Just about every major manufacturer introduced 3D flat panel televisions at CES this year. 2010 will bring a variety of 3D video to your living room from Blu-ray and satellite broadcast sources. The question is, are you ready for it?
What is 3D TV?
TV as you and I know it is 2D, meaning its limited to height and width. 3D TV ads the illusion of depth through a process called stereoscopic imaging. 3D video consists of two separate 2D images displayed on the same screen sequentially, one for each eye. One image is slightly skewed from the other requiring the use of special 3D glasses so viewers can distinguish these two images. When the two images are combined in the viewers mind, the result is the illusion of depth.
How is the new 3D technology different from the old?
Gone are the days of the flimsy paper glasses with one blue and one red lens. Because of advancements in full color and high resolution 1080p TV, new technologies were created to maintain the video quality we have all grown accustomed to.
New 3D TVs now require active liquid crystal shutter glasses, which quickly block the left and then right eye in sequence (up to 240 times per second). These glasses contain electronics and rechargeable batteries that sync to the TV during use.
What do you need to watch 3D at home?
To start, you will need a new 3D ready television. With the exception of 3D compatible DLP and plasma TVs released during the last couple of years from manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, current HDTVs cant be upgraded to support the new 3D format.
Each viewer will also need to wear a pair of 3D shutter glasses to see the 3D effect. Those that dont will see an image that appears doubled, distorted, and unwatchable. Modern 3D glasses are designed to fit over an existing pair of prescription glasses.
DirecTV has announced that its satellite boxes can be upgraded via firmware to display 3D broadcast. In fact, there will be three channels of 3D by this summer including an ESPN channel. However, a new 3D Blu-ray player will be required to view the new 3D Blu-rays as no manufacturer has yet announced that it can upgrade existing players to work with 3D Blu-ray movies.
Unless you use your AV receiver for switching HDMI sources, you wont have to upgrade your AV receiver to enjoy 3D. Some upcoming 3D Blu-ray players may have dual-HDMI outputs, so you can retain HDMI audio switching on your receiver and dedicate an input on your TV for 3D viewing. If you want to retain full HDMI switching on your receiver, you will need to upgrade to a receiver compatible with HDMI 1.4.
What 3D equipment and material will be available this year?
Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic all announced that 3D TVs and 3D Blu-ray players will ship early this summer, and we expect 3D glasses to be included with some models and optional on others. Of course, you will see these TVs and 3D Blu-ray players on display at Wilshire.
As previously mentioned, DirecTV announced a trio of 3D channels of its own and ESPN and Discovery said they would also launch 3D channels this year. Animated movies such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Disneys A Christmas Carol will all be release on Blu-ray in 3D. Many more movies are sure to be announced over the course of the year.
So, thats a brief introduction to 3D technology. Of course as new products are released and the technology evolves, you can be sure that everyone at Wilshire will be able to answer your questions and keep you informed about the latest in 3D TV. Dont forget, Wilshire has had 3D on display now for nearly two years. You are welcome to stop by and experience it for yourself anytime you like.