Is 3d Worth the hype?

May 17th, 2010 at 5:46 am –

The next time you go shopping, try this: Walk into an electronics store and ask for a demo of 3D (three-dimension) TVs. this request will not only draw the store manager’s attention but will also ensure that all your queries are answered with utmost politeness — in the hope of converting you into a buyer. this is because 3D TVs fall in the super-premium sales category. Selling a single product to you can cover a large part of the sales target of any store.

3D in your living room

Having recently made their entry into the market, 3D TVs are not expected to sell in huge numbers like liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs anytime soon. but, then, they are the ‘Bentley’ of this category and they don’t need a mass frenzy to support manufacturers.

Samsung, which has launched 10 models of 3D TVs in India, claims that 3D light-emitting diode (LED )and LCD TVs are attracting consumers. “We have a target to sell 300,000 LED/LCD TVs and we believe 10 per cent of these will be accounted by 3D TVs this year,” says R Zutshi, deputy managing director, Samsung India.

Samsung’s 46-inch 3D TV, which comes bundled with a free pair of 3D glasses, worth Rs 8,000, and a 3D movie title, has been flying off the shelves, claims Zutshi. Extra 3D glasses (battery-supported) can be bought for Rs 4,900 and rechargeable glasses for Rs 8,000.

Realising that there isn’t too much 3D content to begin with, Samsung has been bright enough to include the capability to convert conventional 2D transmission into 3D at the press of a button.

“You can convert any 2D content (on TV) into 3D with a button on the remote control. of course, it won’t be the best of 3D visuals but, nonetheless, users will have content to watch on their 3D TVs,” reasons Zutshi. in the near future, Samsung plans to bundle 3D Blu-Ray DVD players and 3D home theatre systems with its LED and LCD panels to expand the market.

Sony, which is trying to catch up with Samsung, is set to launch its 3D TVs in June. the proposed model will have a 46-inch screen and will sport a price tag of $3,875 (nearly Rs 1,75,000).

Two pairs of 3D glasses will accompany each TV set. While 3D TV-owners can get their hands on nearly 80 3D movies along with 3D-enabled Blu-Ray disc players, the fact that broadcast players in the country are still nowhere near offering 3D content can limit the popularity of these TV sets.

Life-like gaming becomes reality

Computer manufacturers like Asus and Acer are also making technical adjustments to show games in three dimensions. Digital graphics maker NVidia, at this year’s Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, showcased how PCs based on its GeForce GPUs — along with the Nvidia 3D Vision hardware and software ecosystem — could make any PC 3D-compliant. this includes Blu-Ray 3D movies, games, photos and even surfing on the web.

To display 3D images, computer monitors will need to refresh at a rate of 120 Hz — slightly higher than current models. so, manufacturers have begun to launch 3D-ready monitors in high definition and non-high definition, but these can cost upwards of Rs 20,000.

Also, high-end video cards (Rs 6,000 or more) are needed to handle the extra rendering loads. And, don’t forget the shutter glasses that connect to the computer wirelessly (an extra Rs 5,000).

The big three console makers are taking their own roads to 3D. Sony has already rolled out software changes to allow 3D games on its gaming console, PlayStation 3. Microsoft said it also could allow 3D on the Xbox 360, but preferred to wait. Nintendo, maker of the Wii consoles, has unveiled plans to launch a hand-held 3D video game console by next year that does not require special glasses. Game developers, like EA Sports, too, have plans to go 3D, but chose not to comment on their India plans.

According to Atindriya Bose, country manager (Playstation), Sony Computer Entertainment: “A simple software update from our site, which is free of cost, will enable 3D on PS3 and existing Playstation (PS) consoles.” Sony PS consoles have the necessary processor and connection capabilities to show games in 3D, and all PS3s sold since 2006 can support the upgrade.

However, no 3D gaming titles have been launched by Sony. “3D is an exciting segment and everybody is excited about it, and so are we,” he says.

As for Microsoft, it wants to focus on Project Natal, which enables control-less gaming on Xbox. “We do have the first 3D game on Xbox out already, though it’s from a third-party developer, not a Microsoft product. so, in terms of 3D compatibility, Xbox is ready. but we are betting big on a bigger universal gaming strategy under Project Natal,” says Jaspreet Bindra, head of Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division.

Globally, LG Electronics, along with Microsoft, has announced plans to jointly promote stereoscopic 3D content and video games using LG Infinia HDTV-sets and Microsoft Xbox 360 game consoles.

Initially, the companies only plan to collaborate on promotion of stereo 3D Infinia LED HDTVs and stereoscopic 3D games for Microsoft Xbox 360 video game consoles in South Korea. but, eventually, the cooperation may be broadened to other countries, too.

The initiative of LG and Microsoft will counter a similar move announced by Sony, which plans to promote stereo 3D TV sets with its PlayStation 3 game console.

Amazon.com WidgetsWhere’s the content?

Indians spent a whopping Rs 115 crore for a 3D film like Avatar. so, it is logical to ask: what use will a Rs 1-lakh (or above) 3D TV for consumers be if they can’t source 3D content for it?

Of course, be it 3D TV sets, 3D displays for laptops or 3D games, there are plans on the anvil. According to Ranjit Thakur, CEO of Scrabble Entertainment, audiences are warming up to 3D. “What most of those people saw was much more interesting than your average movie — they saw people jumping out of the screen and the experience of movie watching was immersive.” this year, Thakur’s company, Scrabble, is slated to release over 22 3D movies. there are a few silver linings though, like the recent partnership between Sony and Discovery for a 3D TV network. even ESPN is all set to launch its own 3D channel. Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic seem to be banking on 3D video games to drive 3D TV sales.

So, is 3D worth delaying a TV or gaming device purchase decision? the answer is no, except for those with the budget to afford the absolute latest. besides, one has to also factor in the cost of the glasses (for the family to enjoy 3D together), the availability of 3D content and the question of viewer comfort.

With inputs from Shivani Shinde and Aabhas Sharma

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Is 3d Worth the hype?


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