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Japanese goodies

Techie toys on display at Tokyo tradeshow

The gadgets that will dominate our wishlists over the coming months have been on show at Tokyo's World PC Expo this week.

Sharp was touting the next generation of its Zaurus handheld line-up (pictured). The Linux-based PDA (personal digital assistant) has been given a design overhaul. It now looks more like a mini-notebook, with a folding case that has a landscape display on the upper half and a keyboard on the lower half.

The Zaurus also owes something to Tablet PCs like Acer's TravelMate 100, as the screen can be swivelled back, so when the PDA is shut the screen remains facing outwards. The launch date and pricing are not available yet.

JVC wasn't left out as it touted its high-definition camcorder at the show. The device offers three recording modes: conventional 525-line interlaced; 525-line progressive scan and 750-line progressive scan. The company claims this is the first camcorder to offer this top resolution in a non-professional device.

When recording at 525-line resolution it can capture 60fps (frames per second), but because of the greater level of detail required for higher quality images, at 750-line resolution it drops to 30fps. A converter is bundled to provide the 60fps signal a monitor requires.

The camera also features another first — a 0.33in progressive CCD (charge coupled device) that will come with a high-definition zoom lens. The camcorder is due to ship in Japan next March, but no details were available about when it would launch in other markets. Pricing is expected to be in excess of ¥160,000 (£829).

Japanese consumers may also be tempted by the D-snap digital camera from Matsushita. This dinky device weighs just 122g and measures 62x75x26mm, making it little bigger than a mobile phone. It has a 350,000-pixel resolution, which is on a par with many cameras built into mobiles, and has a 2x zoom. As well as capturing stills it can record Mpeg-4 video clips at 15fps.

The D-snap isn't aimed at the traditional digital camera market, instead Matsushita hopes to woo younger style-conscious buyers and to this end has integrated an audio player into the device. SD (Secure Digital) memory cards are used to store images and audio files.

It is due for launch in Japan in December price ¥48,000 (£248) and as yet there are no plans to ship overseas.

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