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TeknologikL is a place for conversation and discussion about new technologies emerging in consumer electronics with a focus on high-definition video and audio. The blog will cover topics including home theater equipment, digital distribution, media streaming, electronic product reviews and more.

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3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

Posted April 29, 2010 12:00 AM by Kaplin

With the current media frenzy and marketing onslaught about 3D television, I couldn't help but throw my two cents in.

You might recall frankd20's post in January from CES 2010 about all the 3D devices he saw. Now, only a few months later, many of these new products are being released with the electronics manufacturers and retailers urging people that they need to upgrade.

Early Adopters Need Apply Only
I almost feel sorry for anyone who jumps on the 3D bandwagon at this stage in the game unless they have plenty of money to burn. A complete new home theater is required to take advantage of 3D content at the highest quality, and early adopters will always pay a hefty premium for being the first one on the block to get the new technology. As with most new technologies that come out, 3D needs time to mature.

Glasses Required?
The real issue here is that there are so many competing 3D technologies, the ones currently available feel like a stop-gap until the technology can be perfected -- and when I say perfected, I mean 3D without glasses.

Electronics and media companies have tried hard to get the public to accept a world were putting on glasses is perfectly OK to watch TV, but I'm sorry to say it's a battle they're going to lose. 3D glasses are nothing new. Although current iterations are much better than 3D glasses from the 80s, there is a reason it never caught on back then, except as more of a novelty.

HDMI 1.3 vs HDMI 1.4
To view 3D content at full 1080p resolution, HDMI 1.4 cables are required. This means that in addition to a new television, you would also need a new Blu-ray player, AV Receiver, DVR/Cable Box, and a new set of HDMI 1.4 cables to connect them.

HDMI 1.3 cables are capable of displaying 3D content, but at a reduced quality. If the source is a Blu-ray player then the video would display at 1080i instead of 1080p (check I put P in Your Video for the difference). If the source is a cable box, which can't even display regular 1080p video, the 3D video would be downgraded all the way to 540i -- making the final video not in high definition.

Content = Nonexistent
OK, so you didn't listen to me and spent thousands of dollars to get a brand new 3D theater, which is rip-roaring to go. Here comes the next problem: what do you plan on watching with it? You sure aren't going to get any 3D content from your cable or satellite providers for a while, as most don't even offer 1080p video.

That's fine you say, that's why you got the new 3D Blu-ray player to go along with your setup. Well think again because the biggest 3D movie release ever, Avatar, which generated much of the 3D buzz, was released on Blu-ray last week with the 3D version nowhere to be found. Avatar 3D was hinted to be released sometime in 2011, but no firm date has been given. It has also been announced that Alice in Wonderland, which is due to be released on Blu-ray in June, will also have the 3D version come "at a later date."

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo might have just put a nail in the coffin of the idea of 3D with glasses when they announced a brand new handheld device called the Nintendo 3DS, which will offer 3D gaming without any special glasses required.

Details are still scarce on the device that is slated to be officially unveiled at E3 in June, but if Nintendo's promises hold true, I don't see the public switching back to wearing glasses for their 3D video.

Best Buy's 3D Glasses Calibration Service
Best Buy has even sunk low enough to offer an in-home "3D Glasses Calibration service" for $150. Calibrating these 3D glasses takes two steps: (1) put the glasses on, (2) look at the TV. Before jumping to conclusions that they are ripping people off… they also go into your television settings to make sure the 3D option is turned on.

Final Thoughts
Overall I think the 3D technology is really cool, but at this point in the game it is just a race to get products on store shelves to grab consumers money. Give it a few years for things to settle down and better 3D technologies become more mainstream. Stick to going to the theater once in a while for your 3D fix until then.

Do you mind putting on glasses to watch the latest movie? Does anyone plan on upgrading their TV in the near future to take advantage of 3D?

More Info:
Toshiba Creates 21 Inch Glasses-Free 3-D Display
Avatar Producer Says 3D Glasses Don't Suck
Why Panasonic Will Look Silly With 3D TV Glasses

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#1

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don’t Buy Into it…Yet

04/29/2010 10:17 AM

Based on what I saw at CES and my knowledge of what exists in the 3D realm, I will fist confirm that I agree that the current 3D TV's are a money grab in more than one way. The 3D TV's currently on the market that use glasses all have one thing in common, they are for the most part the exact same flat screen TV many people just bought, with updated electronics. That's right any TV that has a refresh rate of 120Hz or more screen wise is capable of 3D, the problem is the electronics were never meant to support it. The most expensive part of the TV to the manufacturer is the screen, since the screen's are already capable of 120Hz or more due to the demand to improve motion blurring problems, the screens have been ready for 3D.

Now that many people just went out and bought a spanking new flat screen TV, manufacturers needed to come up with something new to justify keeping the price up, along comes 3D. And why do all the new sets use active glasses, the answer is simply that all you need to do is do some updating to the electronics in the TV to drive the glasses, and presto we can charge double the price for the same thing we are already selling in the stores.

Personally I think the goal of the manufacturers is to change out all the flat screen TV's with updated 3D ones such that 3D will be just about all you will be able to buy in a year or two, if you want it or not. Since the screen is the same you will be able to view 2D content just fine, but will have the added bonus of using special glasses to view the occasional 3D movie. At this I think they will be successful since over time as we upgrade our TV's we will basically be forced to buy a 3D TV. The idea of the current sets isn't to get us to watch everything in 3D, it's just to be able to watch special 3D content on occasion.

The idea of 3D without glasses is great, but I don't think we will be seeing anything that good on the store shelves for at least 10 years or more. The Nintendo 3DS is postulated to use a camera system that tracks your head movement and changes the perspective based on this, if this is the case, this is not true 3D.

The problem with true 3D is that it is stereo vision, which means two images, this means somehow you need to double the information. Your choices to double the picture information are to either double the refresh rate so you can show two images in the time it would normally take to show one, or you need to double the resolution. Since the refresh rate method is what is being used in the new 3D TV's I will talk briefly about the double resolution. This method of 3D is done with a lenticular lens, I talked about this in my post about 3D TV's The problem with the current sets that use a lenticular lens is that they don't double the resolution, they just put a special lens over the standard screen. The reason for this is its expensive and difficult to make a screen with double the resolution. The image from these sets looks horrible, it is 3D and you don't need glasses but it's like you are looking at a kid's toy. If they were to double the resolution of the screen to 2160, then you might have a shot at something viewable, but I doubt it. With a lenticular lens you need to stand in just the right spot for it to work, and even then it gave me a real headache after less than a minute of viewing. The other problem with this method is it screws up 2D viewing.

Looking forward I think if we really want a good 3D experience without glasses the only thing on the horizon I have heard of is holographic TV's, the problem is the technology isn't mature yet. One day it might be, but at the moment I wouldn't expect to hear much about it.

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#2

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don’t Buy Into it…Yet

04/30/2010 12:43 AM

But I don't want my 90120, news, sports, and weather in 3D!!!

When I was a kid, I liked looking at pictures of pretty, naked ladies in 2D magazines. I didn't want them to be blow-up and in 3d!!!

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#3

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don’t Buy Into it…Yet

04/30/2010 8:43 AM

I'm going to wait until we can get special lenses surgically implanted into our eyes. Then, not only will I be able to watch 3D TV without glasses, but I'll be able to see the whole world that way.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don’t Buy Into it…Yet

04/30/2010 9:34 AM

Now there is an idea (sort of) and one that I know has been thought of before. Make contact lenses for 3D viewing. With the use of polarization which is the method the passive glasses work with, one could just wear special contacts instead of glasses. This is something that has not only been thought of but may be something one could purchase in the near future, although I can't say how popular it would be.

Of course these special contacts wouldn't be compatible with most of the 3D tv's hitting the market, but it wouldn't be too difficult to make one that was compatible.

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#5

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

04/30/2010 11:01 AM

I, being an old retired submarine officer, suffer from near-sightedness and wear glasses all the time. I cannot stand having to put 3-D glasses on to watch anything. I also develop a raging headache after about 5 minutes of watching anything in 3-D. I refuse to go to any 3-D movie and will not buy a 3-D TV.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

05/01/2010 12:50 AM

Do I need 3D glasses to watch puppet shows?

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#7

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

05/01/2010 4:26 PM

If you really want a true 3D experience why not go to a live theatre?

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

05/01/2010 8:55 PM

My kids cracked me up today. "Dad, they are selling HD sunglasses on TV." I explained to them what HD really meant. My oldest, 13 yrs old, said, "Holy crap! I've had HD eyes my entire life and didn't even know it."

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#9

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

07/28/2010 1:04 PM

Every technology has to start somewhere I guess, and there are always going to be the suckers who want to start the movement... even if it means that they are the guinea pigs who spend lots of money and have to deal with all of the kinks involved. To these people, all that matters is that they were a part of the first generation and are therefore better than everyone else. I remember my friends who got the 1st generation iPods and assumed this made them superior to me or more trendy. I personally prefer to wait until the technology is well established and many of the technological errors have been dealt with before I make an investment. I have to say I do look forward to the 3D movement- do you think in 5 years every show will have the crazy 3D features like Avatar?

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#10

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

05/18/2011 1:49 PM

THE best 3D experience I've found is life - minus TV.

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#11

Re: 3D Hysteria - Don't Buy Into it…Yet

06/18/2011 10:06 AM

I'm going to wait until holographic (3D Surround View) is available. I have to admit that before current 3D was available, what I imagined as the next step in visual electronic entertainment was not what we now call 3D. What I desired was being able to move off to the side, or go around behind, and see the action from a different angle. (Okay... perhaps it WAS a towel that I was wishing I could see around... but that's besides the point ) In any case, the current type of "2D3D" is not what I envisioned.

Any input on the future of true holographic viewing?

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