October's coolest gadgets

October's coolest gadgets

Samsung SCH-B600 10MP Camera Phone

Remember that 10-megapixel camera phone that Samsung first showed at CeBit in March? Well, it is finally coming on the market in South Korea. Like some of the company's previous phones the SCH-B600 is styled to look like a conventional digital still camera from one side and a bar-type mobile phone from the other side. It has a 3X optical zoom lens like those typically found in digital still cameras, auto focus, manual focus, continuous and time-delay picture taking and a flash. Other features include a tuner for South Korea's TU Media satellite multimedia service. Samsung will not be selling it in other markets.
RRP: $US950 (Korean)

Panasonic DMR-BW200 and DMR-BR100

Panasonic will arrive at the Blu-ray Disc party in November with a pair of recorders that pack hard-disk drives and the ability to playback commercial high-definition movies. The DMR-BW200 and DMR-BR100 are mostly similar although the higher-spec BW200-model offers more than double the harddisk recording capacity of the BR100 at 500GB versus 200GB. It also offers a few extra features such as an iLink (IEEE1394) connector, Ethernet socket and support for AAC audio playback from memory cards. The recorders will not come cheap. They are due to go on sale in Japan on November 15. Launch dates and prices for other markets were not disclosed. RRP:: BW200 - $US2550; BR100 - $US2005 (Japanese)

Hitachi Maxell SVOD

Hitachi Maxell has developed a thin optical disc that could lead to data cartridges capable of storing terabytes of information. The Stacked Volumetric Optical Disc (SVOD) is less than a tenth of a millimetre thick so many of the discs can be stacked together in a cartridge. The cartridge slots into a dedicated drive and the discs are pulled out of the cartridge automatically by a mechanism inside the unit and mounted into the drive. It is targeted at commercial storage applications. The company says that a system about the same size as a tower PC will be able to hold 4.7TB of data. A 19-inch rack mount model will be able to hold three times that amount of data. A working prototype was demonstrated at the Ceatec exhibition in Japan in October. There is no time-frame on commercialisation.

Sony BDZ-V9 and BDZ-V7

Not to be outdone in the Blu-ray Disc race, Sony followed Panasonic with the announcement of its own two recorders. The machines both feature hard-disk drives for day-to-day recording and a Blu-ray Disc drive for longer term storage. The BDZ-V9 has a 500GB drive and the BDZ-V7 has a 250GB drive. There are two digital tuners in each recorder so that two high-definition programs can be recorded simultaneously. There is a major difference between the Sony and Panasonic machines: while both playback 50GB dual-layer discs, only the Panasonic can record to them. The Sony machine will only record on 25GB single-layer discs. The higher capacity BDZ-V9 will be launched on December 8 and the BDZ-V7 will follow about a week later on December 16. Launching the products internationally is possible but nothing has been decided as of yet, Sony said. RRP:: BDZ-V9 - $US2541; BDZ-V7 - $US2118 (Japanese)

Nintendo Wii

After a lot of build-up and hype, we fi nally got our hands on the Nintendo Wii and have the launch date and price. It is a good deal cheaper than the PlayStation 3, which will cost about double the price, and less than Microsoft's Xbox 360. The Wii comes with a wireless controller that is a lot of fun to use. The console has motion sensors so it can be swung like a bat in a baseball game or swept like a racket in a tennis game. The video is not high-defi nition, unlike the competing consoles, but the fun factor is high. It will go on sale in the US in November and Japan in December. RRP: $US250

High Tech Computer SoftBank X01HT

With email and other advanced features built into every mobile phone, devices such as PDAs have never done well in Japan. However, competition in the market and the adoption of a global standard in Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) means High Tech Computer's latest Windows Mobile device will soon reach Japanese shores. The Softbank X01HT features High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) downloads of up to 1.8Mbps and uploads of 384Kbps and wireless LAN. It runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 and has the Microsoft Offi ce suite, as well as Explorer Mobile. The QWERTY keyboard allows users to input data or play music on Windows Media Player. The phone is likely to appear in other markets through local carriers. No price has been announced. (Japanese)

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