GW-265 -- Cyber Gadget USB FM Transmitter, Buffalo HDV-ROM2.4FB, Bandai Tamagotchi Music Fever

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:


The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 265
Monday December 25, 2006
Subscribers: 9467

Name: Cyber Gadget USB FM Transmitter
Category: PC peripheral
Price: Open Price; estimated around 3,990 yen
Release date in Japan: Late December 2006

The Gist: Cyber Gadget deals primarily in video game
accessories, but they have just announced a slightly
interesting new product called the "USB FM Transmitter."

You're probably familiar with the concept of an FM transmitter,
but just in case, here it is again: audio signals are
broadcasted over FM frequencies. You can then use the
FM radio of another nearby device to pick up the broadcast,
thus recreating a miniature radio station inside your home
or car. It isn't the most advanced concept -- the FM radio
was patented by Edwin Armstrong in 1933 -- but it's enough
to create a basic wireless link between two audio devices.

In the case of Cyber Gadget's USB FM Transmitter, the
broadcasting device will be your computer. It does not
require any special drivers; simply plug it in a Windows
2000 or XP machine, select one of the three broadcasting
frequencies, and you're good. From there, with what device
you tune into the broadcast is your choice.

More info:
Name: Buffalo HDV-ROM2.4FB
Category: PC peripheral
Price: 38,850 yen
Release date in Japan: Late December 2006

The Gist: Japanese peripheral maker Buffalo is set to release
the world's first standalone HD-DVD drive for PCs later this
month. The "HDV-ROM2.4B" is an ATAPI drive that will run for
38,850 yen.

So far, the only real reason to own an HD-DVD drive is to
play HD-DVD movies. Because of various digital rights
management technologies that are part of the HD-DVD standard
itself, you'll need some other hardware to get your full
money's worth from this drive. Specifically, you need a
video card that supports COPP drivers. You'll also need a
video card and display that support HDCP if you want to use
digital output over DVI or HDMI interfaces. It includes
"PowerDVD HD DVD Edition" for playing HD-DVD movies.
The same software supports high definition MPEG-2 movies
from an HDV camcorder, as well as Copy Once programs recorded
on DVD-R/RW media.

For playback of HD-DVD video, Buffalo recommends you have
a Pentium D 3.2GHz or above, 1GB or more memory, and a Nvidia
GeForce 7600GT, 7900GT, or ATI X1800 or X1900 video card.
Needless to say, that's quite a bit more power than you'll
find in a mid-range machine, so you'll need a high-end system
if you hope to play HD-DVD movies in the ways they're meant
to be enjoyed.

The drive itself is a Toshiba "SD-H802A," which is also
included in Toshiba's "Qosmio" line of notebook PCs, and
apparently also in Microsoft's "Xbox 360 HD DVD Player."
It supports reading single and dual-layered HD-DVD-ROM
discs, and single-layered HD-DVD-R discs. Both are read
at 2.4x, which probably sounds low, but is actually quite
speedy considering HD-DVDs hold as much as 30GB. The drive
also reads pretty much any flavor of DVD and CD.

More info:
Name: Bandai Tamagotchi Music Fever
Category: Portable audio
Price: 7,140 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: "Tamagotchi Music Fever" is the result of
Bandai's hard laboring in developing combining the
massively successful Tamagotchi with a music player.
The company is pitching the device towards girls in
elementary school, and they shoot for sale of about
50,000 units by the end of March 2007.

Technically, the Tamagotchi Music Fever qualifies as a
"digital audio player." But it probably won't teach little
Hanako how to use a PC -- it has no USB port for any
interaction with a computer. To get music on the device,
you'll need to hook it up to a device such as a CD player
and record in the audio in realtime. It can fit about 120
minutes of music at standard quality, or 60 minutes at high
quality. You can even program song names. It will run for
about 7 hours on two AAA batteries.

There are two playback modes: "Game Mode" and "Otanoshimi
Mode." Game Mode consists of "Surfing Game" and "Trampoline
Game," where players can enjoy either game while listening
to their music. The difficulty is also linked to the volume
of the music, which slightly odd as it might force skillful
players to listen to music at volume levels they may not be
comfortable with.

"Otanoshimi Mode" offers "Session Mode" and "Dance Mode."
In the latter, characters dance in synchronization with the
music. In Session Mode, the Tamagotchi characters will play
instruments when a button on the player is pushed. Considering
the popularity of Tamagotchi products, this might be a hard
one to come across.

More info:

Written by: Liam McNulty
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