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No. 361, October 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


Next spring, HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. will open a 450,000-square-foot distribution and warehouse facility in Plainfield, Indiana, outside Indianapolis. Located within 24 hours by truck of three-fourths of the company's existing and potential customers, the center will enable the Santa Clara, California supplier of high-end servers and multiplatform storage subsystems to provide next-day delivery to most businesses. In time, the Plainfield facility, which will employ 100 people, will replace Hitachi Data Systems' distribution centers in San Jose, California and Laurel, Maryland.

Hoping to win the business of small companies looking for an affordable way to expand their Internet presence, HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. redefined the low end of its VisionBase server family (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 3). The VisionBase 8245 can be configured with one or two 600-MHz or 550-MHz Pentium III processors with 512 kilobytes of Level-2 cache per processor, as much as 1 gigabyte of synchronous dynamic random access memory, up to 90 GB of internal storage and six PCI (peripheral component interconnect) slots. VisionBase 8245 pricing begins at an affordable $2,700.

TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. is leveraging the power of the 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor in its quad-processing Magnia 7010 series of enterprise-class servers. Suited for enterprise management, electronic commerce, data bases, data warehousing and general high-volume business processing, the build-to-order line starts at $7,300 for a single processor with 512 KB of L-2 cache, 256 MB of DRAM memory, a 32X CD-ROM (compact disc-read-only memory), a PCI graphics adapter and six 3.5-inch hot-swap drive bays that support 18-GB drives.

The fast-expanding market for low-cost (sub-$800) desktop machines has attracted another competitor: TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. The Irvine, California company's V3100 line starts at $550 for a system with a 366-MHz Celeron processor; a 15-inch TAIS monitor adds about $160 to the price. Many BTO options are available for buyers interested in machines for Internet browsing, electronic mail and basic productivity applications. These include Celeron processor speed (up to 500 MHz), 64 MB or 128 MB of system memory, 4-GB to 13-GB hard drives, a 40X CD-ROM drive, modem or network interface cards and a choice of Microsoft operating systems.

People interested in near-professional digital video editing have four new choices in SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.'s VAIO Digital Studio PC line. Ranging in price from $900 to $2,000, they include the entry-level PCV-R532DS with a 466-MHz Celeron processor, 64 MB of SDRAM memory, a 10-GB hard drive, an 8X digital video disc-ROM drive, and two iLINK (IEEE-1394) digital interface ports, plus two USB (universal serial bus) ports. Three higher-end models — the PCV-R536DS, the PCV-R538DS and the PCV-R539DS — are available as well, each with increased processor power (450-MHz to 550-MHz Pentium IIIs) and bigger hard drives (10 GB or 17 GB). They also feature 128 MB of system memory, three-dimensional, 2X AGP (accelerated graphics port) graphics, 8 MB or 16 MB of video memory, an 8X DVD-ROM drive, a CD-Rewritable drive in the two high-end models, two iLINK ports and two USB ports.

SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. also broadened its popular line of VAIO 505 SuperSlim notebooks with their sleek, rugged magnesium-alloy cases. For high-end business travelers and road warriors, the company added two SuperSlim Pro models that weigh less than 3.5 pounds and have a 1-inch profile. Both Z505 models have a 12.1-inch XGA (extended graphics array) active-matrix TFT (thin-film-transistor) display. The $2,500 VAIO Z505R has a 366-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, 64 MB of SDRAM and a 6.4-GB hard drive, while the VAIO Z505RX, which has an estimated selling price of $3,000, features a 400-MHz mobile Pentium II chip, 128 MB of system memory and an 8.1-GB hard drive. Both also come with a dedicated Memory Stick media slot, a pair of USB ports and an iLINK port. In addition, Sony Electronics extended its original SuperSlim notebook series, adding two models with a 10.4-inch XGA active-matrix TFT display, 64 MB of SDRAM and a 6.4-GB hard drive. The VAIO N505VE, which goes for about $1,700, is powered by a 333-MHz mobile Celeron processor. The $2,200 or so VAIO N505VX uses a mobile Pentium II processor running at the same speed.

The first product in a planned SEIKO EPSON CORP. family of PCI bus-based card PCs will be available in production quantities in December. One of the initial card PCs based on NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s power-saving Geode processor running at 200 MHz, the CARD- PCI/GX is said to be 30 percent smaller and thinner than its closest competitor. It also is claimed to be more than 20 percent less expensive than alternatives at $300 each in 10,000- unit lots. The CARD-PCI/GX is fully compatible with the Windows CE, 95/98 and NT operating systems. It also supports leading real-time operating systems. The PCI motherboard is targeted at applications where high performance, low cost and low power consumption are all at a premium. Those include factory automation, mobile test equipment, ruggedized notebooks, dedicated Web servers and compact PCI-compliant boards.

Complementing its channel strategy, FUJITSU COMPUTER PRODUCTS OF AMERICA, INC. formed an Internet Sales and Distribution Division to spearhead Internet-based sales and service of its hard drives, tape drives, magneto-optical drives, scanners and printers. The San Jose, California supplier also opened a new on-line store at its Web site.

The Hitachi Freedom Storage 5800 family of multiplatform, high-availability storage subsystems has a new, lower-capacity member. The Model 5840 also is the first product that HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. is releasing through a two-tiered sales model of systems integrators and value-added resellers as well as its existing large-account sales team. The Model 5840 houses up to 10 36-GB disk drives in a standard 19-inch rack-mount chassis, and six subsystems can be mounted in a single rack. That capability on top of the interoperability and the connectivity of the Hitachi Freedom Storage 5800 family enables channel partners to build storage solutions supporting SANs (storage area networks), electronic business, data warehousing and back-office applications for their clients. Pricing of the Model 5840 with Fibre Channel or SCSI (small computer system interface) connectivity starts at under $20,000.

People who take laptop or handheld PCs on the road can take along a 1.1-pound printer. PENTAX TECHNOLOGIES CORP., a wholly owned Broomfield, Colorado subsidiary of ASAHI OPTICAL CO., LTD., has introduced the PocketJet 200 portable printer. Compatible with any Windows-based device, the thermal system prints 200-dots-per-inch text and graphics at speeds of up to three letter-size pages per minute. It will generate approximately 40 pages per battery charge. The PocketJet 200 has a suggested list price of $320.

KYOCERA ELECTRONICS, INC. has added a high-volume network laser printer and a midrange counterpart to its Ecosys printer line, which is designed to minimize the total cost of ownership. The Duluth, Georgia firm's FS-3750 outputs 18 ppm with a print resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi. Designed for large workgroups in networked environments, this $1,100 printer has a 166-MHz PowerPC 603e processor and comes standard with 16 MB of memory. Its $900 midvolume mate, the FS-1750 for small, networked groups, prints 14 ppm, also with a 1200 x 1200-dpi resolution. It is equipped with a 100-MHz PowerPC 603e chip and 8 MB of memory.

Going after the growing market for printers among small businesses and home users, OKI DATA AMERICAS, INC. of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey released the OKI-PAGE 6w. A six-ppm digital LED (light-emitting diode) printer with a 600-dpi resolution, the compact desktop machine has a suggested street price of $200.

The first color copier/printer designed by SHARP CORP. is available in the United States through its Mahwah, New Jersey marketing unit. The midvolume AR-C150 Digital Color IMAGER operates at speeds of 15 ppm in color and 25 ppm in black and white with a 600-dpi resolution. Aimed at graphic arts and print-for-pay businesses as well as at markets where color output is becoming increasingly important, Sharp says that the AR-C150 is both the fastest machine in its class and the most compact four-drum copier/printer sold. The basic unit, which incorporates a Fiery print controller from ELECTRONICS FOR IMAGING, INC., has a suggested retail price of $21,800.

USB compatibility is now available for SHARP CORP.'s IMAGER series of desktop multifunction peripherals. With this technology, a user simply plugs the new AR-150 line of 15-ppm digital copiers/laser printers/facsimile machines into a PC. All the necessary drivers then are loaded automatically, with little or no configuration required. IN-SYSTEM DESIGN of Boise, Idaho and LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. designed and implemented the USB device for Sharp.

An exchange rate of ¥108=$1.00 was used in this report.

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