CES 2011: Toshiba Glasses-Free 3DTV First Impressions

Las Vegas- Toshiba isn't throwing a press conference here at CES 2011, but they did bring along one of their glasses-free 3DTVs and I got a chance to check it out at a party last night. The panel was set about 6 feet behind a velvet rope with three pieces of gaffer's tape carefully arranged to denote the positions from which the 3D effect would be visible.

As I lined up my toes with the center piece of tape, it took a few seconds for the 3D effect to make the Final Fantasy demo snap into the third dimension. It became immediately apparent that you have to absolutely nail the viewing angle. If you're off, the picture looks very blurry and there's a discernable screen-door effect. It's as if you're looking at one of those lenticular posters that change depending on your viewing angle.

Once you've got a lock on the 3D picture, most of the problem elements fall away. The picture itself looks fairly impressive, but the 3D effects are not as pronounced as they are with active or even passive 3DTVs. In order to keep things looking as good as possible, Toshiba is using a 4k/2k screen, which means even 3D content is displayed in full on 1080 resolution. Unfortunately, that also means that all content you pump into the panel is going to have to be upscaled, even blu-rays. The Toshiba rep said flat out that watching broadcast TV on it is pretty much out of the question.

Many of the technical details are still either undecided or are being kept under wraps. For example, the reps were able to tell me that the backlight will be LED, but not whether it will be full-array or not. They did, however, go on to say that they expect to bring the panel to market by the end of their next fiscal year, which ends in March 2012. We'll see how that plays out.

Before it makes its way into living rooms, though, Toshiba has promised to expand the sweet spot for the 3D effect in order to allow for more viewers at one time. Plus, they also have plans to roll-out their finished 2D-to-3D upscaling solution before the end of 2011. All in all we are very excited to take a look at what they have been up to.