Expectations vs Reality for 3D by Virginia Rubey

by Virginia Rubey

January’s Consumer Electronics Show got everyone buzzing about 3D TVs after Panasonic, Toshiba, Vizio, Samsung, LD, Sony, and others announced plans to release 3D-capable televisions by summer 2010. But with limited 3D content and expensive, burdensome requirements, consumers are hardly rushing out to buy them. Like the first MP3 players; tablet computers; and cell phones, the first 3D TVs will be as expensive - and as primitive - as they’ll ever be. Additionally, 3D has been seen and done before in the 1950s. Naysayers are united in their incredulity that 3D part two will reach critical mass.

But the sphere is rolling. Every year, more than 1.1 million visitors to the Sony-CBS 3D research center experience 3D TV, Play Station and Blu-Ray and give product feedback through consumer surveys, focus groups, and bio-metric research to help IT professionals focus development goals. Discovery & ESPN have announced their forthcoming 3D channels, and Comcast will present the Masters Golf Tournament live in 3D next week. As 3D-formatted broadcasts, films, and gaming options grow, so will demand for 3D-capable TVs.

3D technology at home is in its nascent stage, but there is growth potential. Avatar’s success spurred film makers’ interest in 3D movies. While today, only a single 3D DVD is available, movie studios insist over 50 titles will be available by 2011. Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America’s unveiling of its 3D gaming system package suggests widespread AV industry interest, and Magnetic 3D’s glasses-free auto-stereoscopic 3D LCD displays show that glasses-free 3D is possible, if still many years away from hitting homes.

Virginia Rubey is a writer and researcher with AV Technology magazine.