J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan

Issue No. 242
Thursday June 29, 2006

(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)

Name: TDK Xa-40
Category: Speakers
Price: Open Price; estimated around 6,000 yen
Release date in Japan: August 21, 2006

The Gist: TDK's new "Xa-40" speakers package a subwoofer and two flat-panel
speakers into a single cube shape. With dimensions of 165 x 180 x 175, the cube
might even be able to sit on your desk.

The Xa-40s will be available in orange, lime green, and silver colors, and each
includes an AC adapter and 2m stereo cable. They use a standard 3.5mm
connection for audio, so don't worry about having to splice cable. The internal
2.1ch amplifier has a 5W output for each of the satellites, and a 10W output for
the subwoofer. Keep in mind that there aren't any actual "satellites," at least in
the traditional sense -- the Xa-40 is a single cube that contains a subwoofer and
two speakers.

TDK has tuned a technology called "NXT SurfaceSound" from New Transducers
Limited to create "NXT Flat Panel." Since the two flat-panel speakers sit on opposite
sides of the cube, and the cube also contains a subwoofer, TDK maintains that the
Xa-40 is "mostly directionless."

More info:
Name: SanDisk Cruzer Micro, Cruzer Micro Titanium
Category: USB memory
Price: 512MB: 4,000 yen; 1GB: 9,000 yen; 2GB: 18,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: It seems like we have a new USB device to tell you about every week,
so this time we'll introduce SanDisk's new "Cruzer Micro" and "Cruzer Micro
Titanium" devices they have just started shipping in Japan. Readers outside Japan
will be pleased to know that these products have also been introduced in other
countries served by SanDisk, so if you're interested, head down to your local dealer.

The Cruzer Micro series consists of two different product lines: standard and "Titanium."
The standard models are available in capacities from 512MB to 2GB in black, and the
512MB model is also available in white. There is, however, no 512MB Titanium model,
and Titanium models are available only in silver. The slide switch allows the USB
connector to hide within the unit's body when it's not in use.

The Cruzer Micro series' claim to fame is that it is the first USB memory product to
support the new "U3" standard jointly established by SanDisk and M-systems. U3
is set to change the way we use our USB memory devices, since the standard was
created specifically so that users can move their entire workspace on USB devices.
That's "workspace," not just "files." If you've ever used a computer other than your own,
you know how it can be a pain to not have access to things like bookmarks, certain
applications, your browser plugins, your audio playlist, and so on -- the U3 standard
will hopefully ease a lot of this pain by enabling users to transport this information on
their USB memory devices.

Preloaded on the Cruzer Micro is Skype, "SignUp Shield" for password management,
"Avast!" security software, and "CruzerSync" for synchronizing Outlook data. The
Mozilla Foundation has announced they will be adding U3 support to Firefox and
Thunderbird, and we hope other companies will soon follow suit; being able to take
an entire workspace on a USB device would be very, very handy.

More info:
Name: Para-chan USB memory
Category: USB memory/Portable audio
Price: 12,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: You'd have a difficult time finding a portable audio player cuter than
Toshiba's "Para-chan." Originally included with a purchase of Toshiba's "CX/855LS"
dynabook, Para-chan was apparently so popular that Toshiba has decided to market
him (or her?) as a standalone.

12,800 yen is a tad expensive for a 512MB portable audio player, but when it's
shaped like a baby seal, there's really no room to argue about the price. "Para-chan"
got its name because it was apparently born on the Palau Rock Islands.

Removing the tail portion of Para-chan reveals a USB connector, and Para-chan
recharges via this USB connection. The internal lithium-ion battery provides about
10 hours of audio playback. In addition to the standard playback controls, there's
also a backlit LCD on Para-chan's belly.

More info:

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (

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