Your TV Tech Fix: 3DTV Questions Answered!

Last week we had a little 3DTV 101 together, and given the enormous showing 3D technology has enjoyed throughout the E3 Gaming Expo this week, it looks like this discussion couldn’t be more timely. For those of you who aren’t big gamers, Sony’s pushing 3D hard on the PS3, and unveiled a wide assortment top-tier 3D titles coming to Playstation 3 over the next year. Some big ones include Killzone 3, Gran Turismo 5, MLB 10 The Show, MotorStorm: Apocalypse, NBA 2K11, and a whole bunch more.

Gaming may not be important to the average TV addict, but it’s hard to ignore the impact gaming can have on the adoption of 3D technology in the home. And as we all know, more 3DTVs in the home means more support from TV and Hollywood.

At the end of our post last week, I invited you TV addicts to hit me with whatever 3D TV questions you had. Seems like a bunch of you are shy given no one asked questions in the comments section, but thankfully several good ones showed up in our inbox. I’ve condensed and modified most of these for clarity.

I’ve got an old TV and several 3D movies on DVD. What makes these new expensive TVs any different from mine? — Jonathan
Answer: 3D movies that come with a pair of paper glasses with red and cyan filters uses a 3D technology that’s been in use for ages, known as anaglyph. You’re correct by stating that your movies are genuine 3D and can be shown on pretty much any TV or even in print, but not without a major impact on the quality of whatever you’re viewing. The new digital TVs that are 3D capable use 3D methods that don’t hurt the image quality anywhere near as much. In fact, the new LCD and Plasma TVs are compatible with the new Blu-Ray standard, which allows for 1080p HD 3D images at 120fps (60fps per eye) using active shutter glasses.

Isn’t $150 ridiculous for 1 pair of 3D glasses? — katkat36
Answer: I covered this pretty well last week, but yes, I think $150 is a little much for 3D glasses, and will slow the adoption of 3D in the home. I’ll reiterate, however, that these glasses are pretty advanced, so they certainly won’t be free, but prices should eventually fall to realistic levels after a generation or two goes by.

I heard 3DTVs can make you sick. Is that true? — Diane
Answer: Having a 3DTV won’t make you sick, and watching any 3DTV in 2D mode won’t be any different than watching a regular TV. However, some people are sensitive when it comes to viewing stereoscopic images for any period of time. Headache and eyestrain are common side effects for those who do exhibit a sensitivity to 3D images, but some have reported dizziness, nausea, confusion, disorientation, and other unpleasant symptoms. Samsung (who listed out these ailments) and others usually provide a warning in the manual to cover their butts, but most don’t seem to have issues viewing in moderation, or at least get used to it over time.

Why didn’t they release Avatar in 3D on Blu-Ray? — x1Gigabot1x
Answer: I actually don’t have an answer to this one. It seemed pretty stupid to me too, given that it’s the movie that has defined 3D as we know it. I have three thoughts: 1. The studio didn’t feel the payoff would be worth the investment at this time given the number of sets in the market. 2. They’re waiting for a manufacturer to give them a ton of money for a package-in deal like what Samsung did with Monsters vs. Aliens. 3. They’re taking the Lord of the Rings approach, “Let’s sell the crap out of the regular edition first, then come out with the super extended version six months later and make everyone who’s already bought it want to buy it again.”

Has there actually been anything on TV in 3D? — Jack L.
Answer: There has, but it’s mostly been limited to live action events and sports, and even pretty limited in audience. In the past, the Masters was shown in 3D as was a hockey game. Currently, the World Cup is getting a game in 3D every day for those with a new 3DTV, glasses, and access to the new ESPN 3D channel. There’s also some baseball coming up. With ESPN 3D and a new 3D channel from Discovery coming down the road, hopefully their will be a better variety of 3D content soon.

Can I upgrade my TV to 3D? — Brea
Answer: In short. No. TV’s cannot be upgraded to support 3D. There are a few specific model TVs sold by Mitsubishi and Samsung the last few years as “3D Ready” that can be upgraded to support 3D functionality with some external hardware. You probably don’t have one, so again, no.

That’s all for the user questions I received,  but if you still have questions post them in the comments section here or ask them at the website.  I’ll be happy to address them as best I can.

Satisfy your inner geek while fueling your TV addiction… TV Tech Fix is a column by Matt Whitlock, editor of the Consumer Electronics Community (plus several other gadget-focused community websites), and lover of both technology and TV. In this column, he’ll cover a wide variety of tech topics aimed squarely at the TV addicts of the world – from tips and tricks to help you better your TV experience, to gear recommendations, to the impact technology is having on the TV shows we love.

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  • ibayer

    Do you answer technical questions about TV/ digital box operations? And how do I get these answers, if you do? Thank you.