Summer Gadget Hunting in Akihabara

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Date: Thursday, August 1st, 2002, 10:02
Category: Archive

NTT Docomo P504iJuly is not at particularly good time to be in Japan, at least not if you grew up in Scandinavia and get uncomfortable once the thermometer rises about 20 C. But I didn’t have much choice this time. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) held its meeting in Yokohama from July 14 to 19 and this was a perfect opportunity to check out the latest and greatest in “Geek Heaven”, also known as Akihabara, the section of Tokyo devoted entirely to electronics.

Ketai Fever
You can’t avoid the “ketai” or Japanese cell phone. Everyone has one and everyone uses them for e-mail, Internet browsing, games and goodness knows what else. I have this deal with a friend who lives in Japan: he has a GSM phone on my account and I have a DoCoMo iMode phone on his account. Someone could start a business offering permanent world-wide cell phone service billed to your credit card, as it stands, you basically need to live in country X to have a cell phone in that country — on a permanent basis anyway. Pre-paid cards is another story altogether, but most of the cell phones in Japan do not have SIM cards. Anyway, it was time to upgrade my own ketai, and when I saw the Panasonic P504i, there was no question in my mind that this was the phone I wanted. A quick trip to the local Yokohama DoCoMo store took care of the rest: the old phone’s “brain” (stored numbers) was transferred to the new phone, and I was given two sets of manuals, one it English and one in Japanese. (All DoCoMo phones are now bilingual, and apart from some amusing entries in the manual such as ”oftener” the text is easy to read, and the phone behaves well.) You can see pictures of the P504i here.

PowerBook Protector
PowerBook coverI found a nice protector for my TiBook. This protector is a sheet of metal that attaches to the lid of the TiBook using something called “ProTac”, a kind of double-sided tape that lets you remove the protector if needed. I chose a bright red color, and, as you can see in the picture, have already adorned it with various stickers. This is a nice way to both protect your TiBook from impact and scratches, and at the same time, personalize it — a true Japanese tradition.

Short FireWire cables
Short FireWire cableIf you’ve ever wished for a really short and flexible FireWire cable, here is the answer: Tec Parts makes a 20 cm (0.2 m) 6-pin to 6-pin cable. It is perfect for charging (or updating) your iPod, and just as perfect for that external FireWire drive you might take on the road. The picture shows the packaging, front and back, as well as the cable itself.

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