As usual last week's CEATEC Japan show, held here annually, debuted plenty of new technologies and products, including developments in DVD recording, video gaming and Windows Media 9 Series.
New dual-layer recordable DVD disc technologies for respective DVD+R and DVD-R formats were shown by Philips and Pioneer at the show.
Philips and Verbatim co-developed the new dual-layer recordable disc which will virtually double disc capacity and will not require users to flip the media over while playing.
The technology expands the current 4.7GB disc capacity for single-layer discs to 8.5GB, while retaining playback compatiblity with existing DVD-Video players and DVD-ROM drives, the company said.
Days before the show, Pioneer announced in Tokyo that it had developed dual-layer recording technology for its DVD-R format, expanding the capacity for one side of a disc to 8.5 GB.
Pioneer said this is "almost the same performance as that for dual-layer DVD-ROM discs," meaning that the new DVD-R discs supporting this technology can be played back on most existing DVD players.
Pioneer's new technology will allow users to record programs up to about four hours in the SP mode, and up to about 12 hours in the EP mode with DVD recorders, the company said.
Philips' dual-layer disc will enable recordings up to four hours in DVD-quality video or 16 hours in VHS quality, the company said. Users will be able to archive up to 8.5 GB of computer files.
Both the Philips and Pioneer dual-layer discs have write-once capability and will require new hardware to make recordings.
In video games, Sony said it would launch its previously announced 'PSX' in Japan later this year at a minimum price of $727, according to wire reports.
The new PSX entertainment system, a beefed up PS2 video game console that integrates a DVD recorder/player, DVR and satellite TV tuner, will include a 160GB HDD capable of recording up to 204 hours of television, the company said. The company is also planning a 250GB version that would sell for about $910.
Sony also has plans to offer a portable video game/media player called the PSP at a price between $150 and $200 late next year. U.S. distribution plans were not set as yet.
Meanwhile Nokia launched worldwide a new combination handheld video game player/cellphone/music player called N-Gage ($299 suggested retail in the U.S.). Nokia plans to have 20 N-Gage games by the end of the year, price between $35-$70. Video game developers Electronic Arts, Eidos and Ubi Soft and accessories maker Mad Catz will support it.
As for the Windows Media 9 Series, Microsoft used CEATEC to announce a broad list of chip and consumer electronics manufacturers that will add support for its format.
Microsoft said it now expects more than 400 devices — double what it announced at CES last January — would soon add Windows Media support. These devices range from DVD and CD players to car stereos, portable audio devices and set-top boxes.
Analog Devices demonstrated the first Windows Media Audio 9 Professional decoder chip — SHARC Melody Ultra — in Pioneer Electronics' VSA-AX10N-i AV amplifier.
Hitachi announced its BroadGear Digital Media Processor now supports Windows Media Video 9 encoding and decoding for implementation in digital television products including, set-top boxes and video-editing equipment, among other categories.
Matsushita Electric Industrial, Panasonic's parent, unveiled a portable CD player with Windows Media Audio 9 playback. NEC, Technica and Sanyo also demonstrated products using Windows Media 9 Series technology.