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3-D HDTV World Cup viewing report

Like some of you, I spent part of this morning watching the U.S.-Slovenia World Cup match and yelling at a TV. But this particular TV was a Samsung 3-D HDTV, set up in a room at the Southwest D.C. offices of the electronics manufacturer Harris Corp. for a few dozen guests to watch.

I've watched 3-D video before, but this morning was my first chance to see a commercially available program--ESPN's broadcast--on shipping hardware.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the experience fell far short of demo clips scripted to show three-dimensional effects at their best.

One reason: Soccer isn't the greatest sport to demonstrate 3-D's benefits. The standard overhead shot effectively conveys the game's progress but doesn't leave enough depth of field for anything to stand out. The sideline cameras, in turn, did leave players looking distinct from the background but without much depth of their own, making them look a little like cardboard cutouts.

By contrast, think of how 3-D could work in baseball or basketball, where the TV broadcast tends to focus on one player after another instead of panning across the entire playing surface.

To see things really pop onscreen, we had to wait for close-ups of players throwing in the ball and goalies kicking or throwing it back into play. Of course, when a player ran toward the camera or the ball rolled up to it, there was no mistaking the 3-D effect.

ESPN's score banners appeared to float in front of the action, but not in a distracting way. I can't say the same for the huge FIFA logo that regularly moved across the screen, which exhibited an annoying flicker every time.

I saw other video artifacts emerge when the ball moved quickly on the ground or in the air; it blurred and sometimes looked doubled. But I don't know if blame for that falls on ESPN's hardware or software, the compression the video experienced on its journey from South Africa through DirecTV's satellite to Harris's dish or the limitations of the Samsung LCD screen.

The powered "active shutter" glasses required by 3-D HDTV weren't bulky, heavy or uncomfortable to wear, but I couldn't help seeing reflections of the scenery behind me on the outside edge of each lens. In my own living room, which has a large window behind the couch, I'd expect this issue to be more noticeable.

And, sadly, awful officiating doesn't look any better in 3-D.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 18, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  TV , Video  
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The other problem I heard is that ESPN 3-D is only in standard definition due to service provider bandwidth limitations. Personally, if I had to made a choice between HD and 3-D SD, I'd choose HD in a heartbeat.

Posted by: Russtinator | June 18, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: swanni | June 18, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm really looking forward to hanging out in a sports bar rockin' my 3D glasses. It's going to be hard work to keep the ladies off me.

Posted by: Corn_Laden | June 18, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

3-D was a gimmick in the '50s and it's a gimmick now.

What a lame excuse for us to abandon perfectly amazing HDTV just to have the Next Big Thing.

Posted by: AxelDC | June 18, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

They will never be able to convince me to put on glasses just to watch TV.

Posted by: ericroks | June 18, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

One thing about yelling at TV. Most people have landline telephone in room, nearby. Believe it or Not, that telephone is listening to everything,24h day. Unless pull plug out.

So rating service gets not only shows Watched by viewers home & talkmade,feed right into surveilance. Now they Know, Rob. Now they Know.

Ha,ha. Oh,My. was Show worth Grand? Say 300 Shows year, about $5 show plus signal. while driving everything goes to 3D peeper space in brain & Wallah, Red,White & Blue Turns Magenta, Cyan & yellow. Flash,Flash.

Place Both In maybe Pot, For now. Then thers 3D Player,BR DVD /DVD disc in 3D & Other Folks Whom think, Hummm, that was kind of crummy. Another question, If Viewer Moves About, Effect Is? Worse than Space Aliens. Even if See IT, Don't trust iT.


Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | June 18, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The only thing missing from the smalltrade posting above is the reference to a Nigerian Uncle with money to send me......

Posted by: tbva | June 20, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

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