GW-261 -- USB Attakamouse, Sharp MPE-300, Panasonic HDC-SD1

Gadget Watch No. 261 (the Gadget Watch newsletter)

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:
Subscribers: 9480
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 261
Friday November 17, 2006
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your

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@@The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Name: Thanko USB Attakamouse
Category: PC peripheral
Price: 2,980 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: With most traditional Japanese housing offering no
centralized heating, or even "proper" insulation, it's no
mystery why many foreigners accustomed to such luxuries feel
cold during their first winters in Japan. Looking at Japan's
climate, it's only when you get into regions of Touhoku and
Hokkaido do you start getting what qualifies as a harsh winter.
Most of the country seems tame, especially when compared to
many parts of the USA and Europe. Yet for some reason winters
in Japan always seem to hit a lot harder.

Countless Japanese companies have attempted to bring some
warmth to homes, creating various types of space heaters,
heated blankets, heated tables, and heating slippers. Now
Thanko has introduced the "USB Attakamouse," bringing heat
to the very palm of your hand while using your PC.

Inside the mouse are some heating coils right around the part
where your palm rests. There's a temperature adjustment dial,
enabling to set your hand to just the right temperature.
Otherwise, it's a standard 3-button optical mouse, with
resolution of 800dpi and USB connection. Might be a good
stocking stuffer, at 2,980 yen.

More info:
Name: Sharp MPE-300
Category: Portable audio
Price: 21,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 30, 2006

The Gist: Sharp has a new portable audio player coming out
called the "MPE-300." It is scheduled for release in Japan
towards the end of this month.

The MP-E300 offers a 1GB capacity, but if you're in the mood
for a bit more, it also has a miniSD card slot. According to
Sharp, the MP-300 is the world's thinnest player with a miniSD
card slot, at 7.9mm (~0.31 inches). The weight including the
battery is 62g, so this is one player almost small enough to
fit in your wallet. --Well almost.

Besides the standard MP3 and WMA support, Sharp has added
AAC file playback for this latest player. Although protected
AAC files (such as those downloaded from iTunes) aren't
supported, WMA DRM10 is supported, as is Napster's "Napster
To Go" service. Napster To Go provides unlimited downloads
for a flat monthly fee, which is always a nice alternative
to piecemeal services such as iTunes.

In the grand tradition of Sharp portable audio players, the
MP-E300 also features an integrated FM transmitter. Likewise,
it has an FM tuner and can record broadcasts.

Look for the MP-E300 in silver, black, and copper color
variations from November 30th. If 1GB of memory is overkill
for you, feel free to drop down to the 16,000 yen MP-E200
with a 512MB capacity. You should get about 24 hours of
battery life when playing MP3 files, or 14 hours for WMA

More info:
Name: Panasonic HDC-SD1
Category: Digital video camera
Price: Open Price; estimated around 180,000 yen
Release date in Japan: December 1, 2006

The Gist: The world's smallest and lightest digital video
camera that records high definition video to SD cards is
set for release on December 1st by Panasonic. The "HDC-SD1"
features the ability to record high definition video in the
AVCHD format to SD and SDHC memory cards. A 4GB SDHC card is
included in the package, so no worries if you don't have any
SD cards lying around.

AVCHD is an implementation of the H.264 video codec created
specifically for recording high definition video. The HDC-SD1
is amongst the first video cameras in the world to support
the format, amongst the first video cameras in the world to
support recording high definition video to SD cards, and is
also the world's smallest/lightest 3CCD high definition camera.

Indeed, inside the SD1 is a newly developed "Telnion 3CCD HD,"
which incorporates three 560,000 pixel CCDs for maximum color
reproduction. According to Panasonic's numbers, this gives the
camera about double the color reproduction of traditional
setups. Likewise, it can record video with in lighting as
low at 6 lux, and therefore about 6 candles per square meter.
That's a good thing, especially when it can do so without any
sort of night-vision style equipment.

Another advancement on the inside is a new video compression
LSI that can handle MPEG-4 AVC High Profile encoding in real
time. This assures that you're getting the highest quality
video you can out of the AVC codec. This and a slew of other
enhancements compose what Panasonic calls the "HD Crystal Engine."

The lens is a 12x optical zoom, Leica Dicomar, with optical
stabilization technology. The 3" widescreen LCD, HDMI output,
USB 2.0 port, and VIERA Link support should also serve you well.

You have three recording modes at your disposal, all of which
have a resolution of 1080i (1440 x 1080 pixels): HF at 13Mbps,
HN at 9Mbps, and HE at 6Mbps. With the included 4GB SDHC card,
that means about 40 minutes, 60 minutes, or 90 minutes of
respective recording capacity. The camera is also equipped
with no less than five microphones, and thanks to the AVCHD
codec, can record 5.1ch audio. Still images can of course
be recorded at 1920 x 1080 pixels, even while recording,
with the aptly named "Photo Shot Button."

Using the included battery pack, you will see about 1 hour
and 5 minutes of recording time. One area you may want to
watch out for though is video editing; most existing video
editing software allegedly cannot handle the AVCHD format.
But, the camera itself can handle basic splitting/combining,
and the included "HD Writer Ver.1.0J for SD1" software will
allow you to play, edit, and create DVDs from your videos.

More info:
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Written by: Liam McNulty
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