Toshiba launching glasses-free 3D TV

The TVs, first unveiled in October, will be available in Japan starting tomorrow. No word on when they might come to the U.S.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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The Toshiba Regza 20GL1 3D TV.
The Toshiba Regza 20GL1 3D TV Toshiba

Toshiba plans to launch its 12-inch glasses-free 3D TV in Japan tomorrow, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

According to the Journal, which sat down with Toshiba's head of TV operations, Masaaki Osumi, the company also plans to offer the 20-inch version of the set to Japanese customers starting Saturday. In addition, Osumi told the Journal that Toshiba plans to offer a 40-inch glasses-free 3D TV as early as April, the beginning of the company's new fiscal year.

Toshiba first unveiled its 3D TVs in October. The company's Regza 12GL1 boasts the 12-inch display and comes with a 466x350 resolution. The Regza 20GL1 has a 20-inch display and features 1,280x720 resolution. When they were first announced, the 20-inch and 12-inch sets were expected to retail for about $2,900 and $1,400, respectively. No U.S. availability has been announced.

To experience the 3D effect, users will need to sit within a 40-degree area in front of the television. They must also sit two feet in front of the 12-inch 3D TV and three feet in front of the 20-inch model to experience 3D without the glasses. The effect is created with the help of "nine different perspectives of each single 3D frame" that are then interpreted as 3D by the viewer's brain, Toshiba said in October.

As difficult as it might be to create that effect, and then enjoy it, Toshiba seems committed to ditching eyewear for viewing 3D content. In fact, Osumi told the Journal that glasses-free viewing is the ideal for consumers.

"Nobody thinks that we will be wearing glasses forever to watch 3D TV," Osumi told the Journal. "It will have to become stress-free, without the hassle of putting on glasses every time. That's the way it should be."