GW-266 -- Toshiba SD-H903A, Bluedot BTV-400K, mbco MBR0201A/S, Brother MPrint

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:


The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 266
Monday January 8, 2006
Subscribers: 9467

Name: Toshiba SD-H903A
Category: PC peripheral
Price: Unknown
Release date in Japan: Unknown

The Gist: Toshiba is getting ready to release the first HD
DVD recorder that fits inside of your PC: the "SD-H903A."
It's unlikely that you'll actually see the drive actually
marketed towards consumers by Toshiba, because you'll
probably see it packaged as a product by Buffalo, I/O
Data, or another OEM customer. But the drive itself will
be the same. Given that Toshiba is the flagship promoter
of HD DVD, though, it certainly makes sense that they're
the first to come out with such a drive.

HD DVD readers have been released by a number of companies,
and there are a number of HD DVD recorders on the market
already. But it is the first that recorder created specifically
for PCs, meaning you can take advantage of HD DVD's added
capacity (15GB for single layer, 30GB for dual layer discs)
for file storage.

It connects via the Serial ATA interface, and offers a
read/write speed of 1x for single or dual-layered HD DVD-Rs.
Backwards compatibility is also found, as the drive can record
DVD-R DL discs at 2.4x, DVD-R at 8x, DVD-RW at 4x, DVD-RAM at 3x, good old CD-R at
16x, and CD-RW at 10x. The acronyms are getting a bit hard
to swallow -- we'll soon be seeing stuff like "HD DVD-RW DL"
-- but at least HD DVD has seen a significant amount of support
from many popular companies inside and outside of Japan.
No word on price or a specific release date for this drive yet.

More info:
Name: Bluedot BTV-400K
Category: Portable A/V
Price: Open Price; estimated around 30,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Early February 2007

The Gist: We've reported on a number of devices here in
Gadget Watch that support Japan's new mobile-friendly
terrestrial digital broadcasting format, One-Seg. But a
recurring theme is the fact that they rely on other
to work. A USB One-Seg tuner, for example,
requires a computer to work. Unless you feel like carrying
around a portable DVD player or getting a new mobile phone
with One-Seg support, there really hasn't been a truly
"portable" way to access One-Seg content yet.

Bluedot is out to change that with the release of the
BTV-400K. It's the industry's first "One-Seg TV," or a
portable TV created specifically for receiving One-Seg
broadcasts. It contains no analog terrestrial tuners of
any kind, so you had better be sure you enjoy One-Seg
programs before you head out to pick one up. In terms of
One-Seg compatibility, it offers EPG, closed-captioning
support, and multiple audio channel support. What you won't
find is data broadcast reception or any kind of recording
capabilities, as it features no memory card slot of any kind.

The device is indeed portable. With a 4 inch screen at a
resolution of 480 x 272, and dimensions of 70 x 126 x 11mm,
it could fit quite comfortably in even a pants or jacket pocket.
The weight including the battery is only 120g, so it weighs less
than many popular portable audio players. The battery will last
you about 3 hours, and it recharges by USB.

More info:
Name: mbco MBR0201A/S
Category: Car and Home A/V
Price: Car Set: 49,800 yen; Car and Home Set: 65,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Mid-January 2007

The Gist: XM Radio and Sirius have become quite popular
with those living in the United States over the past couple
years. Touted as having commercial-free broadcasts, loads
of different stations for every genre of music, extensive
coverage of sporting events, and big-name celebrity talk
show hosts, it seems as though the United States had
actually managed to defeat Japan on one facet of consumer
electronics technology. Indeed, there were roughly 11.5 million
subscribers between the two services halfway through 2006.

Not to go gentle into that good night, Japan's "mbco" --
Mobile Broadcasting Corporation -- launched the "Moba
HO!" service on October 20 of 2004. Like XM Radio and
Sirius deliver to the United States, Moba HO! uses satellites
in geosynchronous orbit with the Earth to deliver radio broadcasts
to receivers throughout Japan. Interestingly enough, it seems
Japan "won" the battle for technical superiority after all.
While XM Radio and Sirius provide only audio content, Moba
HO! offers 37 audio channels, 8 channels of video programs,
and 44 different data broadcasting services. Still, it's been an
uphill battle for mbco, especially when you consider how much
time the average resident of Japan spends in their car versus
their American counterparts. The "Online-Custmer Center"
from Moba HO!'s English webpage provides a good summary
of the audio content:

"And sound 'HO' imspires something surprise, admiration or
laughing voice, which means our service MobaHO! brings
surprise, amazing and laugh to every people."

Of course, you will need a receiver of some sort. The
"MBR0201A" and "MBR0201S" are slated for release
this month in Japan. The "A" somehow stands for black
and the "S" understandably for silver, so at least you have
a choice of your body color. Otherwise, the units are identical.

These new units offer an improvement over earlier receivers
in that they offer a miniSD card slot. The card slot allows
you to record programs, but such programs can only be
played on that very unit. The MBR0201 is only 120g, and
will be available in a "Car Set" for use in the car, as
well as a "Car and Home Set" for those who want to use the
service in their car or home. Keep an eye out for the
receivers this month.

More info:
Name: Brother MPrint MW-260
Category: PC peripheral
Price: Open Price; estimated around 80,000 yen
Release date in Japan: March 2007

The Gist: Portable printers aren't exactly new, but Brother
is scheduled to release a new mobile printer called the
"MPrint MW-260" in March of this year that breathes some
fresh air into the genre.

At only 160 x 210 x 18.5mm, or not much larger than a DVD
case, the MW-260 can print on paper sizes up to A6. For
those not familiar with A6, it measures 105 x 148mm, thus
giving you pages literally half the size of the far, far more
common A4. A6 is probably too small of a paper size to go
giving to all of your customers, but it certainly has its
uses around the mobile office.

Supported operating systems are Windows 2000, XP, Vista,
PocketPC 2003/2003 SE, and Windows Mobile 5.0. It will
connect via USB, IrDA, and even Bluetooth 1.1. The support
for the mobile operating systems and IrDA/Bluetooth means
you'll be able to print directly from your PDA or smartphone.

Since the printer uses a thermal printing process, you'll
unfortunately need to head out and find some special
temperature-sensitive A6-sized paper. Still, with 300
dots per inch and a speed of 20 pages per minute, the
MW-260 should do just fine for just handing out small
bits of information to your colleagues and coworkers.
Or, if you have good eyesight, you may even be able to
use the "Fit to Paper" option and print out miniature
versions of your A4-sized documents. Your choice.

Included with the MW-260 is a lithium ion battery good
for 50 pages of printing, drivers, a USB cable, 50 sheets
of paper, and an AC adapter.

More info:
Written by: Liam McNulty
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