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Sony's glasses-free 3D TV gets the eyes-on treatment at CES

3D TV is old news now, so Sony is trying to get us excited about new technology that enables us to ditch the nerdy glasses. The question is, can the technology cope?

Ian Morris

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Sony's demoing new glasses-free 3D TVs at its stand here at CES in Las Vegas, with early prototypes of an OLED TV, and three different sizes of LCD that were all able to display 3D without the need for glasses.

There was also a portable Blu-ray player that requires no glasses to use, and is closer to production than the other technologies. It can't be that imminent though, because Crave was told off for being "too close" to the sample.

So, what do we think?

The OLED screen was definitely impressive. We said at last year's CES that OLED has the potential to be the ultimate 3D display technology. It's bright, in a way that plasma TVs can only dream of, and it has zero crosstalk, a problem that affects all LCD 3D TVs to some extent.

The demo on Sony's stand was impressive, but we did have to stand in quite precise locations for it to work. The relatively small size of current OLEDs also presents a problem here, as a 23-inch screen really isn't large enough for an immersive 3D experience.

The LCDs all worked pretty well too. We noted that the smaller the screen, the more susceptible the effect was to breaking if you moved. As the screens got larger the movement issue became less severe, but there were other problems. The 46-inch model had quite bad crosstalk and we noted some pretty severe shimmering too, but without doubt, these are the most competent 3D TVs we've ever seen that don't need glasses.

The 46-inch TV also uses a higher resolution panel than a 1080p screen. Sony has opted for a 2k1k (2,048x1,080-pixel) screen, which makes up for some of the resolution loss that's inevitable with 3D LCD TVs that do not require face-goggles to work.

We also liked the glassless portable Blu-ray player Sony had on display. The 3D effect wasn't mind blowing, but it felt almost ready for launch. The question is, does anyone love 3D that much to spend loads of cash on a portable player? We're stroking sceptical cat about that.  

Last year, we had some time to look at Samsung and some other, no-name technology that didn't need glasses, and the difference between these Sony TVs and that older technology is incredible.

For the first time, we think glasses-free 3D has a proper future, and with the Nintendo 3DS inbound, we really are starting to believe that this technology is viable. We don't think it will be this year though, but there's a chance by the 2012 Olympics, we'll start to see these screens on sale.

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This is the larger of Sony's glasses-free 3D TVs. It uses a 2K panel, which Sony claims produces a 3D image that is full HD.
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Sony also demoed a portable 3D player that needed no glasses.
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We weren't bowled over to be honest, and we can't imagine people spending lots of money on one of these.

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