3D TV: what's in it for you?

In 2010, having a 3D TV was a novelty. Or was it? The consumer electronics industry claims to have sold some 4 million 3D TVs last year in the US, alone. In 2011, prices are lower and the quality better. So is this now the time to go 3D?

What do you need to watch 3D content at home?

First off. A 3D TV. And forget about any thoughts of matching the screen size to the size of your room. When it comes to 3D TV, there's just one rule - the larger the better. Unless you buy a large screen, the full immersive experience just won't happen. You need the screen to fill your field of vision from where you normally sit.

You'll also need some 3D glasses. Most 3D TVs require active glasses which run on batteries and need to be in constant communication with the TV to work. But at CES 2011, the first TVs that pair with passive glasses (which can be significantly cheaper, but do not run on batteries or communicate with the TV) like those used in movie theatres were shown. The TVs are a little more expensive, though.

You'll also need a Blu-ray player that's capable of decoding 3D content. Again, the choice is expanding and price decreasing. You'll also possibly need a new box to handle 3D broadcast. And if you want to make your own 3D content, you can buy a 3D camera or camcorder from most of the leading names in consumer electronics.

Finally, if you want everything to work together seamlessly and deliver full 1080p, then you need to check that everything you have conforms to the HDMI 1.4 data transmission standard. Except the cables, that is. You can get away with HDMI 1.3 connections.

More 3D content

As Hollywood makes more and more 3D movies, we have more and more 3D Blu-ray discs, digital downloads and on-demand content to choose from. But flicking through the 3D Blu-ray racks, you'll see increasing amounts of non-feature film content, such as nature documentaries, music concerts and studio sessions, sport and other material.

As more 3D broadcast and on-demand channels are launched across the world, more 3D content will follow and the more you'll be able to watch 3D content on your 3D TV. Currently, broadcasters across Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia Pacific are offering live and recorded sport, factual programming, music and the arts, and of course, movies through free, subscription and on-demand channels.

Added to this is the burgeoning games market. 2010 saw numerous Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 games released with 3D capability, including the latest from the Wipeout and Gran Turismo franchises. 2011 has planned releases of classic games now enhanced with 3D, including the Splinter Cell trilogy and Shadow of the Colossus, and a number of new games including Uncharted 3 and Crysis 2.

So now might be just the right time to get the equipment so you can enjoy the 3D experience at home. The equipment works and the technology is proven, and you can get a 3D TV for not much more than a large-screen HD TV.

Steve Owen, Director of Marketing at Quantel. The company develops innovative, world-leading content creation systems for broadcast, post and DI. Quantel products deliver at SD, HD, 2K, 4K and Stereoscopic 3D.

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