3-D at Home Redux

I jumped the gun with the last post.  It appears that 3D got lots of attention at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  3-D in the home has been possible for a few years now, and manufacturers are finally ready to test the market.

Of course, 3-D television is no secret, so if one manufacturer is going to make a 3-D set, they are all going to try.   But what will we watch?

According to a MSNBC article, 3-D gets ready for its close-up,

  • ESPN and Discovery plan to launch 3-D networks this year.
  • DirectTV plans to start America’s first 3-D HDTV channel.
  • The NFL has been experimenting with 3-D coverage.
  • Blu-ray Disc Association has approved a technical standard for 3-D Blu-ray.
  • Several manufacturers are working on a way to convert 2-D programming to 3-D on the fly.

And it’s not just for movies and television programming – video games want a piece of the action too.  Acer released a 3-D gaming laptop several months ago.

3M has a 3-D optical film to offer “true stereoscopic 3-D viewing” without the need for glasses.  This is supposed to give you a 3-D experience on your cell phone, gameboy, or iPod.

Panasonic has announced the “World’s first integrated twin-lens Full HD 3D camcorder“.

stereo camcorder

And what about the glasses?

Most of the new TVs use special glasses to produce the 3-D effect.  It is necessary to deliver distinct images to each eye. This generally means glasses,though the quality has improved.

Tim Alessi, director of product development for LG Electronics USA, says “We use the ‘active (shutter) type,’ which alternately shut on and off the left and right eye in sync with the picture,” he said. “That’s how it splits up the image so that’s how you get the 3-D effect.”

This particular technology has existed for at least two decade in research labs.

“There are other types of glasses, and manufacturers will vary on which they choose to work with their sets. Costs of the glasses range from under $1 apiece for some polarized lenses to more than $100 for those by XpanD, a company whose glasses incorporate battery-powered shutters.”
TV makers ready to test depths of market for 3-D is less enthusiastic.

This is supposedly the year 3-D television becomes the hot new thing: Updated sets and disc players are coming out, and 3-D cable channels are in the works. But it’s not clear the idea will reach out and grab mainstream viewers.

Besides having to spring for expensive new TVs, people would have to put on awkward special glasses to give the picture the illusion of depth. That limits 3-D viewing to times when viewers can sit down and focus on a movie or show.

It’s one thing to put on 3-D glasses in a theater, but “at home, you’re with other people in the living room, running to the kitchen and doing other things,” said Greg Ireland of the research firm IDC.

Your glasses will limit how you watch TV (though I’m sure you will always have the option of viewing in 2-D mode).

You’ll have to buy a pair of glasses for as many people as you expect to attend your Super Bowl party.

… and watch out for the “3-D ready” sets (meaning you have to buy separate devices and glasses for 3-D viewing.

One Response to “3-D at Home Redux”

  1. Darin says:

    … and it’s here!

    Samsung Electronics Co. announced Tuesday that it is selling two 3-D sets. Combined with the required glasses and a 3-D Blu-ray player, the prices start at about $3,000 for a 46-inch screen.