Three reasons to buy a 3D TV, but don't believe them all
3D TV maker Panasonic has plenty of pitches. Which make sense?
Panasonic's Touch the Future Tour swung through Boston this weekend. Designed as something between a store and a gallery opening, the "tour" showed off the Japanese gadget giant's new line of HD cameras and TVs.Skip to next paragraph
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The display, which was in a mall and open to the public, demonstrated some impressive gear – a camcorder that identifies specific faces, HD video from a D-SLR camera, Skype video chat built into a TV – but Panasonic turned the spotlight on its 3D TV.
The company launched this plasma model two weeks ago. Excellent timing. Just a few days earlier, "Alice in Wonderland" became the latest 3D movie to top the box office. "Avatar," the most successful movie ever, still pulls in millions of dollars a week. And 17 new 3D movies are scheduled to arrive this year.
Hollywood's extra dimension has no doubt conquered movies theaters. But will its next stop be our living rooms?
Panasonic's smiling tour guides had several reasons why Americans should buy a 3D TV. Not all of them hold up.
Reason one: 3D is simply better than HD
"Imagine a sense of depth so realistic," says Panasonic's brochure, "your whole body feels like it's being pulled into the scene." Let's forgive the hyperbole and cut straight to the message: 3D just looks better.
The novelty is alluring. Watching footage of players spike a volleyball from the foreground to the seemingly distant background looks great. But before the several-minute clip had a chance to loop, the 3D experience grew a little stale. Most people during the demo seemed content after about 90 seconds and took off their 3D glasses to wander the rest of the stands.
Chatting with some of them afterward, many said they liked the 3D look but that feeling only carried them so far. For most of them, enjoying the third dimension was akin to playing a Blu-ray movie instead of an ordinary DVD, or to watching a TV with a slightly bolder color pallet than most. Sure, it's better. But the old way works just fine.
This first reason for buying a 3D TV presumably targets early adopters and shoppers with deep pockets. After all, paying the premium on a $14 3D movie ticket is one thing. Picking up $2,500 50-inch 3D TV is quite another.
Reason two: Don't miss out on the great 3D content
Another pitch at the Panasonic event referred to a coming flood of movies, games, and sporting events designed for 3D TVs. Indeed, such options are coming. However, the forecast seems premature.
"Neither [the first] round, nor the November version, will be 3D. That'll likely come in a third dip a year or two from now. You see, in order to sell more than a few dozen copies in 3D, Fox needs the market for 3D on Blu-ray (meaning capable players and displays) to... well, frankly EXIST... first."