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back to article 3D TV fails to excite, gesture UIs to flop: analyst

3D television is not exciting global TV buyers, says analyst firm NPD. While the firm notes that 3D now pops up in nearly 20% of global TV purchases for devices larger than 40 inches, Director of Industry Analysis Ben Arnold says “3D TV sales growth thus far has been more a function of the feature’s attachment to bigger screens …

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Holmes

Of course

The hardware cost of connectivity is negligible and the cost of 3D is little more for high framerate displays although the glasses do have a cost.

The real challenge in TV manufacturing is making a profit and differentiation. There is the potential for some from revenue share arrangements with the content providers but real scale is needed before these can be negotiated with major players and the manufacturers are competing for content so their shares from the most powerful players may stay low.

Having your own content like Sony helps far less than you would expect because so much is already licenced to other companies in each country much of it exclusively. It can also make deals with third parties more complicated and there is the tendency to try to do too much in house at times rather than partnering with the best existing aggregators.

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Re: Of course

Not everyone can see in 3D, the glasses are a pain and having to sit directly in front of the screen to benefit won't work in my house. My wife has prime position from her perch on the sofa, I have to suffer a 50 degree offset from where I sit.

I just want to slump down and watch a bit of telly, not hunt round for a pair of plastic specs an have them digging in my ears for a few moments of 'ooh look at that' and then realise the content of the program is crap.

In the cinema, yes, but in my house definately not.

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Differentiation is trivial

Just don't treat your customers like idiots. Give them a device which caters to their needs and integrates well with what they already have.

A few examples of what can be done better:

1 Button per source on your remote, no having to go through long menus to switch your source.

Usable network interfaces, make your set play anything it can do reasonably well, like MPEG4 AVI-files from an NFS share, have a simple web interface for control and automation. Implement a VNC client, etc...

Make any "image improvement" technology optional and explain in the manual what exactly it does.

We have enough "devices for idiots", it's time to make something proper. And no, that doesn't mean it will be unusual to the general public. You can make systems which are both user friendly and powerful.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Differentiation is trivial

"1 Button per source on your remote, no having to go through long menus to switch your source."

I agree with you there, but generally I find the problem is manufacturers put too many buttons on the remote.

Too many buttons = lots of choices = complexity for users.

Why things like "aspect ratio" need their own button I have no idea. I've had to use it maybe twice, and could have easily navigated an on-screen menu for it.

Paris because she knows how to push the buttons, I've heard.

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Re: Differentiation is trivial

My own feeling is that we are in same period for tellys as the pre-iPhone era was for smartphones. They work, but many of the features couldn't be found and were annoyingly slow to use.

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Re: Aspect Ratio

Granted, most sane TV broadcasters do get aspect ratios right (though sports seem to get it wrong more often for some reason), but sadly my cheap upscaling DVD player won't make the TV automatically switch for my Seinfeld DVDs for the 16:9 stuff and the episodes themselves which are 4:3.

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Happy

@dotdavid - Re: Differentiation is trivial

I had a TV with a remote with two sides - simple and comprehensive. You could turn it round in its outer case to expose the side you preferred.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Differentiation is trivial

"Why things like "aspect ratio" need their own button I have no idea. I've had to use it maybe twice..."

Presumably you watch almost all HD content. If your HD availability is crud, and you watch a lot of NTSC, then switching between expand-to-fill so letterbox looks right, and 4:3 pillarboxed, so 'normal' 4:3 looks right, is essential. My wife and I ended up with this 32" Westinghouse thing, which has two aspect modes - normal and stretch. God knows what they were thinking. So we've got this 32" TV a hundred feet from the couch, and since 80% of stuff is letterboxed now as it's shot in 16:9, we have a tiny TV with a big bezel, and the content inside a 2" black LCD frame!

Luckily our TiVo died, and the new one will do that on its own.

With a dedicated button.

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Re: @dotdavid - Differentiation is trivial

I had a TV remote once that had a nice simple set of buttons on the front. Then you open it like a book for the 'Cape Canaveral' version. Worked well.

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Wearing 3D glasses all evening is not an option. I want to use my laptop, talk to (and see) other people in the room without seeing them through 3D glasses. Sure for a film it might be worth it but every day TV is not enhanced by 3D.

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The glasses are the main barrier to adoption, people want to plonk down in front of the box pick up the remote and enjoy watching the TV, they don't want to put on a special set of glasses to do so.

If they are able to get the 3D experience without the glasses and it's decent quality it could take off but in-till the goggles go by by this wont be a success.

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We've become innured.

People don't want stereoscopic TV. They want HOLOGRAPHIC TV. They want the kind of 3D TV you used to see in The Jetsons: where it took up space and can be looked upon from almost any angle. This kind of TV was inherently autostereoscopic and allowed the real wow factor of different points of view (much like how some 3D games let you reposition the camera in various ways).

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Re: We've become innured.

They don't want that (HOLO TV), either, I mean sure it will be fun for a while but ultimately who wants to have to keep moving around something to get the best angle? Isn't that what we pay cinematographers and directors for? To frame the action so we get the perfect view from our comfy sofas?

How many arguments are going to kick off over the best spot in the room when the other spots aren't just viewing at an acute angle but actually have some of the content obscured from view?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We've become innured.

Brings a whole new slant on "fighting over the remote":

"Turn it left, I want to see behind that dresser"

"no, turn right, he's in the wardrobe"

"what's on top of that building?"

"Sit down, your arse is blocking my view"

etc.

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Re: We've become innured.

I disagree about Holographic tv, I believe we want 3d tv that has real depth of vision. The problem with stereoscopic 3d is it gives the illusion of depth but doesn't fool the brain properly because you're not changing focus to see things further back. So while you can tell that something is in front of something else you can't really tell how far in front. Real 3d telly would make you focus in front of or behind the screen and would give a much better impression of depth making for a more immersive experience...

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Its not just the glasses

I often watch the telly in a non vertical way. This results in a non 3d view even on non-glasses 3d screens - try stealing a kids games console sometime.

I'll consider 3d when you don't have to watch it through a virtual letterbox - though I imagine by that time the 1d quality of the programs will have forced me back to the pub.

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Paris Hilton

Re: We've become innured.

Sorry, I went into a bit of a daydream there ... imagining watching Into The Blue in Holo TV.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We've become innured.

"The problem with stereoscopic 3d is it gives the illusion of depth but doesn't fool the brain properly because you're not changing focus to see things further back. So while you can tell that something is in front of something else you can't really tell how far in front."

Untrue, untrue, untrue, untrue. Perhaps if you're watching some crap converted stuff, but with actual 3D source material - in my case, driving simulation - you do indeed have to alter your focus from the foreground to the background.

In fact, I use that effect to set convergence - hold a finger out at dashboard distance, defocus your eyes, and then adjust the convergence of the 3D image until you see your finger and the switch / steering wheel / whatever misconverged the same amount. Focus your eyes again, and by necessity your focus is correct for your finger and the switch / whatever - and incorrect elsewhere. If I'm driving a formula car with an antenna just in front of the cockpit, I see a double image if it when looking down the road, but I can focus on it if I want to.

The feel of focus-shifting your eyes is the same.

Saying 'while you can tell that something is in front of something else you can't really tell how far in front' is just not true - not on a fundamental level.

Converted content which makes bad cardboard cutouts of everyone? Sure, it's awful. But judging 3D as a technology on that basis is like saying stereo music is crap because all you've heard is mono sources converted to stereo with flanging and delays.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We've become innured.

Aren't you mixing "convergence" with "focus"? Sure, you may have to swivel your eyeballs different amounts to _converge_ on objects that are intended to appear at different depths, but the actual image exists in a 2D plane, the screen, so you aren't changing the _focus_ of your eyeballs at all. That inconsistency is what gives some people headaches when watching stereoscopic images.

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Re: We've become innured.

Who says you need to move to get the best angle? A proper holographic TV could have something like a jog or shuttle on its remote letting you turn the perspective while not moving yourself. And I was thinking in terms of sports, where things happen spontaneously from unexpected locations. Ever seen a cricket match or whatever where the camera moves one way but the ball actually went the other?

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Re: We've become innured.

The only TV option that will allow that, apart from holographic TV (which is inherently accommodating) is an integral display. Trouble is that, like current autostereoscopic technologies, it has a narrow viewable angle. Plus the lenses used in the recording and display of the light fields requires too high a precision for mass production at this time.

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smartphones/tablets

One *additional* remote to rule them all would be accurate.

The problem is, I'm not buying a smartphone for everyone in the house and people are inclined to take them with them.

Any STB/console maker has the potential to "do it right," but the problem is that what the customer wants and what the networks want and what the content producers want are all different so they have no vested interest is the perfect solution for the customer. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I'll vote for the device with all functionality exposed via a bluetooth control interface and a good app and an acceptable "traditional" remote. We'd need multiple pairs to the device of course.

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Re: smartphones/tablets

I use a single remote. It controls my TV, Onkyo Amp, Sky HD box, Freesat PVR, Logitech Touch and yes! even my PS3. Not just controls them in a dumb way. It switches them on/off and selects inputs according to what I want to do. So I select 'PS3' and it switches the TV, amp and PS3 on. Tells the amp to select the HDMI input for the PS3. If I later select 'Sky' it switches the PS3 off, the Sky box on and tells the amp to use the Sky HDMI input for video and SPDIF for audio. Hit the off button and all currently active devices switch off.

The remote is called a Logitech Harmony one. It's bloody expensive (there are cheaper models) but I've had it for what must be nigh-on five years now and I wouldn't want to be without it. First ever multi remote that actually fitted my hand and the first one that had enough buttons to suit all the tasks without having to 'repurpose' any of them.

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Re: smartphones/tablets

Oh and in case you're wondering:

* My Onkyo amp acts as a central switch box for all connectivity.

* Controlling the PS3 required me to buy Logitech's IR->Bluetooth adapter.

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Meh

Re: smartphones/tablets

"so they have no vested interest is the perfect solution for the customer."

The customer they are trying to please is the advertiser. We, the viewers, are a product of the broadcasters who are "sold" to the advertisers. The programme makers and TV manufacturers are simply ingredient suppliers to help make a better product for the real customers.

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FAIL

I hate to say I told you so...

wait, no I don't.

See the marvel of the century! Gasp in amazement as the special effects leap out of the screen! Marvel as the once-every-twenty-years fad disappears in smoke, just as it has every twenty years or so since 1850... the Victorians had steam-punk moving stereoscopic images and it hasn't got much better since.

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Anonymous Coward

you do have to wonder

why so many of us were able to predict this and yet it still rolls on like a steam roller, but I guess at the end of the day its all about making money, and in this case that comes from the top down, the movie makers themselves and broadcasters, since they only deliver content its harder for them to make it "new" and worth buying, so 3D was a logical all be it poor choice, a better choice would be to develop content that's worth watching, but apparently that isn't "new" enough for them

the logical choice for the manufactures is to then make gear to support that tech which also helps increase a stagnating market

Perhaps the Media producers and hardware manufactures should pay us mere mortals a bit or attention in the future :)

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Headmaster

Re: you do have to wonder

* ALBEIT

You may also have heard of crazy things like capital letters and punctuation.

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Anonymous Coward

Two things.

1) Games.

2) Sports.

Killer apps. I have quite a bit of experience using a 3D system for driving simulation, and when properly set up, it is absolutely, utterly fantastic. If you do it right, it lives up to the most absurd marketing hyperbole.

If you do it right.

That's what they need to do. They need to NOT do demos of content that have old-YouTube level macroblocking so that the football players look like they're encased in sparkling cubes. They need to NOT have out-of-the-box setups be absolutely horrible. And they need to develop a way to deal with differing fields of view, personal eyeball characteristics, and so forth, so people get a consistent experience. Convergence and FOV are absolutely critical to good performance; you can't just slap some glasses on your face and expect it to work well.

I'm guessing that most of the people slating the tech itself haven't ever seen it set up correctly - which is a bit like going to a used car dealer, discovering that all of his cars are junk, and concluding that the automobile is worthless.

Whether the business can do those things, I don't know. I do know that I was a die-hard skeptic, and only tried 3D in the first place because a customer slapped a wad of cash on the table. And damned if it wasn't actually freakin' awesome - to the extent where, for simulation, 2D seems absurd, like using CGA or text mode.

Hopefully it gets worked out.

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Re: Two things.

Two things yes.

Thanks David, your practical comments are refreshing. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments.

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Re: Two things.

Games, yes. When done well.

Many years ago by modern time scales we had a nice sideline selling "virtual reality" gear. The killer demo was Quake at high res (1024x768 woohoo!) in stereo* with shutter glasses. Really freaked people out when they saw it. We spent most of an afternoon tweaking sync, frame rates, convergence and DOF to make it so. Mechwarrior (2?) was another good one. Tombraider was awful and Descent just made people motion sick.

The problem was that we set it up right and the customers didn't so 9 times out of 10 they weren't so impressed by their real world performance.

What you say tallies with my experience of live generated content. But most of what we are talking about here is recorded content. For this stereo is little more than a gimmick because it's viewed from a predefined angle, with a predefined field of view. The only really good stereoscopic video I've seen was from last years Tour de France (and I reckon I spotted the guys filming it with a pair of Canon 7Ds in the regular broadcasts) and frankly that had only novelty value.

To sum up: yes you are quite correct that stereoscopic video can be very effective. But it's only useful where the extra depth queuing is useful. Otherwise it's just novelty and novelty wears off.

Oh, and I really must go see if R-Factor supports stereo displays 'cause that combined with head tracking sounds awesome.

* Calling a spade a spade here - it's not 3D, it's steroscopic

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Anonymous Coward

The glasses are a pain, but the biggest obstacle to 3D is lack of content imo. I buy a new TV every 3 years or so, and when I went to buy a new one recently, I almost went for 3D but realised that it is still full of bugs (ghosting, CFL interference, etc), active shutter are too expensive and theres probably less than 10 films in total which are actually worth watching on 3D.

I'm sure that in the next decade, some kind of glasses free system will be developed (like the 3DS) and by that time there should be quite a bit of content available too.

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"I buy a new TV every 3 years or so "

OMG! I buy a new tv every 20 years or so. I don't want something that will go out of fashion in 3 years. Anyway 3D is just the latest "Must Not Have" (along with low height screens sold as "widescreen"). And as I've said before so-called "3D" tv isn't 3D at all - it's just binocular.

I'll wait to see what the Ghost of Jobs comes up with before making a decision, but what I want is a screen that I can stick on the wall and everything else in a separate box that I can connect to my sound system. Now as I have a 25" full height screen, that means that to get the same height in 16:9 it needs to be a 32" screen, but then because it'll be further away on the wall instead of at the front of a deep CRT it needs to be bigger still, so about 40" would do.

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Flame

We get it. You're a luddite, and you take pleasure in pointing out your asceticism. We, by comparison, are profligate, foolish, and most likely unintelligent and wear our pants too low. Sorry. Let me ask - do you buy a new computer every 20 year? Are smugly pointing out how you've got a blurry-ass 13" monitor and you need to send URLs through the post to view a web site? Are you reveling in your manful opposition to consumer culture?

No?

Ah. Didn't think so.

Sorry - you can dismount your horse now. You know - the high one. You're just bragging that you don't care about television, and don't know anything about it OR anything you might watch on it. See 'low height screens sold as "widescreen"'. I had to go back and read that twice. Let me spell this out for you.

1) There is a reason that directors like to shoot in wide screen formats. It is not fashion. It's because people have a wider horizontal field of view than a vertical one. Now, if you're a cyclops - and maybe you are, I don't know - if you're a cyclops, then you'd have a point. But if you've got two eyes, one next to one another (even if they're quite close) a wide aspect ratio makes sense.

2) Describing widescreen as 'low height' is like refusing to buy a larger single-floor home since it's not taller, or stalking out of a movie theater because the roof is too low.

3) The screen is the size of the content. If you desperately want to, you can buy a 16:9 screen and put duct tape over the sides so you can have the pleasure of a screen which has not had its height reduced.

4) They make the content for that size. Do you refuse to buy a flashlight because you think that long, narrow batteries are a rip-off? Well, enjoy the darkness, 'cos they make the flashlights so they fit the batteries.

And complaining that your 'full height screen' (I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that) will be further away because it's thin... well, christ, put the damn thing closer! There was already some method by which the front of the CRT was positioned there, and any of the space behind it must by necessity already be unoccupied, so what's the problem?

Hell, make a giant cardboard thing to put on the back of it so it's like your existing TV; you can even forego the duct tape and have it flip over the sides and obscure the sides of the image to make the TV taller!

Hell, if you really want to go all out, you could even find some wood grain vinyl and slap it on there. The only problem you'll have is that it'll use much less power and generate much less heat and be much sharper. So you could get an orbital sander and have at it for a little bit with a buffing pad; that should whack it right down to NTSC color and resolution.

And actually, if you put a running hair dryer behind it'll you'll have the heat and power usage of your beloved CRT as well! Sure, it's a little loud, and if you put it inside the cardboard box it'll probably go on fire and burn down your house, but we all have to make our sacrifices not to be whores to consumer culture, eh?

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I reckon that if you're going to have to wear the glasses anyway, they might as well build the 3D experience within the glasses and forget about the TV entirely.

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Boffin

Good idea, but...

if you did your research you would realise this has been tried many times before.

The general complaint is a feeling similar to seasickness. It seems that approach is just too immersive.

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Just not suited to the domestic environment

The root problem with, so called, "3D" is that it isn't "3D". It's a stereoscopic system.

This means that the viewers viewpoint is fixed, placing constraints on the positions the viewer can sit to get the "3D" experience. This is OK in a cinema (though there is a certain "sweet spot" in the auditorium where the best effect is to be had), but in the domestic environment where the layout of the room is dictated by its size and shape and the available sites to place the TV and furniture, there is a good chance that the viewing position for most people will be far from ideal.

Then there is the need to wear glasses, which is a real pain if, like a large proportion of the population, you have to wear prescription glasses anyway.

So, for a solo viewing experience where you drag your armchair in front of the TV, "3D" has some attraction, it is pretty unattractive for general use.

This "Meh" factor has the knock-on effect of making "3D" titles poor sellers, which makes "3D" TVs less popular because of lack of content.

Unless a system can be developed that allows a "3D" experience without loss of picture quality, without the need for glasses and which works well with average domestic seating arrangements, then it will only ever be a nice-to-have novelty.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe they should try producing some content that isn't mind-numbing drivel first, before they worry about making it 3D.

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Anonymous Coward

On that thought...

Funny how the subject of a news story last week was the re-release of "Casablaca", a classic in black and white. A truely great movie not hindered one bit by lack of colour, because it had good actors, a good script and excellent production.

I loved the review of Battleship in the Metro a few weeks back: "The only good thing about this film is that it is NOT in 3D" :)

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I'm going to wait....

until they do prescription 3d glasses. No point in 3d if the image is blurry.

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Re: I'm going to wait....

While not necessarily comfy the 3D glasses (at least from Sony but probably others) are designed to fit over corrective glasses.

I think prescription glasses for the passive (polarised) TVs are available or at least could be made up although I don't think that it is worth the hassle for the content currently available unless you want it for gaming.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm going to wait....

Coming from a wearer of corrective lenses, the Sony glasses aren't bad, and they're transparent enough that the world isn't black when you look away from the screen.

The only problem is that when you flip them up to the top of your head so you can do whatever else, some kind of projection on them pushes into my scalp painfully, and in a phenomenon presumably similar to acupuncture, makes me want to punch anyone I see. I smell a lawsuit.

FWIW, I have frameless lenses, which are very light and reasonably small. If you're a hipster with big honkin' black frames out of the '60s, you're probably out of luck. Luckily, you're a hipster, so I won't care.

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MJI
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Re: I'm going to wait....

If you're a hipster with big honkin' black frames out of the '60s, you're probably out of luck. Luckily, you're a hipster, so I won't care.

Aghhh NHS glasses - they were horrid then and are still horrid now.

(thin metal frames here)

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Anonymous Coward

The only reasons to watch 3d tv are....

This Ain't Ghostbusters and This Ain't Avatar....

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Boffin

Doh!

While the firm notes that 3D now pops up in nearly 20% of global TV purchases for devices larger than 40 inches, Director of Industry Analysis Ben Arnold says “3D TV sales growth thus far has been more a function of the feature’s attachment to bigger screens than true demand for the technology.” Sixty eight percent of punters, he adds, think 3D is just “nice to have”.

-=-

Shocking!

NOT!

Read the posts here on El Reg when these features come out.

These features are just noise. The real thing people want are larger screens w hight density images. HD , 2HD and now 4 or even 8 HD resolutions.

Don't forget the fact that a lot of the resolution is lost due to transmission compression used to squeeze out 500 channels of crap...

Sure we can now use an iPad as a remote control. That's nice, but the real beauty is in picture quality. Forget the bells and whistles .l

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Boffin

Re: Doh!

Everybody says when buying a TV that good picture is the top priority but most people can't actually tell the difference between the best and the worst of the current generation of TVs. So I don't think most people will really benefit from higher resolution TVs. If you give most people some bright slightly over-saturated images they think it is a great picture and they won't notice the compression artifacts or that it is 720p rather than 1080p.

Even those who can identify a good picture when they see it will be pushing the limits of the optical system with the 4K systems that may appear on the mass market in the next couple of years even if they get fairly up close and personal with the TV. (4K is double the pixels horizontally and vertically compared to FHD 1080P so 4 times the pixels in total).

The good news is that at least with the major brands anything but the very cheapest (small screens are particularly hit and miss) now produce good pictures although some are still definitely better than others. Almost all the TVs have progressed dramatically since the first generations of flat screens but the rate of improvement has definitely plateaued and there is less room for further dramatic leaps.

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Unhappy

Re: Doh!

> The real thing people want are larger screens w hight density images. HD , 2HD and now 4 or even 8 HD resolutions.

I think what people really want is content so absorbing that you forget whether it's 2D, 3D, HD, or even B&W, and just really enjoy the programme.

Sadly we abandoned that idea somewhere in the 1970s :(

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MJI
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Re: Doh!

I did a head to head between 4 TVs from same manufacturers.

Most expensive and second most expensive, excellent picture.

Cheapest poor

2nd cheapest not much better than poor.

2 x Cheap LCD panel and 2 x expensive LCD panel. Also no toys, some toys, some toys, lots of toys

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Boffin

I had laser surgery to remove the need to wear eye glasses

I refuse to wear some clunky plastic specs just to watch telly.

It isn't going to happen, especially not for the current crop of "made for 3D" films.

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Anonymous Coward

simple list for TV makers to follow

Make the Blacks as black as possible

Remove all motion blurr (high frame rates and faster LCD response

provide good options to adjust colours based on room conditions but Removal of all unsessary crap, yes I mean you "auto" settings

Allow connectivity to media systems, internet and local

Good quality Sound

Make the panal as small as possible

Make the Panal as energy efficient as possible

concentrate on that little lot, but whats that i hear you say? that wont sell a TV sets....

yes, sadly your correct, we are all victims of our own (read human) stupidity.

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