Audiovisual support: It is surprising how TV-makers seem to deem sound- reproduction a secondary concern behind dressing up the features — much like makers of portable music players.

In the case of televisions, the audio shortfalls have created a secondary market for sound systems to go with your flat-screen wonders. Equally, crafting furniture to suit expensive high-definition wonders is rather neglected.

Yamaha, known for its audio equipment, has taken a sound approach to the question of TV furniture with its just-released TV stand, the Polyphony YRS-1000.

As part of its efforts to energize its Sound Projector range of products, Yamaha has integrated a sound system into its entertainment stand, with a built-in subwoofer to support your television’s own sound reproduction.

The unit can work with Dolby Digital, DTS and DTS Neo 6 sound systems. Its remote control works with TVs from Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sharp Sony and Toshiba. It also has two HDMI audio/video connectors, two analog audio inputs and two digital-optical audio inputs.

Surprisingly, the Yamaha unit doesn’t offer support for some of the latest top-notch surround-sound formats, such as those in the 6.1 channel and higher surround modes.

On a more fundamental note, the Yamaha unit has two shelves for storing electronic extras such as a DVD recorder. Yamaha deserves credit for addressing two problems with expensive TVs in one package with a price tag of around ¥95,000 (officially it will be open-priced).

Strangely, the unit is designed for TV sets up to only 46 inches in size at a time when 50-inch and larger wide-screens are coming down in price. A stand of this expense would seem to more naturally fit with a bigger and pricier television. www.yamaha.co.jp

Have the answer: Google is not quite omnipotent, as evidenced by its efforts at online translation. While it gives you the gist of the original text, some of its results contribute more to the world of comedy than linguistics. Electronic dictionaries do a better job, but as standalone devices they are of limited help in deciphering what you read on the Internet.

SII is filling the void in a different way with its new Pasorama SR-G9001. The electronic dictionary can be hooked straight up to a computer via USB. Text can be cut and pasted into the Pasorama interface, which runs from the dictionary, and then translated into or from Japanese. A maximum of 300 characters can be translated at a time this way. The text can be extracted from a Web page, a document or any similar source and the translated text can then be copied to other applications.

Beyond its ability to play nice with your computer, the SII device is bereft of some of the bells and whistles that makers like to weigh their dictionaries down with these days. While the 5.2-inch VGA screen has generous dimensions, it is only black and white. Apart from the lack of frills, the SII creation still carries 30 dictionaries, which would be enough to fill up a book shelf or two. These include some technical tomes, such as business English. The screen has a decent 640×480-pixel resolution, the lithium ion battery keeps it going for up to 23 hours and the unit weighs 250 grams.

Like many similar electronic dictionaries it includes an SD-card slot for adding content and MP3 playback capability. In tribute to its distinctive functionality, SII is offering to 300 winning customers a stylish stand for the dictionary. (See details at the SII Web site.)

Although the SR-G9001 is expected to cost around ¥70,000 when it arrives Nov. 30, the preorder price at Amazon Japan is ¥44,800.

SII has done the implausible and crafted something refreshingly different in the electronic-dictionary field. The key idea of connecting to a computer is long overdue. But being about ¥20,000 more expensive than rival devices with similar linguistic abilities, you almost wonder why there’s no TV capability. speed.sii.co.jp/

Tiny TV: Even without the furniture and audio trimmings, new televisions can be injurious to your financial health. If you want a second TV, or you just don’t want to see the bank manager for a while, there are other options. One favorite is to hook up a TV tuner to your computer. Buffalo has come out with an interesting choice in its intricately named DH-KONE8G/U2DS USB memory key. The device incorporates a 1Seg TV/radio tuner with 8 gigabytes of memory, sufficient to record up to 40 hours of programs. It works on both PCs and Macs (OS X 10.4 and above), and the TV recordings can be transferred for viewing on a PlayStation 3 or PSP.

The white device looks like a standard USB flash memory stick with an antenna attached. Apart from storing TV footage, the internal memory can also be used as a standard USB drive.

At a cost of ¥15,700, the economics, even with 8 GB of storage, are questionable. But at 23 grams, this is an eminently portable way to boost your television viewing. The downside is that the video is in the 1Seg format — which is great on a tiny mobile screen, but lacks the resolution for a smooth display on a normal computer monitor.

Buffalo is aware of the pitfall and says the combination of a sensitive antenna and its “sharp” and “smooth” modes allow its device to produce good-quality pictures. buffalo.jp/


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