3D On Any TV

Back in the late 1980s, Sega released the Sega Master System, a competitor to Nintendo's NES. This system could be purchased with 3D shutter glasses that plugged into the system. These glasses worked basically the same way as today's glasses, but because they sync'd to the game system, they worked with the TV you already had. Why doesn't someone make a 3D Blu-ray player with glasses that sync to it so that any TV could display 3D? This would lower the barrier of entry and maybe sell more 3D movies.

Robert Johnson

Interesting idea! I suspect the Sega system's 3D worked with any TV in the '80s because the graphics were relatively crude, and even then, I bet there was lots of flicker—talk about headaches!

To do what you're suggesting with modern movies would require a TV that could accept and display 96 or 120 frames per second, which translates to 48 or 60fps for each eye. LCD TVs can easily display 120fps and higher, but I don't think they can accept a frame rate that high. And even if they could, Blu-ray cannot support 1080p at 96 or 120fps—heck, it can't even support 1080p at 60fps. The best it can do in 2D is 1080p at 24fps, and 3D adds only 50 percent to the datastream. So your idea would require a new Blu-ray format and TVs that can accept higher frame rates.

I recently heard of a system that claims to do something like what you suggest, though I haven't been able to find much info about it yet. A company called Video Innovation Products (VIP) has announced four products called 3D-Gamer (shown above), 3D-Displayer, 3D-Theater, and 3D-Discover that are inserted between a 3D source (Blu-ray player, satellite/cable box, game system, etc.) and non-3D display via HDMI, and active-shutter glasses are used to see 3D.

Another company called Just Add Power recently announced a product called 3D Manager that is based on the VIP technology and purports to distribute 3D content over the company's HD-over-IP network to non-3D TVs throughout the home. All of these products are scheduled to be released this summer, and I look forward to checking them out.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askscottwilkinson@gmail.com.

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COMMENTS
Pedant_'s picture

Actually, Blu Ray can support almost 30 fps, although here we are talking about connecting a current 3D capable Blu ray player to an old TV, so the limit is actually the HMDI connection. HMDI 1.0 specification is to allow a 1920x1200 signal (higher than HD!) at 60 fps. The newer versions of HDMI allow for higher resolutions and frame rates. This would allow for at least a 30 fps to each eye. Although this is not ideal (having used and old PC based system @ 50 fps per eye), it is perfectly feasible.

frankland7's picture

Robert:

I, too, owned the Sega Master System for a time back in the 1980's. For its day, it worked pretty well. I was very surprised to see that you actually played the games on two planes. For example, you could only shoot at (or be hit by) objects that were on the same plane as you were. If you were out of the screen, everything in the background just passed you by. Press the toggle button to go to the background, and everything in the foreground passed you by!

I also owned some 3D products from Razor 3D, which used LCD shutter glasses. These older 60FPS systems would only work on CRT-based TV sets (no LCD, plasma, etc.). The 3D worked fairly well on some of the movies, but the flicker was REALLY bad, especially if your room wasn't completely dark. Razor 3D also released some movies that were supposedly 3D but were not, which made things even worse. These movies were conversions and had no 3D effect at all (the picture appeared bent outward in some spots, but it was NOT 3D).

I am trying in earnest to educate everyone I know that TODAY's 3D is completely different, and that they should drop by an electronics store and see for themselves how great 3DTV is now!

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