P eople these days are more like ly to remember to take their keitai in the morning than their keys. After all, the later only protects your life’s property and valuables, whereas your mobile phone makes life worth living. Or at least it seems to be for those who spend more time with their portable communicators than they do with their significant others. Naturally then the devices end up getting draped with all manner of decorations and accessories. Yamato at least tried to make the attachments practical. It has come out with the NA150 glue stick and the NA200 pen, both of which attach to your phone’s strap holder. In truth they both look like little pots of glue with keitai straps on the end so check which one you are using before applying attachment to paper. They cost 315 yen with more information to be had at: www.yamato.co.jp/item/minipen/index.html. While no doubt being useful for the declining minority who still use paper I wonder if there is enough space left on that holder for the low-tech phone strap. It does it all: The keitai is not alone among gadgets in being compelled to multitask. Thanko has outdone itself with this nifty device. It looks like an ordinary, albeit stylish and grip-friendly thick, silver-colored pen. It does in fact do duty as a pen but also packs a voice recorder and MP3 player. Clicking the silver knob on the pen’s cap activates the recorder. When the top is off USB is revealed for connecting to your computer. At the base of this is an LED light that tells you which electronic function it is performing — green for playing music, orange for recording conversation and yellow for playing back a recording. The pen costs 6,800 yen for the model with 512 megabytes of recording capacity, and 8,800 yen for a 1-gigabyte model. Details are available at: www.thanko.jp/mp3pen/
First impressions: Even for SolidAlliance, purveyor of USB keys of all forms, notably items that look like they came straight from a restaurant menu, this is innovative. Their USB business cards are 1-gigabyte USB keys rendered to look like the don’t-leave-home-without-them business cards. The “cards” are engraved on the face of the keys and come in seven different colors. They cost 5,980 yen each, with the price dropping to 3,980 yen each if your buy them in lots of 30. At that price they come at a marginal premium for novelty value compared to standard USB keys. More information is available from SolidAlliance at www.solidalliance.com/press/press.html#0508, and they are available through the Rakuten online store.
Radio days: Thanko is sticking to the old-fashioned one gadget performs one function with its USB-powered AM/FM radio. Looking rather like an external hard drive or wireless modem, the radio sports good performance, aided by a decent-sized external antenna for decent reception. You can record radio programs in WAV or WMA formats. One failing is that despite looking like it rolled off the Apple design assembly line it is not Mac compatible and only works with Windows 2000/XP/Vista. It costs 6,980 yen and is available at www.thanko.jp/usbamfmradio/ Fresh Gigabeat: Toshiba continues to fight the good fight against the iPod juggernaut with its Gigabeat U digital audio players. It is bringing out new versions of the brand in 1-gigabyte (U102) and 2-gigabyte (U202) flavors. The appearances have been tweaked but the real change is to be an boost in audio quality over previous models. As per their predecessors, the Gigabeat Us play MP3, WMA and WMA DRMed files. They also include an FM tuner in the 46g bodies.
Eye for safety: The notorious DRM acronym naturally brings to mind the issue of security, although how much interest the average consumers has in copyright protection is debatable. Closer to home, and the heart, however, is the question is your PC safe? Beyond the problems of viruses, worms and other cyber perils, there is the simple difficulty of making sure that only the right people get to use your computer. New company Qritek Japan Co., a Korean outfit, is taking on the task with something different. Its Iribio iris-recognition mouse requires the user to look into a lens mounted on the side of the mouse’s body, where an internal sensor checks the person’s iris bona fides against the pre-registered information. The user can then either log on to the computer or access a restricted file. At 37,800 yen for a peripheral that costs a lot less in its ordinary guise this really is paying to be safe. Check it out at: www.qritek.co.jp/
Pampered pooches: And now, something way more than just different — goggles for canines. The “Doggles” look like over-sized swimming gear, or the kind of old-fashioned eyewear once synonymous with pilots and motorcycle riders, except for the bright colors and nonhuman wearers. The aerial retro look might not be inappropriate considering dogs’ penchant for hanging their faces out in the slipstream. The glasses have shatterproof, antifog lenses, flexible rubber frames, offer 100 percent UV protection and come in different sizes to match your favored companion and can be ordered online at: www.doggles.com/. And you thought shopping for sunglasses was tough already.