Perhaps it’s because summer is around the corner and people will be getting outside more, but the month of May brought several new digital-still cameras and video cameras to the shelves of Japan’s electronics stores – and a couple of very cool new sub-notebook computers. Toshiba has updated its Libretto sub-notebook computer range with two new models. Both are based on an 800MHz version of the TM5800 Crusoe processor from Transmeta; have a 10-inch wide-screen TFT LCD capable of a 1,280-x-600 pixel resolution; 256MB of main memory, a 20GB hard disk drive; ATI Mobility Radeon M graphics accelerator; an Ethernet port; and a slot for Toshiba’s Secure Digital (SD) memory card. The new machines have a battery life of 4.5 hours, said the company. They are on sale for around £935 for a wireless LAN model, and around £770 for the version with no wireless adapter. Not to be outdone by Toshiba, Sony has released a couple of very cool notebooks: one that can be used as a digital-video recorder, and the smallest Windows XP notebook on the market to date. The first machine, the Vaio C1, is based on Transmeta’s TM5800 processor and can double as a digital-video recorder using an external TV-tuner unit and the bundled GigaPocket software to record TV programs to its 40GB hard disk drive. It’s the first time Sony has put that software on a notebook PC. The second new machine, the Vaio-U, is the smallest Windows XP notebook we’ve seen to date, measuring 185-x-36-x-139mm, and weighing 860g. Because it’s so small, the machine is easy to hold with one hand on each side of the main body, gripping it with thumbs positioned on the top of the body just below the screen; Sony has included keys to allow for thumb navigation. The Vaio C1 costs around £1,270; the Vaio-U costs around £825. The Pocket Cosmo PDA from Kyocera is something different. Unlike the multitude of devices being rolled-out based on Microsoft or Palm operating systems, the Pocket Cosmo runs Personal Java 1.2 on top of the Elate real-time operating system from Tao Group. The device is based around a 206MHz Intel StrongArm processor; has a 3.5-inch colour TFT display capable of 65,536 colours; and sports 32MB of memory and a Compact Flash card slot. A business-software suite grants users access to Microsoft Word and Excel documents as well as the ability to view all major graphics formats. The 169g unit will go on sale in Japan in July. Pricing has not yet been set. Hang-up on the telephone Sony Ericsson has come out with its first CDMA2000 1x cell phone for Japan’s Au network. The telephone supports data transmission at up to 144kbps; and includes a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver for navigation services, and support for WAP 2.0. It can also run Java applets up to 50k in size. The TFT display can display up to 65,536 colours and the handset has a 40-tone ringer. The device weighs 110g, and the battery provides up to 160 minutes of talk time, and 250 hours on standby. Hitachi has produced a hand-size digital-still camera that’s light on the wallet. The I-mega camera features a 1.3 million-pixel CMOS image sensor, is capable of producing 1,280-x-960 pixel images, and costs just ¥12,800 (around £70). That makes it one of the cheapest one-megapixel class cameras on the market – and an especially attractive option for people who want to take their first step into the world of digital photography. The camera has 8MB of built-in memory, and a slot for Smart Media cards. It also features a 2x digital zoom and USB interface for connecting to a PC. The new Canon Ixy DV3 digital-video camera has a 680,000-pixel image pick-up, which is great for video, but easily outclassed by most dedicated still-cameras. However, the device will take snapshots at 1,024-x-768 pixel resolution and store them on an SD memory card. The video-format is Mini DV, and the camera features both DV and USB interfaces. The basic battery provides up to 55 minutes of use with the 2-inch TFT LCD monitor switched on – and 75 minutes when using the digital viewfinder. Casio is promising a digital-still camera that “fits your body,” in advertisements for its new Exilim model, due out in June. The camera is just 11.3cm thick; weighs 85g; features a 1.6-inch TFT LCD; and has a 1.3 million-pixel CCD. This delivers a respectable 1,600-x-1,200 pixel image that can be stored in internal memory or on an SD memory card. Casio says it has been able to squeeze all of this hardware into such a small package by combining several chips and circuits into larger chips, which take up less space inside the device. The Exilim will cost around £190. As with all Japanese gadgets, the extremely cool sits next to the absolutely barking - literally in the case of one new device. If you want to know what your dog is woofing about, let it wear toy maker Takara’s Bowlingual device. A wireless compact microphone placed on a dog’s collar picks-up and sends barks to a separate terminal with an LCD. The terminal then analyzes the dog’s voiceprint, categorizes it into one of six feelings (frustration, menace, insistence, fun, sorrow, and desire), and translates it into words such as “I’m happy” and “cool!” The device can either display translations on the screen, or voice them from the speaker. Takara is planning to roll out Bowlingual in August at around £80.