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Ceatec 2004 report


We're back from our trip to Tokyo, Japan where we made sure to visit Ceatec 2004 to get the latest on what's up with Blu-ray and HD-DVD. The exhibition, which is Asia's largest consumer electronics and IT show, was held in Makuhari Messe (Nippon Convention Center) from October 5th to October 9th and drew more than 180,000 visitors this year.

Welcome to Ceatec 2004 held at Makuhari Messe
from October 5th to October 9th, 2004
Over 180,000 people visited Ceatec 2004 Over 700 exhibitors
were at the show


Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA)


We started out at the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) booth, where they were offering general information about the BDA and the Blu-ray Disc format. The BDA which was formed earlier this year to support the continued development and promotion of the Blu-ray Disc format has quickly grown from 13 to 75 members over the past three months, with new members including Victor Company of Japan (JVC) and 20th Century Fox.

The group is currently in the process of evaluating advanced audio codecs and finalizing the logical/application format for BD-ROM discs, which they expect to be finished by the end of the year. According to one of the BDA representatives at Ceatec, the biggest issue that still remains for them is to come to an agreement with the movie studios about what copy protection to use. This will probably not be decided until some time next year.

Blu-ray Disc Association booth at Ceatec Structure of the Blu-ray Disc Association Members of the Blu-ray Disc Association as of October 6, 2004 BD-RE, BD-R, BD-ROM development roadmap
PTR-3000 mastering system for BD-ROM BD-ROM test line, including PTM mastering system and disc replication BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickups by Philips, Sony, Samsung and LG BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickup


Sony


In the Sony booth they were showing off their BDZ-S77 Blu-ray Disc recorder, which has been out on the Japanese market since April 2003, as well as their prototype BD-ROM player and discs for pre-recorded high-definition movies. The BD-ROM player was playing the Spider-Man 2 trailer in HD which looked amazing. They also had their triple wave-length optical pickup compatible with BD/DVD/CD on display.

Sony showing their Blu-ray Disc recorder and prototype BD-ROM player Sony's BDZ-S77 Blu-ray Disc recorder Spider-Man 2 in HD playing in the background
Sony's prototype BD-ROM player and discs 25GB and 50GB BD-ROM demonstration discs BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickup


Panasonic (Matsushita)


In the Panasonic booth they were showing their DIGA-brand DMR-E700BD Blu-ray Disc recorder, which was the second Blu-ray Disc recorder released. They were also displaying 25GB and 50GB discs for HDTV recording, which are currently for sale on the Japanese market. Apparently they were also showing a single-sided quad-layer 100GB demonstration disc in their booth, but unfortunately we missed it.

Panasonic's DMR-E700BD Blu-ray Disc recorder Panasonic's Blu-ray Disc recorder with tray open 25GB and 50GB BD-RE discs for HDTV recording


Sharp


Sharp displayed their AQUOS-brand Blu-ray Disc recorder, which is one of the smaller Blu-ray Disc recorders we've seen so far. They didn't offer any details about when and where it will be released, but said that they will make an announcement soon.

Sharp's upcoming Blu-ray Disc recorder Sharp's Blu-ray Disc recorder in action Blu-ray section of the Sharp booth


Pioneer


At the Pioneer booth they were showing their prototype Blu-ray Disc recorder, as well as a DVD±R/RW compatible Blu-ray Disc drive for PC usage. The drive records BD-R at 2x speed, BD-RE at 2x speed, DVD±R at 8x speed and DVD±RW at 4x speed. The drive can also read BD-ROM, DVD and DVD-RAM discs.

Pioneer's Blu-ray Disc recorder Pioneer's Blu-ray Disc drive for PC usage Specs for the Blu-ray Disc drive for PC usage


TDK


TDK offered demonstrations of Sony's BDZ-S77 Blu-ray Disc recorder in action at their booth. They were also displaying 25GB and 50GB discs which don't require a cartridge as they use the new TDK hard-coat. The company is one of the driving forces behind the development of a new hard-coating technology that makes Blu-ray Discs more resistent to scratches and fingerprints. With the new hard-coat applied the discs will be more durable than DVDs and they won't require a cartridge.

TDK representative offering a demonstration Sony's BDZ-S77 Blu-ray Disc recorder in action 25GB and 50GB discs with hard-coat (no cartridge)


Mitsubishi


In the Mitsubishi booth they were displaying a somewhat strange looking early prototype of their Blu-ray Disc recorder for the first time. When asked about a possible release date they explained that they don't have any plans to release the recorder in its current form, it's just a Blu-ray technology demonstration.

Mitsubishi's prototype Blu-ray Disc recorder



JVC


JVC, also known as Victor Company of Japan, has been working on their Blu-ray Disc recorder for quite some time, but it was only recently that they became a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association. The prototype Blu-ray Disc recorder they had on display this year looked very similar to the version they showed at Ceatec 2003, but the color has been changed from white to black. They were also showing BD-RE discs (with and without cartridges), a high precision laser pickup unit, and a single objective lens (NA of 0.95).

JVC's prototype Blu-ray Disc recorder 25GB and 50GB BD-RE discs for HDTV recording 25GB and 50GB BD-RE discs with hard-coat
(no cartridge)
JVC's optical pickup unit and single objective lens
(NA of 0.95)


Mitsumi


While Mitsumi weren't showing off any prototype Blu-ray products in their booth, they were showing their optical pickup unit developed for Blu-ray Disc products. The optical pickup offers effective use of laser power, correction for spherical abberation, round spotlight beam for improved recording/playback properties, and a laser driver with internal WSG for improved accuracy of recording.

Mitsumi's optical pickup unit for Blu-ray Disc Details about their optical pickup for Blu-ray Disc


HD-DVD Promotion Group


The HD-DVD Promotion Group's booth was very easy to find and looked really cool as it shifted in color every now and then. The group was formed recently by Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo and Memory-Tech to support and promote the HD-DVD format. Judging by the wide range of HD-DVD media on display at the exhibition it is obvious that the HD-DVD group has been actively promoting their format to media manufacturers, and as HD-DVDs can be produced relatively easily with minor modifications to existing equipment they have been quite successful in their push. The final specifications for the different HD-DVD formats are expected to be finished by February, 2005.

The HD-DVD group's booth looked really cool as it periodically shifted in color HD-DVD in action showing various movies in HD
HD-DVD media on display from Toshiba, NEC, Memory-Tech, Advanced Media, Cinram, Imation, Maxell, Prodisc, Ritek, Verbatim HD-DVD supporters, which mostly seems to consist of media manufacturers


Toshiba


Toshiba was showing off their prototype HD-DVD player, which is scheduled for release in late 2005 with a retail price of $1,000. They had also set up a section where they were showcasing movies in HD such as Matrix Revolutions, Ronin, Moulin Rouge, Behind Enemy Lines, Chicago, Cradle 2 The Grave, What a Girl Wants, Kangaroo Jack, and Ghost Ship.

Toshiba's prototype HD-DVD player

LSI for HD-DVD system 30GB HD-DVD ROM disc


NEC


NEC was displaying their HD-DVD drive for PC usage, which just as Toshiba's HD-DVD player is scheduled for release some time in 2005. We're not sure if the drive will support recording/rewriting or if it only reads HD-DVD discs. One interesting thing to note though is that it appears as if the HD-DVD group for some reason has decided to not support dual-layer HD DVD-R discs, so recording will be limited to 15GB.

NEC's HD-DVD drive for PC usage No support for dual-layer HD DVD-R discs? Details about the HD-DVD drive for PC usage


Sanyo


Sanyo just recently announced their support for the HD-DVD format, but considering that they had a working prototype HD-DVD player ready for this years Ceatec they must have been working on it for quite some time. The company has previously stated that they were considering providing components for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, so it came as no surprise to us when they had both Blu-ray and HD-DVD compatible optical pickups on display.

Sanyo's prototype HD-DVD player Sanyo's optical pickup for HD-DVD Sanyo's optical pickup for Blu-ray Disc


Final words


That's the end of our Ceatec 2004 report, thanks for checking it out. We'd like to thank all of the exhibitors at Ceatec that answered our questions and allowed us to take photos of their products.




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