Many of the coolest tech gadgets show up in Asia before they do in the United States. Here’s a peek at the sleekest gifts you can’t buy this holiday season—at least, not without a long plane trip.
Toshiba HD DVD Recorder
Dying to record shows from high-def TV? Toshiba’s RD-A1 recorder has 1 terabyte of hard disk space alongside an HD DVD optical drive. The hard disk stores about 130 hours of digital HD terrestrial TV; a dual-layer HD DVD-R disc holds about 230 minutes, Toshiba says. Price of admission: 398,000 yen ($3,380).
Sharp W-Zero3 ES Smart Phone
This slider-type Windows Mobile phone, with a complete qwerty keyboard, is sure to spark PDA envy. You reveal the keyboard by sliding the upper half of the phone away from the lower half. Sporting a VGA (640×480 pixels) resolution 2.8-inch screen, this phone also lets you transfer images from a camera via USB. It costs 29,800 yen ($253).
Pioneer Raku NavI
Pioneer’s car navigation system not only helps you get around in Japan but also serves music from a 30GB hard drive, offers 3-D city images, places a phone call via voice request and, for passengers, tunes in to digital TV. Yours for only 147,000 to 325,000 yen ($1,250–$2,764).
NTT DoCoMo P903i
Consumers in Japan no longer have to worry about losing their cell phones and having someone make calls, or worse. The P903i cell phone from NTT DoCoMo and Panasonic comes with a companion RFID key card, to be carried in a pocket or handbag. The phone works only when in proximity to the key card. Cost: 20,000 to 30,000 yen ($170–$255).
Samsung 10-Megapixel Camera Phone
No blurry pictures here: Samsung’s SCH-B600 cell phone packs a 10-megapixel image sensor—better than most full-fledged cameras—and a 3X optical zoom lens. On sale in South Korea for 900,000 won ($900).