South — a 3D Sports Bar — Opens in L.A.

Like every other Sound+Vision writer, I’ve seen a lot of 3D TV. But I never saw so much 3D TV as I did last night, when I walked into South, Los Angeles’ first 3D sports bar. Everywhere I looked, I could see a Vizio flat-panel TV showing 3D programming—sports mostly, of course, but also games and a couple of Blu-ray Discs. No matter which way I turned, I got a full hit of 3D without having to wait for my glasses to sync with the screen I was viewing. It probably wouldn’t have been practical but for the passive 3D technology used in the Vizio sets.

“With active 3D glasses, you have to sync the glasses every time you look at a different screen,” noted Vizio VP of products John Schindler. The much lower cost of the passive 3D glasses—which don’t have active LCD shutters and don’t require batteries, as active 3D glasses do—makes 3D TV much more practical in a sports bar environment, where the lifetime of the glasses may be inversely proportional to the customer’s beer consumption. “You can even use Real D 3D glasses from a movie theater with these TVs,” Schindler added.

I’m no big fan of sports bars (unless they’re playing wussy stuff like the Tour de France or ski racing), but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the 3D environment that Vizio and South created. Everywhere I walked through the place, great-looking 3D popped out at me. I could even watch two programs in 3D at once on two different screens, something I’ve never had the chance to do before.

All of the TVs and many of South’s other electronic systems can be controlled straight off a Vizio tablet. In fact, Rob Kermode, Vizio product development manager/mobility, demonstrated the capabilities by turning the bar’s lights down and adjusting the volume on the house sound system. “This tablet, which costs $269, basically replaces a $1,000 to $1,200 remote system,” he said.

I counted 28 Vizio 3D TVs at South, although I didn’t explore every nook and cranny of the place. (Surely there must have been a couple in the bathrooms, too.) That’s enough that every customer can have a clear view of at least a couple of 3D TVs, and probably more like four or five. “Almost half of the theatrical releases today are in 3D,” Schinder said, “but this is really the first time that 3D has been used in a social setting. And it’s yours to check out for the price of a beer.

 

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