J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
The Hottest Gadgets and Gizmos from Japan

Issue No. 84

Monday, December 9, 2002
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your

Name: Sonic Blue Rio portable audio players (2 models)
Category: Portable Audio
Price: from 16,800 yen
Release date in Japan: December 7, 2002

The Gist: Are you interested in picking up a portable audio player but
confused about which one to buy? Are you a keen gardener, fan of
pulses or bean fetishist? If so, Sonic Blue must have been thinking of
you, because the company has just announced the Rio S35S, which looks
exactly like a kidney bean. Dubbed the "Rio Sports," the S35S has
128MB of onboard memory, a slot for an SD or MMC card for extra
storage, runs for 15 hours off a single type-4 alkaline battery and,
handily (or, rather, armily), has an armband to attach itself to
jogging types for listening to tunes on the morning run. A second,
flagship model, the S50, has the same amount of internal memory and
will give up to 35 hours of continuous play on one type-3 alkaline
battery, (and 20 hours on a rechargeable NiMH cell). The baby of the
bunch, the S10, has only 64MB of memory but will still give up to 35
hours of 'toons on the single battery.

Going from about 17,000 yen to 24,000 yen, all the players connect to
either Mac or PC via USB using "Rio Music Manager" software to send
the music files and have a selection of pre-configured music-type
equalizer settings (trance, dance, rock et cetera). They're all
compatible with WMA, DRM and MP3 formats and they all weigh 60g or
under -- so your biceps won't get "too big" during those music-filled
workouts. Personally, I'd go for the one that makes us think of beans.

More info:

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Name: Sharp MD-DR7
Category: Portable Audio
Price: 37,000 yen
Release date in Japan: December 10, 2002

The Gist: Claiming not one, but TWO world firsts this week, Sharp has
announced a brand new portable MDLP MiniDisc Recorder with built-in
1-bit amplifier (following on from the MD-DS8 released in September).
This might not seem too big a deal, but 1-bit audio is supposedly very
much a "less is more" proposition, sampling sound at 64 times the rate
of a regular, common or garden CD (i.e. at 2.8 MHz) and, therefor,
producing far more faithful sound reproduction and has formerly only
made an appearance in the company's larger "AUVI" AV gear. The world
firsts come in the form of the player being capable of 120 hours of
continuous playback and 64 hours of recording on a single charge.

The DR7 also comes packaged with special "4 polar plug" in-ear
headphones (L+, R+, L- and R-) that separate the sound completely into
left and right channels. I thought stereo headphones did this
anyway...hmm...oh, hang on, it says here that the four-pole plug has
four separate contacts, whereas regular three-pole plugs combine the
L- and L+ channels into one. Interested parties will be able to snap
up one of these 1-bit wonders in stores in a few days in either
silver, blue or pink finishes.

More info:

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For further information, visit:

Name: PG 4-in-1 QTF4MD-U2
Category: PC peripherals
Price: Open (but approx 9,500 yen)
Release date in Japan: mid December 2002

The Gist: Here's a handy widget coming from a company with the
mightily impressive name of "Power Global Index," which makes it sound
more like an international gathering of oil barons bent on world
domination than an electronics company. The "4-in-1 QTF4MD-U2" is a
memory product that slots into your USB port on your computer (it's
compatible with USB 2.0). The single memory slot on the U2 will
accommodate and read any capacity SD memory card (16MB to 512MB), MMC
cards ((16MB to 64MB) or Memory Sticks (16MB to 128MB). That's three
out of four. And the four of the "4-in-1" moniker comes with the fact
that it has 128MB of internal flash memory itself, so it can act as
one of those "USB key" drives too. Four out of four -- good job! The
U2 works with all flavors of Windows and Mac OSX, weighs a sprightly
20g and comes with a 90cm USB cable in the box -- and also looks a bit
like a kidney bean.

More info:

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Name: Pioneer PDSP-1
Category: AV
Price: 3,000,000 yen
Release date in Japan: end December 2002

The Gist: One for all the millionaires out there reading this -- ready
your pocketbooks because Pioneer has just produced the perfect
complement to your spanky new plasma-television-based home theater
setup. A flat-type speaker system for use under plasma televisions,
the super-stylish and madly expensive PDSP-1 is riddled with 254
separate speaker units, providing multi-channel effects by bouncing
the sound off the walls and ceiling of your babe-magnet bachelor pad.
The integrated AAC decoder provides playback in Dolby Digital, Dolby
Pro Logic II and DTS, and the back of the unit is awash with
connection options: three separate S-Video ports, three composite, one
coaxial digital audio, one analog and three digital optical audio
ports. It should be smaller than your plasma TV with dimensions of
963x130x674 mm but, at 42kg, you may need to rally a couple of mates
round to lift it into place. There IS a dedicated stand for the thing,
but, needless to say, you're going to have to pay extra for that
particular pleasure. Oh, did I mention that this is also a world's
first? Being flat and all.

More info:

Subscribers: 2,824 as of December 9, 2002

Written by: Max Everingham (
Edited by: J@pan Inc editors (

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