Posts Tagged ‘TV’

The Problem With 3D

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

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.

3D Mania

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

During the last couple of years 3-D has become more and more prevalent. In the past, 3-D was always a special occasion type of entertainment, typically found in amusement parks. While I am sure the trend has been building for some time, it seems that the release of Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3-D started this latest ball rolling.

I took my son to see Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D a while back. While we were there, they advertised a couple of upcoming movies, also featuring 3-D. I chose not to see A Christmas Carol in 3-D, but even in a regular theater it was obvious that it had been filmed with 3-D in mind. The next time I became aware of 3-D’s imminent rise was the release of Avatar. Considering the long lines, I chose to forgo the 3-D experience for Avatar as well. The movie was just fine in standard mode.

This year’s CES was full of 3-D televisions. Blu-Ray now has a standardized 3-D format. 3-D is everywhere you look. My biggest question at the moment is: why? I have yet to figure out the appeal of 3-D as it currently exists.

Thinking back at all the 3-D shows I have seen over the years, the one that stands out the most to me is Captain Eo at Disneyland. I first saw it when I was 5. Maybe at 5 the glasses fit me better, or maybe I just didn’t notice the flaws, but it pretty much set the standard for 3-D from my perspective. I watched Captain Eo as many times as I could while it was available. When it was removed from Disneyland and replaced with Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, I chose not to waste my time with it. Later, Universal Studios and Disney’s California Adventure added “4-D” shows, which poked and prodded the audience to represent a fourth dimension. Those shows were okay, but the 3-D effects were hard to see with ill-fitting glasses. Even the new Toy Story Mania ride at California Adventure is hit-and-miss for me. Like I said before, maybe Captain Eo spoiled other 3-D for me. Perhaps Back to the Future II did too. When Marty is discovering the futuristic Hill Valley a 3-D ad for Jaws pretends to eat him. I think that technology is still pretty far away from reality. That would definitely be something to see though.

I expect to be bombarded with 3-D at the Digital Signage Expo next month. Following so close behind CES, there is usually some residual excitement hanging over the city of Las Vegas. When I get a look at how 3-D might look in a commercial setting, maybe I’ll see the point of it. Don’t get me wrong. 3-D is really cool. I just keep having disappointing experiences with it.

The thing I don’t get about the home television version of 3-D, though is the crudity of the current technology. Why would I want to wear 3-D glasses in my home given the current picture quality of 3-D? What if I had a bunch of friends over and ran out of 3-D glasses? It just seems like something is missing. Thinking about the various TV technologies out there I have an idea for what the 3-D industry could do to catch my attention. I envision a type of clear display placed a few feet in front of the TV that replaces the standard 3-D glasses. This clear panel would create a semi-holographic image somewhere between the TV and the panel. Anyone in the room could watch it, and nobody would feel self-conscious about the dumb glasses. When this happens, or perhaps when movies go to holographic form, I might be interested. Until then, bring Captain Eo back, Disney, and let’s catch a nostalgic view of the technology again.