Sony 3D TV

Source: Sony

By Randy Giusto- Some how, I’m just not sold on the 3D TVs that major CE brands are pushing at consumers. 3D images are sharp in HD, and certain titles can be immersive, but there are a lot of titles that SHOULD NOT be shot in 3D. Take Clash of the Titans and the new Yogi Bear movies for example.

I see the 3D glasses war much like the HDVD vs. Blu-ray wars, but with three camps- active glasses, passive glasses, and no glasses. Yes cable operators like Comcast are adding additional 3D channels- giving me 1,000 channels now. I’ll have ESPN in low-def, ESPN in high-def, ESPN in Spanish, and ESPN in 3D, all in different areas of the cable guide. I’m not sold by sports in 3D either. And I’ve seen the Masters in 3D and it is downright boring! Football is OK while the Tony Hawke demo gets interesting. I’ve seen the differences in set technologies at Compact’s headquarters in Philadelphia, and I’m still not sold.

It’s more expensive to shoot content in 3D HD than it is in straight HD, so who passes on these costs? Studios via DVD and Blu-ray prices, TV set and glasses providers, service providers who broadcast 3D channels. Or all of the above?

Glasses are an issue. I happen to wear them full-time, and not the 3D version- problem number one. Problem number two is active versus passive versus none war. For at least the next two years, you’ll have to wear some type of 3D glasses. Passive or active shutter ones. There are already high-end designer 3D glasses arriving on market, so you won’t look like a dork watching your set at home.

From a merchandising aspect I’ve noticed that 3D glasses are locked up in a case at Best Buy- not the ultimate retail experience if try, buy, or sell 3D TV SKUs. Active pairs are not cheap. It’s not your average consumer purchase today or I would venture, over the next two holiday seasons.

The more people in your house, the more glasses you’ll need. An expensive proposition if they’re active ones. Plus how many times do you lose your remote? How many times will you lose your 3D glasses, or worse, sit on them? My cat likes to chew glasses, so this presents another problem. Dogs like them too!

Then there are people who are impacted visually, and not in a positive way, when watching 3D content- blurred vision and motion sickness. This was the affect my daughter experienced when she was 5 year old at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the Bugs movie in 3D. We couldn’t get her to watch another 3D movie for five years.

I happen to be a fan of some 3D cinema movies. Avatar was incredibly immersive, while others are created just to have objects jump out at you- not my idea of a great 3D experience. I want the depth of field experience that really great 3D production provides. But I’m not going to pay a significant price premium at home to get it. HD is “good enough” for quite a while.

Plus 3D adds to power consumption just when sets are toting Energy Star compliance and low voltage draw. And then there is the price premium on equipment, content, and the lack of decent content.

In concept tests that I’ve seen, 3D TVs also score low on many marketing, likeability, and price/value scores. So 3D TV feels more like a fad today than a real catalyst for selling the next generation of TV sets.

– Randy Giusto