Flat panel displays to headline CEATEC

Flat panel displays look set to dominate next week's CEATEC show in Japan, the country's largest electronics show.

Sharp, which last year drew crowds to its stand with a wall full of LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions, will again try to steal the show this year. The company will be displaying for the first time a new LCD TV that will have the largest screen size of any LCD TV yet produced, said spokeswoman Arisa Mori. She wouldn't give away the size of the panel before its official unveiling on Friday this week, but said it is larger than 28 inches, the size of Sharp's largest TV to date.

The company is putting a lot of effort into its flat panel TV range. It will also show a prototype of its first PDP (Plasma Display Panel)- based television. Among other companies waving the PDP banner will be Hitachi Ltd., which is promising to make high definition PDP TV a major feature of its booth, and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., NEC Corp. and Sony Corp. which will be displaying recently-launched televisions, the companies said.

Beyond the TVs, a new range of products based on recordable DVDs (digital versatile discs) is also expected to feature strongly. Matsushita said Wednesday that it will be displaying a new DVD video recorder that also features a built-in hard disk drive and Hitachi is promising to show the latest version of its DVD-based camcorder.

Sony is also expected to show its recently launched Network Handycam, which doesn't connect to home networks but does include a Bluetooth adapter for connection to a compatible modem and the Internet. Not to be beaten, Matsushita will be showing a Bluetooth adapter that can be connected to a new camcorder model.

Miniaturized video may be on the menu too: Matsushita has hinted at MPEG4 video applications using SD (Secure Digital) memory cards, which are common in many portable devices. NEC, meanwhile, is expected to reveal more details about its planned PDA (personal digital assistant). The device appeared on one corner of the company's stand at last week's World PC Expo although little information was available.

The main themes being pushed by the exhibitors are broadly in line with the interests of prospective visitors. They are mostly expecting to see flat panel television related-products alongside digital television devices, according to the official CEATEC Web site, which ranks the popularity of categories on the site.

Visitors to the site are also interested in other consumer electric devices, especially DVD products and cellular phones. PDAs did not attract enough interest to make it into the ranking.

As broadband services are becoming available more widely in Japan, users are also checking the broadband and ADSL sections of the Web site, as well as the telecommunication services category to see what products will be available. Despite the exhibitors' efforts however, Bluetooth technologies are not something users are interested in, according to the Web site ranking.

CEATEC first took place in 2000, when the Japan Electronics Show and Com Japan were merged into a single show. Supported by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, Communications Industry Association of Japan and Japan Personal Computer Software Association, the show attracted 748 exhibiting companies and more than 172,000 attendees last year.

More information about CEATEC, which runs from October 2 to 6, can be found at http://www.ceatec.com/.

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