GW-255 -- Sigma APO Systems Rotino, Panasonic Words Gear, Thanko FMP3 Watch

J at pan Inc Magazine Presents:
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The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 255
Friday October 6, 2006
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your

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Name: Sigma APO Systems Rotino
Category: Peripheral
Price: Open Price, estimated around 2,980 yen
Release date in Japan: Mid-October 2006

The Gist: Sigma APO will be releasing what qualifies as the
"World's Smallest laser mouse" next month. And it's only
2,980 yen!

Some of you out there may feel as though there's a point
when a mouse becomes too small, but some of you might not.
The "Rotino" measures 30 x 70 x 20mm, or about a quarter
the size of a standard mouse.

That's not all that is small about the mouse. Because of
its extremely high resolution and sensitivity because of
the laser (2,000 dots per inch at 9,600 frames per second),
you can apparently use it in a space as small as a business
card. There's no telling if your wrist is physically
capable of making such delicate movements, but at least the
potential exists.

The Rotino will be available in red, black, blue, and white
colors. The wind-up mechanism on the USB cable should also
make storage quite easy.

More info:


Name: Panasonic Words Gear
Category: eBook Reader
Price: Unknown
Release date in Japan: Unknown

The Gist: Electronic paper is one of those technologies
that most people are convinced is bound to happen...
someday. Like flying cars. Unlike flying cars, however,
significant progress has been made on electronic paper
technologies in the past decade or so. There will always
be people who like the "physical" aspects of a regular book,
but it's hard to argue against the utility of being able to
carry an entire library with you in your pocket.

Japan has been doing a nice job keeping the dream alive.
The latest is Panasonic, who last week unveiled the
"Words Gear," an electronic book reading device. It's
equipped with a 5.6" screen that has an impressive
resolution of 1024 x 600 dots.

The Words Gear also has a rather interesting control
mechanism called the "E Sensor." Seated adjacent the screen,
you can control all of the device's functions with just one

To get books on the Words Gear, you will need an SD card.
The Words Gear's SD card slot supports "SD-ePublish," a
copyright management technology made possible through CPRM.

Perhaps you'll want to take a speed reading course, as the
Words Gear's battery life is a disappointing 6 hours. It's
unlike Panasonic to give a device such a short battery life,
so perhaps they will be improving it before the device is

Luckily there will be no shortage of content created
specifically for the Words Gear when it launches. The "Words
Gear Corporation" is being jointly established by Kadokawa
Mobile, Tokyo Broadcasting, and Panasonic to create content
just for the device. There's no telling how much the content
will cost, but if launched properly, the Words Gear should
see a warm reception.

More info:


Name: Thanko FMP3 Watch
Category: Portable audio
Price: 512MB: 12,800 yen, 1GB: 16,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Thanko's line of MP3 playing watches made the jump
from "gimmick" to "slightly useful" with the latest iteration
the "FMP3 Watch."

Available in 512MB and 1GB capacities, the FMP3 Watch
contains a MP3/WMA player, voice recorder, line-in recorder,
and now an FM transmitter. So not only can you have access
to your favorite songs on your watch, you're now able to
broadcast those songs to a radio nearby.

MP3 and WMA files from 32kbps to 320kbps are supported, and
MP3 recording is done at 64kbps for voice and 128kbps for
line-in. The battery life of the FMP3 Watch is about 9
hours, and it can be recharged in about 2 hours via the USB
interface you also use for transferring files.

More info:

Written by: Liam McNulty
Edited by: Burritt Sabin (editors2 at
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