Your 3-D TV Checklist

Congratulations! Your new flat-screen TV is kick-ass! I sincerely admire its tremendous resolution, its vividly natural colors, its bright-as-daylight brightness, and its sheer size. There’s only one problem: It’s flat. No, I’m not talking about its thickness. That’s a good kind of flat. I’m talking about the images themselves. They have height and width, but no depth. They’re 2-D. Wouldn’t you like a 3-D TV?

No one knows if 3-D TV will be successful. But there’s a lot of discussion about the topic, and plenty of people will try to persuade you one way or another. To get you ready for the onslaught, and help you choose sides, I’m listing some of the principal arguments after the jump.


Argument No. 1: No Way, José. It will take me about 3 lifetimes to pay off the 60-incher I bought last summer. Until then, don’t even think about cajoling me into buying another TV. After the flatpanel and HD revolutions, it’s just too soon to have yet another video revolution.

Argument No. 2: Format War. There’s nothing tidy about making sausages, passing legislation, or launching new consumer formats. There’s no 3-D TV standard, but many competing formats. We’re staring down the barrel of yet another format war. TV model X will play 3-D Disney movies, but it won’t play 3-D Universal movies? Sorry, I just don’t have the patience for it anymore.

Argument No. 3: Those Goofy Glasses. I spend most of my disposable income trying to look cool. Do you think I really like the AT&T network? I use it because I need an iPhone to impress girls. There’s no way I’m going to be caught dead wearing goofy 3-D glasses. Even if Bono starts wearing them.

Argument No. 4: I’m Not Feeling Too Good. More than a few people experience uncomfortable dizziness while watching 3-D TV. Do you really want to keep a barf bag next to your comfy chair?


Argument No. 1: Proven Track Record. Movies in 3-D generated more than $1 billion at the box office last year. On a per-screen basis, 3-D typically grossed twice the take of screenings of the regular version. (Ticket prices for 3-D, though higher, are not twice as much.) Movie studios and TV manufacturers aren’t going to miss the opportunity to sell 3-D in the home.

Argument No. 2: Manifest Destiny. Market researchers are predicting success. One study estimated that there could be 28 to 46 million 3-D TVs in worldwide homes by 2013, and 2.5 million sets might be sold this year. It’s a done deal.

Argument No. 3: Those Goofy Glasses. You know it and I know it: The glasses look really goofy. But what we do in the privacy of our own home theaters is no one’s business except our own. Let’s just calm down and adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I promise I won’t make fun of your goofy glasses if you don’t make fun of mine. Problem solved.

Argument No. 4: I Feel Good! Frankly, I just can’t wait. I think that 3-D looks terrific in the movie theater, and it would be incredible to have the same experience at home. I’m sure they’ll iron out any incompatibilities and technical troubles, and deliver some terrific products. Sign me up!

Well, those are the arguments. Hollywood studios and TV manufacturers would dearly love to impress upon you the fact that 2-D is simply not as cool as 3-D. They’d love it if you’d throw away your 2-D TV and shelves of 2-D movies, and start again with 3-D. That’s their dream, but is it ours? Or, as the Prince of Denmark might say, “To sleep, perchance to dream. But do we dream of 3-D? Ay, there’s the rub.”

Ken C. Pohlmann is well known as an audio educator, consultant, and author. He is professor emeritus at the University of Miami in Coral Gables and is the author of numerous articles and books. Two of said books that are multidimensional in their own right are Principles of Digital Audio and Master Handbook of Acoustics.