Thursday, January 7, 2010

3D TV is here and it's here to stay

This year at CES, 3D TV is all the rage. It's been discussed for months (and years), but this is the first year that all the major TV manufacturers are announcing retail TVs that support 3D. In addition, the Blu-ray 3D specifications have recently been finalized and they even unveiled their new logo this week.

Opinion on 3D seems to be very firmly split into two camps: those who are excited about it, and those who dismiss it as a gimmick that will fade just as quickly as it appeared. Almost universally, those who have seen the tech in person are super excited about it, especially for things like movies and sports. I have never personally seen it (unfortunately), but I firmly believe that 3D is the next big thing in the TV market and that it will very quickly rise in popularity.

In the theaters, 3D has been a major success, with most of the big movie studios announcing new 3D movies left and right. Dreamworks and Pixar have both stated that every single movie from here on out will be 3D. So clearly the movie-viewing public is very interested in 3D and has demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium to get it.

The obvious downside to 3D is that it requires glasses. In order to see 3 dimensions, each of your eyes needs to see a slightly different image. This is why we see 3D in real life...with our eyes being a couple inches apart, each eye sees a slightly different angle, allowing your brain to put them together into a 3D image. But with flat TVs, it's impossible to see two different images without glasses. Gizmodo put together an excellent article on how various 3D technologies work. I highly recommend it.

So, in order to get 3D in your home, you'll need a compatible TV and you'll need to wear glasses. This upsets a lot of people for some reason. Anyone who's seen a 3D movie in the theater has dealt with the glasses. Sure some people may not like them, but clearly most people do. People always point to the nerd factor when wearing glasses. My opinion? If you're too embarrassed to wear 3D glasses in your own home, then you have bigger problems to worry about.

Especially with prices for new 3D TVs not being any more than standard HDTVs (and in some cases less), I think consumers will be very interested in it and the TVs will sell very well. Blu-ray still hasn't achieved the market penetration that the movie studios want it to, either. The introduction of 3D could be the boost that they need.

In addition to 3D movies, a number of announcements have been made at CES regarding 3D TV channels. DirecTV announced 3 new channels coming in June that will be 100 percent 3D.

So clearly the manufacturers are very interested in 3D...the consumers are willing to pay for it...and the content providers are willing to produce it. Personally, this sounds like the perfect storm for mass market adoption to me. My official prediction is that 3D, far from being a fad, will take off and be a huge hit.


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