Boning up on new tech: Call me old fashioned, but I like to hear sounds with my ears. Progress, however, is no fan of nostalgia, and so the bone-induction trend continues. NTT DoCoMo ups the ante with its Sound Leaf Plus keitai (cell phone) accessory, due out in February for around ¥13,000. The device, an upgrade of an existing model, hooks up to your handset via Bluetooth and delivers its sounds as vibrations through the bones of your skull and on to the inner ear. Beyond the novelty, the technology is intended to trump noisy environments, such as bars on Friday nights. Weighing in at just 45 grams, it runs for about 15 hours on two LR03 batteries. Improvements include a softer vibration pad.

Simple works: Keitai are increasingly packed with abilities that we never use. With the ability to surf the Internet, play music and videos, take photos and so on, who focuses on the ability of a phone to make and receive calls? Willcom is tossing away the marketing madness with its stripped-down NICO+. Available in a variety of bright colors, the NICO+ does two things — it works as a phone and sends e-mails. Long may simplicity reign.

Making a splash: Who says electronics and water don’t mix? Twinbird’s new Zabady digital music player can be immersed in water for up to half an hour, to a depth of one meter. Beyond catering to bathroom frolics, the device is set up to handle CDs and MP3 and WMA files, and it has the neat feature of a USB port that allows it to play back music from a connected hard drive. Costing ¥21,000, the gadget weighs in at 900 grams and its battery is good for about four hours of playback.

Sub in a tub: Diving straight into musical eccentricity is the Submarine Bath Radio. Available in black or yellow (such as Ringo Starr might favor), the dinky sub costs ¥1,838, and there’s more information at cataloger.jp The completely waterproof gadget rather leaves the rubber ducky high and dry as a bath-time aid.

Micro music: One of the slimmer new digital players on the market is Evergreen’s new Business Card MP3 Player. Weighing just 36 grams, this 1-gigabyte compact music device is about as big as a meishi (business card), and just 2.5 mm thick. It is available from U.S. Web site GeekStuff4U.com for the nicely rounded sum of $126.19.

TV to go: For TV addicts, a 1Seg tuner is undoubtedly on the Christmas list. Buffalo is set to stuff stockings with the DH-KONE/U2V. The USB gadget is Windows Vista compatible and can record TV programs onto your PC, which you can then watch on your keitai, PSP or PlayStation 3. It’s priced at ¥11,500.

Robo-clock: Alarm clocks really aren’t designed very sensibly. The devices were built for the singular purpose of rousing people from their slumber. Yet at the same time the clocks are hobbled by having snooze buttons installed — the get-out-of-jail-free cards of waking up. Clocks are getting help in the sleepy arms race with a little robot timepiece called Clocky. Not content just to sit there, sound off and wait to be silenced, this critter runs around eluding your groping hand until you surrender to the need to get out of bed. It sports a face complete with button eyes and LCD mouth that give it an endearing look, two big white wheels for speed and costs ¥7,140 from rakuten.co.jp.


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