GW-281 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:


The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 281 Friday November 9, 2007
Subscribers: 9467
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Name: Toshiba gigabeat U
Category: Portable Audio
Price: 1GB: 9,980 yen; 2GB: 14,800 yen
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: Toshiba is readying the release of their newest line
of gigabeat portable audio players, the updated 'U' series.
The series will consist of three models: the 1GB U104, the 2GB
U205, and the 2GB U206. Each of these models will be available
in three colors, including options such as 'Misty Blue' and
'Shiny Gold.' While the U104 goes for 9,980 yen, any of the 2GB
models will go for 14,800 yen apiece.

Starting from the top, we have the U205 and U206 players.
As seems to be the trend of late, the only difference between
these two models is their designs. While the U205 uses a square,
flat button that you just push in whatever direction, the U206
has a big cross-shaped button for navigation. The U205 also has
a more rounded look to it (see 'More info' for images). In terms
of specifications, we find a DCTSC 1-bit DAC, 96x96 dot 1.1-inch
organic EL display, FM tuner, FM transmitter, and support for
WMA (with DRM), MP3, and WAV audio. Also supported are JPEG
still images and direct MP3 encoding, as well as USB recharging
in about 3 hours for 20 hours of playback. The big deal here
though is none of that; it's the included earphones. Toshiba has
summoned the services of Audio Technica for some 'specially'
tuned canal-style earphones for the 2GB models and inner-ear
style earphones for the 1GB models. Since Audio Technica's
canal-style earphones usually run 2,500-4,000 yen alone, this
is a nice bonus.

The existing U100 series players, the U102 and U101, live on in
the form of the U104. Toshiba has done away with the FM tuner
and transmitter from these models, and done little else.
In fact, the player uses the same body design as the U205: the
flat button. Its specifications include support for WMA
(with DRM), MP3, and WAV formats, as well as JPEG still images
and direct encoding. The screen is a 1.1-inch color organic EL.
As though the U series were not complicated enough already,
Toshiba has said the 'Japanese traditional colored' U103 will
still be sold as-is; it won't be somehow integrated into this
new lineup.

More info:
Name: Fujitsu Second Life Island
Category: Virtual Island
Price: Free
Release date in Japan: Already available

The Gist: While not exactly a product, we felt it important to
report on Fujitsu's new ventures into the massively popular
online game/reality simulator 'Second Life.' On November 2nd
Fujitsu opened the 'Fujitsu Islands' within the game.

For those not familiar, Second Life is officially a '3D virtual
world entirely created by its Residents.' Unofficially, you can
think of Second Life as a cross between a chat-room,
role-playing game, and sandbox. Those of you who spent a lot
of time online a decade or so ago will probably remember VRML,
'Virtual Reality Markup Language.' While the underlying
technology is no doubt very different, the premise is the same:
Second Life enables internet users to communicate in yet another
fashion. Second Life enables its residents to build their own
homes, meet new people, participate in an economy, and generally
just do whatever they please. That may not sound appealing to
some, but to many, Second Life has become a First Life.

Given the popularity and flexibility offered by Second Life, a
number of real-world companies have experimented with
establishing their presence in the new world. Politicians have
conducted campaign speeches on Second Life, attempting to reach
a different audience. While the jury is still out on how
successful such ventures are, Fujitsu has gone ahead and
established a series of islands within the world called the
Fujitsu Islands.

There are three Fujitsu Islands. On FUJITSU, you'll be able to
visit a showroom that features many of Fujitsu's products that
are currently available. You can also visit a gallery of some
of Fujitsu's more historical products. On FUJITSU 2, there's
an American football stadium and mini-game area. FUJITSU 3 may
be the most interesting of all, as Fujitsu will be using it to
announce the results of experiments conducted in conjunction
with RIKEN. RIKEN is the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports,
Science and Technology's (also known as the 'Ministry of Almost
Everything') research center. For whatever reason, FUJITSU 3
also features an area to play a game of Shogi with your friends.

Japanese companies are still viewed by many to be extremely
conservative, so someone like Fujitsu coming along and busting
into new media is notable. Fujitsu plans to staff 2-3 residents
on the island at any given time to field questions from
visitors. So which fresh meat ended up with that gig?

More info:
Name: Buffalo DVSM-XE1219FBS, DVSM-XE1219FB
Category: PC peripheral
Price: ATAPI: 6,615 yen, Serial ATA: 7,245 yen
Release date in Japan: Mid-November 2007

The Gist: 19x isn't a number we come across too often when
dealing with computers, but that's the DVD±R writing speed of
Buffalo's latest DVD super-multi drives. Available in ATAPI and
Serial ATA models, the DVSM-XE1219 series comes in black and
white varieties.

20x DVD burners already exist, as do 18x DVD burners, yet
Buffalo seems to have put this drive right in the middle for
some reason. Marketing? DVD writing becomes unstable after 20x?
Who knows. But what we do know is that this drive isn't
manufactured by Buffalo. Reports indicate it's actually a
Lite-On DH-20A3S. Not to point fingers, but the 20A3S is
actually capable of writing DVD±Rs at 20x. So Buffalo has
deliberately limited this drive's write speed to 19x?
That seems to be the case.

Not that 19x is a bad writing speed. If DVD±R isn't the name of
your game, try writing DVD-RAM at 12x, DVD±R DL/+RW at 8x,
DVD-RW at 6x, CD-R at 48x, or CD-RW at 32x. For reading, we have
DVD±R/-ROM at 16x, DVD±R DL/±RW/-RAM/-ROM DL at 12x, CD-ROM/R at
48x, and CD-RW at 40x. With all these letters, we're beginning
to think someone should just create a HD-DVD±RW DL-RAOM drive
and be done with it.

More info:
Written by: Liam McNulty
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