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TOYS

A cat-shaped mini-camera and stick-on controller-style gaming pads for iPhone

by Rick Martin

You could be fooled into believing that necono, from superheadz, is simply a decorative cat figurine to dangle from your key chain. It is, however, a quirky digital camera. and may just be the thing to coax a few smiles out of any camera-shy people you know.

In contrast to normal point-and-shoot cameras, holding up Necono to take a picture should actually get people’s attention rather than scaring them away. Though admittedly the timer light is a little creepy – when you set it to take a timed picture, a single red light flashes in one of the cat’s eyes, giving it a somewhat demonic appearance in my opinion. On the other hand the magnets on the cat’s feet make setting up for a timed shot a breeze – just stick it on to a metal surface, set the timer and strike a pose! Perhaps one of those cute catlike poses Japanese idols like so much.

Taking pictures with the cat-shaped camera is a little tricky without any viewfinder, but you should get the hang of it with time. And if you look deep into Necono’s eyes, that’s where you’ll find the camera lens and sensor. Superheadz also plans to release an accompanying monitor later this summer, so stay tuned for that.

Necono can do video too (640×480 resolution, AVI format). Perhaps use the magnetic feet to mount it on your bicycle and make a video of the places you ride.

Photos are stored in JPEG format on microSD or microSDHC cards (sold separately) so the amount of photos and videos Necono can hold depends on the size of memory card you choose. You can connect the camera to your computer via USB cable, and there’s also an AC adaptor for charging the battery.

Weighing in at a mere 40 grams Necono is pretty light and might be best carried on a key chain or around your neck, which you can easily do by attaching a simple strap to its tail.

Necono is available for purchase on the Superheadz website, although the order page is in Japanese. It’s currently retailing for ¥15,750.

Product website: www.superheadz.com/necono/indexen.php

With the recent popularity of smart phone gaming, we’re seeing an abundance of third-party gaming accessories that aim to enhance the experience. One such product is Donya’s gamepad stickers for the iPhone and iPod Touch. For gamers who would prefer the feel of a proper gaming controller instead of a flat glass screen, these add-on buttons will be must-have items.

The pack includes a pair of directional controllers (D-pads) and three different stickers for button-groups: single, a pair, and a group of three. If you play any iPhone game that requires the use of a static controller, just stick these babies on your screen and enjoy.

Of course, not every game will have a controller or button in the same spot, so you’ll have to adjust the position when you need them in a different part of the screen. Donya’s buttons come in handy when you’re planning to play for an extended period of time without interruption.

For gaming purists who enjoy a more tangible experience, these buttons should make gaming on an iPhone more comfortable. In addition to the video and audio elements of a game, why not enhance the the feel of your game as well?

Gamers in Japan can pick up Donya’s gaming stickers for ¥999 via the company’s website www.donya.jp/item/19237.html.

While we’re on the topic of gaming, we encourage you to drop over to www.gamersheartjapan.com where you can find a tribute video from game developers and reviewers all over the world expressing their love for Japanese gaming. The website aims to raise relief money for the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, so if you haven’t donated yet this is a great opportunity to give.

Rick Martin is a contributor to Gizmag.com. Read more of his work at 1rick.com.