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GADGETS

Sony’s surprising speakers; Minebea’s keyless keyboard

by Rick Martin

While all eyes have been on Sony because of the security breaches on its PlayStation Network recently, the company also quietly rolled out a device for all you audiophiles out there when it announced two new speaker-dock systems made for Apple’s iPhone and iPods.

Out of the two models, the new SRS-GX50IP brings the bigger boom, with a two-channel output at 20 watts each. With an elongated design, it measures 356 × 158 × 151 mm.

The SRS-GM5IP model delivers 2 watts over two channels, and is a little more compact, at 226 × 165 × 164 mm. There’s also a convenient handle on the top should you wish to take it mobile — it can operate on batteries as well as AC power.

Both models carry the “Made for iPod/iPhone” label, signifying they are compatible with the iPhone 3G/3GS/4 as well as iPod classic, nano and touch. The speakers also include a handy mini remote control.

It’s a little surprising that Sony has released an accessory for a rival company’s music player, but given how ubiquitous Apple has become in portable music it certainly looks like a wise move. To see Apple and Sony working together in harmony like this, it almost brings a tear to your eye. Almost …

The SRS-GX50IP went on sale at the end of April, with a price tag of ¥20,000. The smaller SRS-GM5IP model hits stores on June 21 and will be priced at ¥8,000.

Despite the hubbub over the PlayStation network hack, Sony is also about to release a dedicated PlayStation 3 keyboard as well. The full-sized, Bluetooth keyboard will be released for the Japanese market only, with no word yet on when we might see it available in other countries. It will retail for ¥5,000 and go on sale on June 30. For those of you who are still on the Sony PlayStation bandwagon, you might consider picking one up.

Speaking of keyboards, Japanese manufacturer Minebea, in collaboration with designer Dr. Kazuo Kawasaki, has finally released its innovative flat, mirror-like Cool Leaf keyboard, which until now has only been seen as a prototype.

The slick surface is composed of a transparent acrylic material over a capacitive touch panel, with a backlit plate displaying the keys. Amazingly, when the device is turned off it looks like a normal mirror. For anyone in search of a keyboard for use in a home theater or low-light setting, Cool Leaf looks to be a very sexy solution.

In addition to its stunning design, the Cool Leaf does have practical advantages as well. If you’ve ever struggled to clean a conventional keyboard, you know how difficult it can be to remove dirt from around the keys. With Minebea’s Cool Leaf, cleaning can be done by simply wiping down the keyboard as you would any regular flatscreen. The company points out that in environments where cleanliness is important, such as in food plants or in hospitals, the advantage of using Cool Leaf is clear.

For the time being, the keyboard is only available to Japanese Windows users, but a Mac version is coming soon. The keyboard is selling for about ¥20,000, depending on the retailer. For those overseas, keyboard layouts in other languages are on the way as well, so keep an eye out for Cool Leaf.

For more information on either of these products visit bit.ly/jt062011. Rick Martin is a contributor to Penn-Olson.com. Read more of his work at 1rick.com.