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Is 3D Here To Stay?

This is an autostereogram; to see the 3D image, relax and cross your eyes slightly, or shine a small flashlight at the screen and concentrate on the reflection until you see the 3D effect.

These days, few topics engage—or enrage—home-theater enthusiasts like 3D. This was clearly demonstrated by a recent news story on our sibling website HomeTheater.com3DTV Boom Fails to Materialize. The story cites an online poll conducted by Vision Critical that indicates little support for the fledgling format among consumers in the US, Great Britain, and Canada.

As soon as that story was posted, a flurry of comments followed, some quite lengthy and thoughtful, which I encourage you to read. Meanwhile, I wonder if you think 3D is here to stay? After all, it has come and gone several times over the last few decades in commercial cinemas, so perhaps the current craze is nothing more than another cycle that will soon disappear. On the other hand, perhaps the Vision Critical poll was premature, and improvements in the technology and strong support from TV manufacturers and movie studios will tip the scale toward a permanent presence in the entertainment landscape.

I really look forward to reading your thoughts on this question, which is sure to stir strong sentiments on both sides of the debate. So let 'er rip!

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice.

Is 3D Here To Stay?
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uavtheo's picture

I have to tell you that I do think that 3-D is here to stay. For one reason, it's now a "feature" of TVs and not a selling focus. If the technology can become a commodity, I actually think that will improve its adoption. Much like BluRay, the more content that gets out there, the more it will help.

I don't think everything *benefits* from 3-D. Tron was great in 3D. UP, Avatar and others were really, really well done. So, I do hope that it's used selectively as part of the directorial artistry.

I think that if 3D loses its differentiation appeal--meaning it becomes too costly to produce and movies made in 3D start losing money, then I think that clearly we may see 3D start to become niche and not mainstream.

And that reiterates the point of cost. $50 for Samsung glasses is getting closer to the price point. No way, the mass market is going to pay $150x4 or $150x6 for proprietary glasses that now cost almost as much as the TV set. Glasses need to get to the $15-$35 price point and 3D TV needs to become a commodity feature and there need to be more BluRay titles in 3D out there and some programming that benefits.

If content, price, and execution can all come together, I think we might have something that becomes a nice part of the experience and not a gimmick. Oh, and I DO think its important that the trade magazines and web sites continue to talk about 3D and hopefully it gets to the point where its consistently talked about favorably, and for that to happen, content, price, and execution all need to fall in line.

FJH's picture

3D is most likely here to stay, but we need a standard 3D system. This is bluray/HD all over again only worse. Also I think the timing for 3D is good to keep the price of tvs up when they were really coming down. If you are like me, you want the best picture possible, hence you have to buy top of the line. Then you are forced to pay for 3D, internet connectivity, etc, whether you want those features or not. 3D is just the latest feature/gimmick that helps the bottom line. That said, if done well, it does add to the home theater experience, but I think it is still somewhat early in it's development to pass it or pass on it.

Steve Caliendo's picture

3D is probably here to stay...but mainly in the theater. 3D works best on large screens and most people probably don't have nor ever will have screens big enough to really do 3D justice in it's current form in the home.

I would prefer if the industry focused on bringing 4K to the home. Even a calibrated 1080P picture can look almost 3D. Imagine what 4K could do--all without expensive non-standard glasses that every person must be wearing to enjoy the experience and without headaches and eye strain that many people have reported.

Jarod's picture

I believe 3D in cinema is here to stay, and also at home at least as a feature in an HDTV or PJ. I will say that when it's done right I truly love 3D and prefer it. But when done poorly I don't think its worth the brightness trade-off. If standards are set maybe more people will take it seriously. At the rate technology is going, some company could come out with a set-top-box that makes any HDTV capable of displaying 3D or some curveball of the sort. Who knows? Doubtfull though.

Jarod's picture

Toally agree. I think 4K would go over with the general public better as well.

capnvid's picture

I just took the plunge with a JVC RS-50 and it's a great 2D projector as well as a THX 3D player. I've just started this weekend, but "Resident Evil; After Life" looks better in 3D at home than it did in the theater and the third dimension does add to it's impact. Drawbacks- I have to use left/right analog sound with my Meridian setup because the Meridian HD621 won't accept 3D capable cables even though they accept the same cables on 2D films. Unless you want a reciever, I don't, there will be problems getting good digital sound from first rate processors. If there are any great processors (Classe?) out there that are 3D enabled, please let me know. Thanks.

uavLordoftheRings's picture

Before we get 3D right, we should focus to get HDMI right first!
Blu-ray software, Blu-ray players with firmware updates, compatibility issues between the source, the screen and the Video processors and Audio decoders from our pre/pros and A/V receivers, with HDCP protocol are still full of issues! ...Audio drop outs from high res audio, image blurring motion, angles (LCDs), Blu-rays encoding that is incompatible with some Blu-ray players, etc. are all realities!

Blu-ray players that don't last more than two years or so (when used regularly) because of faulty motors, or not powerful enough to align the Blu-ray lens and read the Blu-ray discs are real!

I could write a very long comment here about many issues that we are having with 2D; so why jump on many more issues from 3D?

Of course 3D is probably here to stay, but it's going to be a very long process before it becomes mainstream. And then only few studios are going to invest in it only to realize that the profits won't be as expected!

Blu-ray 2D is still not mainstream as it is much more problematic than standard DVD! Thanks to HDCP!
Great picture & sound, very true, but still many frustrations even after five years!

Nowadays a Blu-ray player is a streaming device. And the BD disc drive ain't up to it! You constantly have to replace your BD player with a more up-to-date one, even with Firmware updates!

And now 3D!!! ...Ok all the newer electronics have 3D capability now; but the software, the effectiveness, the cost of the glasses, and all that jazz makes it the format of very few who embrace new technological things no matter how good or bad they are!

Here to stay, yes, but in very limited population! Then what? More investment to perfection it? Already people with 3D displays and glasses have to upgrade!
Or is the profitability will dictate the momentum, and interest from the studios diminish?

Do we want an inferior or superior technology, or do the studios and manufacturers want to make more money no matter how far from a good product we are using?

uavLordoftheRings's picture

But 3D is definitively here to stay and improve over the years...
And both at home and in the commercial Theaters, like Imax for example.

...And eventually 4K. :)


ca1ore's picture

I voted 'successful in theaters, but a flop at home' as I just do not see 3D being a big deal to enough consumers this time around (plus the glasses are a pain and the flicker really bothers me). Plus, is it just me, or does the industry - once again - seem intent on killing off the golden goose with ill-conceived bundling programs that make the better 3D source materials unavailable to most consumers. As with all things consumer electronic, its the content that drive adoption.

uavmatthewweflen's picture

I chose the "Yes in theaters, No on the home" option.

As far as the home goes, I would have preferred an option along the lines of "Not in its current form" or "Not without changes."

My thinking on this:

1. HDTV adoption from about 2005-2010 was huge. The notion that all of these people would THEN go out and buy new sets, and generally at a 10% price premium, was nuts straight out of the gate. About 6 months ago I received a Sony 52EX700 LCD television as a replacement exchange for a defective 50A2000 SXRD television. There is simply no way I'm going to turn around and buy ANOTHER set on top of this. If I had magic money pants where I could just reach in the pocket and pull out unlimited Benjamins, maybe. But alas, so far it's just normal pants for me.

And did manufacturers really think RIGHT after a huge recession was a good time to introduce an expensive new luxury tech?

2. Active shutter glasses are a non-starter. $150 glasses for your screaming toddler with sticky/smooshy hands? I doubt this is a proposition many parents find appealing. What about when friends come over? How many sets are you supposed to buy? Then, all the technical problems come into play. Can I tilt my head? Does my TV lose 80% of its brightness? Do colors look screwed up? Does cross-talk give me splitting headaches?

Basically, until and unless $5 passive glasses are the norm, 3D is simply a non-starter in the home for all but the enthusiast crowd.

3. Spending $2k-plus on a set and having nothing to play on it is not very appealing. Given that only new movies will have real 3D (and probably only 10% of them at that, and then probably only the stupidest ones), I can't see the appeal for that media category. Cable options aren't much better, with only specialty programming being available. What do I watch on it? I can imagine sports being really good - but most baseball teams have only JUST put HD cameras in their parks. By the time (if ever) there is any widespread adoption of 3D filming and broadcasting, the technology standards probably will have changed. So why buy now?

Audio_Geek_00's picture

At theaters an occasional movie in 3D is ok for me but not at home. I spent too much money to get bright, laser sharp images in my theater to let 3D degrade it in any apsect. It is not compelling enough for me to allow that. The industry is trying to generate another market and i'm not biting.

javanp's picture

... in that it's here to stay because it's a "feature" not an extra selling point. It's almost like asking if 7.1 is here to stay. Sure it costs you a little extra for the parts (extra speakers or 3d glasses) to actually take advantage of the technology, but the capabilities are most likely in your setup even if you don't want to use it. The Samsung TV I just bought, for example, was a great price for the size and quality--having 3d capability was just gravy.

And if the technology is here to stay in theaters then I see no reason why studios would hesitate to put those 3d versions onto a blu-ray. That'd be a no-brainer for them.

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