Double vision: Nintendo’s two-screened DS is set to become even more of a must-have product thanks to the DSVision, which will allow users to watch videos and read e-books and manga on the portable console. Users simply download the media to their computer, transfer the content to a microSD card, and then load the card into a DS via a custom cartridge. The DSVision set includes a 512-megabyte microSD card, USB card-reader and the cartridge, with AM3 putting the sets on sale in January 2008 for ¥3,980. Downloadable media is set to follow in March in conjunction with e-book distributor Dai Nippon. Of course, sets such as the R4 have allowed DS users to run media and home-brew software for ages — not to mention illegally downloaded games. Whether the DSVision will somehow defy the pirates is yet to be seen.
Phone home, please: A driving force behind the cell-phone revolution in Japan has been kids. The junior consumers migrated from pagers to the joys of texting in something of a stampede. Cell phone provider DoCoMo is looking to keep the distinctly younger generation happy with a 3G phone intended for kids. Apart from a keyboard specifically designed for children’s smaller fingers, and its bright color scheme, the F801i sports a yellow “amulet” that users wear around their wrist. If the distressed kid hits the panic button, the phone lets out a 100-decibel alarm. Then again, surely your average small child is capable of uttering a scream that easily tops this. If that is not enough to draw attention, the phone also sets off a series of LED lights and calls three numbers, which the child’s parents have previously selected. It can also send a text message to inform those responsible of where the child is. If the child loses their phone, a touch of a button on the amulet will have the handset beeping for attention, as long as it’s within 10 meters of the amulet. If phone and amulet are too far apart the phone will shut down and will itself phone in the alarm if it is not reunited with its owner within five minutes. The phone, which is also waterproof, goes on sale Thursday in choices of light blue, orange, black and white.
Cheap shots: At the leaner end of the digital-camera spectrum is the Exemode DC1000, a 10-megapixel offering with a 2.5-inch screen that supports SD memory cards of up to 2 gigabytes and captures video at up to 30 fps. The design is a pretty standard compact vision decked out in silver and weighing in at 121 grams, with more information at www.exemode.com. The main selling point is its ¥20,000 yen price tag; as for performance and image quality, it might be best to remember that you get what you pay for.
Affordable television: Plasma televisions have proved pretty resistant in terms of pricing. While the top-tech sets have fallen in price dramatically in recent years as the technology has matured, the money for a setup of decent size and quality is still enough for a used car. Byd:Sign hasn’t exactly put plasma pictures in the living rooms of the impoverished but, in offering a 42-inch set for ¥144,800, at least the middle class can dream. The PH-4203DFK is at the bottom end of the size stakes for plasma, and offers 1024×768 resolution, on a par with televisions that are the first rung down from the full high-def gear. It also boasts a very respectable contrast of 10,000:1.
Rub-a-dub TV: A whole different species of television is the EverGreen EG-FTV71S, a splashproof portable set intended for those who find listening to the radio insufficient bath-time entertainment. Providing 480×234 resolution for a 7-inch screen in a 600-gram package, the unit offers three hours’ battery life — that’s long enough for any soak. It comes with a price tag of ¥37,980, and more information is available at www.everg.co.jp.
Looking backward: Panasonic is going for small and practical with its GP-PD107 Rearview Monitor System. The set, consisting of a camera and monitor, gives drivers a view of the blind spot behind their car. The 3.5-inch monitor, which can be attached to your vehicle’s instrument panel, automatically offers a rear view when the car is put into reverse. The system went on sale Monday for ¥39,900.