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CHIBA (Kyodo) Asia’s largest annual exhibition of information technology and consumer electronics opened Tuesday for a five-day run at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba.

Next-generation DVD products of two rival camps, led by Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp., as well as the newest flat-screen TVs are expected to attract the most attention at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies Japan 2006.

Under the theme “Digital Convergence Changing Society, Lifestyles and Business,” organizers said a record 807 companies and institutions have set up 2,936 booths.

On the opening day of the event, Sony unveiled its first stand-alone Blu-ray DVD recorder.

Sony said it will release two models, the BDZ-V9 with a 500-gigabyte hard disk, on Dec. 8 and the BDZ-V7 with a 250-gigabyte hard disk, on Dec. 16.

Sony said the BZD-V9 will retail for around 300,000 yen and the BDZ-V7 for about 250,000 yen.

“I expect Blu-ray DVD products will be widely available in one year’s time,” Kiyoshi Nishitani, a Sony executive in charge of the company’s Blu-ray business, told reporters. He did not say what the company’s sales target was for the two models.

Late last month, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said it would market begin marketing Blu-ray recorders with replay functions on Nov. 15 in Japan.

Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic brand products, will promote a 103-inch plasma TV. It started taking orders for the TV Sept. 1 on a made-to-order basis.

Visitors will also likely show interest in a prototype surface-conduction electron-emitter display TV, codeveloped by Canon Inc. and Toshiba, due out late next year.

The SED TV takes advantage of conventional cathode ray tube technology and is said to feature excellent picture quality and lower electricity consumption.

Of the exhibitors, 283 are from 26 countries and regions outside Japan, including China, France, Germany, Taiwan and the United States, the organizers said.

They are expecting a record 200,000-plus visitors to CEATEC Japan 2006, up from last year’s 196,680.

The event will have 140 keynote speeches and seminars. Speakers include Toshiba Corp. President Atsutoshi Nishida, Fujitsu Ltd. Chairman Naoyuki Akikusa and Intel Corp. Senior Vice President Eric Kim.

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