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3D Glasses Formats Collide At Int'l CES

1/17/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — It’s been suggested that consumer
confusion over and aversion to wearing 3D glasses
have been among the biggest inhibiters to 3D TV purchases,
but in attempting to solve the issue, have manufacturers
who recently attended International CES
2011 actually made things worse?

That’s the question that was repeated by many observers
walking the aisles of the massive trade show.

While some of the big studs, including Panasonic
and Sony, stuck to their guns by introducing secondgeneration
3D TVs using active-shutter eyewear, LG,
Toshiba and Vizio introduced new 3D lines using passive
glasses technology in addition to new lines based
on the active-shutter glasses system.

Samsung, meanwhile, in addition to showing
second-generation active-shutter glasses sets, announced
it is jointly developing with RealD (the developer
of 3D systems for movie theaters) a new hybrid
system based on RealD’s RDZ technology that — for
lack of a better term — is active/passive.

The new system also uses an active-shutter mechanism,
but the shutter system is placed in the TV instead
of the eyewear.

“It doesn’t help the direction overall,” new Sony Electronics
U.S. president Phil Molyneux said of all of the new
3D technologies being thrown at consumers. “But from
a consumer perspective, if they go into a store and they
try the active-shutter glasses on a Bravia, then the experience
speaks for itself.”

Instead of introducing a new technology, Molyneux said
Sony’s attempt to get around the confusion is to beef up
“our retail training capability to the shop front staff so they
really understand we are offering a value.”

Meanwhile, Samsung’s new active/passive approach,
which is being developed for LCD displays, is said to
yield a 3D effect delivering a FullHD 1080 resolution image,
and a brighter picture than passive glasses systems.

The competing passive polarized TVs use a patterned
retarder technology that cuts HD resolution in half, Samsung
and RealD said in their joint announcement.

The active/passive concept is also said to pare down
both the price and girth of active-shutter glasses, eliminating
the need for battery replacement or recharging, while
avoiding the problems associated with synching glasses
to the display emitter, so viewers can sit anywhere in the
room without fear of losing the signal.

Samsung said it is currently working on RDZ-compatible
panels for forthcoming 3D HDTVs.

Speaking on a visual display products panel during
the show, Bong-Ku Kang, Samsung Electronics product
marketing group senior VP, said competing passive 3D
approaches “could not survive forever” due to technical
limitations that reduce the viewing angle, introduce crosstalk
interference with black and white, and reduce image
brightness.

He added that this year TV manufacturers are moving
3D features deeper into their lines, producing lower prices,
which should increase demand and penetration of 3D
equipment in the market.

Samsung and other manufacturers will opt for the active-
shutter-less 3D glasses approaches that produce
better results and don’t halve the display resolution, because
consumers will opt for the best picture quality,
Samsung executives said.

The RDZ displays are also 2D compatible, and are said
not to interfere with image quality in 2D mode.

“RealD is focused on delivering a premium 3D experience
on screens of all sizes, from motion picture
theaters to consumer electronics, and we look forward
to working with Samsung LCD to develop this new 3D
display technology,” Bob Mayson, RealD consumer
electronics president, said in a statement announcing
the joint development plan. “Patterned-retarder-based
3D TVs today reduce 3D video resolution by half for
compatibility with passive 3D eyewear. Conversely,
RDZ 3D displays deliver a full-resolution high-definition
3D experience through an active-switching LCD
panel that can be viewed with the same eyewear used
in RealD-equipped theatres and do not compromise
2D image quality.”

LG, which still offers active-shutter glasses-based 3D
TVs both in its premium Dynamic 3D LCD TV lines and its
3D plasma sets, is a major producer and of LCD panels to
other TV manufacturers.

The new passive 3D LCD panels are said to use a film
that enables a more cost-effective means of producing a
passive system than had been possible before.

Both LG and Toshiba, which is also introducing a passive
3D line this year, said the passive 3D approach enables
longer viewing times without eye strain, and a lower
total cost of ownership.

Toshiba continues to also offer 3D models based on active-
shutter glasses, and is calling its new passive models
“Natural 3D” and its active-shutter models “Dynamic 3D.”

Toshiba also showed glasses-free 3D LCD displays
in the 55-inch and 63-inch screen sizes, and
is trying to determine whether or not to market
them here.

Similarly, Sony showed three glasses-free 3D
TVs in three screen sizes as concepts of the future.

Vizio, meanwhile, revealed at the show that it
will offer 21 1080p LCD TV models in screen
sizes ranging from 22 to 71 inches that all incorporate
its new Theater 3D passive glasses
technology.

Vizio is using the Theater 3D”moniker on
HDTVs using the passive (polarized) 3D glasses
system. Vizio said the new passive 3D sets
will offer up to a two times brighter picture with
significantly less crosstalk and flicker than current
active-shutter 3D TVs.

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