NEW YORK — While 3D technology has taken a firm hold in the television category, it has just started to work its way into the PC display segment.
The general consensus among vendors is that 3D will find a strong niche with gamers and will eventually have a positive impact on monitor sales, but that this will not happen for several years.
This is best seen by how vendors are rolling out 3D. Acer and ViewSonic have each introduced a single model. While Hewlett-Packard has so far declined to follow suit, but the company sees a great deal of potential for this technology.
“Today it may be more [of a] niche. Going forward, though, it has some serious potential. Depending on the content, 3D on a desktop monitor can be a more personal, up-close experience than watching 3D on a large-screen television with a greater number of people. Gaming, for instance, certainly resonates with the up close experience,” said Pete Ellis, worldwide product manager, consumer displays.
Ray Sawall, product marketing senior manager, added that 3D can help bolster monitor sales, but gaming alone will not do the trick.
“3D has the potential to reinvigorate the monitor category if movie viewing takes hold,” he said.
Acer’s first venture into this space is the 23.6w-inch GD235HZ, which started shipping in early February. This unit requires the use of special 3D goggles from Nvidia that carry a $199 suggested retail, but Acer believes consumers truly interested in a good 3D experience will pay the extra price.
ViewSonic was one of the first companies to introduce 3D into the PC space when it began shipping its VX2265wm in April 2009.
Sean Gunduz, ViewSonic’s senior product manager, said gaming enthusiasts currently comprise about 5 percent of the monitor market; 3D should give the category some positive momentum because the technology is going to change the overall perception of gaming. This impact will be strong in the gaming niche its wider impact will not be as great.
“We do expect to see an increase monitor sales, but do not feel the word “boost” is an appropriate descriptor. In order to have a 3D monitor solution, you need the 3D ready monitor, a graphics card, the glasses, and the 3D content (movies, games, etc). The overall market is not that big for those that want to invest in these items,” Gunduz said.
In addition to gaming, videos and still photography will give consumers a reason to desire a 3D PC monitor.
Ellis pointed to the swarm of 3D movies being released by Hollywood, and these will move to the TV and PC with the proliferation of Blu-ray drives and 3D-supported streaming players.
Still photography is a less-developed application because there are few 3Dcapable cameras available, but as more come into the market, it will expand the customer base for 3D monitors to include the photo enthusiast.
Going forward, 3D is not likely to become a standard feature on monitors, primarily due to the extra cost, but the future does look bright for the technology.
“Nevertheless, there will be greater adoption as more and more content presents itself and consumers look for a 3D capable display which fills more than just one of above categories,” said Ellis.
Gunduz agreed, but left the door open for such a change to take place.
“No, this will not be a standard feature at this time because in order to have 3D technology, the monitor also has to have to have a 120Hz refresh rate. Right now this does not seem to be the shortterm standard for monitors, but perhaps it could be in the long term of three to five years from now,” he said.
Ellis added the 120Hz refresh rate alone could compel PC enthusiasts to purchase a 3D monitor as these will be the only type to offer this level of performance.
3D is not the only new technology having an impact on the computer monitor market. Gunduz and Ellis each pointed toward LED backlighting as the other important development.
LED backlighting is already the standard in notebooks computing displays, and its adoption is growing on the television side of the flat-panel business.
LED offers several improvements upon the current crop of CCFL-backlit monitors. It allows for a more environmentally friendly design by eliminating mercury, and LED is far less power hungry, Ellis said. Using an LED backlight also allows for a slimmer overall design and offers better dynamic contrast ratios by improving the display’s ability to show black.
“People want a slimmer design and energy savings, so this will be a popular combination,” Gunduz said..