New studies paint rosy picture for 3D TV, passive shutter glasses

Are you already a 3D TV aficionado? Do you bore friends by bloviating on the differences between active and passive shutter glasses? If so, recent studies suggesting a coming home entertainment boom for the technology may not surprise you. But for everyone else hesitant to adopt another type of TV so soon after going HD, two new reports by two different firms are predicting you'll eventually cave.

In February, passive 3D TV technology received a vote of confidence from companies such as Vizio and Toshiba. Both promised their own versions of the cheaper, less advanced alternative to the standard active shutter glasses many bemoan.

Though the latter counters a higher price tag and discomfort with the promise of a superior viewing experience, a new study (.pdf) suggests the differences between the two may be less discernible than previously thought.

TCO Development researched the differences between active and passive 3D TV glasses and published its findings last week.

Areas measured in the study included angular dependent cross-talk (or, as TCO describes it, the "incomplete isolation of the left and right image channels so that one leaks or bleeds into the other when the screen is viewed from different angles"), picture luminance and resolution.

The group confirmed both technologies "differ in visual performance characteristics that affect the overall 3D experience" and noted with passive glasses that viewing angle is key. One other difference is the resolution discrepancy between the competing 3D tech. Active shutter glasses display in 1920x1080 for both eyes, while passive shutter glasses halve the latter figure to 1920x540 per eye.

Otherwise, however, the technologies performed similarly.

Angular color and RGB measurements were nearly identical in both format displays, the study found. And certainly some differences are dependent on the viewer. Every person sees 3D differently after all.

One thing that's tough to see no matter the 3D solution is the TV remote, said the TCO Development researchers; everything around the TV is darkened considerably while wearing either active or passive glasses.

Research group IHS iSuppli ignored the battle of the shutter and instead focused on the overall outlook for 3D TV home adoption.

Citing decreasing prices, increasing content and revamped advertisements, the 3D TV shipment tally for 2011 will grow by 500% according to the analyst's findings.

Riddhi Patel, IHS Director of Television Systems and Retail Services, explained the change in marketing strategy will echo what some companies have already done with internet-ready TV sets.

"Brands are marketing 3D not as a must-have technology but as a desirable feature, similar to the approach they have taken with Internet connectivity," he said.

IHS believes over 23 million 3D TV sets will ship in 2011, and that by 2014 over 100 million 3D TVs will be in homes across the world.

Patel notes that consumer reception for 3D TVs was "lukewarm" last year thanks to high prices and lackluster content, but the study affirms both drawbacks will be addressed this year.

In March 3D TV prices dropped 9% says IHS according to its U.S. TV Price and Specifications Tracker service, and a growing roster of compelling 3D material will continue to manifest itself - from cable broadcasting to a greater number of whiz-bang films.

Do these studies help sway you toward a 3D TV purchase, or only serve to cement a decision to hold off for the time being? Let us know in the comment section.

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