The Problem With 3D

There was a post last night on the Sony blog that got me thinking about the whole 3D extravaganza. The post discusses the frustration the blogger experienced at having to stand around at a store waiting for a sales associate to bring him a pair of 3D glasses. The sales associate never showed, leaving the blogger to watch 3D displays without glasses. While the post was intended to offer advice for people who want to try out 3D in a store, it ended up describing the biggest issue people have with 3D. The scarcity and high-cost of the glasses.

TechCrunch and others have been discussing some of the 3D TV numbers from Japan this week. The numbers aren’t so good. If they are having to slash prices in Japan to get people to buy a 3D TV, the market is going to be that much harder here in the US. There are two main reasons for that. First, we are still in the middle of this economic crisis, and the 3D TVs are priced way too high currently. The second problem is the glasses themselves.

Say you buy a 3D TV because you want to watch some football games with your buddies. You notice that there are only a couple pairs of glasses, and each additional pair is $100+. You’ll probably opt to leave some friends off the invitation list, or at least make them suffer through the game without glasses. Nobody wants to be the guy that tells his buddies they have to bring their own glasses.

The Sony blogger’s experience in being forced to watch 3D TV glasses-free is one we really don’t want to force on our friends and family. Nintendo got it right when it added a glasses-free feature on its 3DS handheld system. If you are playing 3D games in public you’ll want to be able to leave the glasses at home. This is why Nintendo had such huge lines at E3. People really don’t seem to want to wear the glasses.

I am sure there are some really great things about 3D TV. I don’t think we’re there yet, though, and I am not alone. I would like to see continued development of the platform, but it is still a bit too volatile right now. I do believe there is a future for 3D, and when it arrives in full glory I will be more than happy to receive it. Until then, I am looking forward to other things like Google TV.

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