To 3D or Not to 3D:
A potential customer asked me yesterday about 3D TV and whether it’s a good time to buy it or if it’s even a good investment. What I realized after talking to him is that the box stores have presented 3D as a must have if your buying a new TV and that’s not always the case.
3D TV is still a young technology. Although the technology is impressive, here are a few things to think about if your in the market for a new TV.
1. Technology – TV manufacturers are still searching for the best method to display 3D content. Think VHS vs. BETAMAX. Currently manufacturers are using active-shutter technology, but at least one manufacturer is developing a system using polarized glasses. Toshiba is developing “Glasses-Free” 3D, but that is still several years away.
2. Cost – To view 3D TV in your home, you need a 3D TV, a 3D Blu-Ray player, and the glasses. A 50″ 1080p Panasonic 3D TV, a Panasonic 3D Blu-Ray Player and four sets of glasses will run you approximately $2300.00 to 2500.00 + tax. That’s about double what a comparable 50″ HDTV and 2D Blu-Ray player would cost. When we sold the first Fujitsu 42″ Flat Panel Plasma TV is 1997, the retail price was about $20,000.00, now the cheapest 42″ Plasma you can buy (under $600.00) will blow the doors off the original Fujitsu. The technology will come down in price over the next few years.
3. The Glasses – Currently, most TV manufacturers are using Active-Shutter technology in the glasses, which means the glasses have an infrared link to the TV and lighten and darker to produce the 3D image. This means the glasses are expensive. You can’t use the Glasses you snagged from the IMAX theater. There are a couple companies using passive glasses and they work well, this brings the price down a little, but they are being used in limited amounts. Some 3D TVs come with no 3D Glasses, some with 1 pair, some with 2 pairs of glasses, but you have to buy any additional pairs (at $120 to $250 a pair). So a family of 4 could be out another $1000.00 just in glasses. The glasses are not interchangeable between brands. There is some work going on to develop universal active shutter glasses.
4. Nausea and Headaches – The American Association of Optometrists found via an online survey, that as many as a quarter of people report eyestrain, blurred vision, dizziness, headaches or nausea after viewing 3D content. So that means, for a family of 4, one of you isn’t going to like 3D. I have found that for most people, it takes 20 to 30 minutes of watching 3D before the problems start, so watching a 5 minute demo at Best Buy, doesn’t mean you’ll be fine through an entire movie. Sharp’s 3D glasses do have a feature where you can turn their glasses from 3D to 2D to combat this problem, but now you’re watching 2D TV AND having to wear the glasses.
5. Content – There are currently a limited amount of 3D titles available in the US. Some are animated movies, some are documentaries (IMAX), some are live action filmed in 3D, and some are live action converted to 3D in post production. A few of these titles are available exclusively with a Manufacturers product as packages only, Monsters vs. Aliens with SAMSUNG, Avatar with PANASONIC, etc. The list of content will increase as the demand is out there.
If your current TV is still in good shape, I wouldn’t rush out and get a new one just for 3D. The major up side to buying a 3D TV even if your only going to watch 2D is the black levels are deep and the scan rate has to be up for the system to work, this means incredible picture. Now watching the game in 3D in1080p on a 63″ HDTV is still pretty awesome! If really want 3D TV, make sure all your pieces are going to work together, and Go For It!