back to article 3D TV: Avatar or Ishtar?

We've seen plenty of forecasts predicting how many 3D TVs will be sold in the coming years - the latest, from UK-based IMS Research, puts the total at 218m shipped by the end of 2015 - but none that show that punters want or will use the technoology. As we reported recently, there have been small spending surges in the US and …


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  1. MarkOne

    What these surveys fail to grasp

    is that consumers may not be ready for it just yet, or may not even want it, but pretty soon you won't be able to buy a TV that does not do it... (unless you are a chav that buys home electronics from supermarkets).

  2. John Mangan

    Pros and Cons


    More immersive with the right content


    Family sitting around with their jamjars on

    Non-interoperability of different specs so need a bag of 'spares' for when friends come around

    Easy to lose one remote, what are the odds on losing/breaking expensive glasses

    Not great/relevant for many types of content

    possible restrictions on viewing angles/distances in modern, cramped houses

    I left out expense since that will fall. Yes, internet access would be more useful.

  3. Marco van de Voort
    Thumb Up

    World Cup

    For a real drive, the Word cup broadcasts should have been 3D of course ;_)

    The only thing I really wanted to add is that while I like 3D for some movies (like action or cartoon) in the cinema, I notice it is more exhausting.

    This is ok in a cinema, but at home I mostly watch more leisurely, and then the fatigueing effect might be too much to ask, except for the occasional film.

    There is a chance one gets used to it overtime, but I already decided to first have a good look at such a set at a friend's before buying one. Viewing angle is something else I'd like to check first

  4. nordwars
    Thumb Up

    I'd use it...

    And already do - I have a NVidia 3D Vision capable PC and use it for 3D gaming. It works very well in fact, although the (shutter) glasses could be a bit more comfortable and aren't great if wearing for more than a few hours. Even works in conjuction with prescription glasses. The technology isn't perfect yet, but is bound to get better in time.

    Because of the comfort issue, I'd probably use it more for watching movies and playing games than for general TV viewing.

    I'm not even the early adopter type - not sure why I was in this case actually, but I'm mostly happy with it.

  5. Herby Silver badge

    It is not really "3D"

    Actually it is stereoscopic. You get the same view regardless of where you sit. True "3D" is a holographic experience, like looking out a window. You get the picture you are given, no more, no less. In that case, a simple picture is just as good. So, in the grand scheme of things, all I can say "why bother".

    That puts it in the Ishtar category. I wish it luck.

  6. Rob

    Industry has lost it's marbles

    I just don't get how the industry sees 3D as being even remotely profitable, the amount they must of spent on R&D over the years coupled with manufacturing costs vs units sold, now throw into the mix the uptake of HD. Surely HD should be a warning sign of the overall customer apathy about this sort of TV tech, it still hasn't reached market saturation in terms of how many people have HD TV's let alone how many people have taken up a HD subscription with say someone like Sky.

    I think the industry is overstating the consumer 'want' for this technology. If they want people to buy into it en-masse they should perhaps employ Apple's marketing dept they are great at selling mediocre tech at ridiculous prices.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3D is going to change the way we consume video content...

    ... at least to the same extent that WAP has changed the way we use our phones.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No to 3D

    Don't need it - don't want it.

  9. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    To be fair...

    ...they were both pretty bad.

    1. Rob

      You could be right...

      ... but lets attach a time frame to that statement of about 10-15 years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interesting definition of chav

      Certainly one that's never been applied to me. I get all my consumer electronics from Asda. My DVD player plays DVDs and my toaster toasts. Am I missing something?

      Back on topic: While I think we all agree that the whole 3D thing is a sales ploy; most people seem to think that said ploy is to get people to replace their perfectly functional devices. Actually, the ploy is to distract people from the fact that there's nothing worth watching in the first place...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Pretty accurate definition of chav

        I'd go further to say that anyone who buys anything from Asda is dancing on the line of chav-dom, but there you go... It's the only supermarket I've seen where people go in their pyjamas.

        Not that I'd say everyone who visits Asda is a chav, but the ratio of chav to non-chav definitely increases...

        1. MrT

          Isn't that because...

          ... Asda opens some of its stores for all 24hrs? Okay, point taken... anyway, around here the store tends to get pronounced Ass-da, which might be another curious insight into the clientelle

          Oh yeah, 3D TV. No. No. No. Might work for lonley types or DINKies, but not for a family with young kids. Totally agree about it being a ploy to sell more boxes, but it's where we were heading when TVs went up to 600Hz scanning - allows for the reintroduction of interlacing without real degradation in picture quality.

          And. Planet of the Smurfs is not Brothers in Arms - why pick that failfest of a movie as the driver of a new(sort of) format? Some of the other ones on the list will be more of a draw to anyone who has actually seen Avatar.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      . . . but it would be fair to say, wouldn't it, that one person directly in front of a single screen is slightly different to several family members arranged around a room? And (some) game content would probably lend itself very well to 3D so it's a slightly different question.

    4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      There's the rub ...

      Not comfortable, aren't great after a few hours and not perfect yet - Can the manufacturers actually get the get things up to spec before the great unwashed decide it's failed technology or not for them?

      Maybe there's a quiet inevitability if manufacturers simply pursue delivering 3D which makes the whole debate rather moot and pointless. It will either catch on or go the way of the WAP, DAT and MiniDisc.

    5. david bates

      HD takeup...

      could be lower than it might be due to the terrible picture quality one sees in various major highstreet chains. Either the picture is pixellated to hell, or the TV is set up wrongly, with shadows and ghosting.

      Even if everything *seems* correct it often hard to tell the SD from HD content even when they are side by side. Rarely do you see something that blows your socks off.

    6. Annihilator

      Good call

      It's also trying to force the 3-D effect only via binocular cues. Completely misses the monocular cues, which is one of the reasons for the headaches. One example of monocular cues is depth perception via your focus shifting (accommodation).

      Frankly, I think the "3D" efforts in cinemas are fucking awful.

      1. Steve Roper

        Good call seconded

        I went to see Avatar in 3D - actually pseudo-3D as previously posted - and vowed never to see another movie in 3D again. You're spot on with the failure to use monocular cues. All through the movie, my perception kept shifting from depth perception (the 80' or so distance to the screen) to binocular perception (on-screen characters apparently supposed to be 6' in front of me). I think I could keep my eyes fooled for a maximum of about 15 seconds before my depth perception kicked back in and wrecked the effect. It was so distracting that I remembered nothing about the movie and everything about how awful the pseudo-3D effect was.

        No, I really hope this technology dies on its arse like the fad it is. If it ends up where everything only becomes available in 3D, I'll be the first to be hacking it to a 2D version before watching it.

    7. TheOtherMe

      Fully agree

      My eyes already work in true 3D (I can see the world around me) more over I can move to a different spot and get a new perspective on what I'm seeing.

      When they offer me the ability to rotate an image through all 3 dimensions, or just move around and see it from different angles - WITHOUT- the need for special 'glasses', then and only then will I consider it 3D technology and fork out my hard-earned for it.

    8. Paul Foxworthy

      World Cup *is* in 3D

      For a selection of matches. See for the schedule on Australian television. If your network isn't doing it, ask them why.

  10. dogged
    Thumb Down

    Not really

    I'd much rather have UPnP and DNLA built into my telly than 3D.

    3D is a gimmick for content-providers. If you've digitised your DvD library and are keeping it on a server, then plug&play connectivity with that library is far more enticing.

    And let's be honest here; most TV manufacturers aren't in the content business. They just want to sell more goggleboxes so I'd recommend that they take steps in this direction. Leave the 3D gimmicry to Sky and just let me watch my movies on my TV with a minimum of hassle.

  11. adamski...

    not yet

    Just bought a new Panny with freeview HD but not 3D.

    I don't currently think the £500-£1000 premium is worth it. In a few years when they're as common as muck, I'll consider my next move.

    Until then, i'll spend the grand I've saved on a proper 3D experience at the movies.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Bang on

      This is the latest way for the movie industry to get people back to the theatres. Now we've all got big screens and HD the living room is looking increasingly appealing compared to the out-of-focus, crappy print quality, fast-food, daycare centres of the multiplex.

      But if they can now offer 3D that's something you can't have at home. So for a couple of years people have been drifting along to see the novelty - some good ('Up'), some bad ('Clash of the Titans') - but all highly profitable as they've been able to bump up ticket prices.

      Where it all falls down is that people who actually *like* 3D are few and far between. Even those movies that haven't been post-produced to look 3D (hello 'Last Airbender') tend to look a bit murky, are hard work on the eyes and come across as LESS immersive than a well-projected (especially digitally) 2D movie. I'd be perfectly happy never to see another 3D feature ever again outside of a theme park.

      So no, 3D won't persuade me to buy a new set. Bigger screen, better blacks, Internet out of the box - yes, thinner - maybe.

      And if they want me back in the multiplex - well tasers for the staff, a projectionist who knows what the focus does and content that doesn't assume I left the brain at home would be a good start.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Has it drawn people to the cinema?

        I've stayed away.

        My local cinema is a bit overpriced anyway, but they've take the opportunity to up their prices for 3D films *and* they pretty much only show films in 3D now.

        Consequently I haven't been to the cinema for over 12 months now, even though there have been a good number of things that I wanted to see.

        Having not seen them I probably won't buy them on DVD/BluRay and I have no idea about what's coming up in the future either. Ultimately it's probably saved me a fortune as I now just wait for the 2D version to show up on Sky Movies. That is until Sky try to force 3D on us and I cancel my subscription to that too.

        Naturally, their loss of income is due to "piracy", not bone-headed thinking on their part.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3D HD Idol Concerts

    3D HD Idol Concerts would be a seller for me, chance of it happening due to the costs of making such delicious content == 0

  13. nobby

    one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest

    The thing is, anyone can wander up and watch the arse-kicking contest without forking out £50+ for a pair of glasses that give them headaches.

    So I suggest that the one-legged man will get more viewers.

  14. JDX Gold badge

    I'd go for it if...

    ... the glasses become standardised and cheap. The static ones used in cinemas aren't too bad - a bit silly but not as bad as people seeing you using the wii! they are also seriously cheap.

    If it starts coming as standard on TVs I think it will take off but not replace normal films. However, I wonder if PS3/XBOX/etc will drive adoption. Something like Call of Duty in 3D is targetted at just the right market - young techo-savvy spenders, and will probably be pretty cool.

  15. Downside

    3D a non feature

    I'm not gonna rush down to buy a 3d set, nor am I going to pay a premium for a 3d set when my current panel comes to end-of-life, nor will I pay for "glasses" etc. So that's a FAIL.

    Holograms..remember them? They were cool back in 1983. how many have you got on your wall?

    3D is not good enough, content is not good enough, content will not be significant enough to justfiy it.

    I could almost see hardcore gaming being worthy of it, but the future of gaming is non-hardcore... think Wiii, think Kinect, think 3/4+ people playing gesture games, can you really see that many people wearing expensive glasses to watch the main telly in a home? Only if you're a marketing dreamer working for Sony.

  16. Mike Brown

    love it

    I bought a 3d tv 2 weeks ago and love it. There isnt any content for it yet. My PS3 cant play 3d blurays yet. I dont have any TV channels to watch, and im a bit bored of the 3d tech demos ive dowbnloaded, but what im not bored of is gaming. Wipeout HD 3D is incredible. I played wipeout to death last year, but with the free update to 3d iove been playing it again, and my lap times have improved. The sence of depth makes it easier to steer round corners, and to tell where the edge of the track is. 3d makes gaming better, much better. Not just in a "wowser that looks cool sorto of way" but in a real tangible improvement to your performance. im a big fan of 3d, everone i tell thinks im mad to get into it this early, but when they see it in the flesh, they soon understand

    1. Havin_it
      Paris Hilton

      Don't be ridiculous

      Video gaming does not drive adoption of new technology.

      Porn does.

      1. Matthew Ellison
        Paris Hilton

        Not true...

        If that was the case we'd have had HD-DVD and not Blu-Ray. The vast majority of porn studios sided with HD-DVD due to cheaper production costs. The consumers however sided with Blu-Ray, largely due to the PS3. Gaming did indeed drive the adoption of the last format war, porn did not.

        On topic, I went HD for my xbox over 4 years ago, only a few months ago finally signing up with Sky's HD service because my TV region will be last to get Freeview HD in 2 years time. It's the same for the majority of my gaming friends and colleagues. I envisage it will be a very similar approach for 3D games, especially as my PS3 will only require a firmware upgrade, although Sony will probably require payment for it by the time they release it.

        Paris because, well it's obvious surely.

        1. Rob

          Wrong comparison

          "The vast majority of porn studios sided with HD-DVD due to cheaper production costs." That's a format war, I'd say the HD to 3D route is a tech level/upgrade issue. Either way the porn industry wouldn't care which format was finally settled on, they were just interested in getting better quality video of plumbers servicing bored housewifes whose names could have been cindy or debbie, which required a bigger disc than a DVD.

        2. Mike Richards Silver badge

          HD-DVD / Blu-Ray

          The movie studios sided with Blu-Ray, probably because it offered even more DRM options.

          The PS3 only helped adoption, but HD-DVD was dead by the time the PS3 actually started selling in bulk. Lucky they put Blu-Ray in the console, because it's something of a disappointment otherwise.

        3. Daniel B.

          PS3 Firmware update

          Don't worry, you won't need to pay for FW updates. Never have, never will, and they already added some kind of 3D support in the last FW release.

          Unfortunately I can't acknowledge this, as mine is still running 3.15, thanks to the stupid decision of nuking OtherOS support. :(

          Anyway, I'm glad that Blu-Ray won that format war, HD-DVD sounded stupid and it also baffles me that anyone would back an inferior product at all. On storage capacities, it was like the 5.25" trying to beat the 3.5" floppy disc, or the Compact Casette trying to beat the CD. Then again, it has happened before ... with the 8 track tape.

    2. Daniel B.

      Gesture gaming is a joke

      " the future of gaming is non-hardcore... think Wiii, think Kinect, think 3/4+ people playing gesture games"

      All I can *think* about that is that guy from the Kinect presentation playing Dance Central and looking like a dork. It looks like something out of "Decline of Video Gaming" that even the creators of THAT series didn't imagine possible.

      However, I do agree that 3D whatever isn't just ready for consumers yet. The "wear funny glasses" kind works well for the movie theater, but fails for home use. And the few glass-less 3D devices I've seen can only be used in certain angles, and are usually headache-inducing. Ow.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I dunno

      Re your analysis of gaming, I seem to remember one or two people buying modern warfare two.

      Sure lots of people play "casual" games but the fps gaming market it huge and will remain huge for a very long time.

  17. Pavlovs well trained dog

    its inevitable

    So may as well embrace it

    but those bastard manufacturers are going to have to prove this won't be another BD vs HD, VHS vs Betamax - debacle before I spent a penny of my money on it

    When I buy meself a nice new telly it'll be the other features and price that dictate which comes home.. if it happens to include 3D so be it..

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Death to '3D' TV.

    I hope it fails hard. For starters it looks fucking weird. '3D', sort of, a weird optical illusion of 3D that just gives you a headache after a while. As it is I already need to wear glasses to watch TV (or movies at the cinema), I don't want to have to wear another pair, in fact I don't want to have to wear anything extra just so I can see the picture. That's before you get into the whole nonsense of needing enough pairs for when your mates come round, or some backup in case a pair fail, and so on and so forth.

    I could rant for hours against '3D' TV, so much so that my mates now don't bring the subject up when I'm in earshot...

    1. OrsonX
      Thumb Down

      VHS vs Betamax

      hear hear, STANDARDS!

      as well as all the other negatives mentioned here for 3D, this is another biggy, if not the biggest. At the moment there are multiple technologies for delivering 3D at home and numerous other one on the way. Three primary technologies exist: polarizing glassed, shutter glasses and paralax(?) screens (non-glasses 3DTV). Then you have frame rates and resolution to contend with etc etc.

      Until the VHS of 3D emerges then forget it.

  19. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    As far as I can see...

    ...3D was added as a gimmick to films to encourage people back into the cinema and away from pirated movies (or, god forbid, waiting for the film to come out on DVD).

    As home AV setups now have colour, surround sound, widescreen and hi-def, cinemas needed a new trick. Once people have 3D at home, cinema will need to find a new fad.

    The thing is... did you hear anyone actually crying out for 3D? Widescreen, maybe (nobody was UNhappy with their standard def TV); hi-def, at a stretch (most people can't tell the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray). 3D, though?

  20. Annihilator
    Thumb Down

    "Do punters really want it?"

    In a word - "no". Frankly I think the 3D solution (though as pointed out already, it's stereoscopic, not 3D) is appalling. The problem I've got is that I can't get on board with what is effectively dressing up to watch my TV and without the special glasses the image is useless.

    Cinema can just about get away with it, but in my own home, the TV does NOT command my full attention at all times.

    Bring in proper 3D without any glasses and we'll talk. Until then, it's a gimmick and can die a slow painful death for all I care.

  21. Circadian

    And what will be shown?

    Let's see - I wonder how much 3D would improve:

    cookery shows

    "reality TV"

    "reality cop-chase" shows (hmm, wonder how much tax-payer money would be wanted to retrofit all the police vehicles with 3D cams...)

    Ant and Dec

    What? You mean TV shows dramas and films now?

    Oh and last thing - you *know* that advertisers are going to make you want to vomit once 3D adverts kick in.

  22. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    A better horse

    Somebody said that if Henry Ford had done market research - he would have built a better horse.

    All the above arguements were made against colour TV and HD.

    el'reg readers that have thier DVD collections ripped to a server somewhere and want a TV that can be a domain controller are something of a minority.

    3D TVs cost next to nothing more to produce than a regular TV, passive (cinema style) goggles cost a couple of $ - your next TV is going to have them.

  23. Oliver 7
    Thumb Down

    Will eventually be standard...

    Once the price comes down enough 3D will probably be integrated in all tellies the same way Freeview (HD) is now. I expect UPnP/DLNA will be included too.

    I still have a 28" Sony Trinitron CRT, when the 3D fad has brought the price of a non-3D 37"+ LED screen at Richer Sounds below the £400 mark, I'll get one. Not a day before.

    I may be a tight-fisted wanker but it means I have a long cock!

  24. dz-015

    It's nonsense

    It makes films look a bit crap and fuzzy, it's tiring to watch, it makes lots of people (including me) feel nauseous, and it requires everyone to sit there with silly glasses on. The sooner this stupid fad dies, the better.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @a beter horse

      You used to need to wear glasses to watch colour TV?

      People were made nauseous by HD?

      Viewing angles were a problem with both?

      I don't think any of the above arguments were ever made for colour TV or HD.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    We ddn't want it when we had to wear those cardboard glasses with the blue and red celophane, what makes them think we want to watch it using expensive battery operated glasses that won't work with other brand TV's?

    Ok so I get that they were waiting for HD TV to penetrate the market a bit more and the TV's refresh rate to get to 200MHz (because that is what makes the current crop of 3D TV's technically possible), but seriously, we could have had 3D TV years ago if we had all been willing to wear special glasses (glasses would have been cheap enough to throw away after a few uses).

    TV's that can play content (in popular formats like DivX and even H.264, and the newly open sourced Google codec) from network or USB connected storage is top of my wish list.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    I'll get a 3D telly...

    ... when the shutter tech is built into these things:

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems the cart has rather overtaken the horse on this one

    the film industry made a concerted effort to get into 3D in order to stave off the ever-present evil of the downloader: you can't pirate 3D movies by sitting in the cinema with a camcorder, simple as that (overlooking, of course, the actual routes by which movies are pirated, but the film industry does that as well), much as last time around the push for 3D was an attempt to kill off TV (worked well, didn't it?). Now that they've got all the DRM gubbins in place to let you watch that 3D content at home, it's seen as an easy win for everyone to push the consumer into 3D at home: higher prices for 3D Blu-Rays, higher prices for equipment upgrades, it's all a tasty little treadmill.

    The problem, of course, is the content or, more precisely, the lack thereof. Making TV in 3d is not currently a familiar or easy process: for instance, the cameras currently have to be focused manually and have quite a shallow focal plane. Test footage created by LG for Formula One Management has been rather lacklustre, showing poor focus and blurring of fast-moving objects. Show that to anyone who's splashed out on a fancy new set and they'll be less than pleased.

    There are too many technical hurdles to cross at the moment before home 3D is an everyday thing, I believe. Crossed they will be, but for now that cart needs a bit of braking.

  28. Sven


    If i have to put glasses on, I will never buy it. People say its a small thing and you won't notice, but next thing you know, I'll be required to put on certain clothes or shoes to fully enjoy a film.

    Beer: what if your drunk? Has that been tested? 3D while drunk :-)


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