CEATEC 09 wrap-up

CEATEC, which is the biggest consumer electronics show in Japan, is always a good place to see concepts and trends from some of the biggest electronics brands. Despite the recession, there were a bunch of interesting to look at, and if you missed last week’s coverage, here’s your chance to catch-up on the best stuff from CEATEC 09.

3D Stereo TV and projectors

Everyone that makes displays was showing some kind of stereo 3D product or concept. Stereo 3D had been available for years on PC, but now, stereo-3D console games and 3D movie content are becoming available and manufacturers are expecting (“hoping” would be more accurate) for demand to pick up. Of course, there’s a premium associated to the latest 3D technology ($$$), but we think that these hopes for fat margins won’t materialize. Instead, customers will probably wait for prices to go down to a comfortable level ($1800 for a 50″?) before they buy. 4K2K resolution televisions (don’t miss the Panasonic one) were also on the floor, showing how four times the number of pixels of 1080p could be used to either have larger screens or ultra-sharp ones.

Talking about HDTV, Toshiba was presenting theirpowerful CELL Regza with a CELL processor inside. It can record (timeshift) 8 favorites channels simultaneously, improve image quality and of course run a web browser. That said, CELL comes in a big set top box that’s about the size of a high-end Home Theater PC. The features are impressive, but you have to wonder who really need and want to pay $10,000 all that stuff. IP-based video-on-demand and free services like Hulu on the other-hand can work on low-cost (and small+silent) hardware. There’s no need to record anything that you can fetch on the web (in SD resolution, unfortunately).

Sony was all over stereo 3D with the PS3 and a new theater projector. I liked how the 3D PS3 user interface was upgraded for stereo 3D. it is simple, efficient and not overdone. Cool stuff.

Interestingly enough, the best stereo demo (that did not require glasses) came from the Heinrich Hertz Institute in the form of an interactive Kiosk.

Yet, the best display (non-3D) demo that we have seen was the Panasonic Life Wall, a display that occupy a whole wall in a room. That is awesome and it’s hard to not drool in front of it.

Mobiles and mobile services

Japan has a truly unique cellphone usage pattern that I quite frankly don’t completely understand. It’s amazing to see how many people are using mobile services and applications in the train. Wireless carriers like DoCoMo and KDDI are extremely creative when it comes to add value to their offerings. Of course, some of it is odd, like the MP3 player controller based on eyeballs motion, but other things are great, like the DoCoMo connected doorbell that rings your handset with video conference and remote door-opening. KDDI was showing great handsets, but also a virtual store, based on an avatar that can be tweaked to resemble its user so that virtual fitting rooms can be meaningful. One of the best things were contact-less (ALPS, Sony, KDDI), super-fast, data transfer technology that allow payments, or quick media download. Sometimes, it’s just the phone design that is really cool.

On another note, there was a strong Android presence on the show floor and the two must-see laptops were the Koshinsha dual-screen and the Sony Flex OLED.


Of course, robots are always present in Japan and still command a tremendous interest. For example Nissan’s EPORO robot gathered huge crowds in minutes. Needless to say that the sheer design (and cuteness) of these robots are great marketing tools for these companies. People do pay attention. However, none will really become a product, we’re just too far from have a robot that’s actually useful to humans. Roomba, the well-known vacuum cleaner is probably the most useful of the bunch, and was even used in a concept demonstration using the iRobot SDK and a webcam to give the robot “see”. See also the Murata robotand the VocaLoid.

Walking around the show floor with a dozen pounds of gears was fun and totally worth it, we hope that you enjoyed the coverage, and if you have missed it last week, I’d recommend you to glance at it in our CEATEC section. Thanks for following CEATEC 09 with Ubergizmo.

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