Over the past year, 3D has been slowly gaining ground as a home theatre experience. Concert videos of U2 and Miley Cyrus were released in 3D, and the year ended with the release of Avatar. At CES, 3D HDTV was dominating trend, with the biggest television manufacturers in the industry including Panasonic, LG, Sony, Philips, Vizio, Samsung and Toshiba, all showcasing 3D HDTV products.
The definite show stealers amongst these were Panasonic’s 158 Inch plasma behemoth, a device that can churn out video at 4K resolution. 1080p resolution is 1K, and 4K is the standard at which the best cameras in the media industry record, which is basically what you see in theatres. The only heavier format around is IMAX. This of course, puts a lot of pressure on the consumer in terms of getting together the resources necessary to feed this monster.
If you got yourself a Blu - Ray player already, there’s bad news for being an early adapter, as you will need ports on it which are in the new HDMI 1.4 standard, something that supports the 3D HDTV Blu - Ray format. 3D Blu-Ray also means that whatever device you are using as a source has to output twice the amount of image information in the same amount of time, as there is a different image for each eye. Nonetheless, a few of the 3D HDTVs showcased at CES are market ready. Samsung’s wafer thin (1/3rd of an inch) LED9000 was also quite a spectacle. The remote that controls this device may just be the long awaited iPhone killer. You can stream videos, use Wi-Fi, and even watch a secondary channel on the remote itself.
Sharp came out with a stunner in the form of three Aquos LED LCD TVs, sets that uses four basic pixels instead of the standard three. A yellow pixel has been thrown into the array, to give a better color representation. Sony had showcased 3D models in CES 2009 itself, and some of the sets in the Bravia range are already 3D ready. The models showcased in the 2010 exhibit used an OLED screen. Sony announced that they would tie in with content providers such as Discovery channel for delivering 3D content to these screens. DirectTV and Foxtel, are just two providers reportedly getting ready to start broadcasting 3D in the United States as early as next year.
For all the movies that you love and were never made in 3D, the converting boxes that sprouted at CES can come to your rescue. JVC and Toshiba both showcased mechanisms through which a normal video stream could be converted to 3D. This practically solves the problem of 3D content creation, but how well this works across a range of movies remains to be seen. We wonder what these boxes would do with something like “The Lion King”. Some media companies can probably do a better conversion at their labs, then release the content on DVDs, which is something that Sony announced it would get into. Sony also said that they could put a patch in the PS3 firmware that would make the console ready for 3D gaming, at 1080p resolution at that. That is double the output of the device in the same time, which is a pretty tall claim.
LG rolled out their Optoma range of projectors, which is something for the home cinema enthusiasts who do not prefer screens. Unlike previous 3D projectors, these ones source the image information from the same lens. All of these technologies use the shutter model for the glasses, which means that the screen and the glasses have to be synchronized. A few glassless 3D screens were around, but these were nowhere near as effective or market ready as the ones that did use the glasses. Panasonic seems to be really intent on bringing 3D to every home, as it even rolled out a range of HD 3D camcorders for home use. There are two lenses, and two memory storage devices to capture and record the streams. Panasonic will start taking orders for these from April.