In motion: Nintendo Co. became the big dog in the console-game arena by never resting too much on its laurels and always trying to squeeze one more success or innovation out of its best achievements. (For some reason, the name “Mario” keeps coming to mind.)
Less than two years ago, Nintendo stood the world on its head when it released the Wii game console, featuring the revolutionary Wii Remote control wand. And early last week, Nintendo unveiled at the E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles an eagerly awaited Wii accessory that will rumble even more ground for the remote.
The new Wii MotionPlus accessory connects to the end of the remote wand and looks like a natural extension to it. The MotionPlus boosts the accuracy of the Wii controller so that every movement a player makes with the wand is rendered identically on the screen. Sensors in the attachment supplement the accelerometer and sensor bar in the Wii Remote to provide a true 1:1 response in game play. So, if your tennis forehand sails long, or you hook your golf swing, the Wii will reproduce your errors in inglorious accuracy. What a wonderful concept. While the MotionPlus was unveiled with great fanfare last week, there is no word yet on pricing or a definite release date. www.nintendo.co.jp
Getting the big picture: Notebook computer makers were also celebrating at E3. Last week, a crowd of manufacturers trumpeted their new notebook offerings running Intel’s powerful new Centrino 2 processor. The much-hyped Centrino 2 offers more computing grunt while cutting down on power consumption, so that a user can watch a Blu-ray movie for two hours without running out of battery power.
Sony Corp.’s just-released FW Series laptops are based on the Centrino 2, like their bevy of competitors. But instead of merely headlining the new processor, Sony is taking the FMs to market based on their ability as multimedia devices.
The FM Series’ key feature is a 16.4-inch widescreen LCD display. Sony claims that the screen is the first LCD screen of its size used in a laptop, offering almost as much space as a conventional 17-inch desktop display but taking up a much smaller footprint, like that of a 15.4-inch model. The new 1600×900-pixel display offers the same 16:9 ratio that many movies are produced in. Moreover, the laptops also boast an HDMI port (out) for connecting to a high-definition television, allowing the laptops to serve as a Blu-ray or DVD player for your TV. (Two of the three new Sony models sport a built-in Blu-ray disc player.) The laptops will also include a DNLA media-sharing application, allowing users to wirelessly stream video or photos to a home network. All three models come with a powerful 2.26-gigahertz Centrino 2 Duo chipset, Wireless and Bluetooth capabilities, built-in Web camera, remote control, Windows Vista Home Premium and a svelte design packaged in a titanium-gray or powder-white case.
The premium VGN-FW70DB will retail for ¥239,800 with a 250-gigabyte hard drive. The mid-range VGN-FW50B features a 200-gigabyte drive for ¥219,800, while the standard VGN-FW30B is priced at ¥179,800.
People who expect their laptops to do double duty playing movies will find the FW series appealing, but not without limitations.
In particular, the lack of a built-in TV tuner in what is supposed to be a multimedia package is perplexing. Sony moves away from the mob, but it takes just half a step. www.sony.jp
YouTube generation: JVC is another believer in crafting gadgets with at least one feature that shows they are not another generic product. Its newly released Everio GX-MS100 digital camcorder is notable for making it easy for users to record videos for the popular YouTube online video-sharing site.
The camcorder is optimized for sharing memories in two ways. First, the user can choose a setting that automatically limits each video to a maximum of 10 minutes, the preferred timing for YouTube. Second, the camcorder can be set so that uploading your video to YouTube is a simple affair — connect the camcorder to a PC and push one button.
Beyond this rather unique bit of specialization, the JVC product is similar to a regular Everio camcorder, albeit a bit smaller, as it records to SD memory cards. This little beastie weighs just 270 grams and features MPEG2 recording, a 35x zoom and a 2.7-inch preview screen.
Members of the digital generation who revel in displaying their lives online now have a camcorder to embrace, and for only ¥49,800. www.jvc.co.jp