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Assessing the battle: Is the humble bathroom scale destined, like the manual typewriter, for the halls of obsolescence? Amid the fret over metabolic syndrome and other health issues, just measuring your weight, even down to the gram, doesn’t get the job done anymore.

National Electric has come up with a new device series to meet the demand for precision body measurements. The new Overall Health Balance Scale goes beyond the already high-tech scales that check your body-fat percentage, as well as your weight.

The new EW-FA70S is built to gauge your weight, body mass index, fat levels around your organs, muscle levels and basal metabolic rate (how much energy you use when resting). It also measures your subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin, both the thickness of it in different body parts and the total percentage of such fat. Each measurement is ranked on a 5-point scale, and even an overall health rating based on your age is given. The scale can even check your balance and posture.

The way it lets you do this is indeed clever: The display module is tethered to the round body of the base unit with a retractable cord. Stand on the scale like you normally would, bend over and grab the handles on the screen and pull it up to eye level. The display module has an infrared sensor for measuring your subcutaneous fat levels. Hold the display module over key body points, such as the stomach, thighs and upper arms, and the sensor scans the thickness of your body fat, offering a measurement in millimeters.

Three models went on sale May 1. The EW-FA70-S (¥19,800) performs all the above functions. The EW-FA50W (¥16,800) doesn’t measure the depth of subcutaneous fat. The basic model, the EW-FA30-W (¥9,980), lacks the test for fat as well as the balance test.

No doubt figures like weight, BMI and perhaps even body fat measurements are the bread and butter of dieting data, but might the plethora of information be a bit too much to fret over? Moreover, subcutaneous fat levels can be checked with an old-fashioned set of calipers.

It’s ironic that this step up in innovation requires more physical exertion compared to the low-tech alternative: roughly double the bending over to retrieve and then replace the display module. panasonic.co.jp

AV home server: Few beliefs have staying power in the world of computing; the pace of change is just too quick for today’s truism to avoid becoming tomorrow’s discarded theory. One exception is the belief that you can never have too much data storage. These days this is as true for consumers as it is for businesses.

The relentless demand to store more photos, music and, increasingly, video means our hard drives just can’t keep up. Instead of trying to pack bigger and better hard drives into our computers, a popular alternative is to add external storage space. Sony is following this approach with two new AV home servers. In effect, these are computers that lack operating systems and are set up to make it quick and easy for you store data in them and equally convenient to access it.

The servers connect to your computer on a local area network via Ethernet. You then send your data, such as photos and music, to the servers. In particular they are intended to store memory-hungry video, particularly high-definition TV, with the VGF-HS1 boasting a 1-terabyte capacity and the VGF-HS1S a still larger 1.5 terabytes. A terabyte is equal to 1,000 gigabytes, making the storage capacity of even the smaller model around three times that of the average desktop computer. The servers can also be connected to a television for displaying your video or photos.

There are also slots for reading SD, compact flash and the various versions of memory stick memory cards. Both models support the AVCHD, MPEG2 and HDV (MPEG-TS) video formats, the JPEG, BMP and PNG photo formats, and the MP3, WAV, ATRA, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, AAC and WMA audio formats. The servers will work with PCs equipped with Windows XP (Service Pack 2) or Vista and include the software for quickly setting them up.

The servers hit the market May 17. Sony lists both new models as being “open-priced,” but the 1-terabyte VGF-HS1 now appears on several shopping sites priced at ¥59,800.

If you are big on recording high-definition TV, then these servers could be for you. While recording high-def TV to BluRay might be viable, with one hour of such top-quality television taking up around 4 gigabytes of space, regular DVDs aren’t terribly well suited to the task. Also, your computer’s internal hard disk is going to have its capacity eaten up quickly if you start using it as a TV library. Keeping your recordings on an external hard disk is an option, but the Sony servers, or a similar product, make it much easier to do this and any computer or TV hooked up to your network can access the data kept on the server. www.sony.jp

Cool running: Your computer’s central processor is both the culprit and the victim of heat. The faster they run, the more heat they generate, which in turn slows your computer’s performance. In recent years, CPU makers have had to put the brakes on their relentless drive to crank up the speed of their chips. Instead, they have had to come up with new methods, such as multiple processors working together, to keep computing power up and temperatures down.

A very different approach is to use liquid cooling in the computer. Normally, fans are relied on to cool down the CPU and other parts. The advantage of liquid cooling is that it does a better job of minimizing heat, and it makes less noise than the somewhat rowdy fans.

Tokyo-based computer innovator Mouse Computers on Thursday will roll out two new water-cooled models targeted at the kind of user who’s counting processor clock cycles.

The Mouse machines have been eagerly anticipated in the local market because liquid cooling is particularly useful for users who want to “overclock” their computers — rigging the CPU to run faster than they are supposed to. While this delivers better performance, you can’t escape the Catch 22 of more heat.

The Masterpiece V730XV5-LS ships with Windows Vista Ultimate as its operating system, while the Masterpiece V730X5-LS comes with Windows XP Professional. Both sport a 3-gigahertz Core 2 Extreme QX9650 CPU, 3 gigabytes of DDR2 RAM, two NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX/ 512-megabyte graphic cards, a DVD burner and a more spacious than usual 650 gigabytes of hard disk space, comprising one 500-gigabyte drive and one 150-gigabyte drive.

How much for these Masterpieces? The XV5 sells for ¥359,940, while its sibling X5 ships for ¥354,900. www.mouse-jp.co.jp/

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