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Get ready for the 3-D TV sales pitch

Don't look now, but the 3-D-TV marketing machine just blinked on and is now whirring to life.

Those enormous high-definition sets were pre-production models without price tags at the Consumer Electronics Show less than four months ago, but now they're showing up in stores.

Best Buy's site, for instance, lists one Panasonic plasma and two Samsung LCDs.

Prices aren't bad ... in the historical context of HDTV pricing. A 46-inch Samsung sells for $2,399.99 but doesn't include the required "active" 3-D glasses, while a 50-inch Panasonic goes for $2,499.98, glasses included.

Bloomberg News reports that the first shipments of 3-D sets have already sold out. But although electronics enthusiasts have a history of running out to buy a sufficiently shiny new gadget, you shouldn't assume that less avid viewers will follow their lead.

That's where the marketing push comes in.

Panasonic has set up shop in a corner of Union Station for the rest of this week to show off its 3-D sets (along with such hardware as digital cameras and plain old HDTVs), as part of a nationwide product tour.

I stopped by there late this morning to check out the 3-D gear. The glasses felt a little lighter than the ones I wore during demonstrations at CES in January, while the three-dimensional effects looked as compelling ever. But once again, I was watching a highlight reel, not a live broadcast--3-D content won't show up in quantity from such providers as Comcast and DirecTV until later this spring.

(Panasonic also connected a 3-D TV to a massive desktop computer souped up with an Nvidia graphics card to demonstrate 3-D video games, including a version of EA's latest "Need for Speed" title. Sadly, the extra visual depth did not stop me from skidding off the track at every turn, and in between some of them.)

Part of any good PR blitz involves trying to soften up the press beforehand, so I wasn't exactly surprised to get invitations to two different events next week that will feature sets tuned into Comcast's 3-D coverage of the Masters golf tournament. I'll report back here on the viewing experience.

When I do, what finer points of 3-D TV would you be most interested in knowing more about? ("None" is an acceptable answer.) Let me know in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  March 31, 2010; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  TV , Video  
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Not interested in 3-D because I wear glasses and while I thoroughly enjoyed "Avatar" in 3-D on the really big IMAX screen with 15+ channels of sound, the idea of having to wear glasses over my glasses to watch my favorite TV shows or movies at home isn't something I'll be looking forward to. I've ditched cable and only have online sites(Hulu,, OTA & cable networks' sites) so those won't likely be encoded for 3-D for some time, which is OK by me. Not to mention there's the cost of replacing nearly everything in my signal chain--the disc player, the receiver and the TV, as well as bringing in an ethernet connection or buying a Wi-Fi dongle to get the full use of the new gear I'd have to purchase.

Posted by: dkjazz3 | March 31, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday I went to my two nearest Best Buy's (I live in Washington State) to see their Samsung 3D TV demo.
The first had their set-up hidden away to the side of the store, and apparently were not willing to open a demo 3D Bluray DVD to do the demonstration - so I had to watch a TV hardware conversion of a 2D Bluray disc. At times this was quite amazingly good at others no 3D effect at all.
The second Best Buy had their demo set up front and centre and they had opened their demo Bluray disc. However they only had one pair of glasses and they were flaky - sometimes working and sometimes not - mainly not. I was told that their other pair of glasses had broken in two!

My question Rob, is for you to ask the reps how sturdy and reliable are the glasses?

Posted by: GypsyDog | March 31, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

So far, I know I should try wearing my own glasses underneath the 3-D glasses--then I should try stepping on the 3-D glasses. Keep the suggestions coming!

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | March 31, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

It seems 3D TV has suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I was fussing with a DTV converter box not that long ago.

Can one watch regular 2D programming on these 3D TVs, or are they just for 3D?

Posted by: SteveDC1 | March 31, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Here is my question...why? I am hardly a Luddite when it comes to technology and tend to be a fast follower if not an early adopter, but 2D TV seems just fine to me. How much sensory stimulation do you really need? Will shows like Jeopardy, Oprah and Deadliest Catch in 3D REALLY going to be that much better?

Maybe I am down on this since I am in that minority of the population that cannot see 3D, but I still don't get it.

Posted by: Ebola_22039 | March 31, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Can you watch it laying down on the sofa? I noticed at Avatar that as my head tilted the 3D effect went away and the picture got blurry like without glasses.

Posted by: JIMMYJOE_AZ | April 1, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Hi-Rob week Back mentioned IE9 beta. turns out new browser supporting experimental HTML5 ?has problem, intertwineing Audio with ?something. anyway, seems to BSOD. While in safe mode audio * IE9 is listed as cause & recomends using recovery mode to take out IE9 beta, Only. Did, works again fine, except few BSOD, when audio still puts RED Check on Audio Task Bar icon, remenets, guess. seldom happening. still peeve.

HTML5 is new way to deliver media without Flash. Now google Will help Adobe make improvced Flash,in year or so, to overome constant updating & lack of 64 bit support. So mixed bag. HTML5 Is best for mobile crowd, like iPAD, which has sparse support of Flash & Does Support HTML5.

Maybe few readers now can turn machine back before installing IE9 & save troubles.

In 3D , been years since good large screen has come out. High Hz, made possible by High Bandwidth, made cluster of Black texture as Fast Reresh under or Over cooked pixels. Old solution to increasing bandwidth. Called texture screening ,yet Not advertised as such this time, keeps overal screen correct lumnen by using black texturing in low spots, where pixel isn't excited enough & compensates overall for color & Brightness.

3D comes when ALL defective stuff is soldOut. actual RAW material that failed, as whom could tell. Kind of Crummy & well advised to stay away from 3D.
ATI is developed mechanism, EYEFINITY, that generate 1 Billion Pixels per second, New Screens are rumoured in Japan of 3,000 x 4,000 pixel range or slightly more & fit in large screens well. As When very large screen is made, now ethier pixels have to be larger , course, or more space between pixels,Still Course.
now more {ixels= clarity & will rise poential screen size, yet also years off, if at all. Seems inevitable thought. No Signal has been developed, except thru Computer & 24 Megapixel camera or latest 40 Megapixel cameras, costing $10K. so slowly. yet, thats' IT, Slowly.

Stick to fashionable Relatively low cost Machine, Plasma is Better & enjoy, while ATSC tuners go thru this years long signal test.


Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | April 1, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

It's amazingly amazing how psychotic the consumers (suckers) have become.

Posted by: n7uno | April 1, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to need a lot of convincing as to why I should want 3D. I have glasses and watch a lot of programming that doesn't seem likely to be improved by 3D. If it were free I'd certainly take it, but there has to be some sort of killer app to induce me to pay for it.

Posted by: robert17 | April 1, 2010 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Tech-effect for the sake of same. Also for the sake of the TV makers. Buy in if you like, but I'm sitting tight with HD/FIOS. The 3-D stuff becomes the object rather than the content itself. It's ok once in a while, but the effects become a little too burdensome for everyday watching.

Posted by: JamesChristian | April 1, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Not interested...I figure 3D will get big hype then...fade away

Posted by: tbva | April 1, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it really matters whether consumers want it or not. It's coming and soon it will be a fact of life. Within a few years, all of the TV sets on the marketplace will have 3D capability built in with an incremental cost to the TV set. As in the early days of HDTV, 3D will be relegated to movies, documentaries like Planet Earth, big sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, and marquee events like the Academy Awards. Comcast and DirecTV will offer it, perhaps as a free software upgrade, and other carriers might require a small pay per view fee if you want to watch it in 3D. It's a niche technology- like HDTV, but even "niche-ier."
And within 5-10 years, we will have direct-view 3DTV without the glasses. That's the holy grail for this technology.

But I'm holding out for holographic TV.

Posted by: novatom1 | April 1, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Two items:
1) What is the current timeframe for 3D movie content in wide release? Although we don't have any significant 3D TV content, there are 3D movies being produced. However, they aren't being release right now in a 3D format for viewing. I realize this is a chicken and egg problem (no TVs to watch them on yet), but what is the industry timeframe for Blu-Ray availability of most 3D titles?

2) How do the current crop of 3D TVs compare to current HD 2D sets? Excluding price, when not being used for 3D, are they essentially identical in quality to current HD offerings?


Posted by: mappler | April 1, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

3-D doesn't interest me one bit. Another way of fleecing the sheep...

Posted by: cbmuzik | April 1, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Back in the early 80's, on an old news magazine show called Evening Magazine, there was a story about a crude 3D TV technology. During the story, they showed actual test footage that was in 3D, and you did not need glasses to see the effect. There was a true sense of depth, but the image was very jittery. I was watching this on an early 80's SD color TV. At the time, the company behind the technology claimed that they were a couple of years away from removing the jitters.

I don't remember the name of the company behind this tech, and to this day, I have seen nothing further about it. Until someone finds a way to remove 3D glasses from the equation, 3D TV will never become a mainstream product. Imagine trying to throw a Super Bowl party for a dozen people and providing the glasses. Everyone has to sit still and watch from the correct angle. Not much fun, isn't it?

Posted by: GP04 | April 1, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Agree with SteveDC1 on wanting to know "Can one watch regular 2D programming on these 3D TVs" and, if so, how does it look? Due to a childhood injury I don't see 3d all that well.

Posted by: wiredog | April 1, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I have yet to hear a good explanation of why we can watch 3D movies in a theater using those unpowered, lightweight, circularly polarized and *cheap* glasses; but when at home, we'll need to use those heavy and expensive "active shutter" things.


Posted by: landingsgeo | April 1, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Not meaning to be overly crude, but if porn looks good on a 3D tv, then I think sales will take off. Any porn previews, Rob?

Posted by: josetucson | April 1, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I'd be curious to know:
1) How long did you watch the TV before you took the glasses off?
2) How did your head/stomach feel after extended viewing? Any nausea or motion sickness?
3) How do the glasses feel on your face? Are they heavy? Did your nose or ears start hurting after a while?

Have fun. I'm jealous.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | April 1, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Plasma uses 4x the energy at LCD of same size which is why I've ruled them out for purchase. Regular updates of TV power use should be clearly displayed with units so we can all make informed decisions and estimate long term costs (other than quality and longevity of the TV).

Avatar in 3D was awesome and makes me want it in the home. Best deal I've heard of so are is the due-in-August Vizio 72" 3D LCD in the $3,500 range. Have you seen this one yet? (72-inch XVTPRO720SV )

How about 3D projectors that we can display on a 100" pull down screen?

Just made my largest TV purchase a year and a half ago with the Samsung UN55B8000 and already looking at 3D. Maybe we can go on one together and have weekly screenings (no wait, that's what movie theaters are for:0) But I can't stop and take breaks at the movies. A new market for couples booths with movie control would be great.

Posted by: liveride | April 1, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

So, how long before prescription 3D glasses show up? A good portion of the population wear glasses, so there ought to be a market...

Posted by: schafer-family | April 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Like in HD, I think sports would be a good draw but providing the glasses to everyone at a party (and getting the angle) would be tough.
they will need content and good consumer ready info. World Cup in 3D? I'm in.

Posted by: oldshaman | April 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

My problem with 3D TV (aside from the fact that I just bought a new TV in December) is that I do other things while watching TV. I do my nails, embroider, read catalogs, etc. Somehow I don't think 3D glasses are going to be very helpful when looking down at my work. And JIMMY JOE_AZ has a good point. Do you have to be sitting up directly in front of the TV? What if you are sitting off to the side?

Posted by: magicdomino | April 1, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but I still haven't heard or read one good solid reason as to why I should upgrade my 19 inch tube TV!

Posted by: JPO2200 | April 1, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Since it is just a gimmick I doubt I will willingly buy a 3d set.

Posted by: oc1dean | April 1, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I am interested in stereoscopic photography, and am looking forward to being able to display my stereo images on a 3D HDTV. I am looking for supporting hardware and software that will allow me to build/buy a low power (electrical) entertainment PC that will allow me to display my own 3D images, slide shows, and movies on a 3D HDTV. It should also function as a DVR and a conventional PC with web access.

Posted by: dhorn1 | April 1, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I have a 50 inch JVC HD Plasma TV that is 5 years old. The picture is BEAUTIFUL and I haven't had ONE IOTA of trouble with this EXCELLENT product.

I don't need another television no matter the technology.

Posted by: whatyoutalkinboutman | April 1, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

halographic tv.

Posted by: veerle1 | April 1, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

My 10+ year old TV works just fine. I don't need or want an HDTV, and there's absolutely NO WAY I'd spend $2500+ for any type, any size of television.

Posted by: momof20yo | April 1, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less about 3D movies, but I think that 3D console games will be a very fertile area. I don't play console games myself, but I have teenage sons and I can see how cool this would be.

Posted by: jaepstein63 | April 1, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I've seen 3D a couple of times at the Sonystyle store at Tysons Corner and it's pretty cool. However it's not something that I absolutely have to have. I prefer the best PQ I can get. The problem is that most manufacturers are adding 3D to their best sets, so if you want the best you get 3D anyway.

My question is: glasses are expensive. I've seen prices mentioned at $125 and up. If the sellers want 3D to succeed, those prices are going to have to come way down. When will we see $25-$30 3D glasses?

Posted by: cawgijoe | April 2, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse


I'm interested in viewing angle and distance viewing. Your observations would be appreciated.

It will be a long time before I spring for a 3D set. I am not an early tech adopter. I still haven't bought into blue ray :)

When someone comes up with a 3D set for $500 and the glasses are free check back.

Posted by: dontsendnofarkingspam | April 2, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd really like for this technology to be available on existing sets. I have a plasma set that's less than 1 year old. It's advertised with a 600hz refresh rate. Why can't Panasonic offer a retrofit adapter or firmware update for some of theses recent sets? I can't afford to spend $1,500 on a tv every other year.

Posted by: dannews | April 3, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse


Can you explain why 3D technology requires a different television set than the HD sets most of us now have? I thought that 3D worked by separating part of the image with slight color variations, which the glasses then allowed your eyes to "reassemble" in a more sensible way that your brain read as three dimensional. What is it about the newer 3D process that makes it unworkable on someone's pre-existing HD screen?

Posted by: Ootek | April 4, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

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