Week in review: On land and Ceatec

For gadgeteers, the place to be this week was at Japan's consumer-technology showcase. Back home it was all HP.

If you're a gadget lover, the place to be this week was Tokyo, where next-generation DVD technology and TVs dominated the annual Ceatec consumer-technology showcase.

Japan's answer to the Consumer Electronics Show in the United States, the weeklong Ceatec (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) show, ending Saturday, offered sneak peaks at products ranging from an ultra-high-definition monitor to robots for aiding the elderly or disabled to technology that .

Sharp captivated showgoers with its 64-inch LCD monitor that provides screen resolution four times that of normal high-definition screens. Normal HD screens have 2 million pixel points. The new Sharp monitor sports 4,096-by-2,160 pixel-line resolution--double the number of vertical and horizontal pixel lines offered by a normal HD screen. This comes out to almost 9 million pixel points.

Hitachi will try to come out with a video camera with a built-in Blu-ray burner in one to two years, said Hiroto Yamauchi, general manager of storage products marketing at Hitachi. Sony and Panasonic announced Blu-ray players that can also record shows, while Toshiba, the leader of the competing HD DVD camp, also showed off its home player-recorder.

But don't go looking for these products locally. The Hitachi camcorder has a long development schedule. And although the manufacturers behind the Blu-ray and HD DVD technologies don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues, there is one thing that they agree on: They don't want to sell high-definition recorders in the United States.

That news was disappointing to some CNET News.com readers. Others, like Mark Doiron, warned that they better not wait too long to release these recorders in the States.

"The availability of DVRs, Windows Media/Vista PCs with monster hard drives, and broadband delivery of HD movies on demand (for saving to those DVRs and TiVos) is going to kill off the HD DVD/Blu-Ray markets," he wrote.

Another reader, "Racassano," added that the emergence of two competing formats is only going to slow the acceptance of HD, "as people like me cannot afford to pick the 'wrong' format. We hold off, sometimes for years, before we see a dominant player we can trust will be around. I'm old enough to remember the 8-track days and a similar fight."

Also at the show, Matsushita Electric Industrial, which sells products under the Panasonic name in the U.S., made it clear that it wants to build robots, but they won't be household pets this time.

The Japanese consumer electronics giant is experimenting with ways to bring to market two prototype robots that can help the elderly or people with disabilities, company President Fumio Ohtsubo said at the show, which actually is taking place just outside Tokyo.

In other Ceatec news, Toshiba CEO Atsutoshi Nishida said during a keynote that his company is working to come out with hard drives that could replace perpendicular drives in a few years.

In pattern media drives, the magnetic material is segmented into independent points through imprint lithography. By separating the bits, the danger of one bit corrupting its neighbor is reduced.

Toshiba plans new 55-inch televisions using a technology--surface-conduction electron-emitter display, or SED--that it says will provide better performance at a price competitive with liquid crystal displays and plasma units.

In other gadget news, engineers, manufacturers and analysts gathered in San Diego for the Society for Information Display's first-ever conference devoted solely to mobile displays. With an ever-increasing demand for mobile displays to go into cell phones, iPods, digital cameras, navigation devices and more, display makers are innovating quickly--and the numbers show it.

HP and the other drama
California's attorney general filed felony criminal charges on Wednesday against former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn and four others in connection with the company's internal probe into boardroom leaks to the news media.

"One of our state's most venerable corporate institutions lost its way as its board sought to find out who leaked confidential company information to the press," Attorney General Bill Lockyer said at a press conference. "In this misguided effort, people inside and outside HP violated privacy rights and broke state law."

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