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Xpand X104 YOUniversal 3D glasses review: Xpand X104 YOUniversal 3D glasses

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The Good The Xpand X104 YOUniversal 3D glasses are compatible with most 3D TVs made in the last few years, including 2011 and 2012 models that use Bluetooth if you add an optional RF dongle. Pairing them with your TV is fairly straightforward; when using Bluetooth they don't require line-of-sight. The battery is rechargeable, accessories are ample, and build quality is solid.

The Bad Xpand's glasses are somewhat expensive with the dongle. They're a bit heavier than compeditors and the fit isn't as comfortable as some.

The Bottom Line For the narrow niche of users who need active 3D glasses that work with most 3D TVs regardless of brand, the Xpand YOUniversals are great. For everyone else, they're overkill.

7.0 Overall

With passive 3D TV, the kind used in most U.S. movie theaters, just about any cheap polarized 3D glasses will work with any TV. With its rival active 3D, however, things are less simple and more expensive.

XpanD, a manufacturer of active 3D glasses for movie theaters and, increasingly, 3D televisions, aims to make active 3D glasses simpler to use. Its YOUniversal specs are the company's latest designed to work with multiple brands of television, and the only 3D glasses said to work with almost every active 3D TV released in 2010, 2011 and this year. They're a bit more expensive than competitors, but better and more versatile in many ways.

Unlike previous models like the X103, the haplessly named YOUniversal glasses -- I'll just call them X104 from here on out to save us all some embarrassment -- can ulilize an optional Bluetooth/RF dongle ($20; widely available in about 4 weeks) to sync with 2012 and later TVs that adhere to the Full HD 3D standard, as well as with 2011 Samsung TVs. Dongle attached, they compete directly against other universal standard-compliant glasses like the Samsung SSG-4100GB and Panasonic TY-ER3D4MU.

The question for owners of 2012 Panasonic and 2011/2012 Samsung active 3D TVs -- the only current TVs also compliant with the standard -- then becomes "which ones should I buy?"

The short answer is, as always, "what do you want?" If you just want to get 3D capability as cheaply as possible, the Samsungs are a shoo-in. If you're willing to pay more for better comfort and durability, I'd recommend the Panasonics. The more expensive Xpand glasses appeal to a smaller niche than either: people who actually anticipate regularly watching active 3D on multiple TVs (namely, ones incompatible with those Samsung or Panasonic glasses) in addition to their primary 3D television.

That's because among the three sets of glasses, only the Xpand X104s are truly compatible with every active-3D TV. The others only work with sets that adhere to the new standard--yes, Panasonic's 2012 glasses are actually incompatible with Panasonic's own 2011 3D TVs, for example. Since the X104s recognize both infrared (IR) and optionally Bluetooth (RF) synch signals sent from active 3D TVs, they can do it all.

Xpand offers the X104 in five different size/color combinations; click "See all models" at the top of the page for all of the choices. I was sent the large, blue/black variety, which when worn over my regular glasses made me look even dorkier than usual. The thick frames and even thicker temples -- the "legs" that hook your ears to the frames -- exude a kind of Buddy Holly hipster cred, however, and feel more solid than the Panasonics and especially the flimsy Samsungs.

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