3DTV was all the rage at the 2011 CES, but it will never catch on
Have you or anyone you know purchased a 3DTV?
I haven’t come across anyone who has, and my question is “why the heck would anyone go to the trouble?”
3DTV was all the rage at the recent Consumer Electronics Show; just about every TV manufacturer was desperately pushing their version of 3D.
The variations on the technology are baffling, some have active glasses, some have passive glasses, there are disposable glasses and Toshiba now has a “no glasses” version. Pricing is all over the place—depending upon the implementation—with larger screens selling for around $5,000 in the U.S.
But the confusion and expense of the hardware is not the problem. The lack of content will keep this technology from catching on. There was not a single 3D content agreement announced at CES this month, so what chance do the manufacturers have?
3DTV is a technology looking for an application, a common occurrence in electronics. Just because we can do something with an invention doesn’t mean the world needs it. (This is fruitful territory for a later blog; think Talking lights).
3DTV has been around for a long time; EE Times Editor Junko Yoshida of EE Times has been writing about it since the early 2000s. Rick Merritt (also of EE Times) wrote a great piece last year after CES on how it will take time for the technology, content and standards to shake out, and it’s still in flux.
Echoes of the past
All this reminds me of my weekend high school job at a stereo store. We had a quadraphonic system from (I think) Pioneer, which was on demo. Everyone wanted to hear it and play with the joystick that controlled the speaker sound field. But we only had one disc (yes, vinyl) that was true quadraphonic so that issue with content repeats itself today.
That Pioneer system was on demo for a year and didn’t sell.
Just to make sure my prejudices weren’t clouding reality I took a field trip to a local Best Buy electronics superstore to check out the latest offerings and it was underwhelming.
A demo for the Panasonic Viera was out of order, the Sony demo with active glasses was working but made the 3D image seem very artificial and even a little forced. Samsung had an interesting bundle with a Blu-ray player and a sound bar at a very attractive price but there were no glasses for a demo and no 3D content running on the screen.
Of all the TVs on display, the 3D versions make up a very small percentage. I didn’t see anyone looking at them, and the usually tenacious sales staff left me alone. Interestingly, Best Buy just announced an insurance program protecting buyers against TV obsolescence with a 50% trade in value (there is a catch though), so even Best Buy thinks the confusion over 3D is crimping sales.
Why is all this important from a semiconductor perspective? A third of all ICs are consumed by 10 companies. These are mainly consumer electronics companies, so the impact of sales of TVs has a huge impact on our industry.
3D TV is never going to be a real driver of semi sales in 2011 or even 2012 because the value proposition just isn’t there for consumers; I doubt it will ever come.
As I was leaving Best Buy with my kids (who were more interested in games and the Kinect by the way) we saw George Lucas walking in, maybe he was going to check 3D out as well?
David Blaza is senior vice president of UBM Electronics (the company that publishes EE Times and EDN). David has over 20 years of sales, marketing, and publishing experience in the technology sector working for companies as diverse as IBM, Motorola, Mars Electronics, CMP and now United Business Media. He is a graduate of the University of Bradford, England (BS, Materials Science) and the University of Stirling, Scotland (MS in Economics & Technology).
I've seen enough 3D movies at this point. Additional experience: small to none. Some CG movies are ok; live action stuff: why bother? The only reason we are seeing a spate of 3D stuff is that (a) Barco projectors in commercial theatres throw 3D with little additional cost, and technically the presentation is excellent; and (b)consumer display manufacturers have smelled blood, and want the market. But 3D has been periodically revived about every 10 to 20 years since oh, let's see, 1860? It has a niche, but that seems to be about it. Time will tell. So, how many people have shelled out for these things so far?
Within the movie production industry, many think that 3D will happily continue as a separate strand alongside 2D movies. After all, animated features come in stop-frame, CG and traditional hand-drawn cartoon variants. Some perfectly good 2D movie ideas will no doubt be ruined in production by a studio deciding to make them in 3D.
In the same way, 2D TV viewing will be degraded because the mandatory 3D set will produce a worse picture than an equivalent priced 2D set.
But will anyone care?
Many cheap hi-fis will give you noisy stereo FM on poor signals when on mono quieting would be much cleaner.
I have been criticised here for being too pessimistic about 3DTV so just to give you the other side of the story a research firm called Future Source says 15 million 3DTV's will sold in the US by the end of 2012 but again I don't believe it unless there is a massive uptick in 3D contnet and a glasses free technology that looks really good. The article is on CNET by Don Reisinger if you want to go to the source:
this thread just keeps on going!! USA today had a reader poll on 3D TV today and here are the results: 94% of 7,274 are unlikely to buy
How likely are you to purchase a 3D TV in 2011?
Vote TOTAL VOTES: 7274
seems to support my view but I've been wrong before!
As someone pointed out in another post, it doesn't matter which brand of 3D TV you buy based whatever display technology, the content layer is common to all of them. That said, I would choose a high def LED based projector over a 3D system any day. Crisp crystal clear HD beats 3D hands down. Just sit in on a OmniMax film and you'll see what I mean.
I'm with you on that, I avoid 3D at the theatres because I get headaches. Also the picture doesn't seem as sharp. Strangely enough the kids of today don't care about discomfort or lack of quality of content and/or image, just about geewiz and wow factors. I think if it was up to the over 25's 3D would never take off, (like it didn't in the 50's & 60's) but if it's up to the under 25's it's anybody's guess.
3D hardware adds nothing to movie viewing and is more of a distraction and irritation than anything. We perceive depth by so many means that the current 3D technology is unnecessary. I don't go to the theatre until they show the non-3D version. I hope this trend dies before it gets going because I really am not going to wear 3D glasses and pay extra money to watch a dim movie that gives me a head ache even if that's all they show. I'll find other recreation if 3D becomes all that is available.
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