Baby faces: Toughness and cute fashion cachet appear to be mutually exclusive concepts. Casio begs to differ with its latest incarnation of Baby-G watches, the petite sibling of its popular G-Shock tough guys of timepieces. The 14 new models are coming out in four different series: the all-digital BG810 and Sweet Colors, and the mix analog/digital Gemmy Dial and Glossy Gold.

The highlight is the four versions of the Gemmy Dial, with round faces featuring easily-read Arabic numerals and two small LCD screens, one of which is shaped like a heart and framed with tiny gemstones. Bolstering the blatant kawaii (cute) quota is the choice of straps: blue, pink, white and vivid pink. Backing up the style is the Casio watches’ usual claim to toughness and the added attractions of a stopwatch and alarm — assets that seem a tad out of kilter with the target market.

The two Glossy Gold models show more restraint, losing the sparkling stones, using staid leather straps and coming in the prim color choices of black, gold or white. The BG810 and Sweet Colors series are relatively straightforward, albeit smartly designed, versions of Casio’s digital lineup.

The new watches will cost between ¥12,600 and ¥18,900, and all but the Gemmy Dials (release date Nov. 8), will hit the market Oct. 31. At least style doesn’t have to compromise on the ability to stand up to life’s wear and tear. www.casio.co.jp

Computer imagery: Multi-megapixel digital photography and high-definition video both come with a catch: Without the proper computing power and software, it’s tedious to do anything more than show off or upload your pics and clips unedited.

One wonders what took Sony Corp. so long to launch its newest Type R Vaio desktop computers, which are configured to complement the electronics giant’s own lines of digital still and high-definition video cameras.

The latest additions to the Type R series have the electronics crammed into a stand-alone screen, like Apple’s iMac, with wireless keyboard and mouse. It is not the hardware that makes these stand out, however. Sony is offering a choice of either photo or video software suites with the computers.

The photocentric VGC-RT50 comes with Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, while the geared-for-video VGC-RT70D sports Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 and several homegrown Sony video programs. The latter also comes with a special track ball to help in video editing, while the VGC-RT50 has a hood for the screen to cut down on glare.

Both computers have beefy raw computing power, a must for photo and video work, with each model packing a 2.66-gigahertz Core 2 Quad Q9400 CPU with 4 gigabytes of RAM, an imposing 1-terabyte hard disk, a GeForce 9600M GT graphics chip and the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system.

Moreover, they each have a 25.5-inch LCD screen with 1920×1080 resolution and Adobe RGB support, a Blu-ray burner and an HDMI port for hooking up to a high-definition TV.

These machines are intended for dedicated users. Somebody looking for a generally well-balanced piece of computing equipment has plenty of other choices. Then again, for those who are really into digital imagery, the software suites might not be enough, but they are a good start and the hardware is well configured.

The VGC-RT50 will command ¥349,800 when it comes out Sept. 20, while the VGC-RT70D will cost ¥399,800 when it’s released Oct. 18. www.sony.jp

A cut above: Skipping the morning shave is one of those guilty pleasures that men can’t keep secret; the evidence is rather in your face. Although shaving implements have been around since the Bronze Age, it was only 80 years ago that men were given a choice other than a sliver of sharp metal.

Since the invention of the electric shaver by Jacob Schik in 1928, makers of these gadgets have been trying to match the closeness of the tried-and-true blade with varying success. With Sanyo Electric’s innovative Pull-Solid models, the evolution of shavers appears to have come full circle.

The heart of the Pull-Solid design is its unusual shaving head. Unlike a usual shaver, the triple head is angled sideways, much like the blades on a safety razor. The key difference that this engenders is that rather than pushing the shaver against the skin, with the Sanyo you pull it across the skin. In effect, you have to use less effort.

Like most men’s straight-blade shavers these days, the head is not fixed but can move back and forth to help in matching the curving contours of the face. Apart from the usual claims of a closer cut, the new shaver is also hailed as being safer to use, reducing the incidence of skin irritation. Furthermore, the shaver is easy to hold because of its concave body shape and it has variable power settings. Cleaning is also easy since the Pull-Solids are waterproof.

The new shavers come out Nov. 1. While officially the prices are open, the SV-WX1, which includes a combination recharger/cleaner, is expected to cost around ¥25,000. The SV-WS1, sans cleaner, is likely to go for ¥17,000. The SV-WS2, with fewer power settings, will cost around ¥13,000.

This seems like a lot of money, but some decisions in life will always stare you straight in the face. www.sanyo.co.jp


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