There’s a big battle brewing over which 3D TV technology consumers will adopt. This time last year Sky put LG’s passive 47-inch LD920 3DTV into some pubs to showcase their football in 3D, and Avatar exploded across cinemas in 3D, again using passive glasses.
So far, so good. But then TV manufacturer’s realised that people had already been sold “Full HD” (1080p) televisions as the best viewing experience… and 3DTV’s using passive glasses (which rely on polarised light to create a 3D effect) can’t do Full HD in 3D mode because half the pixels of each image are used for the left eye and half for the right eye.
Introducing Active Shutter 3D TV’s…
Most TV manufacturers (Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and LG too) produced 3DTV’s with “active shutter” glasses which rely on the rapid flashing of full-screen images sequentially for each eye. The active-shutter system could do Full HD, so it could be sold as a step forward, technologically. Almost immediately problems of ghosting (cross-talking) and flickering were reported when watching 3DTV, especially on LCD/LED TV’s (plasma sets seemed to have less of the 3D display issues). To compound the problem, the 3D glasses were heavy, expensive and needed batteries. Consumers naturally thought this wasn’t the 3D solution they’d enjoyed at the cinema.
What About Glasses-Free 3DTV’s?
At this point, people started asking when they could get “glasses-free” 3D TV. It was a reasonable question. After all, if Nintendo can make little games zing in 3D with their new 3DS, and Toshiba can do it with a laptop, can’t we get TV’s using the same tech? Well, yes, but “autostereoscopic” (the fancy name for “glasses-free”) 3D TV’s suffer from other problems. Firstly, they’re expensive (£900 for Toshiba’s Regza GL1 12-inch LCD 3DTV and £1,800 for the 20-inch LCD 3DTV). Secondly, you can only get the 3D effect in a few “sweet spot” viewing angles, which may be fine when you’re playing a DS game, or playing/working on a laptop, but not fine when you and your mates want to watch football in 3D from six different viewing angles and distances from the screen.
Stepping Into 2011…
So, until the cost and technological difficulties of autostereoscopic 3D TV’s are resolved, where does that leave us? Well, LG, the Korean TV manufacturer has gone back to its position of 12 months ago and is backing passive 3D TV’s again with their new LW6500 Cinema 3D TV… and this time, there’s a twist. Apparantly, using a bit of sneaky wizardry, they say they can get Full 3D HD into their future lineup of FPR passive 3D TV’s. Would that be the winning “format”? It would mean lightweight, cheap 3D glasses, full 3D HD resolution, a wide viewing angle, no crosstalk / ghosting / flickering and it could all be coming in 2011.
It seems like we’ve come full circle from when this blog was launched a year ago, back to passive technology being the format likely to drive up adoption rates for 3DTV as the active shutter glasses of current 3DTV’s are deemed too expensive and heavy.