2010 to be the year of flashy 3D TVs

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The Independent Tech

It may have taken decades for HD television to finally take hold, but after what seems like the blink of an eye, 3D is about to move from the realm of novelty into the mainstream as US pay TV provider, Direct TV, kicks off a dedicated 3D HDTV channel for 2010.

Broadcast 3D TV mightn't be anything new (TV's inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated 3D TV as far back as 1922), but overcoming the many hurdles to widespread adoption has held 3D TV back for decades.

Most of these obstacles now however appear to have been overcome, and prototype 3D televisions have been making numerous appearances at trade shows throughout 2009.

So is 2010 the year that 3D finally reaches critical mass? Many argue that 3D cinematic blockbusters like Avatar have legitimised 3D on the big screen, driving consumer expectations that they'll be able to get the same 3D experience in their home.

The single biggest driver of 3D however is expected to be consumer electronics manufacturers.

At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, virtually all major LCD and plasma TV manufacturers are expected to tout 3D screens.

With profit margins on conventional LCD and plasma flat panel TVs slumping, these players are eagerly looking to 2010 as the year that more profitable 3D displays take off.

With broadcasters such as DirectTV launching dedicated 3D channels, signs are that this could indeed be the case.

Industry hype aside, the relentless march of audio/visual progress is likely to be tempered by recession battered consumers, many of whom are still tightening pocketbooks.

For those willing to pay a premium for 3D screen, convincing spouses (many of whom are still wary from recent LCD and plasma TV upgrades) that they need upgrade again to 3D could also pose an insurmountable challenge.

Broadcasting via a newly-launched satellite that is set to go live in March, existing US DirecTV subscribers will be able to receive HD 3D TV simply by upgrading the software in their existing set top boxes.

Being able to watch TV in 3D however will also require that they purchase a 3D-capable display.

In smaller markets however, the migration to broadcast 3D is expected to be significantly slower as less affluent broadcasters seek to recoup the costs of upgrading equipment to HD before making the leap to 3D.

Thankfully there is light on the horizon in the form of 3D Blu-ray movies as the Blu-ray Disc Association has finalised 3D Blu-ray movie specifications.

Provided you have a 3D capable Blu-ray player and a 3D capable TV, you should in theory be able to watch Blu-Ray movies in full 3D.

According to the newly announced specification, 3D movies will also play back in 2D on older Blu-ray players and displays.

Gamers are however the big winners as recently leaked documents from Sony show that the PS3 will soon make the leap into 3D gaming and Blu-ray movie playback. The Avatar game, released late in 2009, features stereoscopic 3D.

Details remain somewhat sketchy around how Sony will implement 3D gaming, but a software upgrade is expected to deliver 3D Blu-ray playback with the specification announcement from the Blu-ray Disc Association including the PS3 as a 3D-capable playback platform.

Source: NZ Herald