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The Best Tech You Can't Get in the US 354

DigitalDame2 writes "The US isn't always on the cutting edge of technology. We see a new product release that has just the blend of styling and features we've been looking for, but alas, it's only available overseas. From the Thanko MP4 watch to Sony's OLED TV, these are the hottest new gadgets to drool over, that you can't get here."
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The Best Tech You Can't Get in the US

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  • Wait, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:13PM (#21102865) Homepage Journal
    What do you mean, can't get here? This is the post-globalist age, ffs. From TFA:

    But, that doesn't stop us from drooling over and paying for imports of new gizmos from the other side of the world.

    I'm not usually one to rag on the editors for shitty or misleading summaries, but that one was completely pointless.
    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:19PM (#21102961)
      They'll turn a blind eye to grey-market imports, but try to sell most european and asian hi-tech gizmos in america, and some fuck will sue you for infringement of some stupid american patent. I run a small business in europe, and we just don't deal with americans
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      What about things that require service that's not provided in the United States? I've heard countless times that we're behind in cell phones AND cell phone service compared to many other nations, for example.

      Or things that are region encoded, and/or not available in the English language?

      There are certainly ways that the U.S. can lag behind in tech gadgets. Available services and localization account for this.
      • Don't forget Residential Internet services. There may be more of us on, but at lower speeds. Coming from the home of the Internet, this is pretty sad.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jamar0303 ( 896820 )
        Nearly every cellphone sold in Japan has the English language included. The only localization that needs to be done is switching out the OneSeg TV tuner (for TV-capable models) for a US/Europe-based digital tuner, and switching out the FeliCa RFID chip for whatever the US/Europe uses (and for HK/Singapore, which uses FeliCa already, it's just a matter of creating the application to tell the phone how to respond to their specific readers). On the other hand, Japan is behind in service a bit- only 2 providers
    • With many of the UMPCs (that's Ultra Mobile ...), one may not be able to buy that model, but what about the OQO? It claims to be "the smallest full featured pc" and for the masochists out there, it even runs Vista.
    • I'm not usually one to rag on the editors for shitty or misleading summaries, but that one was completely pointless.

      Um, the summary was pretty much taken from the title of the article, and it's reasonably well borne out. Also from TFA:

      Not surprisingly, the majority of products we found are cell phones and PDAs not stocked by US cell phone carriers.

      So yeah, maybe you can get that shiny new Japanese phone in the US, but it's not exactly useful. It's probably true that there are very few high-tech items you
      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
        With the exception of that Samsung phone, many (if not most) of the phones listed will work fine in the U.S.

        I'm fairly certain that all of the HTC devices (Touch Dual, S630, S730) have full or nearly-full functionality on either U.S. GSM carrier.

        Touch Dual - Probably the least functional. It's only tri-band GSM, and only does UMTS2100, so no UMTS (3G) in the U.S. and might have issues with normal GSM service in the U.S.

        S630 and S730 - Both are quad-band GSM (Works on T-Mobile or AT&T) and support UMTS8
    • All of the cyberpunk novels of the 1980's were about a future, not too far from today, assume that the US was a technical backwater slum. Is this the first sign we are going down that path?

      I feel like repeating my comment [slashdot.org] from a few days ago.
      • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @02:32PM (#21103965) Homepage Journal
        Um, since when is "technology" solely defined by consumer gizmos? How many countries outside the US have a working rover on the surface of Mars? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller...?I consider that feat a BIT more impressive than a watch that plays music, but maybe I'm just old fashioned.

        Slashdot seems to think consumer technology = technology in general. It's just not true.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Correction... we have TWO working rovers on Mars!

          Now... if we only had a base with people in it!!!
        • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @04:49PM (#21105749)

          How many countries outside the US have a working rover on the surface of Mars?

          How many countries outside Europe have landed a probe on Titan? How many countries outside USSR have landed probes on Venus (in the 1970's!). Of course, if you handpick the criterion for being on the cutting edge of technology..

          • Remember the space race, all of sudden it was to land a man on the moon. That was IT, goal completed, end of race. Nevermind that the USSR then went on to spend year after year with a continues manned space presence breaking record after record while the americans blew up, that didn't count. That was the goal the americans said had to be reached, that is what they reached first, therefore they won.

            It is amazing really, american standups never got tired of joking of Mir when it was in its final stages (neve

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )
        Let's see... techno backwater, religious loonies running rampart, ultra-rich vs. dirt-poor, importing knowledgeable people who're willing to work because the dirt-poor can't pay for education and the ultra-rich care only for partying and deem work beneath themselves (unless it's running some corporation)...

        You're not there yet, but you're heading in that direction.
  • Or even just a flying jet-powered motorcycle? Anyone? I'm looking at you Japan.
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:14PM (#21102881) Homepage
    From the Thanko MP4 watch to Sony's OLED TV, these are the hottest new gadgets to drool over, that you can't get here.

    They *need* cutting-edge displays like that to keep up with the continuing advances in tentacle hentai technology.
  • The US (Score:4, Interesting)

    by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:16PM (#21102923)

    The US isn't always on the cutting edge of technology.
    I was at a Canadian librarians IT conference last week and the speech on the second day was given by a Californian librarian considered by her peers as on the cutting edge. Like getting a lecture about technology from a Luddite. Her notions of technology were a good 20 years behind everyone else in the room and a good 25 years behind the actual technology. The audience was appalled at her patronizing attempts at "friendly jabbing at Canadian self image" with down right insulting jokes and her apparent hate of her IT guys and IT in general.

    The US is a mixed bag, on average it's far behind the technology curve. It's not population density because Canada is less dense but more in touch with technology. Some areas and industries are cutting edge but the average American seems pretty low on the tech literacy totem. At least from my interactions with Americans on trips there and on visitors here.
    • by ydrol ( 626558 )
      About 4 years ago, a US visitor here (UK) was shocked to see that nearly everyone had mobile phones, even the kids and the poor people. But my favourite story is from about 12 years ago, and a US visitor was again amazed that we had microwave ovens too :) The US is so big and there is so much variety, they can afford to be a bit more insular than the rest of us I guess :)
      • Re:The US (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @02:11PM (#21103701) Homepage Journal
        Funny but a few years ago we had a relative from the UK come for his first visit to the US. He wanted to see Disney World, the Grand Cayon, Hollywood, New York City, and the Kenndy Space Center. They wanted to know if we thought a week would be enough time...

        The US "lagged behind" Europe in mobile phones because of the way phone service in the US is priced. Local calls which in the US tend to cover a large area are free on land lines. That is one of the big reasons that the US lagged in broadband.
        I thought it very funny that when I was in the UK that I shocked people because I knew what the battle of Trafalgar was.
        The simple fact is that the US will almost always come off looking bad when you compare what US citizens know about a country and what the people in that country know about the US. Just about everybody knows about the US. But I would bet very few people in say the UK know much about the history of Japan. Or that many Japanese know much about the politics of Norway.

        • "The simple fact is that the US will almost always come off looking bad when you compare what US citizens know about a country and what the people in that country know about the US."

          Very true. But isn't doesn't the rather absurd comparison of Norwegian knowledge of Japanese history form a strawman argument? The US tends to come off looking bad without any comparison to other countries e.g. proportion of passport holders, percentage of people able to locate the countries they're currently invading on a world
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
            "Because you're smug about being an exception? Charming."
            Not really I was shocked because a large number of people that I know from the US would know it also. I found it interesting that people in the UK had a preconceived idea that an American wouldn't know what the battle of Trafalgar was. I would be willing go guess that a large number of people in the EU wouldn't have a clue about the battle of Mobile Bay or the battle of the Alamo. History isn't everybody's thing.
            And no my comment about someone from N
      • The US is so big and there is so much variety, they can afford to be a bit more insular than the rest of us I guess :)
        I had this dialog last night. You ask your average American where they catch their news they say Local news here, National news here. International? What's that.

        I think the opinion of the UK is tainted by films in the 80s which joked about the popularity of cable TV.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CodeBuster ( 516420 )
      the average American seems pretty low on the tech literacy totem. At least from my interactions with Americans on trips there and on visitors here.

      The result of a decades long decline in the quantity (and sometimes the quality) of the mathematics, science, and technology education in the primary and secondary school systems of the United States combined with a simultaneous and increasing trend towards outsourcing science and engineering related jobs (a one two punch really). There are still gifted stude
    • by The-Bus ( 138060 )
      Ironic, considering this is being discussed on a US tech-oriented website.
    • I think one of the things that helps Canadians embrace technology is that we have a low density on average, and we have relatively few highly dense population centres. It gives us the ability to roll out new tech infrastructure to a majority of people with little wasted lines. Also, you can connect the denser areas in fairly direct lines, with maybe 5 branches. Here's a map [nrcan.gc.ca] that will give you an idea. This is an ideal situation for fibre. And given how spread-out the population centres are, it supports
  • Wow, how ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:18PM (#21102947)
    Stupid. It's a whole list of gadgets that are roughly comparable to things we already have, but these particularly ones are only available in Japan. -yawn- I'll summarize the list:

    UMPCs
    Laptops
    TVs
    Media players (including a watch with a screen guaranteed to give you eyestrain)
    Phones

    Yeah, great stuff.
  • by fotbr ( 855184 )
    Oooh...a watch thats also a music player. Who gives a damn?

    Ooooh, and oled tv. Again, who cares?

    Most people I know don't wear digital watches, or carry music players. Then again, I don't hang around with college kids, and instead associate with people that do not live and breathe the crap put out that's considered "entertainment" these days.

    Get off my lawn! Damn kids....
    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      Are watches out of style? I have been wearing a watch since I was a kid, and in fact the one I'm wearing now dates back to 1993 and has only occasionally left my wrist during the day. Most of my co-workers wear watches, but I'm not exactly in the fashion industry here and we could all easily be out of touch. I know some of them have dumped their watches and just use their cellphone for time (sort of the pocketwatch for the new millennium), but that trend is hardly universal.
      • by fotbr ( 855184 )
        Most people I'm around wear analog watches, not digital ones.
      • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
        Are watches out of style?

        No, a stylish young woman I know was remarking yesterday about wanting a certain watch, and I said "why? You have a cell phone!" She just liked the design and color, it would be like a bracelet to her.

        But watches are obsolete. We have cell phones now, and they all have a clock on them. I guess iof you like redundant technology one might come in handy.

        Instead of a phone with a clock on it, I'd like to have a watch with a phone in it! Now THAT would be cool!

        -mcgrew
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by residieu ( 577863 )
          A watch on your wrist is a lot more convenient for checking time than a phone (unless you're already holding the phone for some reason, and not talking on it). You're also less likely to have left it on your desk, or shut it off to conserve battery power. And my cheap phone removes the clock from the main screen if it wants to tell me instead that it has no signal (in a subway), but I'm sure there are phones that aren't that stupid.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Surt ( 22457 )
        Watches are indeed out of style. A number of smaller brands have gone out of business, and there has been rumor about brands as big as rolex shutting down. The omnipresent cell phone with a clock that sets itself via network access to extreme accuracy has pretty much killed the need for most people to have a watch.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nschubach ( 922175 )
          ... and soon you'll have an over-the-ear cellphone that will tell you the time when you ask for it. At least that's where my money is.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gerbouille ( 663639 )

          The omnipresent cell phone with a clock that sets itself via network access to extreme accuracy has pretty much killed the need for most people to have a watch.

          I don't have a watch because I need accurate time. I have a mechanical watch because:

          • it is a beautiful piece of Swiss engineering and craftsmanship,
          • it is a symbol of civilisation and ingenuity,
          • if I survive the next nuclear winter/global warming apocalypse/doomsday meteorite, it will probably be the only device still working,
          • it is the only je
        • by jandrese ( 485 )
          I wonder if it matters that the people I work with often have to go into areas where they are not allowed to bring a cellphone? When someone is setting up a secure computing space the very first thing they do is ban cellphones from the room.
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:19PM (#21102991) Homepage Journal

    Most of today's consumer-electronics available in US are designed and/or made elsewhere.

    That some of the stuff is not available here is not, in itself, the sign of US lagging behind, but rather that of US consumers not being interested enough for the companies to introduce these particular products here.

    If root beer is not (widely) available in Japan, it is because the Japanese don't like root beer — not because they can't afford it, or don't know where to get it.

    • Some of the things on the list wouldn't likely be popular enough to be viable imports. The cell phones, for now, are good examples.

      But other things are kept out due to patent issues, and other sorts of regulatory absurdity. The few Cuban cigars brought into the country change hands for astronomical sums compared with what they sell for everywhere else, so the market obviously wants them.
      • But other things are kept out due to patent issues, and other sorts of regulatory absurdity. The few Cuban cigars brought into the country change hands for astronomical sums compared with what they sell for everywhere else, so the market obviously wants them.


        When the Cuban embargo is lifted, I expect that there will be an explosion in the sales of Cuban cigars. Mostly due to afficianados wanting to try out 'the best', and 'the forbidden'. However I would imagine that sales of such cigars would fall to the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jake73 ( 306340 )
      Yeah, and after looking at this list, I can see why. Everything on there looked like your run-of-the-mill crap. A bunch of "because we can" designs that really don't further the state of the art in tech or usability.
    • If root beer is not (widely) available in Japan, it is because the Japanese don't like root beer -- not because they can't afford it, or don't know where to get it.

      What if root beer was difficult to transport far from the farm and only grew well in the US. Or Japan had a steep tariff on root beer. Or laws or companies conspired to prohibit you from making said device even if there were demand? What if the root beer made in Japan was a drastically inferior quality and no one would drink it?

      There's a good
      • What if root beer was difficult to transport far from the farm and only grew well in the US. Or Japan had a steep tariff on root beer. Or laws or companies conspired to prohibit you from making said device even if there were demand? What if the root beer made in Japan was a drastically inferior quality and no one would drink it?

        That would be lamentable... Can you demonstrate anything of the kind actually happening with the products listed in the article (or closely related ones)?

      • 1) Buy component record player

        2) Buy RCA to 9mm audio cable

        3) Plug record player into PC audio "in"

        4) Record to your vinyl to any format under the sun, probably for half the price of $device.

        5) No profit, but you probably saved a few bucks.
    • If root beer is not (widely) available in Japan, it is because the Japanese don't like root beer -- not because they can't afford it, or don't know where to get it.

      And likewise, if I can't get a sub-notebook computer (think Palm Foleo form factor) here in the US, it's because joe-sixpack can't seem to find a use for it. Regardless of how much I would like to have a notebook computer with QWERTY keyboard that fits in my pocket (and doesn't cost as much as a server!), I can't get one. Palm cancelled t

      • by 6031769 ( 829845 )

        After all, why would you produce something that would sell a million units when, for the same engineering effort, you could sell 100 million?

        The argument is not about the engineering effort, IMHO, because that effort has already been spent on these gadgets - they are already mass produced and for sale to the general public - just in a different country. The effort required to sell them in a new country is simply that of rejigging the marketing and translating the instruction manuals. I'm sure if a corporation thought that they could shift a million units by just translating the manual and pushing some ads, they'd do so.

  • by 8127972 ( 73495 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:21PM (#21103007)
    .... Is available at ThinkGeek.com. This watch:

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/watches/8e18/ [thinkgeek.com]

    Is the same one listed in the PC Mag article:

    http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow_viewer/0,1205,l=217864&s=1562&a=217876&po=13,00.asp?p=y [pcmag.com]

    So it looks like you can get at least one of these items in the US.
    • The watch is not available at thinkgeek. Try to buy one if you don't believe me.

      This article and description are sensationalist, but the fact remains that patent law in the states is broken. It hampers innovation and keeps great products from being made or sold here.
      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        It's out of stock until November 5th. (Perhaps due to PC Magazine featuring it in this article.) What does that have to do with patent law?

        Anyway, I can't imagine buying such a thing. Why would I possibly want a video player strapped to my wrist?

  • Since when did a walk through of Dynamism's [dynamism.com] gadget inventory rate as a story? And not available in the US? WTF? That is exactly what Dynamism does, they are a tech importer for international product lines who also provides specialty tech support of the products that they sell.
  • by el_munkie ( 145510 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:33PM (#21103171)
    Nine of the sixteen were just cell phones that had pretty standard variations on the normal designs of any recent cell phone. None were remarkable or any more desirable than an iPhone in terms of function or design.

    Some of the UMPCs were nice, but again, aside from the addition of colors, none were significantly better than what can be obtained here.
  • Americans are poor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 )
    So... You only get the tat, not the quality gear. A few years ago that wouldn't have been the case.

     
  • sigh (Score:3, Funny)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:49PM (#21103379)
    Wake me up when I can get a Lucy Liu bot
  • Now I don't speak for all Americans, but I guarantee I don't step too far outside the mainstream in my attitudes:
    • Kohjinsha SH8 Series UMPC

      UMPC's in general are met with a big yawn here, and the iPhone may well kill them off for good. The integrated TV tuner is a pretty killer feature though, though the price of the average UMPC will still chase people away the same as it did for tablets.
    • Sony Rolly

      We don't much like cutesy anthropomorphic gadgets in the USA. And there's other "jostleable" players out the
  • Why waste time worrying about which countries have the best useless tech gadgets when the US is so far behind in more important areas: internet connectivity and infrastructure?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by King_TJ ( 85913 )
      I wish I had mod points available! Someone should mod you up! This list of "cool gadgets" was so uninspiring, I didn't even click through all of it before getting bored and irritated with it!

      If the only thing we're missing from "cool new tech in Japan" is an egg-shaped music player that gyrates around (obviously eating up the battery charge at a must faster rate than normal players), a bunch of wanna-be "iPhone killer" cellphones with various pluses and minuses, and 1 OLED TV set (a technology we're sure


  • 100mbit internet for $20/month.

    //moving to sweeden...
  • Great! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by radiumhahn ( 631215 )
    If that's the best tech we can't get in the US then I feel pretty good! That's some crappy junk I really don't want.
  • I mean, can't you get your hands on a record player in the USA? Has it come to this?
  • by nobodyman ( 90587 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @02:08PM (#21103657) Homepage
    Call it sour grapes if you want, but I'm not really clamoring over a hip-hop, breakdancing, mp3-playing egg [engadget.com].
    Although I'll gladly pay to import whatever drugs the Sony execs were taking when they gave this thing the green light.
  • Tiny laptops have never caught on in the US, although they've been around for years. "Americans have fat fingers". You can certainly get one in the US if you want one, but they're don't sell well. The Via Nanobook is a reasonable choice, and Sony has a whole range of them. Then there are the UMPC machines, which are little laptops partially usable without a keyboard.

    Designers are still struggling in the "too big for a phone, too small for a laptop" niche. There's a long history of duds in that space.

  • by MMInterface ( 1039102 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @02:25PM (#21103873)
    Tech differences between the US and Japan are a mixed bag. When I'm in the bay area or Seattle area people are far more tech savvy and have far more gadgets then the people I met when I lived in Tokyo. There is some great technology in Japan but has to do with tech gadgets and at times we have better stuff in the US. In the US you have a much better selection of computers and computer parts and they are cheaper. Fujitsu and Sony don't make the greatest machines so your not missing much by not having their latest model right away. In contrast if you want a great gaming machine your options are more limited in Japan. Cell phones are one of those items people like to bring up and thats also a mixed bag. The service is more expensive and the data rates are far more expensive in Japan. My cellphone bill last month went from $50 to $200 just from sending emails to other people's phones. In contrast I have sent far more emails and text messages from my US phone without extra charges. They have some neat models if you look but most places offer the same lineup of phones who's design is more limited than the designs we see here. Take a ride on the subway and it will seem like 90% of the people are using the same model flip phone. You will see far more people using smartphones and similar devices in the US. When people in Japan saw my old T-Mobile MDA they are always amazed. Those types of devices aren't as popular there among everyday people. Here you can easily find people using smartphones and blackberrys who don't even use the email features or web browser. They tend to stick to the flip phone design with no keyboard in Japan. But they do tend use web services that are tailored to mobile devices more often. If you really want to see superior Japanese technology that is not common here go to a love hotel. The last one I went to required no face to face communication with any employees. You walk in the building take a number, go to the room number on the slip. When you get to the door a voice greets you from an intercom and then your door unlocks. You go inside, the door locks you in :( and it stays that way until you pay the talking touch screen machine that is built into the wall which bills you by the hour. In the bathroom there is a hot tub with a large plasma tv built into the wall. In the bed room is another plasma, a PS2, a Sega Genesis, an NES, a karaoke machine and a sex toy vending machine. Overall it was average for that type of establishment.
  • I agree with everyone that these gadgets are mostly crap, but am I the only one that thought the Raon Everun was kind of neat? I've been wanting something small and portable (but with a good sized display) for reading PDFs. I didn't like any of the "eBook" devices that can and went, and I think a tablet pc is too much to pay for a simple use like this. I've been drooling over e-paper is a big way. I can't wait for them to perfect it and make devices from it. I liked that device that Sony came out with
  • Typo... (Score:2, Funny)

    by josquint ( 193951 )

    "The US isn't always on the cutting edge of technology...


    "The US isn't ever on the cutting edge of technology...

    There, fixed that for you.
  • In Japan, it's often more difficult to get a refund for a defective product. Also, consumer safety standards tend to be lower. Things that are illegal in the USA are legal in Japan, such as a batting cage that serves hardballs at 200km/h:

    http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=NMSgAs7VLTI [youtube.com]
  • Is the turntable since it would help in the process of converting old records into FLACs.
  • by DrBuzzo ( 913503 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:22PM (#21109443) Homepage
    In europe they have a digital TV standard for satellite called DVB-S. In the US, we have DVB-S and also Digicipher II and also DSS, which is what directv uses. Generally there aren't nearly as many DVB-S receivers around because it has not been standardized. In the use we use ATSC for our digital TV. It's an arcane completely non-standard (outside the US) method which does not seem to have much in the way of advantages. In much of the world they use DRM for digital radio (not to be confused with digital rights management) and they also use DVB-T(A) for digital radio. Both standards are open and easy to find decoders for. Here in the US there are stations which broadcast in HD-Radio and it's closed and company-controlled. This is true for cell phones, television and almost every other damn method of communications. The FCC has given us a really messy, redundant and just stupid spectrum. I don't know if it's corporate interests, too many restrictions on the approval or just plain stupidity but the FCC has been doing (IMHO) a REALLY REALLY bad job at it.

Trying to be happy is like trying to build a machine for which the only specification is that it should run noiselessly.

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