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Gadgets

Nikon Coolpix A: Big tech in a little package

by Rick Martin

Nikon has delivered a pocket-ready point-and-shoot camera in its Coolpix A, the new flagship model in its Coolpix line up, due to be available in Japan on March 28.

It has a DSLR-like 16.2 megapixel, full-size DX format (aka APS-C) CMOS image sensor, and its fixed 22 mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens offers a very nice, wide-angle view. Around the back you’ll find a 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD screen. Early reports indicate the battery might not perform as well as other cameras in this class, but considering it’s just 111 x 64.3 x 40.3 mm in size and lightweight at 299 grams, this comes as a bit of a trade-off for better portability.

As you might expect, it’s a little expensive, currently available for pre-order at ¥119,800 as part of Nikon’s spring campaign — but considering the unusually high image quality, it could be a solid solution for professionals who want a back-up camera that’s easy to pocket.

Nikon Spring Campaign: jtimes.jp/nikon.

Gunosy is an iPhone app that taps into your social networking accounts, works out your reading preferences, and then sends your phone news it thinks you'll be interested in.

Gunosy is an iPhone app that taps into your social networking accounts, works out your reading preferences, and then sends your phone news it thinks you’ll be interested in.

Japan’s contender in the reader race

With Google Reader now scheduled to be retired in July, many of you are probably searching for a replacement news reader. While there are many options out there — Feedafever.com, Feedly and Newsblur come to mind — there’s one made-in-Japan solution you may want to check out.

Gunosy is an iPhone app that taps into your social-networking accounts and delivers you news updates that it thinks you will like.

After the initial sign-up, the service requires some time to analyze what your preferences may be, but after that you can sit back and enjoy some quality reading time. It doesn’t support English yet, but for anyone reading Japanese, this could be a good source of domestic news.

www.gunosy.com.

Although Wi-Fi only, the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch is valid competition for the iPad mini.

Although Wi-Fi only, the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch is valid competition for the iPad mini.

Amazon stokes the Kindle Fire

Last week, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch finally went on sale in Japan, priced at ¥24,800 for the 16GB model, and ¥29,800 for the 32GB. This is the latest Kindle to become available after the Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite and the Kind 7-inch Kindle Fire HD were all released at the end of last year.

Both the new models are Wi-Fi only, but in addition to e-books, you can get games, apps and use the Internet on the HD screen for a reasonable fee. Astute readers may note that you can get a 16GB Nexus 7 for less than ¥20,000 these days, or even an iPad Mini for ¥28,800, so this is likely an option for those who prefer to stick to the Amazon ecosystem.

Amazon: jtimes.jp/kindleHD8.

Line Camera: camera.line.naver.jp/en. iOS link: itunes.apple.com/gb/app/line-camera/id516561342?mt=8&ls=1.

Line up to embellish mobile photos

Line Camera has ridden the popularity of NHN Japan’s runaway hit mobile-chat app Line, and it has been consistently ranked among the top free photo apps in Japan for both iOS and Android. When it was first released nearly a year ago, it skyrocketed to accumulate 10 million downloads in its first 117 days, which the company boasted at the time was a growth rate exceeding both Facebook and Instagram.

Since then, it has made some pretty significant improvements. There is now a wide variety of purikura (print club) elements in the app, which let you decorate your images with virtual accessories, such as sunglasses, hats, wigs, hearts and speech balloons.

Where the app really shines, however, is in its ability to share photos to just about anywhere, with the option to connect to networks such as Line, Facebook, Twitter, Mixi and even Flickr and Tumblr. If you’d like to try it out, you can get it for free at the NHN Japan website.

Taiki Kansoku (Atmosphere Observation) can help you keep track of the air quality in your area.

Taiki Kansoku (Atmosphere Observation) can help you keep track of the air quality in your area.

Protection against particle pollution

With the strange dust clouds we’ve been seeing in Japan recently, it wouldn’t hurt to have an app that provides a little more insight to what’s floating around the atmosphere. Taiki Kansoku (Atmosphere Observation) is a pretty useful addition to your mobile that tells you how clean the air is in your location, along with other general information, including temperature and humidity.

Most of us probably aren’t familiar with PM (particulate matter) measurements, but once you know what to look for this is a handy way to keep track of it. The app provides graphical representation of fluctuations, so you can see when might not be a good time to venture outside.

iOS link: itunes.apple.com/app/id452924008.ON : tech