At the 2009 CES, Sony and Panasonic showed 3D HDTV as product concepts. Nvidia showed off its ability to display games in 3D and several other smaller companies demonstrated various 3D technologies, some with polarized glasses, some with shutter-glasses. I liked Sony’s demonstrations the best because they used lightweight polarized glasses.
At the 2010 CES, Sony and Panasonic and other manufacturers demonstrated 3D television products that will ship later this year. Actually, any television with a refresh rate of 120hz or greater is ‘3D ready.’ You’ll still need synced shutter glasses and a 3D source, but the screen will be able to display both eye-images at a fast enough rate to avoid jitter.
At the 2011 and probably 2012 Consumer Electronics Shows, we’ll start seeing second-generation and third-generation 3D products, by which time the technology will have matured, the prices will have dropped, and we will have settled into a standard for 3D HDTV.
But some industry pundits have already weighed in, suggesting that 3D is a fad, isn’t something that consumers really want, and doesn’t lend itself to home viewing—particularly because the ‘goofy glasses’ are a hindrance. Plus the 3D sets are expensive, most consumers haven’t finished paying for their current HDTV sets, so why would they want to replace them this year?
Apparently it doesn’t matter whether you love the idea of 3D TV, or hate it. The industry is going full speed ahead with the 3D roll out. See, today was a momentous day for 3D TV, when the very first consumer 3D TV supporting the new standards was sold (sort of). Best Buy in Manhattan sold Brad and Ashley, a couple from the upper west side, a $2900 bundle consisting of a 50-inch Panasonic TV, a Panasonic 3D capable Blu-Ray player, and one pair of 3D glasses.
The event was clearly a PR move; the first Samsung 3D TVs have been popping up in Best Buy showrooms and Amazon pages for weeks. After completing the purchase, the lucky owners were deluged with questions by reporters that apparently had nothing better to do. You’ll soon be able to swing by your local Best Buy to get the same bundle, but don’t expect the same sort of treatment.
Anyone purchasing 3D TVs and Blu-Ray players will be waiting a while for content. DirecTV has promised 3D channels will be available by June, but movies will be slow to arrive. The most recent Ice Age film will be out “soon” and Avatar should arrive later this year. But there’s still the problem of the 3D glasses, which currently cost $150 each. Will consumers shell out for extras, or will there be a lot of BYO3DG (bring your own 3D glasses) Superbowl parties? We don’t even know if Brad and Ashley got a second pair. Maybe Ashley will just have to squint really hard.
Like it or not, 3D is destined for your living room, and there's a race to get there first (just ask Panasonic and Best Buy). But how much can you expect to plunk down on a fancy new 3D television set?
Samsung answered that question today by announcing the availability and pricing info for its next-generation lineup of LED HDTVs, including several 3D-capable units. The least you can expect to pay for 3D, at least for a Samsung set, is $2,000, which buys you a 40-inch HDTV. Pricing goes up from there, all the way to $7,000 for a 55-inch set due out in April.
"Our commitment to innovation has always been strong. We’re not only delivering elegant design and eco-friendly energy consumption, but we’re adding a new dimension to superior home entertainment through a broad lineup of 3D LED TVs," said John Revie, vice president of Home Entertainment for Samsung Electronics America. "We are passionate about this year’s LED TV lineup as we once again raise the bar on technology innovation by delivering a superior TV experience and leadership in the HDTV space."
While Samsung announced 27 new models in all, 8 of them will come with built-in 3D (C7000, C8000, and C9000 series). All of these include Samsung's Real240Hz refresh rate technology and are compatible with major 3D format standards, the company said.
See here for a full list of details and new models.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you know that 3D is this year’s entertainment buzzword. With 3D blockbusters like Avatar scoring megabucks in the theaters, 3D cinema’s jump to the living room is all but a foregone conclusion. But where does that leave all your old 2D files and DVDs?
Thanks to a couple of very cool programs and some clever scripting, there’s hope for them yet. In this article, we’re going to show you how to use AviSynth and VirtualDub, along with a script from the 3D Vision Blog to give any 2D film the 3D treatment.
Crytek’s CryENGINE has always been a fine looking game engine, but it’s been missing one thing. In case you haven’t guessed, that thing is 3D. We’re not sure anyone was really pushing for this, but at GDC 2010, Crytek will be showing off their new CryENGINE 3 with stereoscopic 3D.
The new engine is reputed to be near photorealism in its rendering. Crytek also plans to give developers a new tool called LiveCreate. This feature will allow game designers to work on, and play their CryENGINE 3 game for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms at the same time.
Nvidia has also made some noise about the coming age of 3D, saying that 3D will be “all pervasive”. Some estimates peg the number of 3D enabled games in 2010 as high as 50. We don’t know if this whole 3D thing will take off, but CryENGINE 3 will probably still be really pretty in 2D. Are you waiting with bated breath for 3D gaming to hit the mainstream?
The message during CES was pretty clear: 3D is coming to the living room. Helping to put it there, Acer this morning announced two new Vidia 3D Vision-Ready video projectors.
"The new Acer video projectors provide incredibly compelling and realistic 3D video and images that make customers feel like they are part of the experience," said Irene Chan, senior product marketing manager for peripherals, Acer America. "With the Acer projectors, consumers can enjoy existing 2D content as if it were developed in 3D for a more immersive entertainment and learning experience – whether it’s a fictional journey, a scientific exploration of the universe or a tour of ancient archaeological sites. Of course, customers will thoroughly enjoy the superior visuals projected from these new models even while watching traditional 2D content."
First up is the Acer H5360 projector, which beams content in 720p. Acer rates this one at up to 2600 ANSI lumens and a 3200:1 contrast ratio. You'll also find an HDMi port, three RCA jacks, component video, S-video mini DIN, 2.5mm audio mini-jack, and a 15-pin D-Sub
Sitting a little lower on the totem pole is the Acer X1261 projector. Unlike the H5360, the X1261 boasts a native XGA resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio, although Acer claims it can be adjusted to a 16:9 aspect ratio. This one comes rated at up to 2500 ANSI lumens and a 3700:1 contrast ratio. Input sources include composite, component, S-video mini DIM, and a stereo mini jack.
Both projectors come capable of handling 3D content when combined with Nvidia's 3D Vision technology, which you can read more about here.
The H5360 ($699) and X1261 ($579) are available now.
The first stereoptic movies were shown in theaters in 1922 and used red and blue (anaglyph) glasses. The first public demonstration of the Polaroid projection of 3D movies was at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York in a promotional film for Chrysler.
In 1946, 90 million people a week went to the movies. Only a few years later, television had cut those attendance numbers almost in half. The studios were looking for ways to compete with this upstart industry. (Sound familiar?)
The first thing the studios did was to increase the number of Technicolor productions, because television was only black-and-white. They also began experimenting with various big screen processes. Cinerama had a wraparound screen and needed three cameras and three projectors. VistaVision used 70mm film at 30fps. Cinemascope used 35mm film projected through an anamorphic lens that stretched it sideways to fill a wide curved screen.
But in 1952 an independent producer named Arch Oboler brought Bwana Devil to the theaters. It was a pretty dreadful movie, telling the story of two lions that killed 130 people during the construction of an African railroad, but the novelty of 3D drew large audiences to the theaters and the major studios were quick to leap aboard.
MSI paraded three concept all-in-ones (AIOs) at last month's Consumer Electronics Show. A 24-inch 3D Wind Top was also among that very intriguing trio. The 3D Wind Top is now going to get another opportunity to wow tech-savvy onlookers at CeBIT 2010, which begins on March 2, 2010 in Hannover, Germany.
“MSI's Wind Top All-in-One 3D PC integrates advanced 3D display technology with powerful CPU processing to deliver smooth, clear and vibrant 3D images with a high level of image detail and clarity," the company announced.
No, the whole 3D thing didn’t go away after CES. It’s still happening, and Panasonic plans to get in on the ground floor. The Japanese electronics maker will be releasing four 3D Blu-Ray recorders/players to compliment the 3D Viera plasmas they intend to sell. The new units will be available first in Japan this spring.
The DMP-BDT900 is just a player, unlike the rest of Panasonic’s new line up. It comes with 4 HDMI ports, an SD card slot, LAN, USB ports, Viera link, and BD-LIVE. It will be available for $1,500. The 3D Blu-Ray recorders come with hard drives in 2TB, 1TB and 750GB sizes. These devices will have two digital and one analog TV tuner, 2 HDMI ports, LAN, USB port, SD card slot, and Viera Link. The three models will go for $3,350 for the 2TB model, $2,200 for the 1TB unit and $1,800 for the 750GB one.
So if you’re the early adopter type, and you’ll be in Japan this Spring, start saving up now.
It’s chicken-and-egg time again. Right now the question is playing out in 3D television. There’s no content because there’s no TVs; there’s no TVs because there’s no content. Someone has to go first, before the others will follow. Panasonic has decided to be one of those first-goers, announcing it will soon start shipping its first 3D plasma HDTVs.
The VIERA VT2 series was introduced at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. The series is expected to contain four sets ranging from 50-inches to 65-inches. The two available now are the 50-inch TH-P50VT2 and the 54-inch TH-P54VT2. Each has 1080p resolution, and a contrast ratio of 5 million to one. Both digital and analog tuners are built-in, as is a 20W 2.1-channel speaker system. Each set has four HDMI ports, a VGA output, a D4 (component) output, and an Ethernet port. They also feature Panasonic’s VIERA CAST IPTV functionality and are THX certified.
The 3D effect is realized through the use of active shutter glasses, which are included with the set. (No word on how many pairs with each set, or whether other pairs will be available as an option.)
The new sets are due for release in April in Japan. No mention of a release date for the United States. And they won’t come cheap: the 54-inch model is priced about $6,000 (¥530,000), and the 50-inch model about $4,900 (¥430,000).