back to article Buyer's Guide: 3D TVs

The good news, as a Panasonic spokesman told me a couple of months ago, is that “there will be no format war” for 3D TV. It’s true that there are actually two different types of 3D television, but both types can play 3D TV broadcasts and films on 3D Blu-ray Discs, so you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong type of 3D TV …


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  1. Matt 13

    3d without the glasses...

    I was at an exhibition back in january and there was a telly there that was 3d without glasses, you had to stand dead central to the image or you had ghosting, it was running a demo so the clips had obviously been chosen for maximum effect and impact, but it was surprisingly effective... I cant remember who the manufacturer was though...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Lookin' good, but not for me just yet

    I have seen some PS3 games in 3D and they do look incredible, the technology is no flash in the pan, of that I am sure.

    However I am only 1yr into my last TV purchase, so won't be jumping onboard for some time, but when I do, I would imagine 3D being the norm, active shutter glasses to inter operate with each other, and have dropped significantly in price.

  3. richard 69

    tried the samsung in john lewis

    blu-ray looked pretty good but it all comes back to the same 2 points:

    - is the whole family going to sit there with jarvis cocker style specs on to watch eastenders in 3d?

    - ah yes eastenders. content is king, so 90% of the stuff on tv is not better in 3d anyway. so 3d in the cinema is great but still doesn't work for the living room...

  4. Mage Silver badge


    Good clear introduction.

    Misses some points:

    1) While implied, the article doesn't explicitly state that it's not 3D at all. Only Stereoscopic. Like Viewmaster or Victorian novelties.

    2) Maybe 20% of people who DO see real 3D, don't get ANY depth illusion from Stereoscopic video.

    3) The Active shutter glasses may work for some people with one eye slightly weaker where the passive glasses don't..

    4) Prolonged Stereoscopic video viewing will cause headache and eye strain. In reality unlike real life or real 3D displays(there are some not holographic), the image distance is actually always on the screen. The eye unconsciously tries to focus on apparently closer or further objects based on the parallax illusion. This is what causes the headaches or even nausea. The definition of "prolonged" is going to vary per person.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I am one of those people with a slightly weaker eye and get headaches from these sorts of pictures after around 15-20 minutes...

      Having been to Universal theme park and seen Spiderman 3D, Terminator 3D and Shrek 3D - I sometimes get the 3D - I sometimes "focus" and end up seeing 2 slightly offset images. Also my young son won't wear the glasses.

      Its a fad and will be for films. Please get back to proper decent films (with decent plots and stories) and stop messing about with the fad (and fancy special effects that mean the film fails in 2D).

    2. Anonymous Coward

      RE: 3D Without the Glasses

      I'd prefer this system over any other system any day. It's called the "parallax barrier" technique. Cheaper systems employ a filter (sorta like those used on those novelty rulers or wind-up kiddie musical tellies). More expensive systems use a second LCD layer to generate an artifical barrier. Nintendo will be using the two-layer LCD technique on the 3DS and Sharp had used them for professional computer monitors. It's a shame no one wants to adopt this as 3D TV technology tho.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        RE: RE: 3D Without the Glasses

        The problem with parallax barrier technology is that it only works if you are in the right place in relation to the screen. This makes it suitable for games consoles and computer displays, but not for the living room or the pub.

  5. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    Total Fad

    I don't even have Blu-Ray or a HDTV. I simply don't see the point (no one has been able to show me an HDTV and standard TV, of comparable size and show me any difference). On the HDTVs my friends have, I can't see any difference between a DVD or a Blu-Ray. So I don't see the point in wasting money on them until kit needs replaced.

    Sound is the important thing. That is what will immerse you into the story. Black-and-white movies are still captivating because of the sound and, well, the story. Laural&Hardy are still funny because of the jokes. 3D adds nada.

    Actually I take that back. 3D might give a good movie something extra, but a bad 3D movie is just going to be a bad movie in 3D.

    From what I understand, the brain only uses stereoscopic depth perception for the first 10m or so, after that it's brute logic and other tricks (Anyone know for sure?). So what is the point in 3D when vast swathes of the scene don't need to be 3D at all?

    More anti-piracy bullcrap is my guess. Bullcrap that *would not be needed* if the RIAA and MPAA simply got with the feckin' program!

    1. Mike Hanna


      No difference? I suggest looking again, possibly when a World Cup match is on on ITV1 and then change to ITV1HD. The difference is staggering, especially on ITV. And as for not seeing much difference between a Blu-Ray and a DVD on their HDTV's, perhaps they have an upscaling BR-player which makes the DVD look better anyway. Channel comparison on the telly is easy, cos you flick between them to see the affect. DVD / BR comparison is more difficult as you would need identical TV's with identical equipment, but with upscaling turned off on one, and a BR on the other, else you would forget the quality difference in the time it takes to change discs etc...

      HD is stunning as, as far as I am concerned, worth every penny of the additional £10 a month I pay to Sky. I feel dirty if I'm made to watch SD football now. 3D is useless, and just a way to get more cash out of people. I hate the way the TV manufacturers are saying "This is the way everyone is going to go!" as if we had a choice. If they decide to stop producing standard 2D sets they'd have been correct, but not through choice of the consumers.

      1. DPWDC

        RE: Really?

        My girlfriend said the same as Big Yin, we had the football on ITV HD, she couldnt see what the fuss was about "not that much better really is it?" - switched over to regular ITV "Oh...". I guess its just what you get used to as the standard - if you stream BBC iPlayer to watch something, you get used to the low res and pixelation after a while - you switch back to the regular SD broadcast and it looks pin sharp.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @Mike Hanna

        My wife, who has a significant sight disorder, actually says that she dislikes HD TV, because she says that it is 'grainly'. I actually worked out why this was recently.

        She has variable short-sightedness across her vision due to very strong astigmatisms, that means that even with glasses, only a part of her vision is clear at any time when looking at anything over about 10 feet away. This means that in real life, large parts of what she sees is a blur, she has no usable peripheral vision, and also means that even with today's optically dense glass, has very heavy spectacles.

        When watching HD TV, the screen is within her visible region, so she can see all of the distant detail on screen that she cannot see in real life. This should be a benefit to her, but because she is not used to seeing it, it upsets her.

        I guess what this shows is that you can't please everybody. And means I'm stuck watching everything in SD on my HD capable TV and Sky box if I don't want her moaning!

    2. Boring Bob


      No point investing in a HDready TV if your eyes arn't HDready. I suggest you go to an optician

  6. Tom_

    more problems?

    If you wear polarised glasses and then tilt your head to the side, does the 3D effect break?

    If your polarised glasses have the left lens polarised vertically and the right lens polarised horizontally, but you go to your friend's house and their TV expects the lenses to be the other way around, do you get a screwed up effect?

    Do any of the glasses work for people who already wear normal glasses?

    1. ChrisC

      No more problems

      Unless the designers of passive TVs have been exceedingly dumb, they'll follow the lead of their cinema counterparts and use circular polarisation, which resolves the "head tilt" issue. Provided they don't then try to muck things up by assigning different polarisation directions to the left and right eyes between different models of TV or across different manufacturers, and instead just stick to the left/right assignments already used by the RealD cinema system, we should be OK.

      As for existing glasses wearers, the passive specs I've worn at the cinema have worked well enough optically, although they're hardly the most comfortable things to wear for extended periods - I'd hope that if circular polarisation-based 3D takes off in a big way with a consistent approach to left/right assignment, we'd start to see circularly-polarised lenses being made available via opticians so those of us already wearing glasses wouldn't need to wear two sets, and everyone could benefit from getting glasses made up to suit their specific facial dimensions.

  7. Owen Carter


    AS a poster above says.. there are technologies which do not use glasses at all. While the depth of field looks weaker than you get in the cinema, and you need to remain fairly still and central in front of them (*), they work well. I have seen them.. and this is real and works..

    But.. it wont be Hollywood that drives this; it will be Microsoft, Apple and the FOSS community. 'cos this tech will work excellently on your computer monitor.

    And a GUI where windows really move from the front to the back as focus changes is a very obvious but cool idea, and I'm sure the GUI wizards will find even more interesting ways to use it.. And you'll be able to play your 3d movies on them too, so no need to replace the TV, there's nothing much good on it anyway.

    Check out the NintendoDS 3D.

    (*) But you do not need to remain perfectly still.. I could walk about in front of the screen OK. There were interesting 'jumps' every few degrees of lateral movement, and the 3d effect tailed off as you moved off-centre, but that was all.

  8. Tim #3
    Paris Hilton


    (a) is anyone else getting a 404 error when trying to get through the review pages?

    (b) traditionally, new tv-tech has often been driven by the grumbleflick industry; has anyone researched into whether 3d ones are available yet & whether they have much to offer the connoisseur?

    Paris... goes without saying

  9. martin burns

    Of *course* Holywood isn't bothering

    The point of 3D for them was only ever to reduce in-cinema piracy (a much overrated fear anyway), as it's a bugger to effectively camcord a 3D film and post-separate out the channels to make a distributable 2D version.

    If consumers don't have 3D sets then there's even less of an incentive to pirates to work out how to distribute 3D movies - "for the real 3D experience, you have to go to the cinema" is a pretty good sales message.

    They didn't really bother for most of the cinema movies either, mind; sticking it on in Post Production just gives you a set of flat layers; filmed objects generally don't have any internal depth - as any fule (who wasted their money seeing Alice in '3D') kno.

    3D: It's made of badgers' paws.

  10. Ben Rosenthal

    blu ray and HD

    whether there is enough of a difference compared to standard def and DVD is personal choice and will vary depending on the exact hardware you're looking at. but if you can't see any difference at all, then I fear you should have gone to specsavers!

    I'm in agreeance with those who would like 3d without the silly glasses, till that time it is a fad.

  11. Jonathan White


    "With that in mind, you can buy one of these 3D TVs for now and then start saving up for your Star Trek Hologram TV™ in about five years time. How’s that for an upgrade cycle?"

    Or, you know, wait and spend the money on beer instead. 2.5K buys you quite a lot of liquid refreshment.

    1. Monty Burns


      beer than you would have thought after the last budget! \\o o// \o/ No raise :-)

  12. Dale 3
    Thumb Up

    Contact lenses

    Passive 3D screens and polarised contact lenses. Now that would be cool.

  13. Monty Burns

    What about projectors?

    I watch pretty much all my tv on my projector, when are we going to see 3d tech in these? Any ideas anyone?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Wheres the pron?

    Honestly, if you want to sell 3D in bulk, release a couple of faux documentaries in 3D to cover any questions then make a whole bunch of adult movies (online if possible, or downloaded via sky box).

  15. Alex King

    Not until we can lose the glasses, thanks

    Nope, I like to be able to do other stuff while the telly's on, thank you very much. without something flickering in front of my eyes. I don't just sit there, gawp, and consume.

    Also, what about those old plastic and cardboard red and green specs that gave you some sort of 3D. Why is this new?

    Oh, and if you can't see why HD is better than SD, try bumping that monitor of yours down to VGA resolution.

  16. Bo Pedersen

    Hang on a minute, whats with all this buy new kit rubbish?

    Red/Green 3d the old style works fine on old tv's

    Polarised glasses will also work on normal tv's (anyone seen the 3d advert on their normal telly and tried some cinema specs?)

    The shutter glasses need to match the .Hz frequency of the TV, a while back I read it was 120Hz or something for a decent image.

    I tried the Nvidia ones at a gaming expo last year, and got a headache, I never get headaches with polarised ones so I was not too impressed.

    The source is where the main processing of 3d will take place, why on earth would 3d need processing twice? (at the Blu-Ray and then at the tv?) the tv is just displaying the pixels thrown at it.

    I will reserve judgement for people trying 3d content on normal tv's especially since many boast greater than 200Hz!

    anyway thats just my tuppence worth :)

  17. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @more problems

    The glasses are circular polarized and so work for a reasonably large range of tilt (30deg or so)

    At the moment, most displays are Real3D compatible so the same way around as the free glasses you got for Avatar, there are a couple of makers (can't name them - I'm in the business) who decided to do the opposite to sell their own specs - but you can often switch the video signal electronically to flip left/right.

    The glasses work well on top of regular specs.

    One interesting effect is that younger people are happy to wear the glasses. 3D specs = designer sunglasses. Older people don't like them = wearing specs means I'm getting old.

    A lot of the nausea effect is due to bad cinematography, especially when you move in / zoom you have to readjust a lot of the 3D data to compensate or your brain gets bad depth cues. This is what cost so much on Avatar, there are a few technologies to help fix this for things like live sports - ours is the best one of course!

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Not so standard after all.

      Interestingly I went to IMAX in London with a pair of the decent quality Real3D glasses a friend had bough to go to his local cinema with.

      When the 3D stuff started I just got a blurred image. No matter which way I turned the glass around. I was popular getting up to go and get a pair of IMAX specs that day!

      Oh hum.

  18. Mike Richards Silver badge


    'so you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong type of 3D TV and then being left with an expensive and obsolete piece of kit when one format wins out over the other'

    Instead, you can now worry about buying a 3D TV and then being left with an expensive and obsolete piece of kit when you finally realise how much you've got to pay to equip family and friends with the bloody glasses.

  19. Owen Carter


    "Polarised glasses will also work on normal tv's (anyone seen the 3d advert on their normal telly and tried some cinema specs?)"

    I think that's actually physically impossible without some sort of polarised overlay precisely applied to the TV first.. and you'll loose half the resolution.

    Shutter glasses at 50Hz on a 100Hz conventional display sounds quite workable though. Most large TV's are 100Hz these days, but I'm not sure of the interfaces ie. I think they still only accept 50Hz and then generate the intervening frames themselves, sometimes as duplicates but some manufacturers have experimented with 'generated' images for the missing 50% of the signal.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Are we living in the third world?

    "the throwaway glasses that you get when you go to see a 3D film in the cinema"

    I saw Avatar in the cinema in Bolivia (the poorest country in South America) and they used active-shutter glasses.

    More generally, if you're also wearing normal glasses the 3D specs can't sit on the top of your nose and, being quite heavy, constantly slide down. As you push them back up your finger covers the shutter-sensor and the 3D effect vanishes. Which soon gets irritating.

    So 3D left me irritated, with a sore nose from the weight of the glasses and a headache from the 3D. I'll pass.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    the only time i would invest in 3D tech...

    is a holodeck, take you craptastic specs and shove em.

  22. Elsie


    I am also one of those with one eye weaker than the other and trying to watch a 3D movie at the cinema give me a headache, so why would I even consider this in my own home?

    But the real point is content. How long have we had LCD / Plasma HD screens now? 4 years? 5? How much HD content is actually being broadcast? Sky have a few channels, Virgin have about 8 but for the most part TV is broadcast in standard definition. So those of us that have already spent heavilly on HD TV's only get to watch a small percentage of HD transmissions.

    If it's taken this long and HD transmissions are still in a minority, does anyone really think that 3D will suddenly become the norm? It's a gimic to try and get the public to buy gear they don't need for a lot of money and then spend extra £££ on extra sets of easily breakable, easily lost glasses.

    The real reason the studios are pushing 3D is as an anti piracy method ...

  23. Matthew 17


    No-one will put up with glasses to watch the TV, maybe for a computer game but that's it. 3D even at the cinema is lame, the only way it would be interesting is if the screen was a full 360 degrees around the room with the audience sat in the middle, so if the characters on the screen in front of you are looking behind you, you'd have to turn round to see what they're looking at, that would be fantastic. Instead we have a regular 2D image with a handful of blurry objects floating about 2' in front, doesn't look anything like how the 3D looks in the real world.

    3DTV's will die on it's arse, was hard enough trying to convince the masses that HDTV was worth the effort when folk were only interested in a flat screen that freed up space in their living rooms.

  24. Martin Huizing

    I am surprised no-one else is talking about this:

    Remember those glasses with lcd's built in (320x240 res) a while back ago? Sales pitch: "Watch a 52" widescreen TV in front of your eyes"

    Yes, resolution sucked and picture was pixelated towards the unwatchable but how about this:

    The technology must have been perfected up to a point where you have at least 720p per eye.


    a 52" 720p 3d image right in front of you.

    Focus no matter where you look (no more headaches)



    One per family member (or for the loner)

    Why isn't anyone continuing the technology?

  25. Stuart Halliday

    Are the companies having a laugh?

    First there is far too little content around to justify buying a 3D TV.

    Especially since Microsoft announced last week a 3D imaging technique that needs no glasses.

    So surely any sensible IT bod will wait a year or two.

    But in the mean time, have a laugh and ask Currys for a demo.

    I went into Currys for a 3D TV demo and was told that the TV did 'upscaling' to 3D. I asked them to explain this and I had to try hard to reframe from laughing.

    They seem to actually think that the TV can turn _any_ 2D programme currently on Freeview into a simulated 3D show in real-time no less and they tried to show me a '2D->3D' 1 min demo from a USB stick.

    This 2D-3D demo was less effective than real 3D TV but it did have a 3D effect.

    I tried to explain that they had the wrong end of the stick about up-scaling and what they had tried to show me was pre-rendered 2D to 3Dvideo and I had to leave before I started choking with laughter.

    Oddly the '2D -3D' or 3D demos they had on their £2200 TV were obvious at the wrong data-rate or just plain broken as they kept on stuttering and pausing. No reason from the staff as to why these were the only 2 demos available (no 3D Bu-ray was available and no they didn't have it connected up to Freeview!) Dude - If I'm shelling out £2500 I want to see it working!

    Last thing.

    I spoke to a recent Currys 3D TV customer and he was asked to shell out a further £50 for a HDMI 1.4 cable as one wasn't included (choke) with his £2500 TV.

    He went home and tried a HDMI 1.3b and guess what, it worked just fine.....

    Nice one Curry. Don't think you'll get many sales...

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