but where other
companies have gone wrong, Onkyo has stayed the course.

One of the most immediately noticeable features about the unit
is its compatibility with the "AnyMusic" service. AnyMusic is
a music distribution service that specializes in sending tracks
directly to audio devices -- so after initial setup, you're able to
purchase and download new songs for the NX8 without ever
having to touch your PC. The 4.3" color LCD on the front face
makes this easier. This same LCD is used as the main display,
showing track information (acquired from Gracenote's CDDB)
and FM broadcast on-air information, and allowing for the
purchase of CDs from online CD shops. However, to connect
the NX8 to the internet, you'll need to use an Ethernet cable.
Perhaps Onkyo figured adding 802.11b/g support would drive
that 75,000 yen figure even higher.

With an 80GB hard drive, you'll have plenty of space to store
tracks that you purchase, but what about the music you already
own? There are no worries here either, as the NX8 can record
from any of its audio sources, including CDs, MiniDiscs, and
even the integrated AM/FM tuner. You're able to select PCM,
ATRAC, and MP3 formats for your recorded files. The NX8's
MP3 support extends to its CD drive, so you're also able to
play CD-R/RWs with MP3 files on them. Finally, the NX8 can
stream audio files from PCs on the same network, so you
don't need to concern yourself with moving them over to its
hard drive.

Additionally, it provides a USB port for transferring MP3 files to
and from portable audio players, a Memory Stick Duo slot, and
even a video output jack. Onkyo recommends this unit be used
with their "D-N8(B)" bookshelf-style speakers.

More info:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: IO Data Device DVR-UW8DP
Category: DVD burner
Price: 55,650 yen
Release date in Japan: Mid-March 2006

The Gist: IO Data Device's new "DVR-UW8DP" makes copying
your DVDs and CDs extraordinarily simple. It's an external DVD
burner with two actual disc drives.

The drive's "Duplicate Mode" allows it to make copies of CDs and
DVDs without even having to be plugged into a computer. Just
insert the source disc into its top slot, the destination media in
the bottom slot, and the copying will automatically begin. In fact,
Duplicate Mode also allows for data verification, and even deleting
data from rewriteable discs. Now before you think you can use
this to skip past the insane prices of DVD videos in Japan,
a word of warning: it cannot copy "protected" media such as
DVD video discs you'd purchase (or sly dog) from
a retail outlet.

Writing speeds are in the "acceptable" range. The fastest you'll
see for writing DVDs is 8x, so making a copy should take 8 to 10
minutes for a full disc. Of course, you're also able to use the
UW8DP as a standard DVD drive if you connect it to a computer
via USB.

More info:

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Panasonic DVD-LX97
Category: Portable DVD player
Price: Open Price; estimated around 90,000 yen
Release date in Japan: March 15, 2006

The Gist: Not only is Panasonic's DVD-LX97 one of the most
expensive portable DVD players we've ever seen, it's also the
world's first to contain a One-Seg tuner.

We touched on One-Seg broadcasts back in Issue 219 of Gadget Watch,
but to summarize, One-Seg broadcasts are one of the many types
of terrestrial digital broadcasts scheduled to be rolled out within
the next few years. They're still on track to be launched on
April 1 of this year, so you're sure to hear about them more
and more as the date approaches. "One-Seg" gets its name
because the first segment (of 13) of terrestrial digital
broadcasts has been devoted solely to broadcasts for
mobile and portable devices.

That brings us to Panasonic's new "DVD-LX97," the world's first
portable DVD player with an integrated One-Seg tuner. As
terrestrial digital becomes more and more widespread,
expect to see many of these "world's first ___ with terrestrial
digital tuner" announcements over the next few years;
the Japanese government plans to end all analog broadcasts by 2011.

Since 2011 is still a good 5 years away, Panasonic went ahead
and added a standard analog TV tuner to the LX97. This is both
a failsafe and an added convenience, since it means you'll be
able to switch between the two tuners for the best signal.
For the next five years, anyway.

They didn't skimp on the other features either. It has a massive 9"
TFT LCD, and the DVD drive supports DVD+-R/RW discs,
DVD+R DL, as well as DVD-RAM. MP3, JPEG, and MPEG-4
video files can be played from any of the above discs, besides
DVD+R/RW and DVD+R DL ones (for some reason). There's
also a SD card slot, so you can play your MPEG-4 videos
and JPEG images you may have recorded with your digital camera.

The included battery pack should last you a good six hours,
which is certainly impressive for a portable DVD player with
such a large screen. There's also an optional large capacity
set to be available that will bring playback time to
a Japan/America-plane-ride-friendly 12 hours -- this sort of battery
life is virtually unheard of for portable DVD players. It seems
the emphasis Panasonic places on battery life in their portable
audio players has been carried over to their DVD players. If you're
watching TV, expect a battery life of 9 hours, or for
MPEG-4 videos, 7.5 hours.

Panasonic has also thrown an FM transmitter inside the LX97,
giving it the capability to transmit audio to an FM radio. To match
this feature, there's a car kit included that provides a remote
control, car adapter, and monitor holder.

More info:

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Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

(C) Copyright 2006 Japan Inc Communications KK. All Rights Reserved.