J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
A Free Newsletter Covering the Latest Cool Stuff in Japan
Issue No. 33

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Name: Sharp Plasma Color TV
Category: AV
Price: (PZ-50BD3) JPY1.45 million
(PZ-43BD3) JPY1.15 million
Release date in Japan: PZ-43BD3 December 15, 2001
PZ-50BD3 November 24, 2001

The Gist: Billed as "high-definition, high brightness, high-contrast"
plasma panels, Sharp痴 new visual offerings are, by the company痴 own
admission, likely to be more of a "vision of the future" than a
tangible, "sitting in your living room" reality for most of us.
They池e still as expensive as ever ・ the not so small 43-incher
chimes in at a weighty JPY1.15 million, or probably at least six
months of serious saving for anyone reading this who isn稚 an
investment banker. But boy, would they ever be worth it! Plasma may
not be in any of our short term futures, but it痴 likely the future
nonetheless, merging incredible visuals with strong aesthetic appeal
and beating out LCD quite comfortably at this screen size. Plasma is
also hi-vision ready, capable of accommodating the BS digital
transmissions steadily gaining popularity here in Japan. The
televisions incorporate circuitry to digitally enhance the images and
improve color reproduction so the blacks are, well, a little less
gray. Better still, they do progressive scan, the new must-have for
digital images which, coupled with a resolution of 1,280 x 768 on the
bigger model, makes for a fantastically bright, detailed screen.
Sound-wise, both models have two-way, four-speaker systems to help
you feel even more like you池e at the movies. The two plasma models
complement Sharp痴 range of Aquos LCD TVs, so if you池e in the market
for this kind of display, you could do worse than start looking here.

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Name: Plus Vision HE-TS101
Category: AV
Price: (Piano HE-3100 projector) JPY298,000
(HE-TS101 PS2 stand) Open, but approx. JPY10,000
Release date in Japan: October 16, 2001

The Gist: If you decide to forego plasma in favor of the projector
route, take a look at Tokyo outfit Plus Vision痴 HE-3100 Piano home
theater projector. It痴 been on the market for a few months in Japan,
but the announcement today is for the Piano痴 special stand designed
exclusively for use with Sony痴 home entertainment console,
PlayStation 2, brilliantly named the HE-TS101. Available from Piano痴
online store, the stand measures 236x232x42 mm and weighs a paltry 1
kg, so you can stick it on a desktop or small table. As far as the
actual projector goes, it can throw an 80-inch (actually anything
from 36 to 200 inches) image onto the screen and, in keeping with the
company痴 lifestyle theme for the product, comes in five snazzy
colors to complement the decor in your living room: white, deep blue,
silver, black and a red Plus Vision describes as "passionate." How
about that? At 450 ANSI lumens it痴 not the brightest home theater
projector in the world, but it only weighs 2kg (4.4 lbs), making it
the lightest. And for a bonus, the Web site痴 a blast, knocking out
piano notes as you move your mouse around the page. Plus Vision has
also just announced the V1080 data projector, which is even lighter
than the Piano at 0.9 kg. Go check it out.

More info: and

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Name: Matsushita SL-GC10
Category: Video Games
Price: Open
Release date in Japan: December 14, 2001

The Gist: Much talked about but kept pretty severely under wraps by
its maker, Panasonic's version of the Nintendo GameCube has at last
officially been announced. The SL-GC10 DVD Video Player, nicknamed
Q!, can do more than just play GameCube software; it can spin up
DVD-R, Video-CD, Audio CDs, and CD-R and CD-RW discs ・ possibly not
all of them, Panny writes in a disclaimer so that no one tries to sue
the company ・ as well as DVD movies. Born of a joint effort between
Matsushita, Panasonic痴 parent, and Nintendo, Q! follows the launch
of Nintendo痴 machine at a discreet and respectable distance. This is
seen as pretty essential, given the machine痴 impressive
compatibility with other discs and formats and Nintendo痴 strict
adherence to its games-only policy. Not that Nintendo couldn稚 have
made the Cube play DVDs, you understand. They just bravely chose not
to, determined to keep the focus on gaming. Matsushita, on the other
hand, has built a machine that does it all, comes with a remote and
some trickery to create special visual and aural effects and ・ of
course ・ sports the now requisite blue LEDs. Dubbed by an Xbox-ing
industry colleague of mine as "possibly the best-designed piece of
electronics kit in history," Q! is a vision of silver loveliness and
is likely to sell at about JPY10,000 more than its less able (but
smaller and arguably cuter) cousin.

More info:

Name: Matsushita FY-36HTTB
Category: communal
Price: JPY1.5 million
Release date in Japan: November 1, 2001

The Gist: The last one for this week is a bit of a strange inclusion,
but I couldn稚 help myself. Making a real environmental contribution
that will likely go largely unsung, Matsushita (again!) has put out
details on a new streetlight, aimed at local authorities and other
governmental or corporate bodies. But this is no ordinary
streetlight. The FY-36HTTB Hybrid Streetlight Statue uses both wind
and solar power to generate the light, meaning it can be erected in
places that would otherwise be inaccessible due to being too remote
or whatever. You know. Anyhow, requiring absolutely no external power
supply, the FY-36HTTB has a solar panel designed to look like a
seagull痴 wings and a "super-bright" LED in place of a conventional
fluorescent lamp, so it痴 intended to look as good as it works. It痴
difficult to overstate how important R&D like this is. Well done,

More info:


Written by Max Everingham (

Editor: Bruce Rutledge (

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