J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
A Free Newsletter Covering the Latest Cool Stuff in Japan

Issue No. 33

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Name: Casio GV-10
Category: Digital camera
Price: Open
Release date in Japan: November 22, 2001

The Gist: When I was at university, I used to have this amazingly
cool Sony Walkman. It wasn't just any old Walkman, it was a sky
blue, waterproof, ruggedized player that looked like an updated
version of one of those old-fashioned divers helmets. It had rivets
all over and rubber caps blocking off all the holes, such as the
socket for the headphones. I took it to the beach, went out jogging
with it and even just stuck it in a basin full of water at my
university residence just to watch it whirring away, oblivious to
its aqueous surroundings. It was absolutely fantastic. And when I
saw this week's gadget offering from Casio, the fond memories of my
funky little blue Walkman came flooding back and made my heart glad.
Casio has done the ruggedizing, waterproofing job on its new
G. Bros GV-10 digital camera, and I yearn for it!

The GV-10 is a water-resistant, chunky little number, aimed at
skiers, snowboarders, and other active types. Casio has released
this model because it feels that, while digital camera use has
skyrocketed over the past few years, those that are really
user-friendly tend also to be pretty low on specs. The GV-10 1.2
million pixel digital camera, Casio hopes, is both full-featured and
hardy enough to be used with ease on the slopes, at the beach,
hiking up a mountain, or lounging around the pool. The new camera
also has a "Best Shot" feature, set up to record images under all
sorts of conditions and scenarios. Some of these are obvious --
"Portrait," "Night shot," and "Sepia," for instance, and some less
so -- what are "Engine" and "Haiki" for, do you think? The GV-10
comes in two color variations -- one red, the other a kind of lilac
blue; both look great. There's also a 2x digital zoom, Windows
(only, boo!) software, and the camera uses a USB connection to hook
up to the PC. Using lithium batteries will give the camera over five
and a half hours of life, which is perfect if you're out on the ski
slopes all day miles from a store or an AC socket.

This, in my opinion, is pure genius from Casio. You can get caught
up in all the frantic pixel one-upmanship your rivals are struggling
with, or, as Casio has chosen to do, you can sit back, have a think
about it, and produce a variation on the digital camera theme that
is genuinely useful to its users. The GV-10 gets instant kudos
thanks to its energetic, rugged good looks; it possesses the digital
oomph to produce very decent pictures; and it can be used in
precisely the kind of outdoorsy situations and environments where
any normal digital camera would fear to tread -- but where, I am
quite sure, folks might well think, "Agh! If only I had a camera
with me to capture this!" all the same. I want one.

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Name: Victor AV-29/21DD2
Category: AV
Price: Open
Release date in Japan: (AV-29DD2) Beginning of November 2001
(AV-21DD2) Middle of November 2001

The Gist: Offering up a very high-tech, cutting-edge alternative to
the combined TV and video set, Victor has announced a brace of
29-inch and 21-inch televisions, the AV-29DD2 and AV-21DD2,
respectively. Forget tape, forget even foraging around trying to
find a blank recordable DVD disk. These televisions have built-in
hard disks, so their owners can simply record programs directly to
the super-fast HDD with all the advantages that digital brings. Both
next generation "Time Surfing" TVs house 40-Gb hard disks that will
take up to 40 hours of recordings before you have to start erasing
bits. Also, with the HDD simultaneous recording and playback
feature, you can record one program and play back an entirely
different show you recorded earlier at the same time. The flatscreen
AVDD2s can record 5.1-channel sound and incorporate BS decoders, and
have both digital and S-video sockets out back to accommodate the
rest of your electronics gear.

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Name: Olympus Eye-Trek FMD-220
Category: AV peripheral
Price: 56,000 yen
Release date in Japan: November 1, 2001

The Gist: The release of the latest version of Olympus'
large-screen-producing Eye-Trek display comes at a very interesting
time. The FMD-220 is due out at the beginning of November and not
only mentions PlayStation 2 in the sales publicity but arrives on
sale smack bang in the middle of what, given Microsoft's success at
the recently closed Tokyo Game Show, is shaping up to be a very
interesting next-gen games console war. The "FMD" in the product's
name stands for "Face Mount Display," which I suppose is at least
accurate, if not too appealing a description. Once mounted on your
face, however, the two 0.55-inch, 180,000-pixel-producing TFT panels
in the Eye-Trek transform your humble portable DVD player or game
machine into a fully fledged mobile home theater. The resulting
effect is of viewing a 52-inch virtual screen about two meters in
front of your eyes, so you can have a movie-theatre-like experience
wherever you go. The FMD-220 also happens to be the world's lightest
personal display of its kind, at 85 g, and comes with a small, light
controller unit to increase its portability.

One of the problems with this type of head mounted display (face
mounted, whatever!) is that of peripheral vision. Quite often, light
coming in from the sides of the glasses reflects off the displays
and ruins the effect. Happily, with the FMD-220, this problem is
history, since an optional accessory (the ET-PV01, 3,600 yen)
nicknamed the "perfect visor" fits around the Eye-Trek frame and
provides a total peripheral blackout, leaving users to enjoy the
onscreen action without any distractions whatever. Might be a good
idea to stand or sit still while you're using them, though. The
smart, new Eye-Trek comes finished in a fashionable "Aquametallic
blue" color and makes you look like Robocop. Again.

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Subscribers: 1,108 as of October 18, 2001

Written by Max Everingham (

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Copyright (C) 2001 Japan Inc Communications KK. All Rights Reserved.