With 32” LCD TVs going for less than $100 these days and the old-fashioned picture tube models piling up in landfills, one has to start looking at the latest and greatest new television alternative: 3D television, or 3D TV for short.
Before looking at what 3D TV actually offers, it is important to point out the other alternatives out there for those on the market for a new television these days. The three other alternatives are LCD, LED and plasma.
With LCD TVs, these tend to be the cheapest models on the market. Work well in bright rooms, and have some issues when viewing at a wide angle. Decent enough picture for most people. LED TVs aren’t much more than thinner LCDs, with some added backlighting for better picture quality in darker rooms. They tend to be more expensive than LCD models but are the lowest energy consumer of the bunch.
The third model to consider is plasma. These are the best and the brightest of the three, and work great if your room situation warrants; i.e. total darkness. They do not fail when viewing from an angle.
There are also projection TVs, which live in a world of their own. These have a projector that shoots the image out onto a wall at a size determined by the distance to the wall. It is hard to compare these to the rest of the technologies. .
Where does that leave 3D TV? Have you been to an IMAX cinema recently to watch 3D movies? You can get that now from the comfort of your own home. You can even wear the glasses, too, looking like you’re in a virtual reality session. And, thanks to several cable companies,there are dedicated television channels in 3D, in addition to all the big-screen favorites you love. You’ll need to check with your local cable company to see what they offer, but some channels available in certain parts of the world include ESPN 3D, MSG 3D for New York Cablevision subscribers, Xfinity 3D for New England Comcast subscribers and Sky 3D over in Europe. Parts of the recent London Olympics were also broadcast in 3D.
There are three types of 3D TV setups. The glasses are a requirement for the active shutter and polarized 3D systems. While the autostereoscopic setup doesn’t require you to wear any glasses when watching. Each watcher needs their own pair of glasses for active and polarized systems. With active shutter, the glasses alternate showing the image to one eye, then the other and then repeat. Polarized (or passive) systems, on the other hand, limit light through the lenses such that your mind thinks images are layered within the view. As mentioned, autostereoscopic provides 3D imagery without glasses. The limitation here is the viewing angle, generally 60 degrees horizontally and 30 vertically.
So, Where to from Here?
With the research done, the decision comes down to different factors of your life. Is there enough 3D programming available to warrant buying a 3D system just now? Much of the current programming is sports-based. Do you like sports enough to watch? How long will the novelty last and how many pairs of glasses do you need to buy? When you’re not watching 3D TV, which will typically run at at least 90% of the time the TV is on, you still get to watch the TV in 2D mode, at 1080p. That’s not bad, but is the added cost?