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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek technology

OCTOBER 1, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 39

Pulse: Got Game, Part 2
Sony prepares a PlayStation sequel, while phones go musical and elephants get chips
Compiled by JIM ERICKSON

In the warp-speed video game business, as in the games themselves, standing still is a good strategy for getting zapped. That's why Sony engineers are toiling away on the sequel to the best-selling PlayStation, which at more than three years old is slouching towards obsolescence. In Tokyo Sept. 13, Sony showed off a prototype of the PlayStation2. Out go the chunky, toy-like looks in favor of sleek, sci-fi sophistication. The slim design and front-loading disk drive allow the PlayStation2 to be tucked away vertically on a bookshelf - freeing up vital coffee table space for another six-pack and pizza box. Impressive. The proof, however, is in the processing power. PlayStation2 has gobs of it, boasting five times the graphics-crunching speed of today's PCs. The machine will play all your old PlayStation games, as well as DVDs and games, movies and music downloaded from the Internet. Rival manufacturers Sega and Nintendo are charging up their PlayStation killers. Sega's potent Dreamcast console had a respectable debut in the U.S. earlier this month, and Nintendo expects to have the Dolphin, a successor to the Nintendo 64, out in time for Christmas 2000. The PlayStation2, meanwhile, is slated to launch in Japan for about $365 in March. Game on.

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Cover Story: Done Deal
Peter Yip took china.com public. Now he must make it great

Living in the Future
A corporate vision of the all-digital home

Bid Bad Wolf
Don't get cheated at online auction sites

PULSE: Next-generation Sony Playstation, musical mobile phones, elephant chips, and mice with missing parts

POLITICS.COM: Feminism on the web

FACE OFF: Muscling in on mp3

PORTFOLIO: A tech-stock tune-up

E-VESTING: Digging for investment gold

TOOLBOX: Build-it-yourself web pages

B2B: Mixing televisions and the Internet for profit

WIRED EXEC: Net merchant Leroy Kung


HURRY UP AND W-W-WAIT
Thanks to global e-commerce, you can now buy anything from anywhere in seconds. But better order that walking frame now. You are more likely to see your pension before getting the goods. Consumers International (www.consumers international.org), a London advocacy group, conducted a test of online shopping by ordering a range of products - including hair dryers, liquor, software and Barbie dolls - from 17 nations. Lengthy delivery times were the rule. The group reported that nearly one in 10 Internet-purchased items never arrived at overseas destinations. Hong Kong's abused consumers saw some particularly rough trade. It took longer (18 days) to get goods from local e-tailers than it did from overseas sites (11 days). It's enough to make a shopper leave the house.



NICE RING TO IT
We are sooo tired of hearing mobile phones beep out the first notes of "Waltzing Matilda." Here's a cellular with serious repertoire. Samsung's less-than-catchily-named SPH-M2100 (the Talkman?) combines a digital music player with handset so that users can, when they are not getting an earful from boss or spouse, listen to high-fidelity tunes downloaded from the Internet. A 16-megabyte flash memory chip can store four songs or 20 minutes of speech. The company plans to double storage capacity in later models. Samsung says it expects to sell 250,000 handsets in South Korea before the end of the year. Export versions are due out in the next several months.

MICE AND EASY
Emerging from its evolutionary backwater, the computer mouse is dropping dysfunctional appendages like overripe fruit. There's no cable tail to get tangled on Microsoft's Cordless Wheel Mouse nor on Logitech's Cordless MouseMan Wheel. Instead the untethered units use radio waves to get their point-and-click across. Unlike other wireless devices that use infrared light to transmit commands to computers, radio signals work even without a clear line of sight from mouse to machine. On another branch on the genetic tree is Microsoft's IntelliMouse Explorer, above. The tail remains, but gone is the traditional gunk-encrusted trackball. It has been replaced by an optical sensor and digital signal processor that can tell where the mouse is scurrying on any surface. Oh yes, and it has a trendy translucent underbelly and a red taillight that flashes when you click. They don't do anything. These days, it's simply survival of the prettiest.

WIRED ELEPHANTS ON PARADE
Bangkok is reaching for the chips to control its pesky pachyderms. Despite a city-wide ban, elephant owners use their beasts to panhandle (feeding them is supposed to be lucky, although stepping in the byproduct is not), blocking traffic and occasionally wrecking property. To track about 80 tusked perps, the city will implant tiny microchips under the skin. Repeat offenders can be scanned by police, identified, and their owners fined. Critics say it's science run amok. "You don't need a computer to see an elephant," observed one opponent of the scheme. A white elephant technology, perhaps.

Pic: Asiaweek Pictures. Illustration by Manodh Premaratne


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