3D: Is this the future of home entertainment?


3dtv Judging by the number of demos here at CES, we’d have to say that the family TV is in for a serious makeover some time in the next few years…

The evolution of the TV at home has been one of constantly improving picture and sound, with the latest home theatres offering superb quality in both. Naturally, electronics companies are looking for the next big enhancement that will send you back to your local tech store, armed with your credit card.

Their next big enhancement, from what we’ve seen here at CES, is 3D. Every notable player including Panasonic, LG, Sony, Samsung just to name a few, has been showing off prototype 3D TV systems. Some require special glasses and a few simply require you to sit a specific distance from the TV in order to get the full 3D effect.

You can understand why these companies seem convinced that 3D is the way of the future. When done well, the effect is dazzling. LG’s booth this year included a 3D theatre which used a projected 3D image similar to what you may have seen at a 3D IMAX movie. The clip they showed from U2 in 3D was spectacular – when Bono jumps from one platform to another, you’d swear he was just about to land in the theatre, not remain on the screen.

That particular example used special glasses, but I’ve seen some other kinds known as "autostereoscopic" that don’t require glasses, and the effect is even more dramatic.

But it also has me wondering: do we really want and/or need 3D at home?

Even as I type these words, I remember someone once asking the same question years ago when shown one of the first plasma TVs. Do we really need a 50 inch TV? The answer has been a resounding YES, given that sales of HDTVs have been increasing steadily and show no signs of abating.

That said, I’m not convinced it’s the same thing with 3D. On one hand, I really believe that every TV program or DVD or video game in significantly enhanced when displayed on large, wide, high-resolution set. Can the same be said for 3D? No doubt there are times when 3D increases your enjoyment of content – just ask anyone who has seen the 3D version of recent movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth. But a lot of our video content doesn’t need 3D to be enjoyed. Sitcoms, cooking shows, talk shows, news broadcasts – if they were 3D it might even distract you from the main purpose of the program.

So I’d like to propose this to any of the manufacturers that might be reading: When you bring these new 3D TVs to market, find a way to turn the 3D effect on and off. As much as I’ll enjoy watching the next installment of the Bourne or James Bond franchises in 3D, I’m quite content to watch my Frasier re-runs in good ol’, flat, 2D.

What’s your take? Can’t wait for 3D to arrive in your living room, or perfectly happy with flat picture?

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38 comments

  1. Art Vaark

    3D movies are being made for theatre release and new digital cinema projectors there are helping bring the cost of 3D projection down. So later if you want to rent a 3D movie what are you going to play it on – a 3D TV of course.

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  2. Jesse H.

    You can't be serious. You really wouldn't want to watch frasier in 3d? It's the natural progression. Everything has to get better, or the kids will get sick of it. I'm not all that old yet, but I understand it just as well. Even I'm sick of regular TV (and HDTV) and I barely have any time to watch it.

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  3. AnalogDeity

    The one reason I am heavily excited for 3D TV's is what a read a little while back pertaining to 3D and video games, with 3D they said that with multi player games each player using his own set of glasses will see the full screen and not a split screen like we are accustomed to.

    Now I am assuming they mean for 2 players as of now but even with that co-op games that split the screen will no longer do so and instead everyone will have a full screen to themselves, that is something that excites me, so that wicked games like Resistance 2 don't feel the need to tank the co-op main story because of the old split screen.

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  4. Carla Haley

    I hope not. I was born with only vision in my left eye. I have an enlarged retna in my right eye, and therefore can not see from it.
    I have never been able to experience the pleasure of 3D.
    That is unfortunate for me.

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  5. Jo

    I've wanted good 3D since I was a kid. I think it will add one more layer of realism (if done well) to our entertainment – making our TV, movies and games more immersive.

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  6. dylan d

    i went to Disney Land and experienced awsome quality glasses. The glasses never had the red and blue and werent made from carboard, they were a nice plastic and had dark plastic lens. i hope they make 3d glasses better then before with the tvs

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  7. Dan

    I don't feel the need for 3-D televisions. It makes no sense to me, the plasma and LCD screens are good enough. If we want to watch a 3-D movie, we can just go to the iMax theatres. So…. I hope 3-D just stays in movie theatres, that's the purpose of it.

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  8. Joe

    As hard as it is to believe that 3D will catch on as HD has, eventually it will. I remember saying a few years ago, "you don't NEED HD". And now after having it, it's hard to watch anything NOT in HD. Just like HD, once the novelty of 3D wears off, it will become the norm. Then we will have to move on to the next best thing. Virtual reality?! :D

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  9. Brian

    Can't wait.. will be awesome to watch a lot of the new movies as well as the older ones, such as star wars, and star trek in 3D. and of course for any video gamers out there, I think playing in 3D would be an awesome improvement in the gaming experience.

    An Imax theater was mentioned, which is all good, except that they won't play all the movies people may want to see, not to mention, it would be kinda hard to go to an Imax to play video games.

    It will be a major improvement in my opinion when we get the 3D tv in my living room.

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  10. David

    I have a 72" DLP and is 3D ready. Now with a tv like this, it is definately worth buying a 3D package. I have looked into this and found that it is an expense of about $400 (for 2 glasses with an extra 2 purchased) TriDef is the software and the movies are played from a pc.
    I'm respectfully going to invest in this to increase family movie pleasure…

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  11. Erin

    Does anyone but me find these electronic companies slightly manipulative? Im not trying to be a downer but people all over the owlrd are dying because we care more about whether or not our HDTV's are considered outdated than whether or not our planet is experiencing a total meltdown (which it is). I know this is just an article and not everything can be doom and gloom but it would be nice if there was some reality woven into the message. The reality being right now suck it up ENJOY your HDTV for at least a few more years and pull your credit card out for things like UNICEF and FREE THE CHILDREN.

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  12. Andy stanton

    If you people that posted how it will be great to see all the movies and tv pgms in 3D You have to remember that these movies and pgms have to be shot in 3D in order to play that way. That is unless Turner can find a way to do it while they are colouring the old movies.

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  13. Jeffrey

    I think 3D would be a good experience. I agree with you that certain shows don't need to be in 3D except for the cooking shows, I think it would be cool to see the food they are making in 3D, and add Smellovision , as Emiril says, and that would like being in the studio audience right from home, lol.

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  14. UrBan DeCaY

    3D T.V. is a pretty cool concept thats like every kids dream come true, but I believe technology is moving way too fast ppl say we're in the techno-age, I would say we're in the consumer age you have cell phones that almost every 2 months a new one comes out with one extra feature then the last one…I dont call that technical advancement I call that, stupid consumer will by more junk.
    half the junk we have now is pointless garbage and we are paying way too much for it anyhow, just to see it go obsolete in 6 mo. to a year, aint worth it….HD just came out around 5 years ago and now we're jumpin' to 3D, which that will make HD completely pointless (which I think it is anyway) in 2-3 years or so 3D is whats been on every ones mind since they first set eyes on T.V. sets anyway, but I do agree that it should have an on off switch.

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  15. Davido

    I guess many of you don't remember the very bad headaches on gets from this so called great technology. Great form of subliminal brain draining though. Believe it or not.

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  16. Stewart K. Robinson (Sr)

    I think you said it all in your first paragraph, they are trying to figure out how to get you back into the store to replace perfectly good technology with the new craze, they want your money, that’s all.

    No one needs 3D and like the last two times they tried to push it in theaters I myself hope it dies again.

    I am sick of technology becoming obsolete before I can afford to purchase any of it or even worse, becoming obsolete just after I have spent huge money on getting the latest technology only to find a few months later that they are phasing it out already.

    How many times do we need to purchase the same song or movie or TV show or what ever just to be able to play it or view it or have access to it? In my life time I have seen a song I loved on a 78rpm record, than a 45rpm, then a 33rpm only to be replaced with an "8-track" and then a cassette. Try to find a working record player or replacement parts for one. Try to find a working "8-track" player. You may still be able to find cassette players but for how much longer. Now music is on CD and that is slowly vanishing as people move to the MP3 or other downloadable formats that work on portable MP3 players or cell phones or I-pods. For video I have seen 8mm real to real replaced by Betamax then VHS then laser discs (the ones that were about 15 inches in diameter), than DVD, then HD and blue-ray and before people even have the chance to get blue-ray they are trying to make it obsolete again. Try to find a Betamax player out there.

    I collect movies and have about 3000 at this point. I have about 1800 on VHS but they stopped making them and I foresee a day not far down the road when I will not be able to even view them any longer because I will not be able to find a working unit to play them on. I have had to spend huge money to once again purchase the same movies all over again on DVD and now they want me to buy blue-ray.

    The companies out there doing this are pirates. We keep hearing about copyright law and how people keep pirating music and movies and video games etc. They keep coming up with ways to make it impossible to make copies of media the general public buys. They keep using the argument that companies and artists have the right to earn money from the entertainment they produce but much if not all if it is a smoke screen, a sham. If I spend on average $25.00 on a new record, than again on a new cassette, than again on a new CD and than have to pay even just $1.00 a song to download them again in digital format for an I-pod just how much money is the studio and artist making from the same old music? I paid for the song the first time and that should have been all I ever needed to pay for it, the other 3 times were just outright theft.

    I understand that for the economy to work and keep working people must keep buying. If they stop buying people end up loosing their jobs because there is no demand but think about it people. We have just seen a major world wide economic crash because the entire financial system, the entire capitalist system is flawed. Everything is built to be disposable or become obsolete, build to loose value the moment you purchase it… in the end all we end up doing is working ourselves into an early grave worse off than we were when we purchased that original 78rpm record.

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  17. pavel

    A 3D projection in a stupid illusion. 3D means to see objects from any point you want…from lateral, front, behind, top and bottom.
    Our eyes project in the brain a stereoscopic vision and the concept of 3D is based on possibility to look at an object from any angle.
    With 3D TV at home you definitely killing your eyes.

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  18. sebastien

    it wood b pretty cool if it wood comm out but like it wood coast the contry and company alot of money and rhite now i dont think we can but the gameing on the tv wood b pretty cool but like i sayd it wood coast us alot of money for cannels and avryting

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  19. NEO

    3D is awesome technology and it is what we all would want if we are in to video games t.v. and movies etc…as long as they can put out something that is advanced enough so that we dont notice we are only seeing an illusion…virtual reality is cool.simulated reality is better.technology wise we are 20 years behind what humans actually have accomplished.so put out the ultimate 3d experience.Imax meets the military,in your own home!

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  20. Shiftz

    The concept of 3D tv sounds interesting, but it will be highly unlikely that you will be able to watch older movies in 3D such as Star Wars etc. To make a 3D object in virtual space would require multiple view points (cameras) and since movies have already been produced, the only way you could watch your older movies in 3D was if they were recreated, either by software or the actors re-acting the movies. They have all aged/died. However, future movies would need to be filmed by dozens of cameras. I would love to see 3D tvs with the option to turn the 3D off and with tv companies giving us the ability to switch between 2D and 3D cable/satellite tv programing. Also think of the size of movies? The files will be HUGE. Currently an HD movie that is 3 hours long is about 15gbs. Now imagine a 3 hour movie in 3D, how big could it get? If one camera produces 15gb of data in 3 hours, then a 3D movie may require take 9 or more cameras to get all the angles properly? So 9×15=135gb for 1 movie that is 3 hours long!

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  21. T. Aumack

    I like the concept of 3D, but when you have to wear the glasses, it does not work with my eyes. It gives me a headache. I have to wear perscription glasses, and my eyes don't work perfectly. If you want to bring such a product to market, you have to make it appeal to everybody, not just those with perfect vision. They will have to make the colors more realistic as well. I think they are not even close to making 3D TV in every home a practical reality yet.

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  22. DJ

    As a person doing 3D conversions I can hardly wait. The technology is leaping ahead and picking up speed as it is refined. Our parents watched The Honey Mooners is black and white with mono sound, look at what we have today it's a great time to be alive. I can convert any single frame to 3D and suddenly you are looking into the picture, or the picture is coming out at you, it is a very interesting way to view or look back at old favorites. Can't wait.

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  23. frank

    Look at it in another way ….Make your mind believe that there is more then the eye can see!!!!Then you have 3d add one more dimension to your senses and it triggers your sense of reailty then with it making you feel as being perfectly fluid…. which then helps to enchance one's soul with mythical intentions.Then you let loose the perfectly powerful imagination and what do you have!!!!you UNDERSTAND …."ENTERTAINMENT"…..VO LA!!

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  24. SEL

    I like this article. I love 3D technology but in my view, the idea of 3D television replacing 'flat' TV is unlikely. There have been a whole spectrum of predictions of this type related to advances in technology that turn out to be less than prophetic. Have video phones replaced regular phones? Have CG characters replaced human actors? I always think about the case of synthetic materials. Why are we still putting marble, hardwood, and ceramic in our homes? Sci-fi seers imagined in sterile white plastic prisons with video screens replacing our windows! Yuck! There is some incalculable thing, often to do with our humanity being overlooked in so many of these predictions. Despite the soaring potential of 3D technologies, I for one, wonder if they will ever really escape the gravity of being decidedly 'gimicky'.

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  25. John

    I saw "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in 3D at the theatre. I was expecting the sight 3D gags which were okay, what I was not expecting was how much the 3D added to the normal parts of the movie – for instance when people are in a room just talking. It was amazing as to the difference it made.
    So I bought the disk and it had the red/green glasses – it was disappointing because a lot of the colour fidelity was diminished.
    If they can make a regular (LCD) TV display a 3D image with just the grey glasses, then that would be just great.

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  26. Becki

    All I can say about this is…3D gaming would be incredible! As for watching TV and movies, its not really that big of a deal. Ill stick with my HD projector for now…

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  27. Shaners

    I think this is a pretty cool idea, but maybe if they set it up like HD where there are seperate channels for the 3D content

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  28. Ralph

    3D TV or 3D Movies
    Have they taken into account the visually impared, who have no depth perception IE: only one WORKING eye.
    I either have to listen to my Ipod when my wife goes or I h=HAVE TO STAY HOME.

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  29. Khalid Al-Amoudi

    I've heard of the 3D HDTV for quite a bit now… In fact there are companies already developing "no-glasses" 3D HDTV, that means you don't have to wear those glasses to enjoy…

    When it comes to gaming, this technology will prove to be the best thing anyone could get…
    Evevn some movies will have a new layer of entertainment… Seriously, who wouldn't want to watch Transformers at home in 3D?

    But then again there are those with one normal and one weak eye… Like me for instance. I was born with cataracts in my left eye and had to have my lens surgically removed. The thing is I don't feel like I lack depth perception… I can easily, and relatively accurately guess distances… But the thing is, will 3DTV work with me? If not, I still hope watching the tv would not be affected due to the 3D feature (for us vision impaired peeps).

    Of course, most of these companies' aim is to make big bucks, but why state that a technology is not worth buying just because of that? As long as it is benefitting us, why stop the technological train? It's like I wouldn't buy an apple from someone just because the seller is not giving it to me for my wellfare but just for his gain… Who cares…

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  30. wOrRieD_AbouT_The_FuTuRE

    Isnt This A Little Bit too much? Do they Not want us to leave the house? They want us to Trade our Health for money in thier pocket? Technology can be put to so much better use then this… Television is a big part of most peoples lives…. and if they bring in these 3-D Televisions, We wont know the long term or short-term effects this could have. It could get so realistic that people with bad hearts may get heart attacks,Having our eyes adjust to that and then going for a drive just might mess you up. Now Im Concerned about it alot, But….. To The Brighter Side Of things, Could You Imagine How Fun It would be To Eat Shrooms!?

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