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November 2004 Gadget Roundup

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Japan never fails to impress. In this Gadget Roundup, Japan takes center stage with some progressive gadgets that Alexander Grundner hopes will make it to our shores.
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This edition spotlights a variety of versatile gadgets due out in the coming months and some notable gadgets exclusive to Japan, such as the Sony two-way audio networked webcams, Sharp Mebius AV Center PC, and Sony Clie PEG-VZ90. But don't fret; consumers in the States can look forward to an abundance of techie devices this holiday season, and the following article provides a glimpse of what's to come.

Sony Two-Way Audio Networked Webcams

Sony Japan a series of wired and wireless networked webcams this December. But with this crop of devices, Sony is offering two-way audio communication (see Figure 1), a feature we haven't seen on any similar device to date. Imagine not only spying on your remote surroundings, but being able to communicate with people on the other end.

Figure 1Figure 1

In total, there are four webcams: two fixed-lens and two tilting-lens versions, both sets featuring one wired Ethernet and wireless 802.11b version. In typical fashion, all the cameras have motion detection, which can send captured video and audio by email and have built-in web servers to log into remotely. Video quality (MPEG-4 320x240 pixels at 30 fps or 640x480 at 15 fps) is on par with most other devices in this category, but can't compare to the most recent wireless-G versions from D-Link and Linksys.

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