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Think you know small?: Before netbooks, all the buzz was about the UMPC, or ultra mobile PC. These devices are smaller than netbooks, with 7-inch screens. They also outdo their more celebrated compatriots for innovation, as UMPCs come with touch screens. Despite the bid to do something different, the consensus seems to be that the UMPCs are just too small and netbooks have stolen the show. Local technology firm Kohjinsha, however, has stayed true to the theme. Its newest UMPC, the SK3KX06GA, debuted last week with a diverse range of features on offer. One key element of the machine is its diminutive size, it weighs just 720 grams and measures 193×132×30 mm. The other headline feature is the convertible nature of its screen, which can be swiveled around away from the keyboard.

The display has a resolution of 1,024×600 and the SK3 comes with a 1.33-gigahertz Atom processor, 1 gigabyte of memory and a 60-gigabyte 1.8-inch 4,200 rpm hard drive. In the interests of going mobile, it has 1Seg TV, GPS, all three types of Wi-Fi: b, g and n and Bluetooth 2.0. The inclusion of two cameras seems a tad extravagant, with a low-resolution webcam for video calls and a 3-megapixel still camera, the usefulness of which seems debatable. It also has an Ethernet port, a microSD card slot, a multiformat memory card reader and pair of USB 2.0 ports. The operating system is Windows XP Home Edition. Kohjinsha is selling the SK3 for ¥69,800. One question mark is battery life, with the SK3 only able to operate for around three hours per charge. jp.kohjinsha.com/

Not just a fax: Panasonic is another company that is not ready to discard a technology that is out of fashion. The electronics giant believes that the humble fax is only in its mature years, not the grave. Dubbed the flagship models of personal fax machines, the company’s new KX-PW820 series is a typical example of the telephone/fax combo but with some digital technology to keep faxing alive. It does this by incorporating a 4.9-inch touch screen into the rectangular base unit of the machine. This allows the user to create a fax on screen and then send it off to the designated recipient, all without the need to use paper. Faxes can also be sent from a computer, with software included for installing on your PC.

Panasonic has also conjured a digital means for dealing with the demands of incoming correspondence as faxes and recorded messages can be saved to either SD (up to 2 gigabytes) or SDHC cards (up to 32 gigabytes), or the built-in memory. Moreover, users can check faxes on the screen before deciding whether to print them on A4-size paper. Beyond the fax innovations the KX-PW820 is a standard configuration with a base unit that incorporates the fax, numerical key pad and an attached handset.

The machine also comes with a choice of either one separate rechargeable handset (the KX-PW820DL) or two handsets (KX-PW820DW). These take 10 hours to recharge and can run for up to five hours of talking time. The handsets communicate with the base unit on the 2.4-gigahertz frequency and can operate at up to 100 meters distance, although this is reduced if there are obstructions between the base unit and the handsets. The answering machine has up to 12 minutes of recording time.

The entire set up is colored a standard stylish silver. Both units were released June 19 with the KX-PW820DL costing ¥29,800 and the KX-PW820DW ¥39,800. panasonic.co.jp

The incredible shrinking USB key: USB flash drives come in as many varieties as fashion accessories, with an inordinate choice of colors and styles, not to mention capacities with everything from a gigabyte or so up to the new max of 128 gigabytes from Kingston. While these gadgets are generally small, similar in size to a house key and also known as USB keys, few makers have focused on the potential to really shrink the package. Sony has produced some memorably tiny drives, but Buffalo has trumped that with its ultra-small RUF2-PS series. Set to launch in late October, the Buffalo products should be tagged USB stubs. When plugged into a computer, a RUF2-PS will stick out all of 5 mm. Despite the minute size, the Buffalo series still offers decent memory portions, coming in a choice of 2, 4, 8 and 16 gigabytes. The midget drives also come with “Secure Lock Mobile” encryption software for added security. The drives will work with Windows Me/2000/XP/Vista and Mac OS X 10.4 or later operating systems. Each one weighs a less than negligible 3 grams with a body size of 18×8×18 mm. The actual USB plug and its cap take up most of the dimensions. The RUF2-PS comes in a selection of three colors — black, white or red. Buffalo is to release the new drives in late October, with the pricing expected to be ¥1,580 for the 2-gigabyte models, 2,280 for the 4 gigabyte drives, ¥3,780 for 8 gigabytes and ¥9,980 for 16 gigabytes. buffalo.jp.html

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