While a spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the report, she acknowledged that glasses-free 3D was part of its plans. Toshiba had showcased a similar display earlier this year. That particular glasses-free display featured a multi-parallax design. Such an approach allows for a wide viewing angle as images are adjusted depending on the viewer's position.
All the talk in TV land in recent months has centered around the 3D movement, but according to market research firm iSuppli, 3D TVs are playing second fiddle to Internet-enabled TVs (IETVs).
"Despite aggressive promotions from the industry and intense consumer interest generated by the blockbuster Avatar and other titles, the 3D TV market in 2010 will be limited to a small pool of enthusiastic early adopters," said Riddhi Patel, director and principal analyst for TV systems at iSuppli. "In contrast, IETV is entering the mainstream in 2010. This is because 3D is still dealing with a number of barriers, including cost, content availability, and interoperability, while IETV provides immediate benefits by allowing TV viewers to access a range of content readily available on the Internet."
By the end of the year, iSuppli reckons IETV shipments will reach 27.7 million units. That's a rise of 124.9 percent compared to 2009. By contrast, 3D TVs will see only 4.2 million shipments by the time 2010 comes to a close, iSuppli says.
Over the next few years, IETVs will continue to do well. iSuppli predicts IETV shipments will expand at rates of 50 percent for the next two years, while maintaining double-digit growth rates until the end of 2014.
Chalk it up to successful marketing or a genuine desire to consume 3D content in the home, goofy looking glasses be damned, but according to DisplaySearch, 2010 will come to an end having seen 3.4 million shipments of 3D TVs. And that's just the beginning. By 2014, that number will skyrocket to 42.9 million, more than a 12-fold increase.
"TV manufacturers have managed to launch products very rapidly. We have seen a full range of 3D TVs in sizes from 40 inches to 63 inches already available, and without a doubt, there will be another wave of new products at the IFA show in Berlin in September," noted Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research.
DisplaySearch feels pretty confident this is much bigger than a passing fad and predicts that the 3D TV market penetration will grow from 5 percent of total flat panel TVs in 2010 to 37 percent in 2014. That's more than a third of all flat panel TV shipments.
"Based on early indications, the launch of 3D TVs is similar to Samsung's rollout of LED LCD TVs at the beginning of 2009, albeit at a slightly slower pace," said Paul Gagnon, Director of North America TV Research at DisplaySearch. "This would be in line with our forecast of just over 2 million 3D TVs shipped in North America for 2010.
Despite all this, DisplaySearch points out that the electronics industry is outpacing content availability, which so far is limited to a handful of movies and sports events on pay TV.
Probably one of the biggest hurdles in pushing 3D into the living room is requiring movie watchers to slap on a pair of custom spectacles to see the 3D effect. Well, come 2015 you might not have to, according a Taiwanese research group.
According to Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), 3D LCD TVs that don't require donning a pair of dorky-looking polarized glasses will hit the global market by 2015, effectively rendering today's displays obsolete (they'll still work, just like a bulky rear-projection TV still works even though they've been supplanted by slim LCD models).
The technology for glasses-free 3D is already well under way. The research group recently showed off a 42-inch 3D display that doesn't require glasses, and according to Stephen Jeng, director of ITRI's 3D System and Application Division, his company is capable of building these types of screens as large as 65 inches.
On a much smaller scale, both Sharp and Hitachi are busy putting together glasses-free 3D screens, presumably for Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld console. Like Sharp and Hitachi, Jeng's team is using parallax barrier technology to create the 3D effect. It's been noted that parallax barrier displays typically require a strict viewing angle, which isn't so bad on a handheld console, but could become problematic in a living room setting.
3D TVs were all the rage at this year’s CES, and now you can buy your very own for about $3000. The content will be harder to come by though. A few providers like DirecTV have announced plans to start 3D broadcasts, but now Verizon is floating their own 3D plans. This is certainly big for the few people that have FiOS TV in their area and actually wants to get a 3D TV.
Verizon’s Shawn Strickland said the new 3D offerings should be available before the holiday season. Strickland seemed concerned about the level of current technology saying, ‘Our goal is to offer a product that has a fully automated HDMI format-switching capability that switches between 2D and 3D, not via ponderous access to the TV's setup menu.” Well, this would be nice, but can they do it? Having a smaller customer base could make them more nimble as this first generation of 3D technology inevitably grows and changes. Any FiOS customers out there? Is this good news, or are you just passing on 3D?
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.
Panasonic’s campaign will start in 300 Best Buy stores in major U.S. cities (with 1,000 stores by the end of the year), where special 3D video sections will be constructed to show off Panasonic’s wares. Panasonic will also sweeten its deal with consumers by undercutting Japanese MSRP by 30% or so. A 50-inch 3D TV is expected to go for about $2,500. Unfortunately, these Panasonic models will lack the web access functions commonplace on their Japanese versions.
Panasonic reports a goal of selling one million 3D TVs globally during this fiscal year, with half of those being sold in the United States. Panasonic figures this will give it a 50% share of the global market for this new product niche.