CEATEC 2015: With Eye on 2020 Olympics, Japan’s CE Industry Looks to Get Back on Top, Part 2

There is plenty of hot new tech from the 531 companies exhibiting at CEATEC near Tokyo this week, including an army of 4K and 8K displays from Panasonic, Sharp, Mitsubishi, BOE and others. Here’s a look at the highlights from this year’s Show (click images to enlarge).


The HDR demo at Panasonic's booth

The HDR demo at Panasonic’s booth

Panasonic All About 2020, First-Ever 4K Blu-ray Player
No company is touting the promise of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games more than Panasonic. That’s not surprising, given that Panasonic has been the top Olympics sponsor since 1988 and could generate an estimated $1.5 billion from Olympics-related technology and infrastructure contracts. At its booth, Panasonic has married its 2020 Games branding and 4K technology offerings through Beautiful JAPAN 2020, a 4K production following aspiring young 2020 Olympians that will visit all 47 prefectures in Japan by 2020.

Panasonic's 4K Blu-ray player

Panasonic’s 4K Blu-ray player

Although there is no shortage of 4K sets on exhibit, the real headline is Panasonic’s announcement of the world’s first 4K/UHD Blu-ray player. Although Samsung announced its own 4K/UHD Blu-ray player last month, Panasonic will beat them to the punch by shipping the DIGA Premium Model DMR-UBZ1 (featuring HDR) on Nov. 15 this year in Japan for ¥400,000 ($3,330). However, a Panasonic representative at the booth says the company will roll out just 500 of them per month beginning in November.

The HDR demo at Panasonic's booth

The HDR demo at Panasonic’s booth

The unit, which also features 3 TB of storage to record 4K content, won the Minster of Economy Trade and Industry Award at CEATEC.

In addition to several 4K sets streaming 4K content from Actvila 4K, YouTube, NETFLIX, and Hikari TV, Panasonic is demonstrating a prototype HDR 4K monitor.

Other 4K tools on exhibit include the HC-WX970M 4K video camera, 4K SD cards, and a 4K HDMI cable.

Sharp's pricey but impressive 8K display

Sharp’s pricey but impressive 8K display

Sharp Begins 8K TV Revolution — at a Steep Price
While the cute Robohon robot/mobile phone is attracting most of the traffic at Sharp’s booth, the near-term newsworthiness surrounds the first 8K TV sets to hit the open market. At Sharp’s booth, the 85-in. LV-85001 sets will be first 8K displays available for purchase anywhere in the world when they officially hit the Japanese market at the end of this month. The 7,680×4,320-pixel LCD panel uses Sharp’s IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology, which allows hi-res output at a low power (and has been licensed by Samsung and others for use in hi-res tablets).

Sharp's 8K-upscaling tech on 4K sets

Sharp’s 8K-upscaling tech on 4K sets

Although the LVE-85001 is technically a consumer display, at ¥16 million (about US$130,000), the sets will initially be targeted almost exclusively at professional broadcast and video production — and any consumer with $130,000 to spare on a new TV. In addition, the set’s TV tuner is not capable of actually receiving 8K broadcasts; rather, content must be fed into the displays via quad HDMI cables. A Sharp representative at the booth says the company is confident that both cost and tech hurdles will be overcome by the time NHK launches its 8K Super-Hi Vision broadcasting service in 2018.

Sharp is also demonstrating an 80-in. Sharp Aquos 4K Next LC-80XU30 TV that features 8K upscaling and Mega Contrast (dynamic-range–extension technology). The company unveiled the technology earlier this year.

Mitsubishi Electric’s Laser RGB Backlight Tech Takes WDC to New Level
Alongside HDR, wide color gamut has become a hot topic of late, and, at CEATEC, Mitsubishi Electric is highlighting a display that adds a new perspective to the conversation: lasers.

Mitsubishi's 4K 50-inch laser RGB backlight LCD display

Mitsubishi’s 4K 50-in. laser RGB backlight LCD display

Developed in partnership with NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories (STRL), Mitsubishi has debuted a 4K 50-inch laser RGB backlight LCD display, which, according to the company, offers the world’s widest color gamut. The display features a semiconductor laser backlight capable of producing intensely pure red, green, and blue that covers 98% of the color gamut in the BT.2020 UHD standard. The set delivers on Mitsubishi’s claims, displaying breathtaking color and images that this reporter could hardly pull himself away from.

BOE-8KBOE’s Big, Bold 8K Displays
The award for biggest 8K display at CEATEC goes to BOE Technology Group, which is touting 98- and 110-in. 8K displays. No pricing or availability info is offered at the booth, but the massive displays pack a powerful viewing punch. Besides being huge, once the BOE sets hit the open market, they are likely to come with a steep price tag (considering Sharp’s US$130,000 price point for its 85-in. set), as well as a pricey electric bill (the sets draw 1,200 W and 2,000 W, respectively) and consumers’ potential broken backs (weight of 440 and 474 lb., respectively).

BOE's 10K display

BOE’s 10K display

The BOE sets are likely to come with a steep price tag (considering Sharp’s US$130,000 price point for its 85-in. set), not to mention a pricey electric bill (the sets draw 1,200 W and 2,000 W, respectively) and potential broken backs (weight of 440 and 474 lb., respectively).

And if 8K isn’t enough, BOE is also exhibiting  a 10K display at the show.

I Got a Fever, and the Only Prescription Is More Robots
Of course, massive next-generation displays were just one portion of the CEATEC Show, with exhibitors spanning Japan’s entire CE and IT industries. However, as is seemingly always the case at CEATEC, one element stands out: robots. Whether you want a robot that doubles as a mobile phone, folds your laundry, or plays ping pong with you, there are plenty of bots to go around. Plus, there are drones in the air, interactive shoes on the ground, retinal-imaging eyewear, interactive mirrors, and wearables galore (including Sony’s crowd-funded Wena smartwatch). Here’s a brief look at a few of the robots and other haywire acts scattered throughout the Makuhari Messe this week:

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