Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Selling 3D TVs, Movies and Video Games

As much as I like doing my own research, I think it's useful to see what other people are buying before making a final purchase on any item. Here are the top selling 3D products at as of December 29, 2011. Click on any of the links to get pricing information or to read user reviews on the products listed below.


1. LG Infinia 55LW5600 55-Inch Cinema 3D 1080p 120 Hz LED-LCD HDTV w/ Smart TV, 4 Pairs of 3D Glasses

2. LG Infinia 47LW5600 47-Inch Cinema 3D 1080p 120 Hz LED-LCD HDTV w/ Smart TV, 4 Pairs of 3D Glasses

3. Samsung UN55D8000 55-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D LED HDTV (Silver)

4. Samsung UN46D8000 46-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D LED HDTV (Silver)

5. Samsung UN60D7000 60-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV, Silver

3D Movies (Blu-Ray)

1. The Lion King (Four-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)

2. Puss in Boots (Three-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy)

3. Cars 2 (Five-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Five-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)

5. The Universe: 7 Wonders of the Solar System [Blu-ray 3D]

3D Video Games (PS3, XBOX 360)

1. Batman: Arkham City (XBOX 360)

2. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (XBOX 360)

3. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3)

4. NBA 2K12 (PS3)

5, Batman: Arkham City (PS3)

LG Announces 84-Inch 4K 3DTV for CES

Apparently LG couldn't wait another 2 weeks to show off its new 84-inch "Ultra Definition" 4k 3DTV. This TV sports a resolution of 3840 x 2160 - 4 times the resolution of today's full 1080p HD.

If theory this means that LG's passive 3D will be able to display full HD per eye on this TV (vs. 540 per eye on existing LG Cinema 3DTVs).

But given that the existing cable/streaming infrastructure and current Blu-Ray specs are unable to support 4k resolution it remains to be seen if and when such a TV will be able to make practical use of its increased resolution.

Users can also access LG’s Smart TV ecosystem, which comprises over 1,200 apps and gives users access to a growing range of premium content services such as the 3D Zone where viewers can select from a wealth of 3D movies.

LG has yet to provide pricing information.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SENSIO Technologies to Launch "Revolutionary Product"

According to today's media invitation:

"SENSIO Technologies Inc. is back again this year at the 2012 International CES with some big news to share! The company will announce the launch of a revolutionary product that will help counter the low adoption of 3D. Once more, SENSIO will break boundaries through content, quality, usability and compatibility, allowing consumers to have the ultimate 3D experience right in their own living rooms!"

Those are strong words. Most likely they are referring to their previously announced video-on-demand 3D store which has yet to launch. The company has reportedly been negotiating with major Hollywood studios for the better part of the year to ensure a large catalog of quality 3D content in SENSIO 3D format (previous reports had already suggested that the rights to most if not all of the major IMAX 3D documentaries, like Under The Sea, had already been secured earlier this year).

The SENSIO Hi-Fi 3D format allows visually lossless streaming of high definition 3D images across existing 2D cable, internet and satellite infrastructure.

Read more here...

LG Unveils New Lighter and Better Looking 3D Glasses

As if passive 3D glasses weren't already that much lighter than their active counterparts, LG has just announced even lighter and better looking passive 3D glasses. In addition to LG's passive Cinema 3DTVs, these glasses will also work with any other other passive 3DTVs (e.g., Vizio) and at your local 3D movie theater.

Read more here...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 10 3D Pop Out Moments

Sure, some 3D pop out effects can be a bit gimmicky. But let's face it, if you want to show off your 3DTV those gimmicky effects are the way to do it.

So what are the very best 3D pop out moments that will impress your friends and family? What scenes will make you pause the Blu-Ray disc and try to touch the 3D image?

Here are the 10 very best 3D pop out scenes currently available on Blu-Ray, and exactly where on the discs you can find them!

Ok, I lied. Currently the list is a "Top 6" list. That is because I have yet to view 10 truly amazing pop out effects worth making the list. If I didn't feel the urge to pause the film and rewatch the scene multiple times then it didn't make the cut. As new material gets released on Blu-Ray I will update the list. But for now, here's the Top 6...

(Click on the title links to read more customer reviews on

1. IMAX Under The Sea (Potato Cod - 20m:58s)
- By far the best 3D pop out moment I've seen so far.
- The potato cod practically comes right up to your face (my wife actually got scared and tried to back away).
- This is the scene that LG uses to demo their 3DTVs at Best Buy.

2. Yogi the Bear (Flying Nachos - 1m:45s)
- This is a close second to the Potato Cod scene in Under the Sea.
- Great slow motion 3D scene with nachos flying around your living room.
- This scene alone is worth the price of the Blu-Ray - usually under 20 bucks at

3. The Ultimate Wave Tahiti - (Animated Planets - 2m:43s)
- This movie has some of the best animated 3D effects I've ever seen.
- It is impossible to convey in a 2D pic how truly incredible these scenes really look.
- This is another title that you can pick up for dirt cheap - usually $12.99 on

4. Despicable Me (Parking the Spaceship - 1h:15m:36s)
- Great scene as the tip of the space ship extends right through the screen.
- A lot of really good 3D moments in this entire film.
- The scenes near the credits are also very impressive.

5. Drive Angry (Coin Flip - 25m:05s)
- The coin in this scene comes out about 1/2 way between you and the TV.
- Plus I really enjoyed this movie (unlike many other reviews I read).

6. Tangled - (Floating Lanterns - 1h:08m:54s)
- A couple of the lanterns look like they're floating in your living room.
- The movie itself is absolutely fantastic (for both kids and adults).
- This particular scene showed some minor crosstalk on my Sony HX800, or I might have ranked it higher.

To see my list of the Top 5 3D Blu-Ray Movies Click Here
To see my list of the Top 5 3D Games for the PS3 Click Here

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How To Buy A New 3DTV

Do I Really Need a 3DTV?

Are you looking to buy a new HDTV this year? Are you asking yourself, "Should I buy a 3DTV?".

If you plan on getting a decent sized screen (at least 40") then you may as well buy a 3D-capable TV - whether you really want one or not. The premiums for 3DTVs have come down dramatically over the past year, with 3DTVs costing only $100-200 more than comparable 2DTVs in many cases.

You are going to own this TV for many, many years. So you may as well try and future-proof your purchase the best you can. It's more than likely that within the next year or two ALL high-end TVs will be 3D-capable. It would be a shame to wish you had the option to watch 3D a couple years from now but not be able to - even if it's just to watch the occasional 3D movie like Avatar or Hugo (or watch the Olympics 2016 in 3D, or play that amazing new 3D game on your PS4). The worst case scenario is that you never use the 3D feature and simple watch everything in 2D, but at least you'll have the option.

Click here to see our updated list of the top selling 3DTVs at Amazon right now

What 3DTV Should I Buy?

Before you can determine what 3DTV is the best for your circumstances you need to ask yourself a few questions first:

Active vs. Passive 3D

Are you a videophile who will only be satisfied with the highest possible image quality?

Do you have young kids, a large family, or a lot of friends that will be watching the 3DTV?
If you have a large family then I would strongly suggest buying a passive 3DTV. Passive 3DTVs use the same lightweight, inexpensive glasses used in theaters (i.e., "free"). Active 3DTVs use the heavier, battery powered shutter glasses that typically cost anywhere from $50 to $150 a pair. So buying glasses for a family of four could cost you as much as $600. And forget about that 3D Superbowl party you were planning for your 20 closest friends if you own an active 3DTV.

The negative things about passive 3DTVs is that each eye does not see full a full 1080p image since each eye only sees every other line of the picture. However, in theory your brain puts the alternate lines back together to see the entire image anyway. 

While videophiles often point to the "full HD" issue as a reason for preferring active over passive, most people report not noticing a difference in picture quality unless sitting very close to the TV.

The other benefit of passive 3DTVs is that people generally report less eyestrain or eye fatigue from passive 3DTVs vs. active.

I currently own an active 3DTV, but if I were buying a new 3DTV today I would strongly recommend looking at the Vizio Theater line of passive 3DTVs. You can get a 42" for under $800, and Vizio supports more 3D formats than any other manufacturer (including Sony or Samsung). See the link below to see what others on have to say about the Vizio line of 3DTVs:

My second pick would be to look at the LG Cinema line of passive 3DTVs. Both Vizio and LG use the same passive 3D panels (manufactured by LG Panel) and therefore should have similar picture quality. The LG 3DTV do not currently support the SENSIO 3D format (see below), however the LG series do have 2D-3D conversion which the Vizio 3DTVs do not. I've seen the LG 2D-3D conversion and it's actually pretty good (at least much better than my Sony). So if 2D-3D is important to you then you may want to consider the LG. Click HERE to see what others on have to say about LG's line of Passive Cinema 3DTVs.

How Big Of A Screen Do I Need?

When it comes to 3D, bigger is definitely better. I would recommend getting the largest screen you can afford that will reasonably fit in the desired space.

3D is all about immersion. You want the screen to capture as much of your field of vision as possible. While the 3D effects on a smaller screen are still impressive, there's nothing quite like the feeling of actually being there.

A larger screen will also allow you to sit further away from the TV, which means both the depth and pop-out effects will be more impressive. (A 3D scene that extends 50% of the way from the TV to the viewer means a 2-foot effect for someone sitting 4-feet away from the TV. That same scene will extend out 4-feet if you sit 8-feet away).

What Is The Difference Between Side-By-Side, Top/Bottom and SENSIO Hi-Fi 3D?

Side-by-Side (SbS) Top Over Bottom (T/B) and SENSIO are simply compression methods which allow 3D images to be broadcast over the existing 2D cable, satellite and internet infrastructure.

SbS and T/B each compress the image (either vertically or horizontally) to allow both the left eye and right eye image to fit on a single frame. The TV then decompresses the images to re-create the 3D picture. The result, unfortunately, is that the 3D image you see on your TV will only be 1/2 the resolution of the original. In a sense, it is like watching SD on a HDTV.

The benefit of SbS and T/B to TV manufacturers is that each methodology is in the public domain and is therefore free to use and incorporate into their 3DTVs.

SENSIO on the other hand, is a patented technology which compresses the original 3D image in such a way that when decompressed by your 3DTV the resulting image is visually identical to the original. Therefore by using SENSIO 3D format you can watch Blu-Ray quality 3D video over cable or internet.

In addition to 3D compression, SENSIO also provides other features to improve the viewer's 3D experience, like SENSIO Autodetect (which automatically detects the 3D format being received) and SENSIO S2D Switch (which allows viewers to view recorded or streaming 3D content in 2D if desired).

Unfortunately, as the the date of this article, Vizio is the only manufacturer currently supporting the SENSIO 3D format. Hopefully by the time you are reading this more and more manufacturers will adopt the format as more and more content becomes available in SENSIO 3D.

Click HERE to read more about Vizio's line of Passive Theater 3DTVs

To see my list of the Top 5 3D Blu-Ray Movies Click Here
To see my list of the Top 5 3D Games for the PS3 Click Here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top Five 3D Games For The PS3

So you've got a new 3DTV and a PS3 and are wondering what are some of the best 3D games you can get to enjoy and show off your system? Here is my list of the Top 5 3D games currently available for the PS3. All games were tested on my Sony HX800 and rated based on a combination of :

(1) Game Play
(2) Picture Quality
(3) 3D Effectiveness
(4) Crosstalk/Ghosting

(Click on the links to view my review of each game)

(If you're looking for the Top 5 3D Blu-Ray Movies Click Here)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

3D Movie Review - Gnomeo and Julliet

Movie: (2.5 out of 5)

Maybe it's just that there's been so many really good animated features released over the last few years, but this one was truly a disappointment. The story was flat and the characters were not interesting. It actually took me about 3 or 4 attempts to get through the entire movie. Even my young children were not interested in watching it. The animation itself was also lacking. The colors were dull and the images lacked the type of details we've become accustomed to seeing in Pixar/Disney animated features. As far as animated films go, there are much better choices. If you really want to see this film I would recommend it as a rental.

3D Effect: (1 out of 5)

Gnomeo and Juliet has by far the worst 3D effects of any animated 3D film I've seem to date. It's not that the 3D is "bad", it's that the 3D is virtually non-existent. This is one of those 3D films where you spend half the movie talking your 3D glasses off to see if you can spot any difference (in most cases you can't).

If you're looking for some good 3D movies to rent or buy I suggest reading my 'Top 5' blog:

Top Five 3D Movies For Your 3DTV

Monday, December 5, 2011

3D Review - Batman: Arkham City

Game: (4.5 out of 5)

I'm still working my way through the main story but I can say one thing for sure, this is one helluva long game. I've been playing for hours and hours, yet I've only completed about 16% of the game (including side missions). So this game will definitely give you your money's worth.

I have yet to play the original Batman game (Arkham Asylum), so the controls took a little getting used to. Once you spend a few minutes it becomes second nature, but there are a few subtle differences in the controls vs. your standard FPS games like COD or Uncharted. As well there seem to be a few references to the characters or the plot of the original game, but it doesn't really take away from the enjoyment if you haven't played the first game.

The graphics are slick and the game is a lot of fun to play. The voice acting as well is quite good. The fighting (which there is a lot of) never seems to get boring. And the boss levels, while hard, are varied and enjoyable. If definitely not the same thing over and over again.

My only complaint is what happens when you die during the game. In most games when you die the game automatically does a quick reload and sends you back to the last checkpoint. In Arkham City you first get the pleasure of one of the bad guys mocking you for 5-10 seconds, and then you have to select whether you want to retry the level (or quit), and then finally it reloads the game to the last checkpoint. Unfortunately the load times for restoring a checkpoint are too long, which can get very frustrating when one of the bad guys keeps killing you over and over again.

Overall, however, there's very little to find fault with in Batman Arkham City. I can't wait to finish the game and see what other surprises the game has in store.

3D Effect: (4 out of 5)

I've been playing this game in 3D on my Sony55HX800 and I have yet to see even one instance of minor ghosting/crosstalk. The resolution looks fantastic, even in 3D, and I've experienced no issues with the brightness in the game.

Arkham City just might be the best looking 3D game I've played on the PS3 as far as picture quality goes. The 3D effects themselves are pretty good, but I think there's less depth and popout on average vs. some over titles like Uncharted 3 (which is maybe why there's less crosstalk). That being said, there were a couple scenes where bad guys/monsters jump out at you where the 3D really adds to the realism.

Overall I am really enjoying playing this title in 3D. Definitely one of the top 5 3D games for the PS3!

(Click image below to read more customer reviews on

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Top Five 3D Movies for your 3DTV

Below are what we consider to be the best 3D movies currently available on Blu-Ray. Avatar would have been included in this list, except for the fact you have to buy a Panasonic 3DTV or Blu-Ray player to get it.

(Click on the images on each movie to read more customer reviews on

Curious what the most popular 3D Blu-Rays are right now? Click here for our continuously updated list of the best selling 3D movies on Blu-Ray.

1. Tangled

Tangled is fantastic, both myself and my kids really enjoyed watching this movie (several times). The story and the 3D are top notch. The colors are crisp and vibrant with practically zero ghosting in the entire picture. A few scenes, such as the floating lantern scene, are truly mesmerizing. This is definitely the most played 3D disc in my house.

2. IMAX - Under The Sea

This is the movie you want to show your friends and family to show off your new 3DTV. The potato cod scene at the 21min mark is the best pop-out 3D effect I've ever experienced in a 3D movie. It's absolutely amazing. The large fish slowly swims more than 1/2 way out of the TV and appears to be swimming right in front of your face. They use this disc to demo LG 3DTVs at Best Buy.

3. Despicable Me

A great story that is as much fun for the adults as it is for the kids. Some great 3D scenes in this one.

4. Cars 2

Some of the jokes in this movie seemed to be aimed more at the adults than the kids, but the picture quality and 3D is some of the best I've seen.

5. Drive Angry

It's still tough to find a good 3D flick that's not targeted at children. This movie won't be for everyone, but if you're willing to turn off your brain and enjoy this movie for what it is, then you won't be disappointed. The depth is very good and there are a few really good pop-out effects that make this a worthy purchase.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

3D Review - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception


Game: (4.5 out of 5)

You can never go wrong playing the Uncharted series on the PS3. Uncharted 2 was a huge leap forward over the original Uncharted. In some ways Uncharted 3 is even better than 2, but not the game changer some had been anticipating.

One area where the Uncharted series always shines is the story line. Playing an Uncharted game is as much like watching a movie as it is playing a video game. The story in Uncharted 2 was the best I've ever experienced. In my opinion, while the story in Drake's Deception is good, it's not quite up to par with the second one.

The game play itself is pretty much unchanged, although at times the aiming mechanism seemed a little harder to control than in earlier versions of the series. The multi-player continues to be one of the best out there and will add hours and hours of replay value to your purchase.

I'm the kind of guy that gets bored very easily while playing games. I've yet to finish a single GTA game to the end, and have dozens of games I've only gotten about 1/4 of the way through before I moved on to the next game. But with Uncharted 3, the disc never left my PS3 from the moment I started until the moment the credits rolled at the end of the game.

All in all Uncharted 3 is a great release and should rank right up there as one of the best PS3 releases of 2011.

3D Effect: (4.5 out of 5)

Even more than the game itself, I was really looking forward to experiencing the 3D in Uncharted 3. Naughty Dog had spent a lot of time talking about how much effort they put into the 3D and how great it looked. And early reviews were very positive.

Personally, I found the 3D in the first couple chapters of the game to be "ok". It added a little depth to the scenes, but certainly didn't add much to the game play.

However, about half way through the game the 3D really starts to shine. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there is a scene where Drake is battling bad guys while the building they are in is burning down around them. This has got to be some of the best 3D I've seen in any game, and possibly any movie. The burning embers are floating around you while the flames flicker in and out of your screen. You can almost feel the heat emanating out of your TV screen.

Tip: I found that the 3D effects are a little bit conservative even when maximizing the 3D setting in the menu. However you can enhance the overall 3D effect by lowering the TV size setting in your PS3 display menu. You might have to play around with it a bit, as lowering the size too much could cause discomfort or increase crosstalk/ghosting.

The crosstalk/ghosting using the standard settings (even at maximum 3D) was very minimal with my Sony HX800 3DTV. This says a lot, since my TV is prone to significant ghosting at times.

As with most 3D video games, I found the 3D to be a little distracting when playing multiplayer so I usually revert back to 2D for multiplayer. But for the standard campaign mode ramp up the 3D and enjoy!

(Click the image below to read more Uncharted 3 Reviews on

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quick 3D Review: Cars 2 for the PS3

Game: (4 out of 5)

Cars 2 for the PS3 is a great game with a ton of replay value. I've already spent several hours playing it (almost non-stop) and I still feel like there's a lot more to see and do. There's a ton of additional games modes, tracks, cars, etc that can be unlocked as you get further into the game.
Of course there are your standard race modes with your standard power-ups. And there is a large variety of weapons that are a lot of fun to use as you blast your opponents to bits and pieces.

The multiplayer mode is a blast. you can play up to 4-players on a split screen, and there are additional game modes like Arena that are multiplayer only.Arena mode feels a lot like the old Playstation classic, Twisted Metal, but with better graphics. As well you have the choice to play in teams or every man for himself.

3D Effect: (4 out of 5)

Cars 2 has just become my all-time favorite 3D game for the PS3. There's not a lot of "in your face" moments, but the 3D depth is impressive. And what's even more impressive is just how beautiful this game looks in 3D on my Sony 3DTV. The colors, the brightness, and the clarity of the picture are all stunning. And it's all achieved with minimal ghosting and no noticeable hit to the framerate.

If you're looking for a fun game with great graphics and great 3D this one should be at the top of your Christmas list.

(Click the image below to read more customer reviews at

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What's Wrong With 3D Today - And How To Fix It

3D in theaters and homes is a great idea. Today's 3D technology far surpasses that of the old anaglyph movies from previous decades. However both Hollywood and the consumer electronics industry are at risk of killing 3D.

The good thing, is that Hollywood and the consumer electronics manufacturers have both spent a lot of money on 3D this time around. Not to mention the money all the theaters have spent on converting to 3D. They all have every incentive to make 3D work. And there's still time to fix it. But to make 3D work they have to change a few things:

1. Hollywood has to stop making bad 2D-3D conversions out of movies that have no business being in 3D in the first place. 

The obvious example of this is Clash of the Titans. To be fair, I've never actually seen the movie (in 2D or 3D) but I've read enough reviews to know that this was a poorly done, after-the-fact, 2D-3D conversion that left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of moviegoers.

Audiences left Avatar with a new sense of awe and respect for the 3D genre. Unfortunately movies like Clash of the Titans (and others) destroyed that respect and replaced it with suspicion and animosity. The result was a sharp drop in 3D box office sales in recent months. While there have been a few good 3D titles released since Avatar, the bulk of 3D releases have been lack luster at best and a complete rip-off at worst.

The recent release of Transformers, Dark of the Moon in 3D however has the potential to win back 3D moviegoers. Transformers 3 clearly has the best 3D visuals to date since Avatar. And 3D box office receipts for Transformers 3 back up those claims. But if Hollywood follows this up with another string of sub-par 3D titles again, then 3D is as good as dead in the theaters. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice... 

2. TV Manufacturers have to stop bundling quality content as exclusives with TV purchases.

(Content Issue #1)

This one really makes me shake my head. You want to by a 3DTV to watch Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Megamind? Well then be prepared to buy THREE 3DTVs since Avatar is exclusively bundled with Panasonic TVs, Alice in Wonderland with Sony TVs, and Megamind with Samsung TVs. Other titles like Bolt, Resident Evil, Shrek, etc are also only available via exclusive bundles.

One of the biggest knocks against the viability of 3D in the homes is lack of available content. So how did Hollywood and TV manufacturers address this lack of content? They made it worse by making the best titles only available if you buy their specific brand of TV.

Absolutely ridiculous. Of course this is becoming less of an issue as more content becomes available. But it still rubs people the wrong way if they are forced to pay $100 on eBay for a copy of Avatar in 3D.

3. Broadcasters need to find a way to improve the quality of 3D they are sending to viewers.

(Content Issue #2)

Sure, Disney's Tangled looks great in 3D on Blu-Ray. But what about if you want to rent it from your cable provider, Netflix or Vudo? Well then most likely you will be receiving the image in side-by-side (SbS) format that your 3DTV will convert into a 3D image.

Unfortunately SbS works by squeezing both left and right images onto one single frame, effectively halving the resolution. 3D networks like ESPN 3D suffer the same fate. The reason for this problem is that the broadcasting/streaming industry is built on a 2D infrastructure. 3D effectively requires twice the bandwidth as 2D to accommodate both left and right images.

Why would consumers shell out good cash for a new HD 3DTV and 3D content only to have the 3D image presented in SD quality? When someone shows off their new 3DTV to friends and family they need to be able to show a high quality 3D image, otherwise friends and family won't be impressed enough to go out and buy 3DTVs for themselves.

The problem is that it is very costly to upgrade the existing infrastructure to allow full 3D HD image transmission. Especially for a young industry like 3D that has yet to prove that it is viable in the long-run.

The solution? Look to emerging technologies like SENSIO Hi-Fi 3D. SENSIO has patented a process that compresses the 3D image in a way that allow it to be sent over the existing 2D infrastructure at near Blu-Ray quality (visually indistinguishable).

Of course this brings up the chicken and egg issue. Why would broadcasters transmit via SENSIO format if 3DTVs can't decode that format, and why would TV manufacturers incorporate the format if broadcasters aren't using it?

Well Vizio has already taken the first step and has licensed the SENSIO format for all of its 3DTVs. As well, most of the major SoC chip makers have signed deals with SENSIO to incorporate the format into their chips. Once another manufacturer or two begins to incorporate the format that should be enough incentive to get the broadcasters on board. Older 3DTVs that current don't have the SENSIO format could possibly be upgraded via firmware updates and/or upgrades to their set-top boxes that would decode the SENSIO format for them prior to sending the 3D image to the TV.

4. Improve the user experience at home.

3D has been somewhat embraced by the typical early-adopters of new technology. Sales of 3DTVs are actually outpacing initial sales of HDTVs when they were first introduced. However the price premium on HDTVs was also significantly higher than 3DTVs currently, so I'm not sure if we can rely on that comparison going forward.

To get the majority of TV users to embrace 3D technology we have to improve the user experience in the following ways:
  1. One of the key complaints about 3D is that viewing 3D causing eye strain from some. Part of the reason for that strain is the way the initial active shutter technology works. Passive 3DTVs, like those recently launched by LG and Vizio, improve the comfort level significantly. In fact a recent survey suggests that 80% of those tested prefer passive to active. Add to this the fact that passive glasses cost significantly less than active glasses (free-$20 vs. $50-150) and passive seems to solve part of the problem.
  2. In most cases when not viewing 3D content direct from a 3D Blu-Ray player, the user has to manually configure his/her TV to decode the signal and manually select the signal to be decoded (side-by-side, top/bottom, SENSIO, etc). On most TVs this process is complicated enough that the majority of casual user would never be able to figure out how to view 3D content on their own 3DTV. Add to this the fact that the 3DTV will then also try to convert 2D TV menus into 3D as well and the result is a bit of a mess. Luckily SENSIO also provides technology via SENSIO Autodetect that automatically detect the signal being received and configures the TV instantaneously to view the signal in whatever mode (2D or 3D) is appropriate. 
  3. In addition, SENSIO solutions include SENSIO S2D switch that allows 3D content to be viewed in 2D. This means that in instances where you don't have enough 3D glasses, or just want to take a break from 3D, you can watch 3D recorded or streamed content in 2D

So there you have it. Four things the industry can do to save 3D and actually allow it to flourish:

1. Stop producing 3rd rate 2D-3D conversions
2. Unbundle exclusive Blu-Ray titles like Avatar
3. Improve 3D image quality being sent via cable and internet
4. Improve the user experience at home

As an early-adaptor of 3DTV myself I can tell you that the issues identified above greatly reduce my enjoyment of 3D on my own TV. And these issues will need to be addressed before the majority of TV viewers feel comfortable enough to jump on the 3D bandwagon.

3D provides a huge opportunity for viewer enjoyment, as well as increased profits for Hollywood and electronics manufacturers. Let's just hope they correct the initial mistakes they've made and save the industry before they kill it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Don't Buy A 3D TV Until You Read This!

A lot of discussions on 3D TVs these days have to do with active vs. passive TVs.

However active vs. passive is not really the "format war" many writers would have you believe. Both formats are compatible was all existing stereoscopic 3D content. The decision to buy an active or passive 3D TV is really a matter of choice. Some consumers prefer active while others prefer passive. At some point all manufacturers may shift to one or the other (or eventually glassesless 3D TVs), but choosing the "wrong" format today will not be like buying a Betamax vs. a VHS player 25 years ago.

 The real "format war" has to do with how the 3D signal is sent to the TV. By definition 3D signals have two separate video streams, one for the left eye and one for the right eye. In order to broadcast these signals across existing 2D infrastructure the left and right signals are typically compressed and combined into a single frame. The most common methods for doing this include:

- Side-By-Side
- Top and Bottom (or Over/Under)
- RealD

Unfortunately all of these methods (except SENSIO Hi-Fi 3D) result in reducing the
resolution of the original picture by about 50%. SENSIO Hi-Fi 3D uses a patented compression algorithm which results in virtually lossless resolution when compared to the original picture.

Eventually one of these formats may win out, but it is too early to say which one that will be. And in the meantime we are forced to deal with multiple formats.

The good news is that most 3D TVs are capable of processing multiple formats.

My Sony Bravia 55HX800 3D TV for example can handle Side-by-Side and Top and Bottom. The new Vizio 3D Theater line of TVs on the other hand can handle Side-by-Side, Top and Bottom, SENSIO Hi-Fi 3D and RealD formats.

The bad news is that most TVs can't automatically recognize which signal is being received and therefore the user must manually setup the TV each time he wants to view 3D content.

As far as I know, only Vizio 3D TVs can detect which signal format is being received and automatically configure the TV to display the 3D picture without the need for the user to manually configure the TV each time. Vizio 3D TVs incorporate SENSIO Autodetect which does all the work for the user.

This may not sound like a big problem, but believe me it's a huge pain when you want to watch 3D content.

To give you an idea of what I mean, the following illustrates what I typically go through every time I try to watch a 3D video on my Sony TV. In this case I am attempting to watch a 3D video I have saved on my PS3 in the side-by-side format. I would need to follow the same procedure if I was watching a live 3D sporting event on cable, streaming 3D content over the internet, or replaying 3D content saved on my PVR. The exception to this is if I am watching a 3D movie on Blu-Ray (which I rarely do).

Step 1: Select 3D video to be played. The TV at this point does not realize that it is receiving a 3D signal (in side-by-side format).

Step 2: Press '3D' button on remote. Every time I press the 3D button I hope that somehow my Sony TV will simply display the 3D picture, but unfortunately it never does. It just puts the TV into "3D Mode" and by default assumes I want to see 'Simulated 3D' and simulates a 3D effect on the entire side-by-side picture.

Step 3: Press 'Menu' button on remote. This is actually a mistake, but I almost always push the 'Menu' button here when I actually need to press the 'Options' button to pull up the '3D Menu'.

Step 4: Press 'Return' button on remote (to get out of 'Menu' mode)

Step 5: Press 'Options' button on remote

Step 6: Scroll down to '3D Menu' on remote. Oops. At least 50% of the time instead of pressing the 'Down' button I end up pressing the 'Menu' button by accident. This is due to the layout of the Sony remote which puts the 'Menu' directly under the 'Down' button. This of course puts me back to where I was after Step 3.

Step 7: Press 'Options' button on remote. Dammit! Out of frustration I immediately push the 'Options' button without first pressing the 'Return' button to exit out of 'Menu' mode. So instead of going to the main options area as in Step 5 I am presented with the option to add the existing setting to my favorites. Arrrgggghhh!!!

Step 8: Press 'Return' button Twice.

Step 9: Press 'Options' button again.

Step 10: Scroll down to '3D Menu' - being very careful not to press the 'Menu' button instead of the 'Down' button on the remote.

Step 11: Press 'Enter' Yeah! I finally made it to the '3D Menu' !!!

Step 12:  Scroll down to '3D Format' on remote. Again, being very careful not to press the 'Menu' button instead of the 'Down' button on the remote.

Step 11: Press 'Enter' button on remote

Step 12: Scroll down to 'Side-by-Side' on remote. Again, of course, being very, very careful not to press the 'Menu' button instead of the 'Down' button on the remote. If I were to hit the 'Menu' button by accident here I would probably throw the remote through the TV screen!!

Step 13: Press 'Enter' button on remote

Step 14: Press 'Return' on remote.

VOILA! The appropriate 3D settings have now been properly set and the 3D image is being properly processed and displayed by the TV.

Now all I need to do is get my active 3D glasses, turn them on, and sit back and enjoy the 3D video. However by this time about a minute or so has passed so if I forgot to pause the video at the start of the process I'll need to rewind it back to the beginning.

Unfortunately, now that the 3D settings are set the TV interprets every signal it receives as a side-by-side 3D signal. So God forbid I need to change some of the settings on my PS3 since all of the PS3 menus are now be stretched to double their original size and overlapped, making them unreadable on the TV.

Likewise if I want to choose another 3D video to watch all of the PS3 menus are distorted and barely readable.

To be able to properly read the PS3 menus I need to turn off the 3D settings on the TV. This is quickly and easily done by pressing the 3D button on the remote.

Of course if I want to select a second 3D video to watch I'll need to repeat all of the above steps once again to reconfigure the 3D to read the side-by-side signal properly. :(

Is it any wonder why I'm the only one in my house who actually knows how to watch 3D on my 3D TV?

I am fairly tech savvy, so if I find this process confusing and cumbersome my wife or kids have zero chance of ever watching a 3D video on my Sony TV on their own.

The next time I'm in the market for a 3D TV I am going to make sure that whatever TV I choose is intelligent enough to recognize and decode the 3D signal without me have to go through the steps above. It will make for a much more enjoyable viewing experience.

If I were to choose a 3D TV today I would give serious consideration to Vizio's Theater line of 3DTVs. The LG's line of Cinema Passive 3DTVs also look fantastic (minus the SENSIO technologies).

Read what others have to say about these passive 3DTVs at by clicking the images below: