Device and Conquer
Understanding 3D TV3D TV is everywhere -- but does it make sense in your house?
3D TV. It's either the next big thing or the next big thing you're not going to use and along the way to that decision lies a whole lot of demystification that has to take place. So let's do that and get some perspective on 3D. There are 3 things you've gotta think of tangibly when you consider 3D TV. First of course is the television. Second, the glasses. And third, content. You need something to watch. The first one's the one that cost the most and looms the largest. That is the TV. I've got some interesting news for you on that front. There's no such thing as a 3D TV, not strictly speaking. All 3D TVs are actually really good 2D TVs that have an additional ability. They can show 3D when hooked up to a 3D source. That's typically either a 3D compatible Blu-ray deck or a 3D channel on television usually on cable or satellite or even a full screen, hi-def 3D stream over the internet. Now, if this story is starting to seem relatively simple, you haven't met the glasses yet. Active shutter glasses like these basically have a little active LCD screen over each eye. These darken to prevent an image from reaching your eye, therefore you can alternate left and right. They run from $20 the very least all the way up to $120 in some cases. Now these are passive glasses. No electronics, no batteries, no wireless sink, no LCD screens in front of your eyes. They use polarizing lenses like on a pair of sunglasses to discriminate left and right information to each eye. So it sounds like a no brainer to go passive, right? But it's not that simple. Active glasses still offer the image quality, we think. They're available with LCD and plasma 3D TVs but they can be kinda pricey and are typically proprietary. The passive glasses show a few images use from time to time, are only available with LCD sets, but they're really cheap and universal. They should even work on your neighbor's 3D TV. Now here's something else you might not have thought of when it comes to 3D TV. When you have the glasses on of either technology, it get a little difficult to use mobile devices partly because of what the glasses are doing, partly because of the focal length your eyes are adjusting to while watching the screen. But I would also say that if you feel the urge to check e-mail or Facebook while you're watching a 3D movie, you chose the wrong movie. Also, 4% to 10% of people can't perceive the 3D depth on a 3D television and some number may report headaches or nausea often of how the film was shot or edited. Now you've also heard I'm sure glasses free 3D TV. We saw this at the consumer electronics show top of 2012. But the technology's not really mature yet and the prices certainly don't make it attainable just yet. Okay. So you get your new 3D TV home and you're all excited about it for a few minutes and then you need something good to watch. That's what it's really all about. So there are 2 considerations you have to have there. First of all, what is there to watch that you like? Most of us, our minds go right away to blockbuster films in 3D, either animated or live action and a combination of animation. Right now on Amazon, there are maybe 224 Blu-ray 3D discs. So the 3D Blu-ray pool is really small. Now shop for a 3D TV with these 3 criteria in mind. First of all, a 3D TV is not a special kind of TV. It's a feature on a really good 3D TV. Secondly, there are glasses involved. Active or passive. They've got different benefits and drawbacks and glasses free? Not ready for prime time yet. Finally, think about content. What's your source going to be and how much is there to watch now or in the foreseeable future. Now, none of these means your next TV won't have 3D ability. It probably will but whether and how much you use that depends on what kinds of television you like to watch and your comfort level with this technology.