After a quiet summer, Japan’s electronics industry is getting back to work in preparation for the year-end holiday season. In September, companies started to prepare for CEATEC, the largest electronics show of the year in Japan that will take place in early October. September’s coolest new products included several audio products, a hard-disk-based video recorder from Sony – and the perfect companion, a portable TV from Casio that you can take into the bath. Sony CSV-E77
The Channel Server E77 is a hard-disk-based video recorder that connects to a broadband service, such as ADSL or Cable Internet. It can store up to 100 hours of video on its 160GB drive. In addition to using the remote control, when users are away from home, they can program the device using Sony’s MyCaster Web site from any Internet-connected computer or cell phone. Just connect to the site, find a program to record, and the Web site will push that information to your player using the broadband connection. Casio XF800
Casio, which has been making portable LCD televisions for years, has come up with a new model that can be used in the bathroom. The splash-proof XF800 will run for two hours off a standard charge. A separate tuner unit sits somewhere in the house, and sends images to the display unit via a wireless LAN link. The set even has its own splash-proof remote control unit. With the set available in 6- or 8-inch screen size models, it will probably never be that far out of reach. The 8-inch model is already available at ¥160,000 (around £830) and the 6-inch model will be available in late October for ¥125,000 (around £650). Sony MZ-E10
It’s been 10 years since Sony launched its MiniDisc (MD) format and the first MD Walkman, the MZ-1, and so much has changed. The company held a small event recently to celebrate the anniversary and launch its latest Walkman players. The MZ-E10, one of three products unveiled, is definitely the thinnest to hit the market at just 9.9mm. It made the MZ-1, which was also on display, look decidedly brick-like. The new Walkman is extremely light and not much bigger in size than a MiniDisc cassette, making us wonder what Sony will be able to come up with next. A hint came from a Sony executive who said that the MZ-E10 doesn’t include any recording capability. Could recording Walkmans this size be just around the corner? Sharp MD-DS8
Sharp, another major supporter of MiniDisc, has announced a portable MD player in its one-bit audio range. Carrying the same ‘Auvi’ brand name as the rest of the range, the player features a mobile version of Sharp’s one-bit audio amplifier. The device samples audio at 64 times the resolution of CD, which leads to a better, more realistic sound, according to Sharp. Whether consumers will pay extra for higher sound quality remains to be seen. However, if Sharp wants to expand the 1-bit range, this could be a key product. The new MD player will run for 32 hours off a standard charge, and should be available during September. J-Phone mobile phones
J-Phone is putting on sale a couple of new handsets that have neat features. The SA-51 from Sanyo is the first we’ve seen that has the ability to zip files to compress them prior to sending, and to unzip incoming files. The SH-52 from Sharp is a variation on a similar phone launched by the company recently. It adds an SD (Secure Digital) memory card slot. Both phones have built-in digital cameras and support J-Phone’s “Sha Mail” movie mail service. The Sharp handset has a 65,000-colour screen and can take images at VGA resolution, while the Sanyo model has a one-inch 65,000-colour LCD on the outside of the case, in addition to the main screen, that can be programmed to show a picture of the person calling you before you open up the phone. Sharp XV-Z90
If you like your TV picture large but can’t quite budget for a wall-hanging Plasma TV, the cross-over of LCD projectors from the office to the living room has been welcome. A problem has always been the cables that connect the projector to your DVD player or TV tuner. This has either meant having the units somewhere behind you, near the projector, or running cables around the living room. Until now. Sharp’s latest home AV projector makes use of wireless LAN technology to send the video signal through the air. A transmitter connects to a video source and can be picked up by the projector – something that makes big screen TV watching a whole lot more tidy. It goes on sale during September, and will cost ¥450,000 (around £2,330) in Japan. Sharp plans worldwide sales. Casio CW-70
This nifty little gadget from Casio is capable of printing a professional looking label on the top of a CD-recordable/rewritable or DVD-recordable disc. Just slot the disc into the printer and either print a design directly from a personal computer, or use it as a stand-alone device powered by its own batteries. Gone are the days of a permanent marker or trying to line up a paper label neatly on the top of the disc. Casio is targeting the product at offices. The CW-70 costs ¥21,000 (around £110), and is available only in Japan. Sony DVP-F25
Sony’s new DVP-F25 is designed with flexibility in mind. No more are users limited to having the thing lying flat, taking up valuable real estate on a shelf. The player can be stood on its side, layed flat as normal or, for ultra-coolness, be sat on end so that the DVD slot faces upwards. Sony is also releasing a companion home theatre system at the same time. The DVD player is likely to cost around ¥25,000 (around £130), and the home theatre system ¥50,000 (around £260) when they go on sale in late October. Panasonic SV-AP10
Japan’s gadget makers are making it easier and easier to own a digital still camera and not need to have a personal computer. There’s a growing range of devices that take memory cards and allow users to save and display images, or, in the case of the latest product from Panasonic, print them out. The company’s home photo printer will let users print photos in a variety of sizes using near photo-grade paper. An SD card slot on the front of the machine is supplemented with a PC Card slot, which means it could be used with any type of memory card. It will cost around ¥25,000 (around £130).