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Questions & Answers

Today's Topic: 3D Televisions

 

  • How does 3D TV work? 
  • Normally, your left and right eyes see slightly different perspectives of a scene, which the brain combines into one image with depth and dimension. Special 3D dual-lens cameras or computer animations simulate that real-world experience by providing two different views of an image. (Note that watching 3D over a period of time, or even for a short while, can cause certain viewers to develop eyestrain or a headache.)

  • Do I have to wear special 3D glasses?
  • Yes, to watch 3D programs. Without glasses, those left/right views appear as blurry double images. The high-speed shutter glasses you use with 3D TVs provide each eye with a separate, distinct image, creating a realistic sense of depth. The glasses are battery-powered. Some can be recharged by connecting a USB cable to the TV or Bluray player; others use replaceable batteries. You can wear the glasses over prescription eyewear, though that can be uncomfortable. Some 3D TV sets come with one or two pairs of glasses, or glasses might be included in a bundle with TV and Blu-ray player. If no glasses are provided, or if you need more, you can buy them separately. A pair of glasses costs about $150 now, but lower- priced versions might be available at some point.

  • How much does a 3D TV cost?
  • The premium isn't as steep as we expected, in some cases several hundred dollars more than regular sets with similar features (aside from 3D). Samsung was expected to have eight LCD sets and six plasma TVs with 3D capability in stores by May, ranging in size from 40 to 65 inches and priced from $1,700 to $7,000.

  • Do I need to buy anything else?
  • To watch prerecorded 3D movies at home, you'll need a 3D Blu-ray player.

  • Is there any 3D content to watch?
  • There isn't much at this point, but there should be more soon. "Monsters vs. Aliens" and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" are two of the first 3D Blu-ray discs available, and the "Shrek" series is expected later this year. (Older 3D movies such as "Polar Express" on DVD or Blu-ray are completely different from the new 3D, and you must watch them with cardboard anaglyph glasses with colored lenses.) Cablevision offered a hockey game in March. Comcast planned to broadcast 2 hours per day of the Masters Golf Tournament in 3D in April. TV channels in 3D from ESPN and DirecTV are expected in June, and the Discovery Channel plans to launch a 3D network. 

  • Can I watch regular shows on a 3D TV?
  • Yes. A 3D-capable set functions like any standard HDTV with regular programs; 3D is a new feature, not a new type of TV. The set shifts into 3D mode only when it detects 3D content. You'll probably watch mostly regular video on those sets, at least in the near future. You don't have to wear glasses to watch regular programming.

  • Should I buy a 3D TV now?
  • That depends on your situation.

    YES - If you're an early adopter willing to pay for a hot new technology, go for it. The 3D effects can be eye-popping and just plain fun. Just remember there's not much 3D content to watch yet.

    MAYBE - If you're planning to buy a fairly high-end new TV any way, this could be a way of future-proofing your purchase. The TV will cost more than a traditional set, but you won't have to spring for yet another new TV in a year or two when DirecTV, ESPN, and cable stations start offering 3D programming and more 3D movie discs are available.

    NO - If you're happy with your current HDTV, don't need a new set, and aren't burning to have the latest technology, don't buy now. The price of 3DTVs and Blu-ray players should drop, so you'll save money by waiting. And there should be more 3D to watch by the time you're ready to buy.