One of the coolest hard-disk based digital music players has been upgraded. Toshiba Corp.'s new Gigabeat G21 now boasts the ability to connect to a local area network, via an adapter, so data on its 20G-byte hard disk drive can be accessed by more than one user. You can load Windows Media or MP3 files into the Gigabeat but they need to be sent via Toshiba's own application software, which means that support is limited to Windows machines. This is probably the biggest complaint about the device because it means that while users of machines running Mac OS or other systems should be able to connect to the Gigabeat and even store music files on its hard disk, they will be treated as data files and the music player software won't recognize them. Like the previous version, the interface language can be switched between Japanese, English, French, German and Spanish. Toshiba says it is seriously considering putting the Gigabeat on sale in the U.S. or Europe but has yet to make a final decision. It went on sale in Japan on April 9 for around ¥52,000 (US$480) with the LAN adapter or ¥47,000 without.
Web: http://www.gigabeat.net (Japanese)
Sony NV-XYZ77 Car Navigation System
The lack of street names makes car navigation systems almost indispensable in Japan but driving often remains more of a frustration than a pleasure due to frequent traffic jams in places like Tokyo. Sony Corp.'s latest car navigation system could change all of that and get people jumping in the car to take a ride just so they can see its video-game like graphics. The system uses a 3D graphics engine to produce some of the coolest images yet to be featured in such a product: a 3D representation of the road ahead, complete with landmarks and major buildings, and your course marked out with a gold line. There's a host of other functions, such as a music player and television mode and the map is stored on a 30G byte hard disk drive that can be updated via an Internet download service. An optional second screen is available for passengers in the back seat and can be programmed to show TV or DVD content while the driver's screen shows the map. As you might expect, such wizardry doesn't come cheap -- the top of the line model costs ¥210,000 (US$1,940).
Web: http://www.sony.jp/products/me/xyz (Japanese)
Matsushita SV-AP30 Printer