We got a taste of the splashy future of 3D television Tuesday and after all the hype and hoopla, we were left wondering: Do we actually need this?
The answer is, not really. At least not yet.
Samsung revealed a line of 3D televisions Tuesday, and today Panasonic will do the same. Sony will have sets in June.
Rest assured, in the coming days and months, TV makers and the gadget geeks will tell us that we need a new 3D set to be part of the cool crowd.
The sets are capable of delivering high definition three-dimensional images from DVDs or cable networks. Right now, the cable networks don’t exist, but they’re on the way. DVDs and Blu-ray players are coming, too.
It’s a neat gimmick, but there’s a downside. To watch the 3D shows, just like in the movies, viewers need a pair of spiffy electronic glasses that cost upwards of $200 apiece. They’re not the paper ones used to watch TV in the past, or the bug-eyed jobs we get at the movies today.
Using glasses to watch a big-budget film for a couple hours in a movie theater is one thing. Asking viewers to put on the glasses in their homes and watch TV is asking them to alter the way they enjoy the medium.
Not to mention the headache the first time a set of glasses gets lost, or crushed, in the couch cushion.
Samsung unveiled its sets during a press conference at the Samsung Experience in Time Warner Center.
Clips of the animated films “Monsters Vs. Aliens” and “Shrek” were clear, and the 3D effects exactly like one would expect.
Images flew off the screen, and admittedly, it’s hard not to get caught up in the action.
A sample clip of a Dave Matthews concert gave depth to a usually flat image, making it almost like the viewer was part of crowd, albeit a crowd wearing silly glasses.
Without the glasses, the images are blurred, just like in the movies. However, the sets are also capable of converting the signals back to 2D for those without glasses.
The cost of getting into the game isn’t cheap. Samsung’s first 55-inch LED set ($3,299) plus and two pairs of battery-operated glasses will set folks back the cost of a used Hyundai. A Blu-ray 3D DVD player costs $399.
Less expensive sets will hit the market in May, and as in any electronic wave, the costs will tumble as consumers get on board.
TV companies are betting big on 3D. Sony announced it expects 10% of the 25 million it wants to sell worldwide the next year to be 3D. Analysts at DisplaySearch predict 3D-ready TV’s will account for $17 billion in revenues by 2018.
For now, though, many consumers who are just now getting around to buying HDTV sets may wait until the programming options increase. ESPN will launch a 3D sports network in June, and air much of the World Cup soccer tournament in 3D. And Sony and Discovery will launch a natural history network next year.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the hype just yet, though.