Adrian Wittenberg reports on Japan's electronics scene…

It’s no secret that innovation in electronics often begins in Japan and trickles down to the rest of the world. I recently packed my bags to enjoy the culture and the food, and to get a glimpse at some of the current trends in the industry.

Whenever I go to Tokyo, I always spend a good couple of hours in the Akihabara district because the streets are littered with electronic shops that offer everything from cellular to high end A/V equipment.

Here’s a promo booth for Sony’s Blu Spec CD which takes some of the manufacturing processes used in Blu-ray disc creation and applies them to this new high end CD audio format. There’s already a fair amount of titles available at this time.

I stopped by a couple of media shops to see how prominent Blu-ray media was. There were plenty of titles to choose from both in imported titles from the U.S. as well as Japanese originals. Blu-ray is fairly pricy in Japan with most titles priced at around the equivalent of fifty U.S. dollars.

Blu-ray recording is also very big in Japan as many consumers are recording HD television and movies to Blu-ray disks. In fact, many of the Blu-ray players available in Japan double as media recorders with full featured downloadable program guides.

Here, for example, we see Sony’s BDZ-x100 Blu-ray player that features a 1 Terrabyte hard drive, dual tuners for television recording, network communication with other Sony products, and playback of all the latest HD audio codecs. Blu-ray players are expensive in Japan just like they are in the U.S. but the trend is for an all in one solution. Think Blu-ray, plus media server, plus Tivo, plus BD burner. I’m hoping to see these kinds of player/recorders show up in the states relatively soon now that the big digital switch is right around the corner.

In this image is Sony’s gorgeous XR1 LCD display. This display features Sony’s 120hz MotionFlow frame interpolation as well as their Triluminous technology which provides a wide color gamut as well as multi-zone backlighting techniques.

As more and more folks convert their music collection for storage on portable MP3 players or hard drives we can expect to see more innovative products that capitalize on this concept. Both Sony and Panasonic have introduced hard drive based mini-Juke box players.

Here Sony’s NAS-M95HD is elegant, stylish, and just plain cool with tons of storage and a very nice display.

Customization is also very big in Japan, so a lot of the focus from Manufacturers is put on style and appearance as can be seen in this image of various Laptop case designs.

As many people in Japan spend their recreation hours in their homes with their family, the demand for home entertainment products is massive and as such, manufacturers will continue to take risks and create innovative products for having fun in the home environment.