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In car computing, Japanese style

Forget your stereo, in Tokyo you get email, web access, DVDs and more

Japanese company, Clarion has taken the wraps off a new in-car computer at World PC Expo in Tokyo this week and said it plans to put the device on domestic sale in December.

The computer, which is based on the Windows CE for Automotive operating system, is one of the most feature-packed in-car electronics systems yet seen in Japan — a country where dashboard navigation, television and DVD video functions can be found in many cars.

The Cadias, (it stands for car digital assistant, according to Clarion), offers all of the functions mentioned, plus an AM/FM radio, a CD player, MP3 and WMA digital audio players as well as adding communications options into the mix.

Email and internet access are both possible through the system once a network connection is present. This can be done in several ways: either through a cable to a mobile, via a USB connection to advanced handsets or via a communications card or modem plugged into a PC Card slot on the front of the Cadias.

Other features on the main menu include a scheduler and address book and the system has a 7in TFT screen, which includes a touch-panel for operation. A remote control is also included allowing the system to be navigated from the back seat.

Future versions of the Cadias could be more advanced. The company has plans to add support for entertainment-related features like support for digital TV and direct-to-car satellite broadcasting.

The Cadias will go on sale in Japan on 1 December and carries a hefty price tag of ¥338,000 (£1,745).

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