TOKYO EDGE - October's coolest gadgets

The coolest home gadgets from Ceatec, Japan's largest electronics show

Sharp LCD with optical scanner

If you think the iPhone screen's two-finger touch is cool then Sharp Corp. has something for you! The company showed a prototype 3.5-inch screen integrates an optical scanner pixel alongside each LCD pixel. This means the screen can scan objects such as name cards placed on its surface and recognize fingers or other objects. Because it's determining the position of fingers from a scanner input and not a touch screen, it's possible to touch the screen in more than two places and have all fingers recognized. The panel is still a prototype but commercialization is expected in the first half of next year. Samples are already in the hands of potential customers but Sharp wouldn't name those companies. Whoever they are, you can be sure some are trying to outdo Apple's iPhone!

Samsung music phones

Away from Ceatec, Samsung unveiled a refreshed line-up of three new cell phones that are targeted at music lovers. The top-of-the-range SGH-i450 boasts an amplifier developed by high-end audio specialists Bang & Olufsen and runs the Symbian S60 smartphone software platform. It has a 2.4-inch display and a 2-megapixel camera. It works on WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) networks and supports HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) data service up to 3.6M bps (bits per second). The phone will first appear in Italy at the end of October and will follow in other European countries. It will cost about US$508 before carrier subsidies. One weak point of the handset is the amount of built-in memory, which is just 35M bytes. That's about enough for 7 to 10 songs, which is disappointing for a music phone. Memory can be expanded up to 4G bytes with a Micro SD memory card.

Sony Video Walkman with TV

Sony is adding mobile digital TV viewing and recording to the video Walkman it sells in Japan. The "OneSeg" system, as it is marketed, has proved a popular addition to many portable gadgets and can now be found on many high-end cell phones, laptop PCs, car navigation systems and even electronic dictionaries. The only difference between the three new Walkman devices with TV is their memory capacity. The NW-A916 has 4G bytes of memory, the NW-A918 has 8G bytes and the NW-A919 16G bytes. Compared to the last players the screen size has been increased to 2.4-inches from 2-inches. They'll go on sale in November in Japan only. The NW-A916 will cost about US$260.

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