Our entertainment systems have evolved from black and white to color, from fuzzy 480i to ultraclear 1080p, from mono to 7.1 surround sound, from Sony's Betamax to Sony's Blu-ray--what's next you might say? With Mitsubishi's latest line of televisions, the company has stuck out its leg into the elusive realm of 3D; that is, 3D with the glasses and stereoscopic display.
You'll notice from the image above that Mitsubishi's display isn't using the traditional 3D headgear. Old '50s era black-and-white movies used what's called an anaglyph display, which simply means an image is colorized in cyan and blue and layered on top of each other, providing an image--albeit fuzzy image--with a 3D effect. The problem was if a person tilted his or her head even slightly, the image would appear askew. (Updated: 6/25/2008) Mitsubishi's display will be using active shutter glasses and not circularly polarized glasses, as originally indicated. Active shutter glasses, however, which have been popular lately in computer games and home 3D movie systems, has a layer of glass containing liquid crystal, wedged between a polarizing filter. When voltage is applied to these glasses, the liquid crystal darkens but is still transparent, creating what's called an alternate-frame sequence; in synchronizing with the monitor at a high refresh rate, each eye receives a different image, in which the 3D effect is achieved. Thus, it corrects the tilt problem and provides for clearer and more convincing 3D image.
This year's product line includes three 73-inch models along with several 65- and 60-inch plasma models. Mitsubishi is also partnering with NVIDIA, using their Stereo Gaming system to enhance some of the most popular DirectX games (PDF link) with all that 3D goodness. The drivers are compatible with the GeForce 7 and above. The 3D-effect is limited to PC sources, whether game or otherwise. As for movies and television programs, the selection isn't so abounding. At a recent press conference, Mitsubishi showed off Star Wars: Episode II, light sabers and all blazing across the screen with a noticeable amount of depth. But don't expect this technology to takeover prime-time American television--if it ever does--in the near future. In Japan, Hyundai is also offering a 46-inch LCD that can display 3D television broadcasts, although with limited programming.
Aspen Media Products has all jumped onboard as well, marrying its specialty, home media server technology, with Mitsubishi's package. Essentially this will be a high-end HTPC hooked up to one of these Mitsubishi models; the company has yet to announce further details, though. Look for more information in the future and a possible review.