The latest craze in home entertainment systems are 3D TVs. Not only does this format of entertainment require a compatible new TV, but also 3D-ready hardware, of course the costly 3D glasses for each viewer, and also actual 3D content to watch. To promote this technology, TV makers are offering consumers full bundles to jump right into the 3D explosion.
Manufacturers Samsung, Sony and Panasonic have already produced 3D TV models along with the necessary peripherals, and LG is now the latest to jump on the bandwagon. As part of their promotional bundle, LG is offering – according to their press release – two free pairs of 3D “active shutter” glasses to anyone who purchases either the LG LX9500 or LX6500 LED HDTV combined with the LG 3D Blu-ray Disc Player from participating retailers. There's also an instant cash rebate and a bonus certificate to receive a Blue-ray 3D video title. Clearly, LG is going the extra mile to encourage consumers to get hooked onto 3D.
The bundles still cost a pretty penny, though, and the least expensive LG 3D TV promotion compares very similarly to bundles offered by competitors Samsung who also offer a near-identical 3D “starter kit” package. In general, all the big players offer the 3D glasses at comparable prices, but the downside is that they are not compatible across brands. So if your friend comes over with his Sony 3D glasses to watch a movie on your LG 3D TV, well, tough luck, but that's not going to work.
The way the technology works is different from that in movie theaters, too, so you can't just bring home those red-and-blue cellophane polarizing glasses and expect them to work for your home 3D TV quite the same way. It's unfortunate that the polarized light technology is not being readily adopted by first generation 3D TV manufacturers, because it's still the best and cheapest way to get a rich 3D viewing experience with excellent colors and superb detail.
However, LG says that it's in the process of developing 3D-ready televisions that are based on this polarized light technology, so the two formats may eventually converge in the future. For the moment, though, these first-generation 3D TVs still require the separate, and expensive, viewing glasses, which are more cumbersome and electronically-powered.
There is another technique that allows for 3D viewing without the glasses, fortunately. This technique is called autostereoscopy and although it's been around for a while, it has some limitations, but a decent 3D image can be obtained on flat panel displays using lenticular lenses or parallax barriers. LG announced a 3D TV in the works, named M4200D, that uses a lenticular-lenses system; however, there is a rather limited viewing distance (about 13 feet) for the 3D effect to really work in this way. Still, it's early in the game, and as further developments are made, one hopes that the 3D TV experience will get more and more accessible.
Innovation and development in the 3D TV field continues fervently, with LG and other manufacturers pumping sizeable budgets into R&D around this technology. As options increase and the competition grows fiercer, consumer options for viewing 3D content at home are sure to increase while prices are likely to get more and more affordable.