What you know about 3D HDTV | Full HD 3D TV Reviews Blog

What you know about 3D HDTV

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sitting in a darkened zone in the back of PC Labs, I watched as Ebenezer Scrooge zipped up into the sky and so, seemingly, right past my head. Snowflakes drifted drown in front of me, virtually inches from my nose, and a crazy ghost cast a heavy box and chains at my feet. No, I hadn't missing my mind. I was watching the demo of a 3D movie on an Acer HD-display, which was hooked up to a PC with NVidia 's 3D Vision technology, running an upcoming version of CyberLink 's PowerDVD Blu-Ray video playback software.

Of course, I was besides wearing a special pair of glasses. Different the polarized pair I wore when I first saw Robert Zemekis 's A Christmas Carol on an IMAX screen in 3D, these glasses are powered and use a shutter system to rapidly switch the view from one eye to the other. The shutter system is in perfect sync with the screen, which delivers its two alternating images based on the NVidia technology inside the PC.

The know, as I sat in the windowless, completely darkened field, was pretty compelling—despite the fact that the Acer display was just 24 inches large. Up to this time, I 've been watchful of 3D ( and 3D HDTVs ) in the room. The displays—some of which are launching this week—can be more worthy than their 2D counterparts. At the high end, a Samsung 55 - inch LED 3D HDTV—that 's just 0. 3-inches thick—will cost almost $7,000. A 40-inch display will run nearly $1,700. Now, compare that to a 52-inch Sony LCD HDTV that lists for roughly $1,500. Just as in the theater, 3D TV in the house requires special glasses. Samsung gives you two pairs in its starter kit, but charges around $150 a pair after that. Having two young, I 'd prefer that Sony included four pairs and charged a nominal fee for additional frames.

I obtain to admit that the CyberLink demo was turn-on. I realized that, variant the Samsung 3D TVs being gone today, this seemed to be a basic HD - capable monitor that was hooked up to a PC, with a built-in Blu-ray player. And, of course, Samsung and other companies are about to start selling 3D-ready Blu-ray players. I began to imagine connecting my Blu-ray-ready PC to my HDTV, or perhaps upgrading my own Blu-ray player to a 3D lead. Sounds like a great plan, except for one very forceful speed bump: My HDTV can 't play 3D. In fact, yours probably can 't either.

You need to know that there are variant types of 3D technology. There  s the kind you see in the theater, standard polarized 3D, which is pretty effective. There 's also Frame Sequential Display ( also well-known as Alternate Frame Display ), which, some argue, offers an even better 3D effect. I 've seen both and, honestly, I cannot tell the aberration. However, the differences in technology are real and somewhat knowing. Alternate Frame Display is the kind of 3D NVidia and its partners deliver. The two images on the TV flicker in true synch with the powered glasses, which use liquid crystal " shutters " in each lens frame. Polarizing lenses simply force your eyes to blend two separate and simultaneous images into one, cohesive 3D picture.

LCD TVs are actually built out of two polarizing displays, but they can 't natively support polarized 3D images. So, already LCD HDTVs cannot support that 3D picture technology. The other alternative, Frame Alternating 3D and the accompanying glasses, require HD displays with 120-Hz refresh rates. When I heard this I said, "Great! I just bought a 120-Hz display. "Unfortunately, while these sets support 120 Hz ( and, in some cases, 240 Hz ), the HDMI port on most brand-new HDTVs is only delivering 60-Hz imagery to the TV, which is then, essentially, upscaling it to the higher frame rate. That means it 'll double and triple a single picture for smoother flow. But, 3D HDTVs need to handle two separate picture streams—essentially 60 Hz times two. HDMI 1. 3 can 't deliver true 120 Hz, but the new spec, HDMI 1. 4, can. The Acer display I was watching is among that new age of 3D - ready HDTVs. Most HDTVs caught up to now, including mine, feature HDMI 1. 3. Look up the specs on your own HDTVs and you 'll likely learn that all of its HDMI ports are 1. 3. In other words, you really do need a new HDTV to view Frame Sequential Display 3D.

This is the kindly of bait and switch that could infuriate consumers. In order to enjoy virtually any kind of 3D HDTV, consumers will future have to buy all new gadgetry. Even HDTVs bought late last year, with 240-Hz refresh rates, can 't support true sequential frames without HDMI 1. 4 only.

So, here are the hurdles 3D HDTV in the home faces:

  • No true standards
With two different types of 3D, consumers won ' t know what works with what, and they won ' t even be able to bring their pair of 3D glasses over to a friend ' s home without first checking which form of 3D they ' re running. Of course, one manufacturer ' s glasses might not be compatible with another ' s 3D HDTV.
  • No content
This will change over time, but for now, there are only a handful of 3D Blu - ray titles on the way, and we won ' t see network 3D HDTV shows and sporting events until later this year.
  • Lack of support
In the early days of HDTVs, some TVs were sold as HD ready, but they didn ' t have HD tuners inside them. This led to some frustration and confusion for consumers. Now we have HDTVs that cannot support any kind of 3D content—all because of a little port on the back of their still - new HDTV that doesn ' t support HDMI 1. 4.
  • Expense
You just bought a Blu - ray player and HDTV last year, spending anywhere from $1, 000 to $2, 000. Sigh. Perhaps you can move that equipment to a guest room because the consumer electronics industry wants you to drop another $2, 000 to $5, 000 to get 3D.

I do believe 3D in the home will eventually become the standard ( Sony ' s CEO Howard Stringer has even said we ' ll eventually be able to lose those dreaded glasses ), but the transition will take years. And this initial stage promises to be very, very painful.