In a cinema in Los Angeles, 86 years ago, the first 3D feature film was shown to a paying audience. While almost no-one remembers The Power of Love now, it was the tentative steps of a technology which enjoyed its Golden Age during the 50's. Even Hitchcock filmed a 3D feature (in Dial M for Murder).
Samsung is one company that is trying to bring some of the magic back with its new 3D plasmas, the PS42A450 and the PS50A450.
We've seen 3D done before, and not particularly successfully in . Samsung has attempted to alleviate the problems by incorporating an infrared emitter into the glasses that tells the system where you are and adjusts the 3D effect accordingly. No more playing around with PC drivers for hours.
Of course, there's one stumbling block which we'll discuss shortly — the 3D effect needs a PC to work. At present it's mostly games that are supported, though there is at least one Stereoscopic movie player available on the Net — this means you'll also need a stereoscopic video to watch it on. These are hard to come by.
Apart from the 3D functionality, the plasma sits in the company's budget Series 4 range and includes a 1024 by 768 resolution — the 50-inch has 1365 by 768 — plus a "true" 30,000:1 contrast ratio and three HDMI connections. Being a plasma, the PS42A450P1 also features several different technologies which Samsung says "ensures that no images are burned into your plasma panel".
We cannot convey to you in words how ugly the spectacles are that you need to enable the 3D effect. They look like they should be accompanied with a certificate for Licence 3 Butt Fusion Welding — and yes that's actually what they call it.
Major downside: not only do you need to connect your TV to a computer for 3D, but the computer needs an Nvidia graphics card (which most notebooks won't have) and the game needs to support it. As we found previously with the Zalman monitor, some games are more successful than others.
The 42-inch also has two other downsides: one, the resolution needs to downscale HD images due to its limited 1024 by 768, which could lead to reduced picture quality; and two, the TV only features an analog tuner.
We don't see many people who buy these TVs actually using the 3D capability, especially given all the caveats involved, but it's an interesting value-add nonetheless.
Like anything, it'll be price that determines whether this TV is a good deal, especially if you need to buy the glasses separately. We expect pricing to be available closer to the June release date.