The Parallax team and I are always keeping an eye on what electronic companies are doing to get 3D out into the universe.
Because it’s their inventions that will play a key role in determining how many of you get to see our first 3D documentary in its full stereoscopic glory.
As 3D popularity climbs, electronic companies are competing to see who gets to annex that coveted spot on your living room TV stand.
And so begins the format wars, with active-shutter glasses coming up against passive-polarized.
Earlier this year at Consumer Electronics Show, LG, Toshiba and Vizio showcased their upcoming lines of consumer 3DTVs using passive displays.
Their promise: a high quality 3D experience without burning a hole straight through your wallet.
What makes Passive 3DTVs more economical than the consumer lines is their use of lightweight and cheap polarized glasses instead of the costly active-shutter glasses.
Which means you can outfit the whole family and your dog affordably.
Making 3D technology cheaper and more accessible is undoubtedly a good thing – but like most things cheaper does not always mean better.
After Vizio’s debut of their passive screen 3DTV, Consumer Reports did some testing to see how LCD passive displays measure up against Plasma screen models like Panasonic’s top-rated 3DTV.
Turns out Vizio’s passive screens do provide a high quality and comfortable viewing experience, but there are also noticeable losses in resolution, jaggies, and occasional blurring of objects due to the way their screens display 3D images for each eye.
This is probably why Samsung, Sony, Panasonic are still pushing active shutters.
Nevertheless, passive-polarized technology has a great impact on the 3D market.
Light-weight, cheaper glasses make way for cheaper and more compact 3DTV’s—currently Vizio’s smallest consumer model is 42” 3D HDTV with even tinier models rumored on the horizon.
And like 1080p took over the top price bracket in HD dropping 720p prices and enticing consumers into HD converts, passive displays have the potential to influence 3D rollout in precisely the same way.
So in the end affordable passive-polarized displays provide the right nudge to get more people on the 3D train. After that, there’s no going back.
–Ian Herring, President