Why I think 3D TV’s might never work

and a few reasons why I might be wrong

While I was browsing the Internet I found this giant 3D TV screen from LG, and 84 Inch ultra high definition TV with a jaw dropping resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, LG have just launched their 55 and 47 inch displays as well, but this is the mother ship of all 3D displays. Still the adoption of the 3D TV Screens into the homes has been rather slow. The industry seems to be trying to push the technology on all of us, but is the content really there or do people really want it ? these are questions that might need investigation by the companies that are introducing them.

3D is apparently the USP by all the companies pushing the technology but will it really make an impact in the consumers home? Almost every major TV maker including Sony, LG, Panasonic and Mitsubishi showed big screen 3-D TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. Even content providers such as ESPN, DirecTV and Discovery have promised 3-D channels that will begin broadcasting in 2011. Before you start saving for your 84 inch 3D display, Here are a few reasons why I think that that should really consider just getting a large HDTV screen

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Watching 3-D content is not comfortable

3-D TVs are likely to aggravate eyestrain in many people who have minor eye problems, say optical experts. And because they are such a new sensory experience, many viewers could end up with a headache. How many of your friends complained about having headaches after watching that last 3D movie in the theater. I remember most of my friends found Avatar awesome, but still complained about the headache after the movie. When the eyes watch things in the physical world, the focusing distance of the eyes changes depending on what they are viewing. However, when watching anything displayed on a screen, the eyes are focusing on a fixed object, the screen itself. However, with 3D content, this is fooling the brain too much. It turns out that home environments cannot nearly recreate the comfortable viewing distance and immersive experience of the cinema, and it would mean discomfort for many people.

Moreover the article above also highlights how 5 % or users are already stereoblind, meaning they cannot see depth as is, and for them definitely the 3D movie experience is not going to make any change. It is largely believed, that this headache that users complained about was one of the reasons that 3D never took off.

3D TV watching cannot be a Social Event

What do I mean ?? We are social animals, by that I mean we like doing things together. Watching a movie together or that IPL finals or even a world cup match is definitely going to be well nearly impossible. In fact, the experience of watching a match or movie togather with 3D TV’s would require the host to have quite a few additional glasses for all the people who are joining you to watch it.

There are some TV screens available today that can actually do 3D without the glasses, but the viewing angle is limited and there is a small sweet spot. But the glasses are going to be the biggest deterrent for people moving into these screens. Even if you are able to get the glasses; in the cinema, you put glasses on for about 2 hours, then you take them off. At home, unless you are watching movies straight through, you will have to put on and take off glasses every time you begin watching. A bit of a drag.

Cannot multitask with the glasses

Yes, I am still holding on to the glasses point, most of us dont just sit there are watch TV by itself. We multitask, we might go online, do stuff around the house or even sit to write down some stuff. We might watch a program, flip channels, use a smartphone, tablet, netbook, or laptop with them while they are watching TV. We may go back & forth between watching TV and other activities – either simultaneously or intermittently. All this is very inconvenient with 3D glasses on, and the experience isn’t the same. It just doesn’t work to put them on and off all the time, it is not really convenient. Unlike the movies where you are focussed for that time period on the movie, TV watching is very scattered.

Moreover, 3D is best enjoyed in low light, I am not sure how many people enjoy sitting through hours of dim light just for the sake of watching something in 3D. Quite discomforting, I should add.

Cost Factors for Consumers and Producers

I know a lot of you are saying that the difference between a high end HDTV and a 3D TV is not too much these days, true. But its not just the TV that makes the difference, for a proper 3D TV experience you need the whole shebang to be compatible, starting from your console, DVD player, Set top Box etc, all your entertainment system will be kind of obsolete. You might need a new receiver to switch the HDMI 1.4a signal, you might need new HDMI 1.4a capable cabling, and you will certainly need glasses that are often at extra cost. Bottom line, it will cost you much more than the TV to get 3D.

Creating 3-D content will be an expensive process, as well. The production costs of a 3-D movie are between 5 to 10 percent higher for computer-generated animation movies and 10 to 15 percent higher for live-action movies. But that is not where the 3DTV will fail, the fact that producing normal content like your average soap opera, or a new series of maybe FRIENDS into 3D is not something the networks are contemplating. So, if they do, it would be changed at a premium, adding to the cost of 3D TV viewing.

I might be completely wrong as well

The gusto with which the consumer electronics industry is pushing the technology is definitely worth mentioning here. They are able to sell “new” equipment to homes where just a few years back they have sold in HDTV’s and LCD panels. But if they keep up the pressure in trying to bring out more attractive offering with the 3D TV’s like the offer a few months back from LG, where you got a 3D Blu Ray Player, 4 pairs of glasses as well as a 3D image camera; might instigate the early adopters and technology enthusiasts to consider buying it.

The power of the PORN industry cannot be left far behind here, everyone knows what happened to the Sony BetaMax vs VHS tape, SONY decided not to go through with making the format available for PORN, and got lost into oblivion. The same argument was lingering around the Blu Ray format as well. The PORN industry is leading a stampede into adopting the format and making it their own. I guaranty you that 99% of porn addicts will have no qualms about putting those same goofy, stupid glasses on if it means that they get to enjoy their weekly/daily/hourly porn fix in 3D rather than regular 2D.

What might happen

3D is evolving and I am not backing it for the moment, for sure in the living room. But 3D as a technology for large screens like Movies or small screens like Nitendos or your Mobile might work (no Glasses). Having said that PORN / the push from the industry / and 3D going mainstream with the cinemas is something really that might propel the technology. Apart from being a new technology and many people having headaches, its clear that children adore it. With 3D going to cover the spectrum from child entertainment to adult entertainment it might catch on. But the growth, if it does happen will be very very slow.

What is not factored in the conversation is the evolution of technology and innovation. Our great scientists and researchers might just come up with a solution for a TV without the need of glasses, or a panel to show stuff on, Augmented Reality for eg. and these technologies might just make the above argument completely null and void.

5 thoughts on “Why I think 3D TV’s might never work”

  1. Completely agree with you mel. I dont see it catching up. There’s a fad value and that’s that. I could be wrong ( Like the bloody IPAD). Its good you got the LG TV specs. Coz each eye would only be able to see half the pixels. meaning a 1080P would be 1080i. Thats y I think LG has doubled the resolution To get true HD. LCD’s to LED’s to 3d’s happened like dat.

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