Miniature fans are just so standard fare as office accessories for the long hot days of summer. International Trading Kansai Co. has crafted something rather more compelling, a minifridge that looks like a giant egg. Available in 6-liter and 10-liter sizes, the gadget gives you the option of keeping its contents either cold or hot, although an English person would inflict the latter on beer. The unit caps its act by boasting the ability to emit a blue glow, for a bit of ambient lighting. For details, see www.topone.co.jp/tamago.htm
Tiny robot: Miniaturization has long been the byword in electronics. Sanyo and Tomy stuck with the winning formula for their new i-SOBOT, which the Guinness Book of Records has dubbed the world’s smallest robot. The beastie, including all 17 of its servo-engines, stands just 16.5 cm in height. Powered by three of Sanyo’s top-drawer Eneloop AAA batteries, the robot can be operated via remote control and also responds to up to 10 vocal commands. It will go on sale in October in Japan at a price of 31,290 yen. More information is at robot.watch.impress.co.jp/cda/news/2007/01/24/338.html
Sony goes iPod: If you can’t beat ’em, jump on their bandwagon. Sony is contributing to the iPod accessory fad with two new gadgets. The ICF-C1iP is a clock radio sporting an iPod dock. The wireless remote control allows you to access the iPod’s menu, as well as offering radio tuning and volume functions. The alarm clock can be set to wake you up to the lilting sounds from your iPod, the less predictable tones of the radio or the all-too-familiar clang of a buzzer. Partnering it is the ZS-S2iP, a boom box with an integrated CD player to back up your iPod. For details: news.sel.sony.com/en/image_library/consumer/portable_audio/detail?asset_id=30792
Bejeweled Walkmans: Backing up its own, faded, music icons, Sony, in partnership with jeweler Abiste, is adding a touch of class to its Walkman players. Its Walkman Abiste E010 models are available to preorder for September delivery in a choice of blue, gold, pink, violet and black. The re-badged renderings of the E-series players, they have a 30-hour battery life, color LCD and a three-minute quick-charge mode that powers them up for three hours of audio playback. The class comes from the new player’s cap for the USB jack, which is coated in Swarovski glass crystals. The set is completed with a lanyard and clip with the same extras that can be attached to attire or bag. The models come in 1 gigabyte for 15,800 yen, 2 gigabytes for 18,800 yen and 4 gigabytes for 24,800 yen.
Memories to last: Computer hard disks are not renowned for their ability to take a beating. While the average desktop, or even laptop, doesn’t have to endure too much of a beating, portable memory needs a tougher constitution. Solid-state drives — which are not unlike flash memory devices in that they lack moving parts, and in fact often use flash memory — offer the requisite robustness. Buffalo is offering the compact but high-capacity SHD-UH model, which offers from 8 to 56 gigabytes of capacity, in a package measuring just 57×89×14 mm and weighing just 40 grams to 60 grams. Toughness comes at a price, ranging from 18,130 yen to 94,980 yen. Buffalo has more information at buffalo.jp/products/catalog/storage/shd-uh/index.html?p=spec
Preplanned copying: Photocopiers may bear an unfortunate resemblance to lawn mowers in their too-frequent refusal to function without the application of violence, but they are pretty simple to use. Ricoh is not content with the basics, instead crafting its high-tech CP4500it fax/copier to make the experience even simpler. First, you detail your fax or copy specifications in a QR code, a kind of bar code, and copy it onto a page. You just scan the code as the first page of your document, and the machine will automatically use the preset settings, such as file type, contrast/brightness, size and fax number, and run the operation on autopilot from there. Ricoh has information on its new toy at www.seihin.com/s/2007/07/16_0116.php. Those who indulge liberally in faxing might find the technology justified.
Back to the past: Casio is marking the 25th anniversary of its famed G-Shock watches with a set of five new “Dawn Black” models. The black design is a resurrection of that of the first G-Shock models from the early 1980s. Prices range from 21,525 yen to 28,350 yen, with details from www.casio.co.jp/release/2007/g-shock_25th_anniversary.html
Recording the future: Going from remembering the past to looking into the future, we have Hitachi’s planned Blu-ray video cameras. The company claims that the new camcorders will boast an 8-cm Blu-ray/DVD drive and 5.3-megapixel CMOS censor capable of recording at a resolution of 1,920×1,080. Hitachi says the camcorders will be able to record up to 7 gigabytes of MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video. The company expects the devices to hit the shelves this fall.