News: Fate of 3D at home comes down to glasses

As expected, glasses are getting in the way of 3D becoming a bigger feature in homes. (Well, that and the continuing bad economy, but the electronics companies are looking at what they can change.) To fix the problem, LG Electronics plans to start selling 3D TVs with lighter, cheaper glasses later this year.

A day ahead of the International Consumer Electronics Show, which opens today in Las Vegas, LG announced it would start selling 47-inch and 65-inch 3D TVs that use “passive” glasses, which are similar to polarized sunglasses, according to Associated Press. (Toshiba recognized the problem of the glasses earlier last year and has brought out 3D TVs that require no glasses at all.)

LG’s announcement comes after sales of 3D TVs didn’t meet expectations last year, selling only about 1 million units instead of the 3 million to 4 million that had been estimated.

Still, studios and electronics manufacturers are plunging ahead with the technology. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has promised to bring out Tron: Legacy and animated movie Tangled on Blu-ray 3D the same day they arrive on DVD and Blu-ray.

And at CES today:

  • Samsung unveils the world’s slimmest Blu-ray 3D player, the BD-D7500, a compact and minimalist Blu-ray 3D player (BD-D7000), a Blu-ray 3D player with dual HDMI and mobile phone control (BD-D7600) and Blu-ray with built-in wi-fi and 3D (BD-D6500). All except the last one offer 2D-to-3D conversion for pictures, movies and streaming video.
  • Sony introduces its BDP-S780 Blu-ray player, which is 3D capable and can upconvert 2D content to simulate 3D, available in April for about $250. The company also will bow three Blu-ray home theater models that are Blu-ray 3D capable, including the $500 BDV-E580, and 16 new 3D-capable HDTVs.
  • Sony also is taking 3D portable with its new VAIO F Series 3D laptop, which will have a 16-inch screen, Blu-ray player and sound that simulates five-channel surround. The PC also can be connected to compatible HDTVs to transmit 3D via an HDMI cable (sold separately, of course). The laptop will be priced around $1,700.
  • And Sony, Discovery Communications and Imax introduce 3Net, a 3D television network that’s expected to launch later this year. The network will feature an original series and acquired programs. Among the programs will be Imax’s Hubble 3D and Discovery’s Wildebeest Migration.
  • Panasonic is so gung-ho about 3D, it is opening the Panasonic 3D Innovation Center-Hollywood on Jan. 10. The office will be the West Coast branch of the manufacturer’s 3D Center, which was launched last year with the aim of accelerating the growth of 3D-related products.
  • Panasonic also is introducing a new line of Blu-ray products, including three Blu-ray 3D models (BDT310, BDT210 and BDT110), all of which also will offer 2D-to-3D conversion. Users also will be able to control the amount of depth in the 3D image. And all of the Blu-ray 3D players can be controlled with an iPhone as a remote. The BDT210 was even honored with two CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Awards in the video component and video display categories.
  • Sony is even getting into 3D video-on-demand. The company has signed a deal to distribute Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit 2011 in 2D and 3D to PlayStation Network’s Video Delivery Service and video-on-demand through Qriocity. The program will premiere on Feb. 15.
  • And more on the TV side, Vizio and LG unveil their new 3D HDTVs. Vizio says its Theater 3D line is two times brighter than active shutter LCD TVs and it uses the lighter “passive” glasses. LG is offering both LED and LCD HDTVs for 3D viewing while being energy conscience.
  • Of course, don’t forget poor DVD. The standard-definition format might not get as much press nowadays as its high-def and 3D brothers, but DVD still has by far the biggest market share. Panasonic is showcasing two new DVD players, the DVD-S68 and the DVD-S48, both with multi-format playback useful for people who record their own DVDs as well as play studio-produced discs. These are scheduled to hit shelves in the spring.

About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.