To enjoy 3D TV in your home you need a 3D source, a 3D TV, and 3D glasses.
You may already own one of the best 3D sources: a PS3. Yes, the Xbox 360 can play a few 3D games, but the PS3 offers more. In practice, 3D console gaming is still in its infancy, and most of the 3D titles can actually look worse than the 2D versions. On the flip side, the PS3 can also double as a 3D Blu-ray player.
We said "in the home" before, but what about on the road? Glasses-free, pocket-size 3D gaming sounds like something from the future, but the 3DS is actually getting pretty long in the tooth. The upside? It's now $70 cheaper than when it launched in March 2011.
The device also now comes in an XL version for $199.
If we had to recommend just one Blu-ray player (3D or no) for 2012, it would be Panasonic's DMP-BDT220. On the 3D front, it also offers 2D-to-3D conversion, if you're into that sort of thing.
If you're looking for a 3D movie or two to show off your system, the selection is better than ever. Among our favorites are "Avatar" (newly available to the public), "Coraline," "Hugo," "The Avengers," and "Prometheus." Among animated films, "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Tangled" use 3D particularly well.
The second thing you need to enjoy 3D TV in the home is, well, a 3D TV.
The first is our pick if you have money to burn and your primary concern is 3D picture quality. Samsung has improved its processing and squelched crosstalk significantly with the ES8000, outdoing any other active TV. Of course this set also doesn't suffer the artifacts inherent in current passive 3D TVs. On the downside, it's expensive and not the greatest 2D performer.
While the overall nod for 3D PQ goes to the Samsung UNES8000, this Vizio is my pick if you want a passive 3D TV. In truth it's going to give similar, if not identical, 3D performance to the passive LG and Toshiba sets -- what put it over the top for this list was its performance as an actual 2D TV.
Speaking of TVs that are superb and also happen to have the 3D feature, there's our favorite TV of the year, Panasonic's ST50 series. It lacks 3D glasses, and its 3D picture quality is, albeit decent, probably its worst aspect. But the rest of its goodness more than makes up the difference.
There are two types of 3D TVs, active and passive. Active 3D TVs require specialized glasses that are (A) expensive and (B) usually incompatible with other brands of TV. The YOUniversals by XpanD solve problem B -- they work with just about every active 3D TV ever made. For a solution to problem A, see the next slide.
By the way, owners of passive 3D TVs are immune to both problem A and problem B. If you're looking for additional glasses for your passive 3D TV, pretty much any pair of circular polarized specs will work. We like the fit of LG's newest versions (model AG-F310, $8 list) best among the 2012 passive glasses we've tried.
Give Samsung credit for both including 3D glasses with all of its 2012 TVs -- something no other TV maker does -- and for driving down the price of additional pairs. The SSG-4100GB specs weren't our favorites (see next slide), but they get the job done for less than $20.
The downside? They only work with 2011 and 2012 Samsung TVs, or 2012 Panasonic TVs. No other TV brand has yet released models that comply with the universal active 3D glasses standard.
Better but more expensive sorta-universal active 3D glasses
When I compared all three active specs in the first three slides, I liked these Panasonics best. Unfortunately they cost more than $50 and, like the Samsungs, only work with 2011 and 2012 Samsung TVs, or 2012 Panasonic TVs. You read that right: these glasses will not work with 2011 or earlier Panasonic 3D TVs.