Highlights from Japan and the CEATEC Show
3D HDTV from Panasonic and Toshiba
While Panasonic dedicated a large display to 3D, I was struck more by the minimal impact of 3D at CEATEC. Even in the cavernous Tokyo electronics stores, 3D is just another feature -- and one that felt like it was getting a minimal push. I noticed several displays in Bic Camera and Yodobashi, with demo glasses mounted so consumers could take a look at the devices, but clearly 3D hasn't taken the world by storm.
Toshiba showcased 55-inch glasses-free 3D TV, the Regza 55X3, with 4K resolution. The company has demoed 4K resolution before at CES, and has demoed glasses-free TV, but this was the first model combining the two in a commercially available product that uses Toshiba's Cevo-Engine Duo platform. The 4K is available for 2D playback; or, you get full HD with 3D playback.
The 55X3 will debut in mid-December in Japan; we should hear more about U.S. release plans at CES 2012.
Toshiba Regza DBR-Z160 and DBR-M190 Recorders
In Japan, it's hard to find a Blu-ray player that isn't also a Blu-ray Disc recorder. And Blu-ray Disc recorders with hard disk drives are prevalent. I've often queried manufacturers about the lack of recorders in the U.S., and been given the run-around about consumers flocking to cable provider DVRs. But really when was the last time there wasn't a quandary in your household about what to delete off the DVR to make room for new content?
The Regza DBR-M190, a 5TB Blu-ray Disc Recorder, boasts 4TB of hard disk space you can use to simultaneously record up to six terrestrial digital channels, for 15 days (at low-image quality, to achieve that spec). And you still get an extra 1TB to record other programs. It is due out in December in Japan.
Already, Toshiba offers the DBR-Z160, pictured above, which packs 2TB of disk space and a BDXL recorder; Sharp, Sony, and others sell such recorders, too.
Talk about a long-suffering yet intriguing technology. We've seen iVDR -- a hard drive cartridge technology -- demoed at CES plenty of times, and in the U.S., Maxell sells it as a professional video product. But it's nothing like this recorder box, introduced this summer and shown by Maxell at CEATEC.
The VDR-R2000 records television to removable hard disk cartridges, and records AVCHD video from digital television to cartridge card. Plus, it has various media streaming options, too. The box connects to your TV via HDMI.
Toshiba Regza Tablet AT700
At IFA in September, Toshiba unveiled its AT200 tablet. But at CEATEC, Toshiba was all about the AT700, a Japan-only (for now?) 10.1-inch Android tablet it bills as the world's thinnest and lightest. Well, almost. At 1.23 pounds, it rivals the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in weight, but it also felt a bit bulkier and boxier, even though it beats the depth of Samsung at 0.3-inches deep, to Samsung's 0.34-inches.
I attribute that impression to the Toshiba's more squared-off design (Samsung, by comparison, has rounded edges). Due in mid-December, the timing again makes me think we'll hear more about Toshiba USA's thin tablet plans at CES 2012.
Toshiba Regza Tablet AT700 (Ports)
I handled this ultra-thin tablet, and found it light in the hand, though I prefer the curves of Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The tablet runs Android 3.2, and while it lacks the full-size SDXC card slot and USB ports of its Thrive cousin, it does have micro-USB, microSD, and micro-HDMI ports.