Maximum range: WiMax is a form of wireless Internet that operates in much the same way as Wi-Fi, but offers greater range, in theory up to 40 km from a central transmitter, and faster speeds than its sibling. It is also just starting in Japan, whereas Wi-Fi is ubiquitous. As part of a concerted push to promote WiMax in Japan, Onkyo’s computing outfit, Sotec, has just brought out a netbook that comes equipped with both Wi-Fi and WiMax.

The wireless setup is the standout feature of the C204A5, which is an otherwise normal netbook with a 1.6-gigahertz Atom N270 processor, 1 gigabyte of memory and 10.1-inch screen. The model weighs 960 grams. The netbook runs on Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition and its battery life is a typically modest four hours. At least Sotec doesn’t stint on the style, and considering the Onkyo connection, the prominent cylindrical speakers between the screen and the keyboard no doubt offer better than normal sound.

Sotec does throw in one other difference maker in providing a 32-gigabyte solid state drive of memory, rather than the standard hard disk of 160 gigabytes or so. The tradeoff is much smaller memory for the greater speed and sturdiness of a solid state drive. The Sotec has a price tag of ¥59,800 for the standard model, and ¥79,800 if the Windows Office Personal 2007 suite of programs is included and is penned in for release in mid-July.

In time for the Onkyo release, Intel-supported company UQ Communication is offering a new WiMax service, UQ Flat WiMax, with broadband services on offer for ¥4,480 a month to people living in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya from July 1. www.jp.onkyo.com

Turning WiMax: I-O Data is offering a pair of new products, the WMX-01 USB dongle and WMX-GW02A wireless LAN router, both of which are needed if you want to use WiMax. The router has one of the dongles plugged into it and in turn is hooked up to the Internet. The other dongle is plugged into your computer and the combination then converts your computer into a WiMax model, with the advantages of wider ranging mobility and speed of Internet connectivity that this brings. I-O claims speeds of up to 40 Mbps of data transfer. Both products come in functional white, but the WMX-U01 dongle does stand out because of its obtrusive shape and size. While the dongle has no recommended sale price, the router will cost ¥15,700, with both products due out late this month. www.iodata.jp

Health phone: Apple cultivates the headlines for its iPhone, but other handset makers rely on more subtle methods for attracting interest. Fujitsu has conjured some off-the-beaten-track features to make its new F-08A model stand out. First, it includes an exercise monitor, a kind of digital pedometer that monitors the user’s physical activity and keeps how many calories are burned through either walking or running — assuming it is carried in a case on the user’s waist. Moreover, the user’s pulse rate can be checked by placing a finger against the built-in camera. The F-08A can also take pictures while submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water.

In marketing the phone as a top-drawer model, Fujitsu has also built in other refinements to broaden its marketing appeal. The rectangular clamshell model has a 5.2-megapixel autofocus camera that includes “Eye-Emphasis & Skin Tone-Balance Photography Mode.” Fujitsu claims this technology highlights the natural beauty in eyes and adjusts colors to get the right skin tones. In a variation of the facial recognition feature common to digital cameras now, it times the taking of photos to snap the picture when the subject is smiling.

Beyond these attractions the F-08A has the usual top-end touches like a 3-inch touch-screen panel, which can be rotated into a horizontal position. It comes with high-speed (7.2Mbps) FOMA Internet connectivity, 3G and GSM network compatibility, Bluetooth capability and 1 Seg TV watching. The F-08A measures 109×50×15.4 mm and weighs about 120 grams. The continuous talking time is about 200 minutes, which is reduced to 110 minutes when serving as a videophone.

NTT DoCoMo started offering the F-08A last week in a choice of purple, white, black and pink. www.fujitsu.com


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