Sharp rolls out mobile 3D TV -- no glasses required

Sharp's newest gadget is a glasses-free 3D TV set. But not everyone is convinced Sharp is on the right track.

A model displays a 3D touchscreen LCD TV developed by Sharp. The Sharp TV displays 3D images without the need for special glasses.

Back in March, Nintendo announced a handheld gaming device called the 3DS, which apparently does not require 3D glasses to play games with three dimensions. Details weren't exactly forthcoming, but a video clip suggested that the 3DS might utilize parallax mapping technology to simulate depth and distance. Now electronics maker Sharp is showing off 3.4-inch 3D-capable LCD TV – and like the Nintendo 3DS, Sharp's device will let users go without the geeky glasses.

"In the 2D era, contents and infrastructure have spread from movies to homes, and from homes to mobile devices," Sharp exec Yoshisuke Hasegawa told a gathering of reporters in Tokyo, according to Reuters. "We believe the same thing will happen with 3D. Three-dimensional images that mostly inhabit big screens now are about to hit mobile terminals."

Early reports indicate that the 3D effect appears when the user tips the Sharp device at a certain angle. But IDG News Service has complained that the TV quickly turns blurry if the device isn't held in the right manner, and others have fretted about the subpar 3D visuals. (No word on availability or pricing.) Predictably, bloggers have had a field day with the Sharp gadget.

"The problem is that cell phone users and handheld gamers don't rigidly hold their handsets at a fixed distance and viewing angle," PC World's Jared Newman writes. "They look at the screen while reclining on a couch or laying in bed, and they move around to get comfortable. Trying to get a 3D illusion will quickly become tiring, and people will switch to the 2D mode that Sharp's displays thankfully include."

It's been a big couple months for 3D TV, with full-size devices forthcoming from Sony, Samsung, and Sharp, among other companies. (As far as we can tell, all the major-market 3D TVs will require glasses for 3D use.) But many have argued that 3D will take a while to catch up to 3D movies.

"We've demonstrated that the 3D market is an extremely lucrative market and this is not a fad, this is not something that is going to go away," director James Cameron said earlier this year. "It's going to be interesting because [3D] TVs are going to change things yet again. But the TVs are going to take awhile to catch up with the marketplace because there isn't enough content."

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