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OCTOBER 27, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 42 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Asiaweek Pictures.
Cutting Edge

FLASH: Television Take-Away
The first Web tablet hasn't even reached electronics stores and already there's an identity crisis. A number of companies, including America Online, Gateway and Intel, are developing a new generation of flat-screen Internet-surfing appliances that can be carried around the house. Now Sony says it plans to bring out a Web tablet that is also a handheld television. The Airboard can be used like a touch-screen desktop computer. Unlocked from its base station — which contains both TV antenna and wireless modem — it becomes a most excellent TV tray. For digital convergence freaks, the picture-in-picture feature allows TV and Internet viewing simultaneously. A Japan launch is set for Dec. 1. Release dates in other markets have not been announced, nor has a price.

GADGETS: Photographic Memory, Improved

Panasonic's curvy new digital camera may be pretty as a picture, but its real beauty lies in its memory. The PV-DC3000 ipalm is the first camera that can record in Secure Digital (SD) format. That means it stores your pics on thumbnail-sized SD memory cards, which have built-in copy protection. The encryption is a real advance over other memory formats — not just for protecting your snapshots of junior's birthday party — but because you can also use the cards for downloading secure digital material, like music files, from your PC or other SD-compliant device. It works for plain-old data too. Look for the ipalm in November for about $900.


Illustration by Manodh Premaratne.
WIRED 'N' WEIRD: Digital Scare Tactics
How do you measure a rainbow, a smile, or — muwahahaha! — the fright of your life? Sorry, can't help you with the first two. But if you want to test your courage and have the data to show for it, visit the high-tech haunted house known as Hell's Inn, at Japan's Sunshine Namjatown theme park. When you "check in" you get a handheld device shaped like that old haunted house standby, the, uh, monster crab. As you navigate the ghoulish maze, the crab is triggered by infrared to vibrate and startle you. That oughta get your pulse racing. You'll know for sure at the end anyway. Heart rates are taken at the entrance and exit, and your cowardice level calculated and printed out.

COMPUTING: Dreaming of an Analog Xmas
Oh, for the Yuletide of yore, when the only thing "digital" in your stocking was a pair of toe socks. It may be time to return to those days — whether you want to or not. Worldwide component shortages threaten to lighten Santa's load of gadgets this year. Demand for liquid crystal display screens, flash memory and capacitors is so great that they're all in short supply. If they stay that way, digital devices of all sorts could follow suit, or at least be more expensive. One casualty already is Sony's PlayStation 2. A shortage of just one five-cent component can halt a whole production line. So have another eggnog and steel yourself for the return of the Ugly Christmas Tie.

e-mail: yasmin_ghahremani@asiaweek.com

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