Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 344, May 1998

Issue Index

Japanese Companies in the US


Like the American competition, Japanese-affiliated firms selling notebook computers in the United States announced new products featuring the mobile Pentium II microprocessor the same day INTEL CORP. released the fastest mobile processor yet for portable machines. For instance, HITACHI PC CORP. introduced two additions to its VisionBook Pro line of performance multimedia notebooks, one with a 233-megahertz version of the chip and the other running off a 266-MHz mobile Pentium II. The VisionBook Pro 7330 and the VisionBook Pro 7550, available in early June, include integrated modem and LAN (local area network) support and a choice of several removable storage solutions. Street prices are estimated at $3,000 for the 233-MHz model and $4,000 for the 266-MHz version. FUJITSU PC CORP. likewise previewed the LifeBook 990Tx2 notebook featuring the 266-MHz mobile Pentium II processor. Available in late May for roughly $5,000, the high-end machine also incorporates an AGP (accelerated graphics port) graphics processing interface.

FUJITSU PC CORP. also recently added three other models to its LifeBook family of notebook computers that are DMI 2.0 (Desktop Management Interface) and WfM 1.1 (Wired for Management) compliant and that include management applications that allow administrators to remotely or locally query and configure systems and retrieve asset information. The LifeBook 770Tx and 790Tx, powered respectively by 200-MHz and 266-MHz Pentium processors with MMX technology, also feature ACPI (advanced configuration power interface) advanced power management support. Pricing runs around $2,800 (770Tx) or $3,500 (790Tx). Roughly $4,300 buys the LifeBook 690Tx, which is just 1.5 inches thick and weighs only 5 pounds. Running on a 266-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, it has all the bells and whistles that mobile professionals want.

Making a run at the network computer market, MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP.'s subsidiary released the AMiTY VP, a handheld machine weighing only 2.2 pounds. It has a keypad for inputting numerical values, while handwriting recognition software provides reliable written input. The AMiTY VP, which uses a 133-MHz processor from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC., has up to 48 megabytes of system memory and an 810-MB hard disk drive, plus a 7.5-inch color VGA (video graphics array) liquid crystal display. Various connectors allow access to peripherals.

The MobilePro 700 line of Windows CE 2.0 handheld devices from the NEC Computer Systems division of PACKARD BELL NEC INC. is shipping with pcANYWHERE CE from SYMANTEC CORP. This Windows CE-based communications package provides fast remote access to applications and files on any personal computer, workstation or server. Weighing less than 1.5 pounds, the MobilePro 700 has what is claimed to be the biggest alphanumeric keyboard of any Windows CE 2.0 device as well as a large backlit screen. It is being marketed for electronic mail and Internet access, among other uses.

The world leader in compact disc and software turnkey manufacturing and marketing, KAO INFOSYSTEMS CO., is in the process of ending production of floppy disks and CDs at its Plymouth, Massachusetts plant as well as the turnkey business there. Opened in 1989 and expanded in recent years, the facility employs approximately 200 people on the manufacturing side and in fulfillment and turnkey distribution; that is roughly 15 percent of the KAO CORP. subsidiary's North American work force. The work done in Plymouth is being transferred to Kao Infosystems facilities in Fremont and San Ramon, California and in Bothell, Washington. In 1997, these plants, plus ones in Canada and in Europe, collectively turned out 175 million CD-ROMs (read-only memories). Kao Infosystems' corporate offices will remain in Plymouth.

Under an original equipment manufacturer agreement, RORKE DATA INC. of Eden Prairie, Minnesota is integrating the Beluga AV 2.6-gigabyte Direct OverWrite magneto-optical drive from NIKON CORP. into its line of digital disk recorders, customized rack-mounted systems, optical libraries, high- bandwidth networks, and digital asset and document management systems. The Beluga AV writes data in a single pass, making it as much as twice as fast as earlier MO drives. It provides a sustained data transfer rate of up to 4 megabytes per second, with a burst transfer rate of 10 MB per second at 3,600 revolutions per minute.

An exchange rate of ¥132=$1.00 was used in this report.

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