Might 2013 be the year of glassless 3D TVs? It's looking that way.
Television makers and the entertainment industry as a whole has been trying to cram 3D viewing down our collective throats (or eye sockets, as it were -- apologies for the unpleasant visuals), but having to don a pair of sometimes goofy looking goggles hasn't proven popular. The other problem with 3D TVs is that they're often limited to strict viewing angles. Sit just a little bit off axis and the 3D effect goes out the window. It doesn't have to be that way, as Dolby demonstrated at its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Yep, THAT Dolby, the one that's known for sound.
The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), who organizes the world’s largest gadget-fest known as CES, has announced that over 20,000 products will be on display from over 3,000 exhibitors at this year’s trade show. The annual event will run from January 8th-11th 2013 in Las Vegas, and over 150,000 attendees are expected to pass through the massive Las Vegas Convention Center.
Over a year ago, I wrote in this space that 3D TV is inevitable in the home theater market. I still feel that way, and I’ll explain why.
I saw my first 3D movie in 1953. It was House Of Wax, starring Vincent Price, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, and featured a pretty scary newcomer named Charles Bronson. It was directed by Andre de Toth, who ironically only had one good eye.
To this day, it remains one of my favorite 3D movies, and I wish Warner Bros. would get off their butts and release it on 3D Blu-Ray, perhaps a double set with Phantom Of The Rue Morgue, starring Karl Malden. I’d also like Universal to release a box set of The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Revenge Of The Creature, The Creature Walks Among Us (not in 3D) and It Came From Outer Space.
It's tough to get a grasp on where the market stands for 3D viewing because different parts of the world have different attitudes towards 3D. According to market research firm DisplaySearch, Western Europe and China are the most enthusiastic regions for 3D consumption, whereas interest in the United States appears to be waning.
The latest figures from NPD DisplaySearch, previously just DisplaySearch (renamed 'NPD DisplaySearch' by its parent company, The NPD Group), suggests 3D adoption is more about price than available content. To wit, NPD DisplaySearch calculated 6.6 million 3D LCD TV panel shipments in the third quarter of 2011, accounting for 27 percent growth from last quarter, and it's because prices have come down.
Much of the Maximum PC and Maximum Tech staff is in Las Vegas right now at CES 2011, checking out all the newest gadgets on display. We've got a film crew down there, putting together high-quality videos of the show, but sometimes we know that you just want a quick glimpse at what's hot on the show floor. That's why we're bringing you guerrilla footage, shot by our editors using handheld cams.
First up, Jon Phillips takes a look at the Viera, the newest, thinnest, bad-ass-est 3D TV from Panasonic. Check out our review of the last-gen Viera right here.
If you're one of the few to have a new 3D HDTV, it's about to feel a little smaller. LG has announced they will be bringing their LZ9700 3D HDTV to CES. This beast is going to be 72-inches of three-dimensional glory, making it the world's largest consumer LCD 3D TV. Not only that, but this will be an LED backlit LCD panel with local dimming. That means much better black levels in dark scenes.
The LZ9700 will also support DLNA, USB storage, and Media Link. It will also have LG's 400Hz "TruMotion" motion smoothing technology as well. We've always felt these technologies make images look almost waxy, but they can be good for high motion content. LG says in the press release the set will be on sale in early 2011, but neglected to even ballpark a price. We assume it’s going to be selling somewhere in the neighborhood of 'more money that you have'.
Recent surveys suggest that one of the biggest barriers to adopting 3D technology into the mainstream is cost. Even if consumers are willing to put up with wearing 3D glasses, most are just not willing to pay a premium for 3D technology. But is the premium as high as you think?
According to the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), the price difference between 46-inch and 55-inch 3D and 2D LED TVs is just $150, which is certainly a much lower number than we would have expected. ITRI says 120MHz 46-inch 2D LED TVs sell on average for $1,143.8 in the U.S. compared to $1,284.9 for 240MHz 46-inch 3D LED TVs.
In the 55-inch territory, 120MHz 2D LED TVs run $1,539.90 on average, compared to $1,697 for 240MHz 3D LED TVs, ITRI said. That's not a huge price difference, though the ITRI doesn't factor in the cost of additional 3D glasses, a necessary evil until glasses-free 3D displays come into their own.
3DTV’s have been all the rage (at least if the TV manufacturers are to be believed), but a recent Nielsen survey suggests that people are indeed interested in 3D, but can’t seem to justify paying extra for it.
Nielsen, along with the Cable & Television Association for Marketing have finished off the first comprehensive study complete with focus groups in which they learned that the lack of content, along with the goofy glasses all add up to a feature nobody seems to be willing to pay for until 3D programming becomes more common place.
The numbers look a bit better when it comes to gamers with close to 71% of regular and hardcore gamers describing themselves as interested in 3D, but the limited availability of content continues to be a “marketing challenge” for 3D display manufacturers.
There's too much at stake in the emerging 3D market to let one company steal the spotlight, and so Sony joins Toshiba in trying to be the first (and best) to deliver 3D television sets that don't require donning a pair of special glasses.
"Seeing 3D without glasses is more convenient," Sony Senior Vice President Yoshihisa Ishida said Thursday at Tokyo headquarters. "We must take account of pricing before we can think about when to start offering them."
And therein lies the biggest hurdle. 3D technology is expensive enough as it is -- Sony just launched a line of 3D Bravia HDTVs that starts out at $3,000 (46 inches) -- and when you throw glasses-free technology into the mix, well, be prepared to get kicked in the wallet.
There's also the question of how effective this first-gen technology will be. Both Sony and Toshiba are likely to implement some kind of parallax barrier technology similar to the one being used on Nintendo's upcoming 3DS console, but they'll have to figure out how to widen the viewing angle to accommodate more than one viewer who plops himself in the sweet spot.