Pace me with your rhythm stick: Yamaha is improving the connection between music and physical workouts with the release this month of the BF-1 BODiBEAT digital music player (¥29,800). The BODiBEAT chooses the songs in a playlist you upload to the device that go best with the pace of your workout. A languid ballad will accompany a meandering walk, a jog is greeted with something up-tempo, and a full-blown sprint brings out the raciest numbers in your music library.

Songs downloaded to the player are classified by the BODiBEAT’s software according to their pace, and a built-in accelerometer monitors the speed of your workout so that the music is played. In the BODiBEAT’s Free operating mode, as the speed of your workout changes, so does the music. In the Fitness mode, you can set the device for either walking or jogging, and then the BODiBEAT tracks your heartbeat via a pulse monitor attached to the earphones that clips on to your left earlobe, and if your heartbeat is too low for whichever activity chosen, it quickens the beat or, conversely, slows it down if your heart is working too hard. The mode includes “warming up” and “cooling down” phases.

In the Training mode, users can program a detailed exercise plan broken down into segments with different paces. Among the goals that can be set are a specific distance to be covered or a specific heartbeat to be reached.

With the BODiBEAT weighing 87 g and measuring 76 × 38 × 20 mm, Yamaha has crafted a device that packs a lot of ability into a small package. The shortcoming is a low memory capacity of just 512 megabytes. Still, compatible with MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV files, the device can store up to 99 different exercise programs and record up to 99 exercise logs, recording such details as how far you ran and how many calories were burned.

Strapping on to your upper arm, the gadget is designed for functionality rather than looks. One clever touch is the two control buttons that stick out from the bottom rather like flanges, making it easier for joggers to operate. The built-in battery is good for up to 12 hours of playback and takes three hours to recharge via USB or an optional AC adapter. www.yamaha.co.jp/product/bodibeat/

A solar difference: No crisis is entirely bad. At least global warming has provided electronics makers with a marketing ploy to differentiate otherwise similar products. Sharp is making the 936SH, its new 3G handset for mobile-phone service-provider Softbank, stand out with a solar panel for recharging.

The panel occupies one side of the otherwise standard-looking model, and Sharp claims that 10 minutes in the sun powers the handset for one minute of talking or two hours of standby time. The 936SH has a 3-inch widescreen LCD panel with 480 x 854 VGA resolution and a built-in camera with 8 MB of resolution that features autofocusing and image stabilization. The handset also supports the FeliCa electronic payment system and is being promoted as waterproof, meaning it won’t need its own umbrella and isn’t going to object to working in the kitchen or bathroom — though jumping in a pool is probably not on.

The phone will come out in a choice of white, navy and green color schemes when it hits the market after July (no word yet on pricing). www.softbankmobile.co.jp/ja/news/press/2009/20090519—08/page_04.html

In the palm of your hand: Panasonic’s newest offering, the high-definition HDC-TM30, disappears as easily into the hand as the average pocket. Weighing just 278 g — including the battery — the HDC-TM30 (¥99,800) measures just 114.5 × 63 × 47.5 mm and uses the AVCHD codec with a top high-definition resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Onboard memory of 32 GB is enough for about four hours of recording time at its highest quality setting, with SD memory cards adding extra capacity.

Cramming a high-definition camcorder into such a confined space means leaving something out. The HDC-TM30 uses a slightly underwhelming single 2.1 megapixel CMOS sensor to capture images, though the camera has a 16 x zoom and a 2.7-inch LCD screen. Panasonic says that the camcorder is shockproof up to the point of a maximum 1.7 m drop and dustproof.

The HDC-TM30 is due out June 25 (available in red, silver and black), but Panasonic doesn’t have the field to itself, with Samsung set to bring out its rather intriguing HMW-R10 to compete with the HDC-TM30. Also, if you want something beefier, Panasonic is launching the larger HDC-TM350 with better specifications than the HDC-TM30 at the same time. panasonic.co.jp/corp/news/official.data/data.dir/jn090520-1/jn090520-1.html


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