3D movies have been a big draw at the box office, and a great money-maker for movie houses. Now, 3D has come to the home theater. Is it time for you to buy in? And if so, which 3D TV is right for you?
While 3D TVs have been around for some time, they are now making the move into the mainstream. Some feared that they would not offer 2D as well as 3D, and others simply decided that 2D was good enough for them. The memory of cheap paper glasses with different color lens will always stick with me.
Others disliked having to wear the glasses at home (it seems that it does not bother people at the theater.) However if you have ever experienced a great movie or a fast-moving sporting event in 3D, you will understand what all of the excitement is about.
Three Distinct Approaches
There are different underlying technologies used with the 3DTVs with the original technology predating television, but we will not worry about that. The basic function that a 3DTV is trying to do is to display offset images that are filtered separately to the left and right eye.
Basically the current generation falls into two categories- active 3DTVs and passive 3DTVs- and manufacturers tend to build one style or the other, although a third is starting to emerge, called Autosteroscopic or Auto 3D.
This where the glasses come in, although there is an option that does not require them. With glasses a user gets a filtered image for each eye, with the two images making up the 3D whole image. The active glasses use a liquid crystal technology that requires batteries. The passive, a bit newer, uses polarized lens. Both work just fine with accessories such as Blu-ray players and you don’t need to look on the peripherals to see what type of glasses they support.
The non-glass technology is called Auto-stereoscopic, or Auto 3D, and it is achieved by having pre-set viewing positions that users have to sit in while watching video. While there are a few sets available currently, it has not yet become a widespread commodity, possibly due to the regimented seating issue.
Which is better? Both the passive and active camps make pro claims about their products, and negative ones about rivals, yet the key issues that once differentiated the two camps appears to be going away as each generation improves image quality and a host of other issues.
So it is really the quality of the television and manufacturer that will make a major difference in the quality of the 3D image, and it is up to an individual to decide which of the technologies work best for them. I have tried both and at times loved both and disliked both, and it always boiled down to the quality of the system (and, once, defective glasses).
There are a few things to pay attention to aside from the 3D technology, screen size, refresh rate and the other details that a customer wants to command prior to buying. Look at how many pairs of glasses come with a set that needs glasses, and check on the availability of additional glasses. Just like sunglasses, someone is eventually going to sit on a pair and break them. Also, as televisions increasingly become hubs in a home for a range of digital uses consider if this is a feature that you will regret if you fail to ensure that the set you purchase does not include Internet access and other features. They often add little or nothing to the final cost and so it behooves you to look for these features as well.
Here are some good, representative models; prices and availability are accurate as of October 23, 2012. Check the 3D TV Department at Adorama for the latest deals and products.
3DTV Plasma Edition
If you are looking for a big screen to dominate the room and ensure that people sitting everywhere have a solid view of your new 3DTV, look at a system such as this Samsung PN60E550 60" Class PDP HDTV. The display, available at the Adorama price of $1,279.99 , has all of the bells and whistles you would expect from a top of the line 3DTV. It has a 60-inch (diagonal) screen size with 1920 x 1080 resolution with a 600Hz refresh rate and is compatible with 1080p HDTV.
It has connections galore with three HDMI, two USB 2.0, one Ethernet as well as several others including RCA Composite Audio/Video in. It comes with Samsung’s Smart TV that also enables web browsing and using social media such as Twitter or Facebook all while watching TV or videos.
The LG 50PZ750 50 inch Class 3D Plasma HDTV (Adorama price: $899) helps to bring the third dimension alive for viewers with its crisp, 1080p HD 3D capabilities. It has a 1920 x 1080p resolution and with LG’s TruBlack filter it has advanced glare blocking capabilities and its 600Hz refresh rate helps eliminate any possibility of blur.
A key technology from LG is its NetCast Entertainment Access that enables the 3DTV to connet to the Internet so that you can stream videos as well as actively browse the Internet all without needing to use a computer as an access point.
The $1,697.99 Samsung 46" Class 1080p LED HDTV shows that even as screen sizes get a bit smaller it does not mean that there is any diminishing of features. This 46-inch display has built-in Wi-Fi that helps the television serve dual duty on the Internet and just as an entertainment device capable of showing top resolution videos.
It features a 240HZ Full HD 1080p, 1920 x 1080 resolution display that has features that many rivals do not offer. How about face recognition software that allows you to log into apps automatically? It also has both gesture and voice control that makes navigating through commands even easier. To top it all off it ships with 4 pairs of 3D glasses.
The Sony Bravia 46" LED HX750 3D Internet TV is another sharp offering in the competitive 46-inch 3DTV space. The $1,098.00 set features Sony’s X-Reality Engine that is designed to make the images come alive by providing real skin tones and foliage color among its many tasks. The display also has Sony’s Dynamic Edge LED backlighting with frame dimming for both pitch-black night scenes and as well as sharp, bright scenes that pop with vibrant color on its Full HD 1080p display.
It has built-in wireless and is designed to connect to a wide variety of devices including PCs, tablets and possibly more important to a certain segment of the market-to PSP and other handheld gaming systems. It even has the ability to allow you to use your smartphone as a remote control.
Not all 3DTVs are destined for huge rooms to serve as the center of a major entertainment center. Maybe you are looking for something smaller, maybe for a bedroom dresser, a small apartment or for a guest room- then the Coby 32" ATSC LED Passive 3D TV might just fit the bill. The 32-inch display has Full HD 1080p resolution and comes with three HDMI connections. Colby ships the passive system with four pairs of glasses.