Thirty-five years ago, Hello Kitty dropped an atomic cute bomb on the world and the universe was forever changed.
Over the past three and half decades, Kitty's face has graced tens of thousands of products, from underwear, stationary, and airplanes to cell phones, digital cameras, and Netbooks.
Fortunately (or tragically, depending on your perspective), the global fat cat shows no sign of loosening her claw-like grip on the consumer electronics industry, so to fete the feline on her special occasion, we breathed a sigh of resignation and gathered some of the most frightening cutest Hello Kitty gadgets from the past year.
This 35th anniversary limited-edition iRiver Hello Kitty music player is studded with more than 300 Swarovski crystals in white, black, red, and yellow. You can hang it from your neck with the included Audio-Technica earphones or let it dangle from your purse or other fashion accessory. It also doubles as a lighthouse in heavy fog. The 2GB player can hold about 480 tunes and sells for about $155 at iRiver's Japan online store.
Isn't it good to see Hello Kitty on every conceivable product ever made, especially expensive items like laptops that you might later wish you had gotten in black or gray?
The standard-version $1,500 offering from Epson Japan comes with a Celeron 900 (2.2GHz) processor, along with 1GB of RAM and an HDD of 80GB. The $1,760 high-spec model has a Core 2 Duo P8700 processor (2.53 GHz), 2 GB of RAM and an HDD of 160 GB. Both have a 15.4-inch screen and Windows Vista Home Premium edition.
Not to be outdone by Japanese rivals, Korean computer maker Moneual has designed a Kitty PC that's cute enough to melt your face.
This tripped-out MiNEW A10 apparently comes with an Atom 1.6GHz CPU, along with 1GB of RAM and a 160GB SATA HDD. At just less than 4 pounds, the box is light enough to toss out the window if Kitty's soul-searing gaze becomes too much for you.
Who says Hello Kitties don't like mice? It's pink, it's got no tail, and you can click it to your heart's content. Elecom's Hello Kitty wireless mouse links to your computer via a USB connector that even has a little bow on it. It works with Windows 7, Vista, and XP and retails for around $90 in Japan. Also available in black, silver, and white.
Every word you type can now be an homage to Hello Kitty, thanks to this keyboard from Sanrio. Some keys have special Kitty designs on them--imagine fingering her face every time you hit Enter. It's perversely appealing.
The keyboard comes with a special decorated Kitty cover to keep dust out and cuteness in. Works with Windows Vista, XP, and 2000 with USB cable connector. About $60 from Sanrio in Japan.
These plastic cases, which run from
$29 to $39, feature all manner of Kitties and will protect your iPhone 3G/3GS from damage. As a bonus, they may also warn off would-be thieves, who are sure to run screaming when they see your good taste in phone accessories.
This sleek cell phone from Sharp isn't the first handset to fall prey to Kitty--and it certainly won't be the last. But we must admit it's a stylistic cut above the others, which have tended to go way overboard with kawaii junk.
The W-CDMA Softbank 942SH KT comes with an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and anti-vibration features; a 3.4-inch VGA display; high-spec video functions; and loads of other features. It goes on sale in March in Japan.
Available in 2GB and 4GB versions ($25 and $35), the 35thh anniversary drives are Mac/PC-compatible and 2.5 inches long by 1 inch wide. Sanrio apparently plans a host of other lovable characters as thumbdrives, including My Melody and Kuromi. Count yourself lucky if you don't know them.