Sony has always had the home team advantage in Japan, but in the e-book world they are a bit late to the game in the land of the Rising Sun. Rumors of a Q4 launch for the Sony Reader lineup started back in May, and it looks like for once the rumor mill is actually coming true.
Starting December 10th Sony is getting set to offer the 5” pocket and 6” Reader Devices in Japan at a price of ¥20,000 ($237) / ¥25,000 ($297), respectively. In addition to the hardware release Sony is also planning to unveil its new online e-bookstore with close to 20,000 launch titles.
Given just how late to the game Sony actually is you would imagine they would be humble about their future sales prospects, but then again this is Sony we are talking about. According to a company spokesman they expect to sell 300,000 in the first 12 months, and plan to hold more than half of the Japanese e-reader market by 2012.
Is Sony setting its expectations too high? Or will Japanese consumers buy up anything Sony?
Those of you holding your breath for the Nintendo 3DS will have to do so until late February or March (depending on which part of the world you call home). Nintendo has confirmed the launch date of the 3DS and also revealed its price. The handheld will debut first in Japan on February 26, 2011 and then go on to launch in Europe, Australia and the U.S the following month.
The autostereoscopic successor to the Nintendo DS will cost ¥25,000 (US$298), according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. He made the announcement at a press event in Japan. The hardware package will include a Nintendo 3DS hardware unit, recharging cradle, AC adapter, 3DS stylus, 2GB SD memory card and 6 AR Cards (used for games with AR technologies). The complete 3DS spec list is available here.
Tokyo’s Akihabara district is a never-ending electronics-geek carnival, drawing in tech enthusiasts to check out stores brimming with both vintage and cutting-edge electronics. All manner of otaku come to purchase anime, manga, and other items to feed their nerd obsessions, and hordes of tourists come to raze duty-free shops and gawk at cosplayers.
But Akihabara—the geek-culture center of Japan, if not the world—hasn’t always been such a tourist draw, nor an otaku enclave. Since its origin as a black market for radio parts in postwar Japan to its current incarnation, the shopping district has always reinvented itself. Most recently, a push to sanitize the area has done much to change the feel of the neighborhood, leaving many to wonder if corporate interests and a freewheeling vibe can coexist.
Japan's Brother Industries recently showcased a head-mounted transparent display, called AiRScouter, which projects images directly onto the retina, conjuring up a rather “mysterious effect” – that of watching a display hanging in air about one meter in front of the eyes. The head-mounted display, based on the company's propriety Retinal Imaging Display (RID), made its maiden public appearance in 2008. However, it wasn't going to have a proper name until an year later when Brother unveiled a more advanced prototype.
"Firstly, we expect this display will be used in industrial applications. Using the AirScouter, it's possible to look at a manual or the like while working on site. The advantage of this is, it reduces the time lost in moving around. Also, a camera can be attached, so pictures of the work site can be sent to head office. This makes it possible to work in collaboration, while receiving instructions from experts in the office,” the company said in a release.
“Apart from industrial applications, this display could be used in AR technology, combining the real and virtual worlds. In the future, it'll be possible to connect a smartphone to the AiRScouter, so the display of the smartphone can be seen on the head-mounted display.”
Brother plans to begin shipping the AirScouter before the end of fiscal 2010.
Steve Jobs is always trying to stay a cut above his competitors with magical and revolutionary moves they can not possibly previse being their run-of-the-mill selves. These magical and revolutionary tools of Steve Jobs' one-upmanship are, often, not only too arcane for his rivals but also for security officials at Japanese airports, who reportedly confiscated the Apple CEO's shurikens (also known as Ninja Stars) when he was about to board his private plane at Kansai International Airport on his way back home from a family vacation in Japan in July, 2010.
According to the latest issue of Japan's SPA! magazine, Jobs was found carrying Ninja throwing stars in his carry-on luggage by security officials at the airport. The story goes that he was barred from boarding his own plane with the shurikens, even though he tried to impress upon the officials that he was unlikely to gain anything from hijacking his own plane. According to the report, he finally left Japan without the magical and revolutionary shurikens, vowing never to return.
But an Apple spokesperson, while confirming the visit, described the incidents mentioned in the report as “pure fiction.” He further added, “Steve had a great time and hopes to visit Japan again soon.”
Japanese electronics giant Sharp might be the leading mobile phone maker in its country of origin but it has struggled to replicate that success elsewhere. It plans to change all that later this year when it launches a 3D smartphone, according to a Reuters report. The phone in all likelihood will feature the 3D parallax barrier display (developed for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS) the company unveiled back in April. The company is also considering adding a 3D camera to the phone, which will become available around the world before the end of 2010.
Sharp today introduced two new Aquos Blu-Ray disc recorders -- BD-HDW700 and BD-HDW70 -- into the Japanese market, both of which support the new BDXL format.
The BDXL format allows for far greater storage than with regular Blu-ray discs, up to 100GB on triple-layer discs (compared to 50GB), and up to 128GB on quadruple-layer discs.
Sharp's drives are the first in the world to support both recording and playback of BDXL media, and also come with 1TB (HDW70) and 2TB (HDW700) of hard drive capacity. Both drives will be available in Japan on July 30, 2010, with no word on when the company plans to ship these stateside.
"Construction of the new fab reflects expectations for increasing demand for NAND flash memory for existing and emerging applications, such as smartphones and solid-state drives," the companies said in a statement. Fab 5 will be ready for action midway through next year.
The facility is part of a Toshiba plan to spend 500 billion Japanese yen (US$5.65 billion) on new factories and equipment during the next three years.
There has been quite a bit of speculation about a batch of new PS3 models -- CECH-2501 series -- that popped up in the FCC's database, and it appears we now have our answer. According to a press release put out by Sony Japan, the two new models consist of the 160GB "Classic White" and 320GB "Charcoal Black" consoles.
Both are molded from Sony's PS3 Slim form factor, and both are planned for release in Japan on Thursday, July 29. The Classic White unit will sell for 29,980 yen (about $342 USD), while the 320GB Charcoal Black will sell for 34,980 yen (about $400 USD).
In addition to the Classic White console, Sony said it plans to release a matching Dualshock 3 Wireless Controller and stand.
No word on when Sony plans to release any of these in the U.S. market.
During a recent press meeting, the Tokyo Institute of Technology talked up details of its Tsubame 2.0 project, a next-gen supercomputer slated to start crunching numbers in the fall of 2010.
"It will be the first petaflops computer in Japan," said Satoshi Matsuoka, professor at the Global Scientific Information and Computer Center (GSIC) of the University. "And it will be the world-class supercomputer system for our university."
At full bore, Tsubame 2.0 will be capable of computing 2.39 PFLOPS, making it the second most powerful supercomputer in the world. It will also be one of the greenest supercomputers on the planet, helped in large part by 173.9TB of SSD storage.
"By using them to input and output local data (that are not shared by other nodes), the performance of the entire system can be enhanced," Matsuoka added.