Toshiba's glasses-free 3D TVs coming to UK in the next 12 months

Toshiba is planning on bringing glasses-free 3D tellies to the UK in the next year. Read on to find out how 3D tellies without glasses will work, and whether we think the idea's any cop.

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
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One of the coolest things we saw at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year were the prototype glasses-free 3D tellies from Toshiba (that's one in the photo above). Now Tosh has confirmed it intends to bring its no-spec tech to the UK within the next 12 months.

We've already seen some of these glasses-free 3D panels, and we're left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, there's nothing we hate more than having to fart around with annoying glasses every time we want to feel as if something on-screen is being poked in our faces. But on the other hand, the way glasses-free 3D works has serious downsides.

These no-glasses panels use something called parallax barrier technology. It's the same 3D gubbins that's at play in the (also glasses-less) Nintendo 3DS. A layer within the display, filled with extremely tiny gaps, means when you're stood at the right angle, your left and right eyes see slightly different images. Your brain does complicated behind-the-scenes image melding, and before you know it you've tricked yourself into thinking you're viewing a three-dimensional image.

It's clever, but you have to stand more or less dead-on to get the 3D effect working properly. One of our gripes with the 3DS is that even the merest head-wobble will break the 3D effect. In our experience, Toshiba's glasses-free panels have a slightly more generous 'sweet spot', but you'll still have to take care where you sit in relation to the telly, and crowding the whole family around to watch a movie could prove irksome.

The other issue is cost. There's already a diddy 20-inch no-glasses 3D Toshiba telly on sale in Japan (the Toshiba 20GL1), but we've heard that producing large glasses-free 3D panels is a pricey process, so we're expecting these TVs to cost a pretty penny.

Nevertheless, we're psyched to see what Tosh can cook up in the next 12 months. We'd guess the first crop of glasses-free tellies will be ready for harvest in April 2012, though as soon as we get confirmation on sizes, prices and what-have-you we'll pass the info on.

It feels as if the world hasn't made up its mind about what kind of 3D it likes best -- active, passive or no-glasses, or even whether 3D is worth bothering with at all. Let us know your preferred strain of three-dee in the comments below, or on our Facebook wall.