Bluetooth, Blue Laser, Networking Products Top Japan Show Offerings

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Chiba, Japan -- Bluetooth-based products, HD recorders using blue laser, SD and Memory Stick-based products, home network items and HD plasma and LCD screen TVs, were just some of the products shown at CEATEC 2000 at the Makuhari Messe complex here this week.

Last year plenty of companies showed many of these products as prototypes. This year they were showing actual products, some of which have just begun to ship in Japan or are soon to ship for this market. Here are the highlights of each company's CEATEC offerings:

Sony -- An HDTV-capable digital video recording format using blue laser technology, which Sony is calling DVR, was one of the highlights of Sony's offerings at the show. The unit features two hours of HD recording.

The Airboard, which was described as a "personal IT television," made its debut at the show. The 10.4-inch LCD TV combines TV reception with wireless e-mail and Internet access. Available here in December, the price should be around $1,193, a spokesperson said.

A clip-on hard-disk video recorder, the SVR-715, has begun shipping in Japan for about $1,816. Sony also showed a 32-inch plasma display prototype.

To illustrate support for its Memory Stick format, Sony showed Alpine's DVD 099 IT NAVI engine navigation device with Memory Stick storage. Sony execs said the Alpine unit will ship in October but did not provide pricing information.

Sony also showed prototypes of a portable and a hi-fi system that accept Memory Stick cards.

The progressive-scan Super Audio CD/DVD video deck, the DVP-S9000ES, which debuted at CEDIA Expo last month, made an appearance at the show. It was to ship to Japanese dealers October 10 and to U.S. dealers in November at a $1,500 retail price (TWICE, Sept. 18, p. 26).

Pioneer -- A major highlight of Pioneer's booth was its HD optical disk recorder, the DVR-blue, which features a blue laser and two-hour recording capacity. The prototype has a 405nm-laser wavelength, 22.5GB storage capacity and a data transfer rate of 35MB.

The company also showed the DVR 2000 digital recorder, which is DVD-R and DVD-RW compatible and can play back conventional DVD movies. The unit features iLINK, and a 32-step manual mode, in addition to a two-hour standard recording mode. Also, six title thumbnails can appear on one screen. It will ship in Japan soon.

Victor Co. Of Japan -- The parent company of JVC America, the company showed a 50-inch D'aliah projection TV. This is the second version of the unit, which will ship in Japan in December for $7,798. A company spokesman said Victor Co. expects to ship this unit in the United States next year.

A digital Hi-Vision D-VHS deck, with high-definition VHS mode will ship here in November. The time for a U.S. introduction has not been set.

An HDTV-ready 32-inch direct-view set with built-in tuner will be available here in December for a $4,037 equivalent retail price. Also, the company, which is member of the DVD-RW Product Promotion Initiative, showed a DVD-RAM-based recorder that may be introduced soon, once format concerns in the industry have been resolved, a company spokesperson said.

Another highlight of the booth was a hybrid digital/analog video recorder, incorporating a 20GB hard-disk drive and an S-VHS VCR. Users can cache recordings on the hard drive and transfer them to S-VHS for archival purposes. The unit will ship in Japan in November at a U.S.-equivalent $1,725 suggested retail price.

Hitachi -- A 55-inch DLP-based rear-projection digital TV for the U.S. market highlighted the company's CEATECH offerings. The unit, which was recently shown at CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis, is slated to ship in December at a $12,999 suggested retail price. The 16:9 unit will display the 720p HDTV format natively in 1,280 x 768-pixel resolution when connected to a DTV set-top decoder. It includes Dolby Digital 5.1 and Pro Logic Surround Sound decoding.

Hitachi said it has been selling its previously announced DVD-RAM camcorder here since September at a $2,935 suggested retail price. A version is slated to debut in the U.S. next year, a spokesperson said.

Sharp -- Two 32-inch HDTVs, one of which has what the company calls the industry's first 40-watt digital amplifier, were shown at CEATECH. Both units have 32-inch digital high-vision cathode ray tubes and are set for introduction to take advantage of the debut of digital satellite broadcasting here in December.

The PC-X2001 is an LCD desktop PC that integrates TV, PC and net content in one unit. Recorded data can be stored in MPEG 1, 2 or 4 formats. The product allows the recordings to be transmitted via wireless LAN to another PC. Shipping this month in Japan, pricing has not yet been set.

Sharp also showed a wide variety of LCD televisions, including the 28-inch model LC-28HD1. The unit has a 2.95 million-dot resolution and a screen size equivalent to a 30-inch CRT model, Sharp said. Shipments have started in Japan.

The LCD digital ViewCam camcorder has a 22x optical power zoom lens and is able to play back high-resolution video on progressive-scan TVs. The VL-FD3 is selling in Japan at the equivalent of a $2,110 suggested retail price.

Toshiba -- The company highlighted the Advanced Network system, which interconnects such products as HDTVs, laptop PCs, D-VHS VCRs, DVD players, SD mobile audio players and W-CDMA phones. Toshiba's approach uses such protocols and technologies as Bluetooth and i.LINK.

Sanyo -- The RZ-J91 is a hybrid portable communication device that can be used with Sound Market, a large-capacity content download service provided by DDI Pocket, so users can download and listen to music with a phone. Available here Nov. 30, the price has not been set, but Sanyo said it would ship 10,000 units in the first month.

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