GW-277 -- The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:


The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 277 Friday October 12, 2007
Subscribers: 9467
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Name: Panasonic Blu-ray DIGA
Category: Home Audio/Video
Price: 250GB: 180,000 yen, 500GB: 230,000 yen, 1TB: 300,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 1, 2007

The Gist: On November 1st, Matsushita Electric is releasing the
'Blu-ray DIGA' line of Blu-ray/hard disk video recorders under
their Panasonic brand. The three models: the 250GB 'DMR-BW700,'
the 500GB 'DMR-BW800,' and the 1TB 'DMR-BW900,' vary only in
price and capacity. The features of the three models are identical.

To jump right into those features, the main one here is the
ability to record Full HD video signals. The DIGAs contain tuners
that enable them to receive terrestrial digital, BS, and 110 CS
signals, and as a result, you'll be able to record all of those.
But terrestrial digital broadcasts use an MPEG-2 transport
stream, which isn't the latest and greatest. These new DIGA
models take things one step further by supporting Full HD signals
and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 encoding, so you're able to record Full HD
stuff in its native resolution, but with more space-efficient

Another nice feature is 4x Blu-ray disc writing, so moving
programs from the unit's hard drive to a disc shouldn't take a
disturbing amount of time. At the device's lowest bitrate (HE
Mode, 5.7Mbps), a full disc's worth of video (18 hours) will take
between 4.2 and 6 hours to write. Japanese dramas are typically
11 episodes per season, so you're looking at roughly 2 seasons
per disc, in high definition, written on a disc while you sleep.

Additional features include Dolby Digital 5.1ch audio recording
when using the AVC codec and planned support for 'AVCREC.'
AVCREC is a new disc standard currently being developed by the Blu-ray
Disc Association that allows terrestrial digital broadcasts to be
moved to DVDs.

More info:
Name: Kenwood Media Keg
Category: Portable Audio/Video
Price: 1GB: 12,000 yen, 2GB: 15,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Kenwood's latest update to their 'Media Keg' line of
portable audio players comes in two flavors. There's the 'cool
atmosphere' GD55 models, and the 'casual form, vivid color' GD50
models. Each model will be available in 1GB and 2GB versions.

Despite the fact that the designs of the GD55 and GD50 are
different, the players themselves are equal in functionality.
They include canal-type earphones with 11.5mm driver units, and
given Kenwood's experience in headphones, they may actually be

In addition to MP3, the GD55 and GD50 support playback of WMA
audio. The players also feature a monochrome organic EL display
that shows file tag information. Battery life is not so shabby
either, with 21 hours of MP3 playback or 16 hours of WMA

More info:
Name: Toshiba gigashot A
Category: Digital video camera
Price: 40GB: 158,000 yen, 100GB: 188,000 yen
Release date in Japan: Mid-November 2007

The Gist: To help fill the hard drive of Panasonic's Blu-ray
DIGA, you could look at Toshiba's new 'gigashot A' digital video
cameras. Available in 40GB and 100GB versions, the gigashot A is
slated for launch in November of this year.

The gigashot A joins the ranks of modern digital video cameras
by offering support for recording at Full HD resolution
(1920x1080) in the MPEG-4 AVC format. With the 100GB model,
this equates to roughly 12 hours worth of recording when using
the unit's highest image quality ('XQ'), or 23 hours at the
lowest ('SP'). Of course, as the battery will last for about 75
minutes, you'll want to have some spares or a socket handy if you
plan on recording more than an hour at a time.

According to Toshiba, the gigashot A is the 'world's smallest
Full HD movie camera with a hard drive,' and we're inclined to
agree. The unit measures only 78.1 x 135.4 x 79mm, making it
not much larger than a (American) can of soda.

Those of you wondering about what happens to the hard drive when
the camera is dropped can investigate Toshiba's own 'Diprotechs'
system. This system uses a 3-axis acceleration sensor to retract
the disk head when a drop is detected. In addition, the hard
drive itself is surrounded in an impact gel.

With the gigashot A's SDHC card slot, you can also take still
images as large as 1920x1080. This may seem like a low resolution
compared to the still image resolutions that competing digital
video cameras are capable of, but it's worth noting that the
gigashot A's image sensor is only 1.49MP. 1.49MP is enough for
Full HD video, but it does leave a bit to be desired for still images.

Other optics include a 10x optical zoom, 20/80x digital zoom, and
electronic image stabilization. The 0.23MP color LCD monitor has
a resolution of 320x240. Two notable recording modes are 'Standby
Mode' that allows the camera to turn on faster after being
switched off, and 'Stage Mode' that limits the optical zoom such
that you don't spend all of your child's performance recording
the back of someone's head.

More info:
Written by: Liam McNulty
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