April 28th, 2005

Tokyo Edge: Hot Phones and Music Players

Martyn Williams
Tokyo Bureau Chief IDG News Service

It's getting more and more difficult to avoid writing only about cell
phones and digital music players in a monthly gadget column--there are
just so many interesting products around. This month I'd like to tell
you about some new high-end handsets and a few neat new music players.
But don't worry, I've thrown in a cool new memory card reader and a
cutting-edge notebook prototype for variety.

Samsung SGH-I300 Hard-Drive Handset

Samsung Electronics has come up with a few interesting mobile phones
in the past few weeks, but possibly the coolest is the SGH-I300.
Samsung's upcoming handset packs a 3GB hard drive and offers more
storage space than any phone currently on the market. Samsung's
earlier SPH-V5400 has a 1.5GB hard drive.

Matching the SGH-I300's capacious drive is support for a host of audio
and video standards that make the handset into a mean little
multimedia machine. Video support includes the MPEG-4, H.263, H.264,
and Windows Media Video standards; audio support includes the MP3,
Windows Media Audio, AAC, AACplus, and Ogg Vorbis formats.

The new phone runs on Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system.
It's the second handset from Samsung to include a hard drive, but
there's a big difference between this and the previous model: the new
phone is based on GSM, the dominant cellular standard in use
worldwide, and so has been designed with the overseas market in mind.
Last year's SPH-5400 is available in South Korea only.

The SGH-I300's wider compatibility should come as welcome news for
gadget-hungry buyers who are usually stuck reading about advanced
phones that are available only in Samsung's home market. The bad news
is that no launch date or price for the handset has been decided.

For more on the SG-1300, read "Samsung Phone Features a Hard Drive":

Sony Network Walkman NW-HD5 Music Player

It's been about six months since Sony first announced its Network
Walkman line of hard-disk-based digital music players:

The latest model, the NW-HD5, is the first to depart from the common
design shared by its predecessors. The NW-HD5 has a portrait design in
which the display sits above the controls. You can use it in landscape
mode too, thanks to the ability to rotate the image on the display by
a quarter of a turn.

The Network Walkman NW-HD5 has several features that set it apart from
Apple's IPod, undoubtedly its biggest competitor. For example, the
NW-HD5 runs on a removable and rechargeable battery that supports up
to 40 hours of playback. Also, the player has a built-in USB connector
and power jack, so no dock or adapter is required.

The NW-HD5 is smaller than earlier models, at 2.4 by 3.5 by 0.6
inches. It weighs 4.8 ounces. Look for it worldwide starting later
this month. It will cost around $327 in Japan.

For more on the NW-HD5, read "Sony Refreshes Its Network Walkman":

Pantech&Curitel PH-L4000V Camcorder Cell Phone

Following on from the handful of cell phones that look like digital
cameras, South Korea's Pantech&Curitel has developed a cell phone that
looks like a camcorder.

You hold the PH-L4000V the same way as you would a camcorder; a 2-inch
fold-out display, with a 320-by-240 resolution, helps complete the
illusion. The phone has a 2X optical zoom lens and can record video in
MPEG-4 at 640 by 480 pixels, which is about equivalent to that of a
conventional camcorder. The PH-L4000V fails in one respect: The video
is recorded at only 15 frames per second, which is about half the rate
used by many camcorders and by broadcast television. The smaller
number of frames per second could mean a slightly jerky picture. The
handset also includes a FM radio tuner.

The PH-L4000V is already on sale in South Korea and costs about $600.
There are no plans to sell it overseas.

For more on the PH-L4000V, read "Cell Phone Doubles as a Camcorder":

Pretech Digi Photo Multipurpose Card Reader

At first glance Pretech Electronics' Digi Photo looks like one of
those ever-so-handy all-in-one memory card readers, with slots for
CompactFlash, Memory Stick, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Smart
Media cards. However, the Digi Photo hooks up to a television or
digital projector to let you display images stored on memory cards
without needing a computer.

The Digi Photo supports images of up to 16,384 by 16,384 pixels in
size, which lets you zoom in several times on large images and still
keep the same on-screen resolution. Among other capabilities, it has a
slide-show mode, offers standard or wide-screen display, can display
several pictures at once in a grid, and supports both the PAL and NTSC
video formats. It's available now from Pretech for $48 or through
regional distributors.

Panasonic D-snap SV-SD100V Music Player

The latest music player from Matsu****a Electric, better known as
Panasonic, is a nice little number. The SV-SD100V is a small
square-shaped device that features a bright Organic Light Emitting
Diode display; support for MP3, AAC, and WMA formats; an FM tuner; a
voice recorder; and compatibility with SD Cards. The company says the
battery lasts more than 14 hours when playing audio and more than 7
hours when using the FM receiver. It will be on sale worldwide in May
and will cost about $172 in Japan; pricing for other markets has not
yet been determined.

Samsung SCH-B200 Entertainment Phone

The latest version of Samsung Electronics' entertainment phone should
be on sale soon. The handset can receive Digital Multimedia Broadcast
signals direct from a satellite or, when inside buildings, from a
network of terrestrial transmitters. A subscription service from TU
Media offers a range of local radio and TV broadcasts, and the phone
makes it possible to tune in to these while on the move.

The phone is a "slide-and-rotate" model with a 2.2-inch thin film
transistor LCD screen that has a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels. The
display is slid upwards to reveal the key pad, then may be swiveled
into a horizontal position for TV viewing. Samsung estimates the
battery life to be 3 hours. It will be available in South Korea
starting in June. Pricing is not yet decided, and there aren't any
plans for overseas sales. That hardly matters, though, because the DMB
satellite service is limited to South Korea and Japan.

For background on DMB, read "South Korea to Launch Massive Test of
Mobile Entertainment":

Ezmax EZMP4200P Music Player With VoIP

It seems that every month we hear about a couple of devices being
combined together into a new miracle of miniaturization. One of the
latest hybrid gadgets is an MP3 player from South Korea's Ezmax that
doubles as a Voice over Internet Protocol telephone. The MP3 side of
the device is quite standard, but the VoIP functionality is more

The EZMP4200P contains a VoIP function that can be accessed when the
player is connected to a PC via its USB connection. The software runs
on the player and uses the PC's Internet connection to place a VoIP
call; it is presently compatible with Microsoft's Windows 2000 and
later editions. Ezmax is considering making the software compatible
with Apple's Mac OS X. It's really quite a cool idea.

Ezmax hopes to put the EZMP4200P on sale in Europe in May; it will
cost about $220 for a 1GB model.

For more on the EZMP4200P, read "Ezmax MP3 Player Calls on VoIP":

Samsung SPH-M4300 Smart Phone

The final new handset this month from Samsung Electronics looks a lot
like a PDA. The SPH-M4300's front panel is dominated by a 2.8-inch TFT
display 320-by-240-pixel display; a directional keypad and function
buttons are located underneath the screen. The number keypad is
revealed by sliding the top half of the phone body upwards.

In addition to supporting the CDMA cellular standard, the device packs
a 802.11b wireless LAN adapter. This allows its network multimedia
features to be used when the user is near a hotspot. The SPH-M4300
also has built-in support for KT's NESpot service, which offers
content that includes programs from major South Korean TV networks.
However, because this phone is based on Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket
PC Phone Edition, it can also run other applications.

Samsung's SPH-M4300 is available now in South Korea and costs around
$700. There are no plans to sell it overseas.

R&D Corner: Toshiba Detachable Display

One of the latest prototypes from Toshiba's lab is a notebook computer
with a detachable display. The company says the device will combine
the convenience of a Tablet PC with the computing power of a
conventional notebook. Communication between the screen and the rest
of the PC usually flows along a ribbon cable; in the concept model the
cable has been replaced with a wireless connection. The idea is
similar to Microsoft's Smart Display, which used a wireless link to
connect a small portable display to a more powerful base computer.
Microsoft's device failed in the marketplace.

Toshiba's detachable-display notebook could be available as soon as
three years from now, but Toshiba still has some work to do on the
project. For starters, there's the battery life: Away from its
notebook base, the display operates for only an hour.

For background on the concept, read "First 'Mira' Products Ship":

Read Martyn Williams' regularly published "Tokyo Edge" columns:

"Until last October, Christ had a very limited involvement in my life. I believed in God; I just never had to prove I believed. Belief is an absence of proof."
-- Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling

See More: Gadget Report [Tokyo Edge: Hot Phones and Music Players - 04/28/2005]