Tokyo Gadget Report Dec 2002

What's new in gadgets in Tokyo? As I always say, the only thing that is important are things that deal with the newly digital media -- MP3, JPG, MPEG -- or sound, pictures and videos. Before getting to those, do you know that it is Minidisc's 10th year anniversary? Just when you think it cannot get any smaller, Sony's 10th year anniversary MD player MD-E10 is 55g light, and 9.9mm think, looking at it seems like it is smaller than a MD itself. It is so think that when an MD is in its case it maybe thinker than the player itself. There is a corresponding Net-MD version, the MZ-N10 which allows USB transfer of songs from your PCs directly to the recorder in more than realtime speeds depending on the compression level (MDLP*), up to 64 times.

Looking at customer traffic at retail stores, no one cares about MDs and MP3s anymore -- in Tokyo they are as common as starbucks. Besides the lighter and NetMD features (which have been around here for a while) there is nothing too exciting. All the foot traffic is at the digital camera front. There are lots of new models, but the most interested ones are the ultra thin cameras. Sure they are unnecessary and overpriced. You can get the same functions in a normally small size camera, like the Minolta DiMAGE X or the Canon IXUS 230 V3. But why won't you want a super cool credit card size Casio Exilim Wearable Card Camera? They offer both a 1 and a 2 meg pixel camera, with or without audio (audio record/playback and video record playback) capabilities. In a size of 11.3 mm thin, 88 W x 55 mm H. The video/audio ones are slightly thicker 11.4 mm. These come in fashionable red/green/white colors. The image quality is amazingly good. No zoom, but with scene management. Built in memory plus SD. They goes from 30,000 to 35000 to 45000 yen depending on resolution and features. No one needs one of these, but it is just so fashionable and cool!

Next is the Sony Cyber-shot U10 (DSC-U10) camera. I guess this is supposed to be for kids or the fashion consious. It is shaped like one of those old disposible camera -- long and boxy but tiny. It is not cheap but oh so cute. A sliding lens cover will allow for some level of abuse. Movie mode, scene support, uses memory stick and normal AAA batteries. You can hang on your neck as fashion accessory. It comes with pink, silver and blue.

While I was in the audio asle, I spotted this poorly made MP3 player that obviously try to copy the iPod design ! . I also took a look at the Toshiba version of the iPod, which uses a real harddisk. The unit is only slightly larger then the iPod, but feels much larger. Don't think it will make it.

On a different note, A new sharp Zaurus SLC700 comes with a bigger qwerty keyboard, to be available 12/14.