Back on track
The forthcoming London Olympics is set to give 3D TV sales the boost they so desperately need, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
THE 3D television is making a comeback.
After a loud launch followed by a deafening silence, 3D broadcasts will return to free- to- air TV in July with the London Olympics.
Experts say the new broadcasts will deliver ‘‘ a real window of opportunity’’ for TV makers, though they are also reigniting a technological feud.
Makers are separating into two camps: one behind active 3D, with full highdefinition pictures and battery- powered glasses; the other behind passive 3D that offers comfortable viewing and cheaper spectacles.
Audio- visual specialists expect both to flourish.
Australia’s 3D market revived when the Australian Communications and Media Authority confirmed it had issued Channel 9 a 3D trial licence to screen the Olympics.
The broadcasts, available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast, will include the opening ceremony, swimming finals, gymnastics, diving and athletics.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman says viewers will need to ensure they are within the trial coverage area, and warns the 3D TV licence is only temporary as ‘‘ the long- term technology is still developing’’.
But manufacturers are keen to use the opportunity to promote 3D TV again.
New screens from Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic are trickling into stores, with LG proving the biggest proponent of 3D technology.
LG marketing general manager Lambro Skropidis says demand for 3D screens and content will soar.
‘‘ Do we expect the appetite for 3D to continue?’’ Skropidis says.
‘‘ The answer is a resounding yes. 3D content continues to find its way to consumers via free- to- air and 3D pay- TV.’’
He says 3D TVS already represent 63 per cent of dollars spent on LEDbacklit TVS in Australia.
Samsung also contends 3D TV demand will rise, with director Phil Newton saying the technology has become ‘‘ a mandatory, must- have feature’’ in highend TVS.
But that is where the similarities between makers end, with the companies taking different approaches to 3D.
LG’S TVS feature passive 3D that uses polarised glasses such as those seen in movie theatres, with a polarised TV filter matching filters on 3D glasses to deliver a different image to either eye.
Its benefits include flicker- free images, cheap glasses and less eye strain.
Samsung’s screens use active 3D technology, which uses battery- powered technology to deliver different images to each eye in full high- definition.
Audio- visual expert Stephen Dawson says both systems produce significantly better results than when first launched in Australia, and predicted audiences would support both.
‘‘ The major hindrance for active 3D . . . is the cost of the glasses, but Samsung says they’re hoping to get their glasses down from $ 140 to just $ 40 a pair.’’
Dawson says users will need to re- scan channels on 3D TVS to tune into the 3D Olympics broadcasts from July 16.