Over at TIME.com, I reviewed Sony’s Personal 3D Viewer, which lets you strap two tiny OLED screens to your head for 3D movie watching and game playing. It’s an unusual gizmo, and at $800, it isn’t cheap. But I liked the 3D effect way more than almost anything else I’ve seen.
Tag Archives | 3D TV
I don’t mean to suggest that I know more about the movie business than Jeffrey Katzenberg. But I’m relieved to see that the gut instinct I had all along seems to be fact: 3D movies were, are, and always will be a fad.
I wonder how long it’ll take until Hollywood and consumer-electronics companies conclude that the magic of 3D isn’t that magical at home, either?
[At Panasonic's booth, IFA attendees use glasses to view 3D images of the women performing right there in front of them.]
Last year, I attended the IFA consumer-electronics megaconference in Berlin. The exhibitions of the big manufacturers were utterly dominated by 3D TVs. All that blurry 3D hurt my eyeballs, put me in a bad mood, and prompted this rant.
This year, I’m back in Berlin for IFA. There’s still scads of 3D, but it’s not quite as omnipresent as last year. Whether companies are losing interest or simply recalibrating their expectations to something more in line with consumers’ level of interest in this stuff, I’m not sure.
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The Wall Street Journal brings us an amusing story about the battle between LG and Samsung over 3D TV standards. Although the heart of the debate — whether active shutter systems are superior to polarized displays, or vice versa — is perfectly legitimate, the two companies are busy having a silly argument about whether you can watch 3D TV while lying down.
LG started it. A company advertisement in Korean reads, “Finally, you will have a comfortable way to watch 3-D.” But Samsung says this isn’t possible without inducing dizziness and nausea. LG says lying sideways merely diminishes the 3D effect. The Journal steps in and says the 3D effect nearly disappears when viewing a polarized display horizontally, but with active shutter glasses the picture goes completely black.
Missing from the debate is one key point: Why would you want to watch 3D TV lying down in the first place?
I understand that, for a lot of people, lying down in front of the tube is the natural way of things. But 3D TV isn’t natural. It tricks your brain and creates a 3D illusion that’s best-viewed in short sittings — say, the length of a movie. Put another way, 3D TV is an event. It’s meant for action movies and sports, not sitcoms and the nightly news. If you’re lying down to watch Avatar’s alien beasts pop out of the screen, you’re doing it wrong.
The skeptics are wrong about 3D technology, said Sony CEO Howard Stringer, as he unveiled a far-reaching Sony roadmap for 3D “without or without glasses” across TVs, PlayStations, Blu-ray players, displays, movies, camcorders, and more.
Consumers will start to really buy into 3D technology whenever their favorite TV shows start showing up in 3D, he predicted, during a CES press conference.
Stringer contended that if anyone can convert the 3D naysayers, it’s Sony, with the company’s huge presence in the entertainment, hardware, and software industries.
Most of the glasses people use to watch 3D are one-size-fits-all models–and I’m not just talking about the size of the frames. They work the same way for everybody, and behave the same way no matter what sort of content you’re watching. It’s a little as if everybody who wore standard eyeglasses had to wear the same prescription.
Here at CES, 3D technology company Xpand is trying to change that, with a series of 3D eyewear it’s calling Youniversal. Like earlier Xpand models, the new ones are designed to be universal–you can adjust them to work with any TV that uses active-shutter 3D. But they’re also available in multiple sizes, and work with an app available for iPhone and Android that lets you tweak their performance for factors such as whether you’re also wearing prescription glasses, the lighting environment, and whether you’re aiming for a subtle 3D effect or want stuff to fly off the screen and smack you in the face.
I haven’t tried these new goggles yet, so I can’t vouch for whether they do indeed enhance 3D–but given that I’m virtually never happy with the experience I get from off-the-shelf 3D glasses, I’m intrigued with the idea. Xpand says they’ll be available in April, and that it hasn’t set pricing yet–but these are in addition to its current $129 model, and will offer better 3D at a higher pricetag.
When it comes to 3D, I’m pretty much a worst-case scenario. I bristle at the fact that I’m expected to wear ill-fitting glasses over my regular glasses. I’ve sampled multiple 3D technologies and found all of them wanting. It all seems like a lot of expense and effort for very little benefit.
But I am sort of intrigued by 3D that doesn’t require glasses. And at a pre-CES party tonight here in Las Vegas, Toshiba was showing a l56-inch flat-screen TV and a laptop which do 3D, no funny goggles required. The two devices use lenticular displays, just like the little picture of Pinocchio I owned when I was three. (Lenticular video screens are also nothing new, though all the ones I’ve seen until now have been blurry and unappealing.)
Good news for folks who aren’t completely jaded with 3D TV: Sony’s Playstation 3 is a 3D Blu-ray movie player as of today’s firmware update. Now, if only you could find some movies that aren’t exclusively tied to new television purchases.
Although I don’t understand why 3D HDTVs have become all the rage lately — I have yet to be impressed by one — it’s not preventing everyone from jumping into the fray. Toshiba is the latest, releasing two models as part of its Cinema Series line.
Now 3D aside, the picture quality from these televisions are top notch from what I saw. They include Toshiba’s ClearFrame technology which prevents some of the loss of clarity in fast moving pictures that plague your everyday LCD set, and 1080p resolution. The set also includes built in Wi-Fi, and features Yahoo Connected TV technology.
Two sizes are available, a 46 and 55 inch model, which would retail for $2,599 and $3,299 respectively. The company also includes a lower end version without 3D in the same sizes, at prices of $2,299 and $2,799. The glasses would be sold separately which run about $170 a piece.
(At Panasonic’s IFA booth: People using 3D glasses and monitors to watch the live women in front of their faces.)
If you determine the big story here at the IFA tech show here in Berlin based on raw square footage in the booths, there’s no question what it is: 3D TV is everywhere.
The massive booths of consumer-electronics giants such as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, and Toshiba are dominated by 3D. There’s 3D that requires pricey active-shutter glasses. There’s 3D that uses cheaper passive specs. (There’s even 3D from the Fraunhofer Institute that doesn’t need glasses.) There are 3D games and 3D Blu-Ray players and 3D soccer broadcasts and 3D LCD sets and 3D plasmas and 3D projectors and giant walls made out of 3D screens.