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.