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Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011

TECH_JAPAN

TOYS

A tiny digital camera, video memos made easy and a cat-shaped hand warmer


A tiny camera for tiny photographers. From the folks over at Green House comes a fun new toy camera. With a classic design available in three colors (black, brown and white) the new GH-TCAM30C (right) is the latest of the company's diminutive Mini Digi cameras. This could be a perfect camera for kids, although measuring in at 59 x 34 x 45mm it's almost small enough to be a choking hazard! Thankfully it comes with a handy neck strap to ensure that children won't lose it . . . or swallow it.

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The specs are modest but impressive given the camera's size. It has a 0.3 megapixel sensor and can store as many as 300 images depending on quality settings. It does video too, albeit only at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, which can be saved in AVI format on your PC.

If you're pretty like me and love self-portraits, the camera also features a 10-second self-timer. Compatible with Windows operating systems, the camera includes a driver CD and can even function as a webcam if needed.

For photographers out there with copycat kids, this could be a great way to let ambitious young children learn all about photography while keeping their dirty paws off expensive photo gear.

Available for purchase via the Green House website, the GH-TCAM30C cameras are priced at a paltry ¥2,480. At the time of writing they're sold out, so keep an eye open for them selling at other retailers (try Rakuten or Amazon) until they're back in stock.

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This clever product from Nakabayashi serves a practical function for the busy modern family, particularly here in Japan. With kids in class and parents not always at home, communication between family members can be tough. The Movie Memo (above) is a clever alternative to relying on post-it notes or refrigerator white-boards to scrawl hurried messages to each other. Instead, this camera-like device allows you to record video and audio messages for people to view later.

If a busy mother has to run an errand and can't be home when the kids return from school, she can now leave a short video message saying "Your dinner is in the fridge" or whatever other info she wants to pass on.

With a 2.36-inch LCD screen, the Movie Memo records AVI video and can take still JPEG images too. There's a folding stand as well as a magnetic back for mounting on a fridge and holes for wall hooks. Nakabayashi has left the price open, but currently you can find Movie Memo available online for around ¥7,000.

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And lastly this week we have another fun computer accessory from Thanko that will help you get through the cold winter months, especially if your office supervisors are trying to scrimp on the heating bills. This new mousepad (right), which is shaped like the head of a cat, also functions as a USB-powered hand warmer. Appropriately, your mouse goes inside the cat's mouth, so your hand can stay nice and toasty when your room happens to be a little chilly.

The "cat-mousepad" is available for purchase via Thanko's website for ¥1,980 and measures about 24 x 26 x 11cm, so it's even big enough for geeks with huge hands.

Link to all products:bit.ly/jttoys201101. Rick Martin is a contributor to Gizmag.com. Read more of his work at 1rick.com.


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