3D is the new buzzword in home theater, and depending on who talk to it is going to be either the greatest thing since sliced-bread or the biggest consumer electronics folly ever. Obviously, the real truth is somewhere in-between. Where do you stand? Check out my list of 3D TV pros and cons. Also, for a more in-depth look at 3D at home, including a brief history of 3D, check out my 3D Home Theater Basics FAQs.
3D TV - PROs
1. Viewing 3D Movies, Sports, TV shows, and Video/PC games in 3D
Seeing 3D in the movie theater is one thing, but being able to view 3D movies, TV programs, and 3D Video/PC games is quite an attraction for many, especially the Sports and Video/PC game experience. 3D content, if produced well, and if your 3D TV is properly adjusted, can provide an excellent immersive viewing experience for movies, games.
On additional tip: The 3D viewing experience works best on a large screen. Although 3D is now available on TVs of just about all available screen sizes, viewing 3D on 50-inch or larger screen is a more pleasing experience as the image fills more of your viewing area.
2. 3D TVs are excellent 2D TVs
Even if you aren't interested in 3D now (or ever), it turns out that 3D TVs are also excellent 2D TVs. Do to the extra processing (good contrast, black level, and motion response) needed to make 3D look good on a TV, this spills over into the 2D environment, making for an excellent 2D viewing experience.
3. Some 3D TVs perform real-time 2D to 3D conversion
Here is an interesting twist on some higher-end 3D TVs. Even if your TV program or movie isn't being played or transfered in 3D, some 3D TVs have real-time 2D-to-3D real time conversion. OK, admittedly, this is not as good an experience as watching originally produced or transmitted 3D content, but it can add a sense of depth and perspective if used appropriately, such as with viewing live sporting events.
3D TV - CONs
1. Not everyone likes 3D
Not everyone likes 3D. When comparing content filmed or being presented in 3D, the depth and layers of the image are not the same as what we see in the real world. Also, just as some people are color blind, some people are "stereo blind". To find out if you are "stereo blind", check out a simple depth perception test.
However, even many people that aren't "stereo blind" just don't like watching 3D. Just as those who prefer 2-channel stereo, rather than 5.1 channel surround sound.
2. Those Pesky Glasses
I don't have a problem wearing 3D glasses. To me, they are glorified sunglasses, but many are bothered by having to wear them. Depending on the glasses, some are, indeed, less comfortable than others. The comfort level of the glasses may be more a contributor to "so-called" 3D headaches than actually watching 3D. Also, wearing 3D glasses serves to narrow the field of vision, introducing a claustrophobic element to the viewing experience.
Whether 3D glasses bothers you or not, the price of them certainly can. With most LCD Shutter-type 3D glasses selling for over $100 a pair, this is certainly a downer for those with large families or lots of friends. However, some manufacturers are switching to 3D TVs that use Passive Polarized 3D Glasses, which are much less expensive, running about about $20 a pair, and are more comfortable to wear. Read more about Active Shutter and Passive Polarized 3D Glasses.
No-glasses 3D is being demonstrated, and it will eventually be available, but it will be some time before it is ready for consumers. Read my article: 3D Without Glasses.
3. 3D TVs are more expensive
New tech is more expensive to acquire, at least at first. I remember when the price for a VHS VCR was $1,200. Blu-ray Disc players have only been out for about four years and the prices of those have dropped from $1,000 to about $100. In addition, who would have thought when Plasma TVs were selling for $20,000 ten years ago that you could buy one now for less than $700. The same thing will happen to 3D TV. In fact, if you do some searching in Ads or on the internet, you will find that 3D TV prices have come down on most sets, except for the real high-end units.
4. You need a 3D Blu-ray Disc player, and maybe a 3D-enabled Home Theater Receiver
If you think the cost of a 3D TV and Glasses are a stumbling block. Don't forget about having to buy a 3D Blu-ray Disc player if you really want to watch great 3D in high definition. That can add at least a couple of hundred bucks to the total. Also, the price of 3D Blu-ray Disc movies hovers between $35 and $40, which is about $10 higher than most 2D Blu-ray Disc movies.
Now, if you connect your Blu-ray Disc player through your home theater receiver and on to your TV, unless your home theater receiver is 3D-enabled, you cannot access the 3D from your Blu-ray Disc player. However, there is a workaround - connect the HDMI from your Blu-ray Disc player directly to your TV for video, and use an alternate connection from your Blu-ray Disc player to access audio on your home theater receiver. Some 3D Blu-ray Disc players actually offer two HDMI outputs, one for video and for audio. However, it does add cables in your setup. For reference, check out my article: Five Ways to Access Audio on a Blu-ray Disc Player.
Of course, the solution to this is to buy a new home theater receiver. However, I think most people can put up with one extra cable instead, at least for the time being.
5. Not enough 3D content
Here is the perpetual "Catch 22". You can't watch 3D unless there is 3D content to watch, and content providers aren't going to supply 3D content unless enough people watch to watch it and have the equipment to do so. On the positive side, there seems to be plenty of 3D-enabled hardware (Blu-ray Disc Players, TVs, Home Theater Receivers), but content has been slow in coming, with less than 30 3D Blu-ray Disc movies available by the end of 2010.
Also, another problem that didn't help is that, at first, many 3D Blu-ray Disc movies were only available for purchasers of certain brand 3D TVs. For instance, Avatar in 3D was only available for owners of Panasonic 3D TVs, while Dreamworks 3D movies were only available with Samsung 3D TVs. Fortunately, during 2012, these exclusive agreements have expired and as of the fall of 2012, there were about 150 titles available, and this amount is steady increasing.
On the other hand, Blu-ray isn't the only source for growth in 3D content, DirecTV and Dish Network are also offering 3D content via Satellite. You just need to make sure your satellite box is 3D-enabled or if DirecTV and Dish have the ability to do this via firmware updates.
Proceed to Page 2: My Take on 3D TV