As 3D television comes of age, Jennifer DudleyNicholson finds there’s more than one dimension to buying a new set
New formats and more content are in the wind.
WE REALLY see this as the year 3D comes of age. First there was tube versus flatscreen. Then LCD versus plasma. Then standard versus high definition. Now a new TV war has erupted over 3D.
One major TV maker, LG, has slammed 3D TV offerings as expensive and hard to use and is instead pushing a new 3D television system similar to the one seen in the cinema.
The new 3D format will ditch $ 200 3D glasses for $ 10 models and will offer greater viewing angles, even if you’re sitting far from the screen.
But competing TV makers have slammed LG’s Cinema 3D offering, saying the current generation of 3D TVs provides a superior, full high-definition experience that is becoming more efficient and refined.
The only element on which all camps agree is that 2011 will be the year 3D TV goes mainstream.
LG announced its new approach to 3D TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but models are only trickling into Australian stores.
The Cinema 3D televisions use passive 3D technology, allowing them to deliver 3D images to users wearing polarised glasses.
LG senior product marketing manager Tim Barnes says the company introduced the new 3D TV screens to avoid a slew of problems associated with last year’s 3D TV releases.
‘‘ In 2010, there was limited 3D content, expensive glasses that were not comfortable and offered restricted views of 3D TV,’’ Barnes says.
‘‘ The flickering lighting through the glasses also provided discomfort for viewers.’’
Those glasses were battery-powered and delivered a different 3D image to viewers’ left and right eyes using tiny shutters that opened and closed rapidly.
LG’s new Cinema 3D TVs instead ditch battery-powered spectacles for passive, polarised 3D glasses.
Similar to sunglasses, the lenses are covered by filters that match those on the TV screen, separating the image into two – one for either eye.
Barnes says the technology allows LG to sell glasses for just $ 10 and delivers lightweight glasses ( 16g), greater viewing angles and eliminates connection problems when users turn away from a 3D television screen.
While he admits the use of polarised filters can deliver darker TV images, Barnes says LG has boosted the brightness of its 3D TVs to 80 nits to overcome the problem.
But Samsung, Panasonic and Sony, which offer active 3D TVs, argue passive 3D technology produces inferior results.
Sony consumer product marketing group manager Paul Colley says the biggest problem with passive 3D TV technology is the reduction in screen resolution. ‘‘ You can’t get full-HD 3D with passive technology,’’ he says.
‘‘ Passive 3D halves the resolution of the image on the screen. People are buying full high-definition TVs, so it’d be a shame not to watch 3D movies in full HD.’’
Colley also argues users will notice ‘‘ faint black lines across the screen’’ because alternating pixel lines deliver different images to each eye.
Samsung consumer electronics product manager Brad Wright says passive 3D TVs will struggle to overcome reduced brightness because of the screen filter and will fail to have ‘‘ colours that really pop’’.
He says Samsung has also refined its 3D TV offerings this year, having redesigned its battery-powered 3D glasses. The company now offers three types of 3D glasses, including a premium model designed by sunglass maker Silhouette that weighs just 28g and stores its batteries at the back for a more even weight distribution. The glasses range in price from $ 50 to $ 199.
Samsung has also switched from an infra-red 3D TV connection to Bluetooth, making for a more reliable connection and, Wright says, ‘‘ better viewing angles’’.
For its part, Panasonic will add 3D to 16 out of 26 new TVs this year, with consumer electronics director Paul Reid saying the company is ‘‘ absolutely committed’’ to active 3D for its picture quality.
Half of all new Sony TVs will feature the technology and Colley says the wide availability of 3D TVs, as well as price reductions and 3D movie releases, will make this year the tipping point for the technology.
‘‘ We really see this as the year 3D comes of age and a lot more content becomes available,’’ he says.
People are buying full highdefinition TVs, so it’d be a shame not to watch 3D movies in full HD