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Tokyo's Edge: August's Coolest Gadgets

Tokyo's Edge: August's Coolest Gadgets

Hitachi Blu-ray Disc camcorders

The first camcorders based on an 8cm Blu-ray Disc are on the way from an unlikely name: Hitachi. The company has two models: the DZ-BD70 based solely on disc, and the DZ-BD7H, which adds a 30GB hard disk drive. A single-sided 8cm recordable (BD-R) or rewritable (BD-RE) disc can store about an hour of footage shot in full high-definition quality (1920 x 1080 pixels). The hybrid model can store an additional four hours of high-definition video on its hard-disk drive. The cameras feature a 10X optical zoom lens, a 2.7-inch widescreen monitor and viewfinder. The cameras can also be used to take still images at up to 4.3 megapixel resolution (2400 x 1800 pixels). Hitachi plans to launch both cameras in Japan first then in North America in October.
RRP: DZ-BD70 - $US1299; DZ-BD7H - $US1499
Web: http://av.hitachi.com

Tomy i-Sobot

Toy robots have been in the dog house since the demise of Sony's Aibo but Tomy hopes to change all that. In October, it will start selling what it says is the world's smallest humanoid robot. Called i-Sobot, it stands 16.5cm tall, and has a bulky body that is 10cm wide and 6.7cm deep. Inside are 17 little motors known as servos, 19 chips and a gyro that work together to let the robot perform over 200 pre-programmed actions, which include push-ups, somersaults, dancing, and various animal imitations. The actions are sent to the robot via remote control. The products will be available in Japan and the US in October and in Europe in early 2008.
RRP: from $US350
Web: www.isobotrobot.com

Panasonic HDC-SD7

Panasonic has launched what it claims is the world's smallest camcorder. The HDC-SD7 measures 52mm x 110mm x 87mm and weighs 350g. One of the secrets to its small size is the use of an SD memory card as a recording medium. The electronics and socket needed for a fl ash card takes up much less space than a DVD or hard-disk drive. It packs three charge coupled device (CCD) sensors behind a 10X zoom lens and has a 2.7-inch widescreen LCD monitor. It can record full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) MPEG4 AVC/H.264 video at a range of quality levels. At the average 9Mbps rate, a 4GB SD card can hold up to 60 minutes of video. The camera will only launch in Japan on September 8.
RRP: $US1175
Web: http://panasonic.jp (Japanese)

Samsung SCH-B750

Samsung is adding video editing and production functions to a new mobile phone so users can shoot, edit and upload videos to Internet video sites without using a PC. The SCH-B750 shoots CIF-resolution images (352 x 288 pixels) and includes software to edit the images and it can conduct limited production work, such as adding a caption or background music. Once done, the videos can be immediately uploaded to online sites like Pandora TV, South Korea's leading user-generated video site. The camera is a 3-megapixel model with auto focus and other features include reception of satellite mobile digital TV broadcasting. The phone, which will be available only in South Korea, will be sold through SK Telecom.
RRP: $US655
Web: www.sec.co.kr (Korean)

Fujitsu Raku Raku

The latest model in Fujitsu's Raku Raku mobile phone line packs some advanced features. Aimed at older mobile phone users, the device includes a two-microphone noise cancellation system to make it easier to be heard in noisy environments. It will also boost the audio level of the caller if the user is in a noisy place. The phone can also record the latest 60 seconds of a call so if users miss a detail, they might be able to play it back. It will also slow the speed at which an incoming caller seems to speak, making it easier to understand what is being said and with safety in mind, the phones also pack an earpiercing alarm that can alert people in the vicinity if the user is in trouble. If programmed, the phone will also call family or friends automatically to notify them. The user's location is determined by GPS and sent along with the alert. The Raku Raku phone will be available in Japan only through NTT DoCoMo.
RRP: TBA
Web: www.nttdocomo.co.jp (Japanese)

Nissan's alcohol sniffing car

Nissan has developed a high-tech system designed to stop drunk driving. It attempts to detect the odour of alcohol from the driver's sweat. After drinking, a certain amount of alcohol escapes the body in perspiration and this can be picked up by sensitive detectors if they are in proximity with the driver. One of the four sensors in the car is on the gear shift lever. As this has to be touched in order to start driving, the system can stop the car from being started if alcohol is detected. The navigation system also flashes up a message: "The sensor has detected alcohol from your palm. You cannot use the shift. Please refrain from driving by yourself." There are also sensors on the two front seats mounted at about neck level, and one in the back seat. There is no word on when it might be available commercially.
RRP: TBA
Web: www.nissan.co.jp (Japanese)

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