The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 232
Thursday March 30, 2006

1. ABC 21 ADA-0526A
2. Sony MZ-RH1
3. Thanko Kaminari Speaker

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Name: ABC 21 ADA-0526A
Category: Portable media player
Price: 512MB: 25,300 yen; 1GB: 34,700 yen
Release date in Japan: Early May 2006

The Gist: ABC 21's new "ADA-0526A" is a tiny portable media
player for those who want video playback, but don't want to carry
around something more bulky like an iPod with video. Available in
both 512MB and 1GB models, the 0526A has a 0.9" color organic
EL display. This screen is 96 x 64 dots, and it actually supports
the playback of video files. You'll need to run your video files
through the included "MTV conversion tool" beforehand, but that's
to be expected of a device with such limited screen size. It's
difficult to say how enjoyable watching video on a 0.9" screen
will be, but this could be the most portable video player ever made.

At 30 grams, the player is designed to be slung around the neck.
It supports WMA files (5 to 384kbps), MP3 (8 to 320kbps), and
WAV files, all of which are transferred using Windows Media
Player. DRM for Windows Media Audio is also supported.

Other features of the 0526A include a JPEG/BMP photo viewer,
FM tuner, FM recording, voice recording, and even a text viewer.
Expect a battery life of about seven hours from the internal lithium
ion rechargeable battery.

More info:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Sony MZ-RH1
Category: MiniDisc Walkman
Price: Open Price; estimated around 40,000 yen
Release date in Japan: April 21, 2006

The Gist: For much of the Western world, MiniDisc is an example
of what is "wrong" with Sony. The format is often touted as one of
the company's biggest failures -- proprietary discs and audio codecs
being pushed in consumers' faces. Nevertheless, proponents of
MiniDisc refuse to put down their recorders and players. Benefits
of MiniDisc include high- quality recording, unsurpassed battery
lives, and low-cost, high capacity, portable, durable, removable
media. As far as portable digital audio players have come in the
past few years, they're still quite a ways from surpassing the
capabilities of MiniDisc in regards to the benefits mentioned
above. It's mostly a matter of preference; some may prefer to
store 60GB of audio and video on their iPod, but others may
prefer to have removable 1GB discs.

Even in 2006, with Apple capturing an enormous share of the
market, Sony is still developing new MiniDisc products. Their
latest is the "MZ-RH1," a MiniDisc Walkman that supports Hi-MD.

This model adds something for those that use MiniDisc for
recording purposes: PC editing. It sounds simple, but previously,
MiniDisc recorders would only record into Sony's ATRAC formats.
This meant that all editing -- cutting, joining, and so on -- had to be
done on the MiniDisc recorder itself. But now, with the ability to
record directly into WAV (or auto-convert ATRAC recordings into
WAV during the transfer process), you'll be able to use any audio
editing software you choose to edit your tracks. This is a fantastic
announcement for those that rely on MiniDisc to record local concerts
or other events.

Because the MZ-RH1 uses the Storage Class of USB 2.0, and
because it can now record into the WAV format, Macs can also
now use MiniDisc. The software is called "Hi-MD Music Transfer
for Mac," and it can take Linear PCM, Hi-SP, or Hi-LP audio data
and convert it to WAV for your Mac.

On the front of the body is an organic EL display that shows
artist/track information, as well as an 11-segment recording level
meter. There's also a new playback feature called the
"Dynamic Normalizer," which will automatically normalize individual
sections of tracks to be louder or softer where necessary. The
MZ-RH1 has an internal lithium ion battery that will last 19 hours
under LP4 mode, or 18.5 hours under Hi-MD's Hi-LP mode.

More info:

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Name: Thanko Kaminari Speaker
Category: Box speaker
Price: 3,980 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: If you've been looking for something to do with that empty
iPod box, Thanko has the answer. The "Kaminari Speaker" is built
specifically to fit inside of an empty iPod/iPod nano box.

"Kaminari" means "thunder" or "paper" and "sound." The Kaminari
Speaker is a 1.2W monaural speaker that vibrates a paperboard
box, such as that of the iPod/iPod nano. Just slide the speaker
inside the box, and there you have it: your box is now a speaker.
C'mon, the box is empty -- you might as well use it for SOMETHING.

With two AAA batteries, the Kaminari Speaker gets about 40 hours
of play time. It also has an auto-on/off feature when it is connected
and disconnected from an audio player.

More info:

SUBSCRIBERS: 8,644 as of March 30, 2006

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

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