CEATEC: Latest gadgets, innovation expected at Japan's electronics show

CEATEC, Japan's largest electronics show, kicks off on Tuesday and promises a glimpse at the latest gadgets and developments from Japan.

Ceatec, Japan's largest electronics show, kicks off on Tuesday and promises a glimpse at the latest products and developments from Japan's major consumer electronics companies.

The annual show, which attracted just under 200,000 visitors last year, serves both as a launching pad for new products ahead of the year-end shopping season and as a platform on which companies can debut prototype products and technologies that won't be seen on store shelves until next year or beyond.

A big theme at this year's show will be flat-panel TVs but for once the headlines won't be all about the biggest TV yet developed.

The prime attraction is likely to be a much smaller set from Sony based on OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology. Sony has been promising an OLED TV for some time and prototypes impressed visitors to January's CES show in Las Vegas. OLED promises is brighter, more colorful picture than current LCD (liquid crystal display) or PDP (plasma display panel) sets and Sony plans to unveil its first commercial TV based on the technology at the show.

OLED also has the advantage of being thinner than current flat-panel sets -- a challenge that LCD TV makers aren't taking lying down. Victor of Japan (JVC) is reported to be readying a TV set just 4 centimeters thick and will have it on display at Ceatec, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper.

Sharp will likely display a previously announced prototype that's just 2 centimeters thick and Hitachi will show an even thinner TV, the same newspaper reports.

The digital video market is hot and Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) will take the wraps off its new range of video recorders. Sony and Sharp have both announced Blu-ray Disc-based machines in recent weeks and Panasonic's new machines are expected to compete with them.

Several other interesting technologies are promised for Ceatec.

Seiko Epson and Murata Manufacturing will show a prototype wireless recharging system for portable devices. It promises not only faster recharging - a cell phone can be recharged in about 20 minutes instead of 2 hours - but it also doesn't require wires. The device just needs to be placed on the charger for charging to begin.

Toshiba will also be showing a laptop PC based on a new processor derived from the Cell chip that powers the PlayStation 3. The high-performance chip is aimed at multimedia applications such as video processing and is expected to find a home in future consumer electronics products.

Ceatec runs from October 2 to 6 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.

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