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Reasons You Still Want a 3DTV

Reasons You Still Want a 3DTV
James Cameron's movie Avatar did a lot to help make 3D movies popular again and 3DTV makers hoped to ride on that wave to sell a lot of 3DTV sets. Unfortunately, consumers didn't exactly jump on the bandwagon. Not only was there a big price premium for 3DTVs but most people found the glasses cumbersome. Here we are three years after Avatar and although 3DTVs still require special glasses, prices have come down. Here are some things to consider if you're in the market for a new HDTV set.
There Are Some Very Good 3D Movies to Watch

Although it takes a lot of expertise and equipment to make a high quality 3D movie there is a growing collection of great 3D movies that look almost as good at home as they do at the cinema. Movies like Hugo, Avatar, Transformers, Finding Nemo and Shrek get high marks on user reviews from sites like Amazon. One reviewer wrote about the Hugo on 3D Blu-ray: "It is incredible. Every bit as engrossing as it was in the theater. If you own a 3DTV, you owe it to yourself to buy this movie." Another reviewer of Avatar on 3D Blu-ray said, "The 3D portions were amazing to watch and of course enjoyed the story line. Loved it in the theater and loved it at home." We're also looking forward to 3D Blu-ray versions of the Life of Pi and the Hobbit which was filmed in 3D at 48 FPS.

3D Sports, Concerts and More Source: DIRECTV

Even though the Olympics in 3D didn't make a big hit with consumers, there is still plenty of programming available in 3D through cable and satellite providers. DIRECTV took the lead in 3D programming offering movies ($1.00 extra for 3D), sports through ESPN3D, special events like concerts and other programs. DIRECTV recently announced it was cutting back on its 24 hour 3D programming but still offers plenty of things to watch in 3D. Comcast now claims to be "the leader" in 3D with a 24/7 3D channel offering sports from ESPN3D, other programs and some 3D movies at no extra charge. To the best of our knowledge, ATT U-verse currently does not offer any 3D programs.

Games Consoles Will Work With Your 3DTVBoth Xbox 360 and PlayStation support 3D and the games like the recently released Call of Duty Black Ops II and Batman: Arkham City show off 3D gaming best with lots of detail and falls through space. One application for active glasses 3DTVs we've heard about but haven't seen implemented is the idea that you can use a 3D set to display two different 2D images at the same time so two players on the same set see a full screen of the game from their individual perspective.
3DTV Over-the-Air or Over the Internet?Although you can get excellent quality HDTV (in some case, better than cable and satellite) over-the-air (OTA), there is currently no way to get 3DTV through an antenna. The broadcast standards group ATSC hopes to change that with a new standard for broadcasting 3DTV over-the-air. It remains to be seen how much will be required from broadcasters and TV manufacturers which could, in turn, affect its adoption.

Currently the amount of 3D content available online is pretty meager. It doesn't appear that Roku or any other set-top box manufacturer is doing much with 3DTV if you don't count the old anaglyph (red/cyan) 3D movies. We've read about a WealthTV 3D channel on Roku that some say is "awesome" but we have yet to check it out ourselves. YouTube has a presence in 3DTV with lots of anaglyph content. We've heard YouTube has some "modern" 3D formatted content but we couldn't find any. Meanwhile services like Vudu have some 3D content although it's mostly 3D movies you can buy.

Our Recommendation: Count on getting the highest quality 3D content on Blu-ray or from your cable or satellite provider for now.

Passive or Active Glasses; A Tough DecisionAlthough the idea of wearing any type of glasses to watch 3DTV has been difficult to get consumers to accept, there are two standards for glasses and both have their strengths and weaknesses. Active glasses use an LCD shutter to alternate different images to each eye. They are a little bulkier, require a battery, are more expensive but in our opinion offer a superior 3D experience mainly because they can present an entire 1080p image to each eye. Passive glasses use a polarizing technique to show different images to each eye. They are much cheaper, lighter and don't require a battery however they only send 540 lines to each eye which can create a noticeable "raster" line to some viewers. The good news is whether you pick an active or passive 3DTV the programming will work just as well on either type of set.
4K UHDTVs to the Rescue? At the upcoming CES 2013, we expect to see more UHDTVs than ever. No question, they will be very expensive and the programming for them will be minimal but we're convinced they will be the TV standard of tomorrow; it's just a question of how many tomorrows. One of the ways 4K TVs will benefit 3D is with that extra set of horizontal lines which when used with passive, polarized glasses will deliver a full 1080p to each eye and solve the visible raster problem. One the other hand, imagine how much better active 3DTV will look with 2,160 lines. 4K TVs could also make good quality autostereoscopic (glasses-free) TV possible. At current HDTV resolution it's been difficult to make a glasses-free 3DTV free from problems like those associated with moving your head and losing the 3D effect. Once again the big questions are how soon and at what cost?
Bottom LineAlthough a visit to your local Best Buy will turn up a limited number of 3DTVs and they might be priced just a little bit higher than non-3D models, if we were buying a new HDTV set, we'd definitely be checking out 3DTVs and probably active glasses ones. Samsung, Sony and Panasonic use active glasses while LG typically sells passive 3DTVs.

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