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3D TV: Here's what to look for

3D TV commands a premium, but it brings cutting-edge content to your living room.

By Leslie MeredithSenior writer TechNewsDaily / December 7, 2010

Mark Swan (left), Paul Hockenbery (center), and Topper Ray watch the first round of the Masters golf tournament in 3D in April at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia. This Christmas, 3D TV is the cutting-edge feature for TV shoppers.

Joseph Kaczmarek/Comcast/AP/File

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If you're a fan of 3D movies in the theater and want a gift that will bring an undeniable wow factor, a 3D HDTV will deliver. You'll pay a premium of at least $300 over a non-3D capable, you will wear dark glasses indoors and you'll be limited in entertainment, but 3D is the ultimate new TV feature.

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If the TV has 3D capability, it will also have the full complement of TV extras, including Internet connectivity, HDMI ports, full HD and a super-fast 240Hz refresh rate. A 3D TV may also offer 2D to 3D conversion, so an ordinary program gets the 3D treatment. Don't expect the bounce-in-your-face effects as made-for-3D content for converted content, but it will be noticeable.

Size matters

3D TVs are available from Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, LG, Toshiba and Vizio. Sizes begin at 40 inches. Smaller 32-inch and 37-inch sets will be available from Samsung next year, despite the company's statements that when it comes to 3D, bigger is better.

On the other end of the size spectrum, Panasonic has announced a 103-inch 3D TV priced at around $112,000, but a 55-inch model is the size most audiovisual enthusiasts recommend for 3D home theater. Expect to pay around $2,000 for a Vizio at Sam's Club and up to around $2,600 for a Sony Bravia at Best Buy.

Plasma's edge over LCD

Plasma technology has never suffered from the lags and judder associated with LCD TVs, which makes it better suited to 3D imaging.
"Plasma TVs are better at displaying 3D images than LCD sets, primarily because they exhibit less ghosting, or double images that appear even when wearing 3D glasses," according to tests conducted by Consumer Reports.

And, like their 2D counterparts, plasmas are simply less expensive. What you might sacrifice in weight and a super-slim profile can be made up with better performance and lower price.

For instance, a 50-inch 3D plasma from Samsung is priced at $1,439 compared to a 46-inch 3D LED LCD from Samsung at $2,000. Both are available at Best Buy.

The 3D chain