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High-def 4K taking center stage this year

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Electronics makers are promoting their 4K, or ultra-high-definition, display technology in a big way at Japan’s biggest electronics fair with the aim of stimulating some demand.

For the last few years, Panasonic Corp. strongly pushed home energy management systems and related home appliances at the CEATEC Japan trade show in Chiba, but its booth this time around is all about 4K — and nothing else.

With products ranging from 4K TVs and tablet computers to cameras that can shoot 4K images, the booth has been crowded with visitors.

“We’ll be selling our 4K TVs in the domestic market this month for the first time . . . we may be a latecomer,” but the firm wants to make clear it has a full range of 4K technology to offer, said Atsushi Hinoki, general manager of Panasonic’s exhibition planning office.

Gadgets with 4K technology can display images with four times more pixels than current high-definition allows.

Other electronics giants such as Toshiba Corp., Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp. are already selling 4K televisions in Japan. But because the TVs are expensive, the technology has yet to catch on with consumers in significant numbers.

Hinoki said 4K has potential with business customers, too, as the TV and movie industries will need new cameras and monitors to shoot in 4K.

The other makers are also playing up their 4K technology at CEATEC.

“As a matter of fact, we are seeing pretty good sales in 4K TVs,” said Yuji Motomura, a chief specialist in the product marketing group at Toshiba.

Big-screen TVs have been popular lately, and about 25 percent of people who buy TVs bigger than 55 inches choose 4K, which is better than initial expectations, he said.

Toshiba is now planning to produce 4K TVs in the medium, 40-inch range.

While 4K TVs seem to have gotten off to a good start, Motomura said Toshiba is aiming to spread the word further at CEATEC, which runs until Saturday.

Sony and Mitsubishi Electric area also showing off 4K TVs, while Sharp is exhibiting 4K touch panels.