GW-300 -- The Hottest Gizmos and Gadgets from Japan

Japan Inc Magazine Presents:

The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan
Issue No. 300 Friday May 30, 2008
Subscribers: 9467

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NTT DoCoMo releases 19 new 906i and 706i phones

Name: NTT DoCoMo 906i series and 706i series
Category: mobile phone
Price: Open price
Release date in Japan: varies (beginning June 1, 2008)

NTT DoCoMo recently announced 8 new 906i series and 11 new 706i
series mobile phones, slated for release over the next few
months. There are too many interesting models in the mix to
cover in depth, so instead of the usual detailed study of one or
two phones, let's take the grand tour of what's most noteworthy
in the bunch.

The P906i (release day: June 1) sports what's called 'W Open
Style' operation: the top flips open lengthwise for your typical
vertical screen, or sideways for a horizontal screen. (It's like
those nifty refrigerator doors that open either left or right,
but even trickier.) The horizontal orientation is good for
One-seg TV or the built-in games.

The F906i (June 5) grabs attention with its 90-degree rotating
'Yokomotion' screen, but its real attraction is on the back of
its battery pack. There's a finger sensor there that acts as
both a trackpad-like 'Finger Pointer' navigation device and a
fingerprint-detection biometric security scanner.

The N906i (later in June) plays up the camera credentials: 5.2
megapixels, six-axis image stabilization, face recognition with
'Smile Face Shutter' smile-detection timing, and one-touch
uploading of pics to your blog. (You'd almost think the 'N' was
for Nikon, not NEC.)

The N906iL replaces the fancier camera features with wireless
LAN functionality, a first for NEC in a consumer-oriented phone.
It's good to go with IEEE802.11a/b/g, VoIP, and WEP, WPA, or
WPA2-PSK security.

The SH906i (June 3) takes hints from the iPhone, with a display
that rotates with the phone's orientation. The SH906i is all
about touch, too, with the nice addition of vibration-based
feedback - but the touch display has a split personality.
Screen-touch functions mostly work in horizontal display mode
only, while vertical display mode unlocks the 'Hikari TOUCH
CRUISER' that lets you control the cursor by gliding a finger
over an optical sensor on the central 'kettei' key.

The SO906i (June 2) also boasts screen rotation based on phone
orientation, and puts the internal motion sensor to further use.
A tap on the camera, followed by tilting the unit this way and
that, replaces menus and buttons for actions like changing
channels and sound volume, or scrolling web pages. Oh, and if
you snap a photo with the camera upside-down, the SO906i will
turn the shot right-side up.

706i-series models lack the same level of 'wow' features, but a
couple items of note include:

The SH706iw (September) is your 'Wellness Keitai'. Derived from
a Mitsubishi Electric health-themed concept model shown off at
CEATEC JAPAN last year, the phone packs a pedometer and pulse
monitor, counting your steps and calculating calories burned. It
has a number of health-related iAppli links readied for easy
access, and exchanges menu data with SHARP Healsio ovens.

Finally, let's note the N706ie (August or September), whose 'e'
stands for 'easy' and 'enjoy'. It's pretty pedestrian overall,
but as of today it boasts the longest standby-mode battery time
of any FOMA terminal: 650 hours. That is indeed impressive -
though if your phone sits silent for almost four weeks with no
calls, your social life may be 'egregious' and 'embarassing'.

And that's a quick look at some of the latest developments in
mobile phones. Search out the individual phones' product pages,
or hit a DoCoMo shop, to get all the detailed rundown on each.

More info:

Nikko Home Electronics Star Wars R2-D2 DVD Projector shipping
again soon

Name: Nikko Home Electronics Star Wars R2-D2 DVD Projector
Category: projector / robot
Price: JPY388,500
Release date in Japan: April, 2008 (next shipment in July)

This is on of the craziest gadgets you'll find, and caused a
stir when announced in 2007. Though it's not new, it's worth
mentioning again for anyone who's missed it so far. Japan sales
began only last month; order online now to nab a unit in July.

What is it? It's a rolling, reclining, chirping 1/2-scale
replica of Star Wars' R2-D2 'droid, and it's come to Earth to
entertain. The key feature of the robot (shared with the movie
character) is a projector: not for Princess Leia holograms, but
for beaming images to your home theater screen. Play movies or
music from the internal DVD/CD player. Beam photo slideshows to
a wall via USB and memory slots. Project your video console
games larger than life via input connectors. There's even a
nifty pop-out dock to accept video, images, or audio from an

You don't just unceremoniously plunk this projector down into
place for movie time; this is R2-D2, after all. You'll pick up
the infrared remote control and steer R2 around the living room
to your heart's content. He goes forward and backward, turns
left and right; his head turns, and he can recline backward to a
60ー angle (good for movies on the ceiling, if that's what you
like). A 7.2V nickel hydride battery keeps him rolling while he
beeps 11 different R2 noises and flashes messages on a display

The remote control really takes things over the top. Tastefully
designed as a detailed replica of the Millenium Falcon
spaceship, its cockpit and engine lights glow while the voices
of Han Solo and Chewbacca converse over the whine of hyperspace

It's all terribly expensive for either a projector or a toy
robot, but the list of features (both useful and goofy) and the
level of detail have gizmo lovers and Star Wars fans salivating.
One caveat: some specific product details appear to vary by web
page or user report, and the Nikko America product page shows
even more differences; it's possible that the manufacturer
continues to make changes with each production run. If you're
going to lay down the cash, you might want to contact NHE and
confirm any unclear details.

Some specs from the current Japanese NHE web page:

Projector: 1800-lumen XGA (1024x768) with 1800:1 contrast ratio.
JPEG, MP4, DivX.
Memory card formats: SD, MMC, MemoryStick, SmartMedia.
iPod compatibility: 5th generation iPod, 1st/2nd generation iPod
Speakers: Internal 10W stereo speakers; optical connection to
external DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1ch speakers.

More info:
projector_movie.html (movie)
Online reservation:
Nikko America product page: (English)
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FUJIFILM FinePix Z200fd adds yet more face-recognition tricks

Name: FUJIFILM FinePix Z200fd
Category: digital camera
Price: Open price (about JPY40,000)
Release date in Japan: June 7, 2008

Who knew that face recognition in digital cameras would pull so
many tricks out of its software sleeve? In addition to the basic
function of detecting faces and adjusting camera settings to
best flatter those mugs, recent cameras have evolved niceties
like automatic red-eye fixing, as well as the ability to watch
for smiles or blinks to help you time your shots. Now the
'FinePix Z200fd', the latest in FUJIFILM's well-known compact
camera line, adds another twist: a self-timer that's smart
enough to start its countdown only when all heads are in place.

First there's the 'Minna de (All Together) Timer'. (FUJIFILM
calls it 'Group Timer' in English, but I like my translation.)
Typically, to include yourself in a group shot, you set the
self-timer and then dash into the picture before the timer goes
off. If your jostling knocks someone out of frame, too bad. With
Minna de Timer, you tell the camera how many faces to wait for,
and then leisurely find your place in the group; when all faces
are accounted for, the camera starts the timer countdown.

Another new timer, 'Koi Suru (In Love) Timer', sounds more
exciting. When you want to take a 'two-shot' couple photo, the
traditional procedure is as above: set the timer, and rush into
the frame where your significant other waits. Koi Suru Timer,
like Minna de Timer, helps out by waiting until both faces are
in the frame. But you want to get closer to some faces than to
others, so Koi Suru Timer gets out the measuring stick. Tell the
camera what the relationship is, and it'll wait for the
appropriate distance between the faces: cordially apart for
'friend' setting, a little closer for 'buddy', and
cheek-to-cheek snuggled for 'love'. (The company's English info
makes it all a little dull-sounding, though: there, it's 'Couple
Timer', with settings for 'near', 'close-up', or 'super-close'.
Maybe some marketing wonk told them that boring names would work
better overseas.)

Other features: 10 megapixels, 5x optical zoom, 2.7-inch screen,
Dual Image Stabilization for camera shake and subject movement,
52MB internal memory, SD/SDHC and xD-Picture Card memory card
slot, lens cover. I'll also note that the 150g, 2-cm thin, pink,
silver, red or black camera is unusually nice-looking, though
your estimation may differ.

More info:
finepix_z200fd/index.html (English)


Short items

Spotted elsewhere in the news:

1) Want a better web camera than the typical cheapo
bubble-wrapped model? Sanwa Supply has the nice new 1.3
megapixel (1280x1024) '400-CMS003', with auto focus, internal
microphone, and easy setup (just plug it into USB port; no
drivers to install). For Skype, Live Messenger, and Yahoo!
Messenger on Vista/XP. JPY5980, online shop only.

2) BUFFALO has released the USB2.0 'SHD-UMES series' of 'silicon
disk' external drives. The silicon disk is flash memory, which
means lower power requirements, small size, and no hard-drive
moving parts - but unlike the tiny USB drives or memory cards
we're used to, BUFFALO's new offerings come in 32GB and 64GB
packages, making them ideal for really big files or even whole
PC backups. The silicon drives are business-card size, should
survive ceiling-height falls, and come with encryption software
to protect data. JPY 21,300 for 32GB, JPY35,400 for 64GB.

3) Mouse pad... 10-key pad... USB hub... Peripherals and
accessories littering your workspace? Consolidate with Thanko's
MouseStage, your new mouse pad with 10-key pad, 3-port USB hub,
and hand rest built in. JPY2480. (Japanese)

4) SGI Japan announced the start of a three-month, four-unit
program to evaluate the Segway two-wheeled vehicle for patrol
use in a nationally-managed park in Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki.
This marks the second official Segway evaluation program in
Japan, following a patrol program last year at Tokyo Big Sight.
SGI Japan became Japan's official Segway dealer in 2006, and is
pushing to get the stare-inducing vehicle approved for public
use in Japan. (I've ridden Segways twice in Japan, on private
property. Which has nothing to do with the story; I'm just
20080521.html (Japanese)

--------NEW GADGET BLOG: TEKRONOMICON.COM------------------

In collaboration with Gadget Watch, Gadget blog Tekronomicon
offers a detailed look at select gadgets - shiny and strange,
from gizmo ground zero in Tokyo.
See the gadgets introduced in Gadget Watch,
with photos and more at:

More info: (Japanese)
Space food pictures:
Written by: Timm Tuttle
Gadget Watch online archive:
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Open to all-venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan


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Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 31st of May, 2008

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
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All materials are in English and are Japan-focused.

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