Are 3D TVs here to stay?

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CrunchGear's Devin Coldewey put up an interesting piece Tuesday on the state of 3D TVs. His main point is best summed up in the headline: "Get Used To "3D" TVs – They're Here To Stay." The reasoning is that adding 3D compatibility is trivial, and it can just be another feature, like 120 Hz refresh rates. In fact, he says that the refresh rate war and TV makers pushing their screens up to 120 Hz, 240 Hz, and even 600 Hz is exactly why 3D TV is here to stay: from a technical standpoint, 3D is just switching frames very rapidly and having a pair of glasses (either with passive filter or active shutter lenses) sort them out.

It's definitely a compelling argument, on a technical level. It's just another thing to add to TVs, and eventually it will become common. I'm not quite so optimistic about 3D's future, however. While many studios and electronics companies are putting considerable resources behind 3D and the hardware is becoming more popular, it has yet to see widespread software or consumer adoption.

Right now, very few Blu-ray 3D titles are available. Very few 3D video games are available. Very little 3D programming is available on cable or satellite services. We might see 3D become more popular with the Blu-ray 3D release of Avatar, but the exclusivity agreement with Panasonic means that, for most users, the version won't even be available for some time.

Of course, the Panasonic issue also works as an argument that supports Coldewey's, points. 3D will be popular because it will give companies more technology to sell and more features to offer at a premium. The Avatar deal could make or break 3D, depending on how many users are willing to upgrade, and how many will be turned off by the format itself because of the drawn-out release.

In the short term, 3D is here to stay. Studios and electronics companies are committed to seeing 3D-capable devices remain available on the market for the next several hardware generations. In the long term, it depends on whether users will be willing to spend the extra money for the 3D-equipped HDTV or the Blu-ray 3D release. The industry is trying to make sure that they will, but in the end it's up to the customers whether 3D will be a ubiquitous feature or a neglected, ignored option.

Will Greenwald

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