Buying a computer in Japan?

Aug 7th, 2010, 06:01 AM
  #1  
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Buying a computer in Japan?

I want a new, lighter, netbook for my upcoming trip, but the MSI model I picked (2.2 lbs) turned out to be only available in Taiwan. The US model has longer battery life but is heavier and bulkier. Then it occurred to me that I'm starting this trip in Japan, and maybe that would be a better place to look for a light netbook.

Has anyone looked at buying computers in Japan? I don't care about the warranty, but I do care about the keyboard and the user's manual - would I have trouble finding an English keyboard? Is there a good area to shop in Kyoto?

And before someone suggests an iPad, I looked into that - by the time you add the case, the camera connection kit and a wireless keyboard, it weighs as much as a netbook, is less easy to use (for creating blog content), costs more, and is more attractive to thieves.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 07:59 AM
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I looked at buying a netbook in Osaka's Den den town last spring and found:

All Japanese netbooks I saw come with Japanese keyboards.It is the same as the English keyboard with a slightly different layout and 5-8 more buttons, can't remember. You can switch from English to hiragana with the push of a button but....

Generally, the same models are available as are in the US, however I found that they tend to be a little more expensive in Japan.

Also factor in that US electronics distributors won't service items bought overseas, so if you ever need your netbook fixed after you've returned to the US.

That said a visit to a Yodobashi Camera or Bic Camera in Osaka's den den town can be mesmerizing.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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I also browsed netbooks in Akihabara, which is the Great Temple of Electronics. Consistent with ht's experience, all the keyboards were Japanese + English. Because of the tight space on a netbook, that's an unneeded complication. And while the layout of Roamn letters is similar, I believe that 'y' and 'z' are switched (or am I thinking of German kb's?).

Netbooks are so reasonably priced in the US (use newegg or B+H for best prices and near-instantaneous delivery) that it usually makes little sense to buy overseas --- except maybe, of course, in a case like thursdaysd, where the sought model isn't available in the US.
DonTopaz is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 09:46 AM
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Thanks HT and rizzuto. Buying abroad certainly wasn't my first thought, but when MSI said that the model was available in Taiwan, it did occur to me that it might be a good idea. But I've spent enough time on non-qwerty-standard keyboards when traveling to know it drives me nuts! Looks like I'll be settling for an Asus 1008HA - apparently the model with XP is lighter than the newer version with Windows 7.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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Also remember the OS is in Japanese, and the PC is configured for use in Japan, with Japanese drivers and for Japanese software applications etc. There are English keyboard and OS netbooks/laptops available in Japan, but are more expensive. There are some specialist IT firms that exclusively supply English-language hard and software for the expat market, but pricewise you will do a lot better buying online in the US. On the whole the Japanese public go for fully-loaded high-spec laptops costing around 200,000 yen ($2300) from top makes like Sony, Toshiba and NEC, rather than cheap-and-cheerful netbooks or budget notebooks.
Alec is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 01:58 PM
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plus each time you pluged it in you would probably need an adapter at home..
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 05:17 AM
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Japanese two-flat pins are compatible in US, and chargers are 100-240V universal voltage.
Alec is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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thursdaysd,

Are you planning on getting an external CD/DVD driver to go with the netbook just in case you pick up a trojan virus and the netbook needs to be reformatted? You will need to carry the anti-virus program CD and the OS CD with you.

Or you can just take the netbook to a computer geek and they'll do it for you. that may involve delays and inconvenience.
magical is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 08:04 AM
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magical - absolutely not! I'm going as light as possible. Since I've no intention of downloading much beyond Firefox, Skype, iTunes, Norton and a couple of games I already own, and I seldom open email attachments even from people I know, I think the likelihood of picking up a virus is remote. (Hope writing that doesn't jinx me!)
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 09:18 AM
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OS is really not an issue, with some of the Visa editions and win7 Ultimate (maybe others) you can install language pack and convert your entire OS to whatever language you want.

With that said, computers are generally more expensive in Japan. Also, dollar is really hurting at the moment. I suggest getting one from Amazon or NewEgg (with overnight shipping if you're in a hurry). It's really the best bang for the buck, and often Amazon authorized sellers will carry overseas models.

Now.. the magic of buying electronics in Japan comes from second hand stores, such as Hard-Off. You can get a 6 months old, fully loaded, laptop for 30% of its original cost. A $2000 camera lens for $600 and many other gadgets.
NeverEatAlone is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 09:28 AM
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Interested to read that Japanese mostly go for high-end full-size laptops, rather than small and light. Maybe things are different in Taiwan? It was discovering that the lighter version of the MSI U160 was available in Taiwan but not the US that led me to think about buying in Asia in the first place.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 07:19 PM
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The likelihood of computer problems is so small that here's hoping that you won't have any. I am positive you did not jinx anything!! You will be fine. Besides, as I recall you used to work in IT or something similar and you are computer savvy yourself and, as you say, precautions like not opening any email attachments is prudent.

Sorry if I worried you. Fogeddaboutit. Anyhow....
magical is offline  
Aug 8th, 2010, 09:43 PM
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thursdaysd-
I bought the Asus 1005PE about 3 months ago and I love it. It has the 11 hour battery. Your comment about the WIN7 version weighing more made me go put it on my digital kitchen scale. 2 lbs, 13oz. How much lighter is the XP version?

The only thing I don't like about it is that it's very hard work on photos in Photoshop for my blog. The screen is just too small to do any serious photo editing. Still, it's good if you just want to get writing done, check email, etc.

Having the netbook was invaluable on our last trip when we faced a weather delay and had to cancel and reorganize parts of our itinerary. I was able to use email, online chat and skype to rebook everything.
Kristina is offline  
Aug 9th, 2010, 05:05 AM
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When I was in Japan last summer, I didn't see a lot of netbooks at the electronic stores like Bic Camera. They're more interested in either full-size laptops or sub-netbooks like the Sony VAIO Z- or P-series.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 9th, 2010, 05:24 AM
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rkkwan - the Sony Vaio P only weighs 1.4 lbs, but costs around $1,000 in the US!

Kristina - that's heavier than I want - my existing Lenovo S10 is a bit less than that - and of course you've got to add the power cord and charger. The ASUS 1008HA (not 1005) is supposed to be 2.4 lbs with Windows7 and 2.2 lbs with XP with another .4 lbs for the charger. I traveled with a Nokia n800 last trip, and that was good for checking email and twittering, but not for blogging.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 9th, 2010, 06:16 AM
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Japanese keyboards are the same, it's German keyboard that has reversed y & z position. However, I couldn't get a few signs eg £ on a Japanese notebook. OS is not a problem--when you start up the first time you have to change the default setting to your country/English. Though it was frustrating that all manuals etc came in Japanese.
W9London is offline  
Aug 9th, 2010, 08:25 AM
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I just bought one of the last available Asus 1008HA's with XP from Amazon marketplace. Maybe lighter and has better battery life and performance (in some tests), $33 cheaper than with Windows7 (which I don't especially want to learn).
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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Glad you found what you were looking for. One thing I'd recommend is if you will be in Japan soon go to Akihabara and look around for electronics. Though you found a computer you like, you still might find something good, and possibly cheap there. They don't call it "Electric Town" for nothing.
mikeshane is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 04:32 PM
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mikeshane - well, I have been considering whether to buy a new camera as well... But although, as magical mentioned, I used to be a serious techie, these days I consider myself a recovering techie. I just want whatever it is to work.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 01:28 PM
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You will find an Akihabara Guide at the train station in the district. I still have mine, so just checked it out. It includes warnings about buying Japanese electronics for overseas use. Sony has a little ad in the guide that tells you they have Sony Overseas Models, which supply international warranties and multi-language instruction manuals. There are also several ads for duty-free shops in the guide, and some say they provide service in English. These are all things to keep in mind.
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