Tech Guides

HardwareZone's 3D TV Buying Guide Essentials

By Andy Sim - 11 Oct 2011

The Evolution of 3D Televisions

Stereoscopic Televisions: Past & Present

Visual depth. That's what today's televisions offer as opposed to their "flat" 2D counterparts. And it didn't seem too long ago either when 3D TVs went mainstream. In reality, it's been almost three years since the first consumer 3D TV was announced. It is debatable, but Hyundai's 46-inch E465S may well be the first 3D screen to land in the consumer space. Since then, 3D televisions have evolved into variants with differing technologies, such as alternate-sequencing (or active-shutter) and polarized forms we see in electronics stores today. Such variety can mean two things - more options for the consumer, but on the contrary, it also hinders standardization efforts with regards to the unification of 3D display technology.

3D technology has come a long way since the days of anaglyph glasses. While cinema patrons and home users no longer don these red and cyan eyewear, glasses are still required in most cinemas and even with modern 3D TV technology. (Image source:

Launched overseas in December 2010, Toshiba's 20GL1 finally brings glasses-free 3D viewing to the TV domain. Unfortunately, the tiny 20-inch didn't chalk up considerable sales figures due to its small display and pricey requirement. According to Toshiba, only 500 units were sold in the first month after the GL1's release.

The state of 3D technology is still in a state of flux. Although stereoscopic displays are now found on a wide range of CE products, including televisions, phones and notebooks, it may be a while before broadcasters and manufacturers are able to agree on a conclusive standard.

According to sentiments gathered from industry insiders, the current fleet of 3D televisions will find it hard to establish a niche in the consumer market due to their eyewear dependency. To answer that call, Toshiba came up with 12-inch and 20-inch lenticular models back in 2010. By implementing a parallax-barrier approach, both Regza models enabled a user to experience 3D visuals without the need for glasses. Sadly, they failed to take off in terms of sales numbers, due to their tiny screen estate, steep price tags and tight viewing angles. The 20-inch GL1 demanded US$2,900 when it was first launched. Today, 3D TVs are mostly a mix of active-shutter types plus the newly introduced passive flavor by LG. There's more on these in the following pages (you can use the jumps below). If you are keen on purchasing one, then step right in and help yourself further to our buying guide. Ultimately, only YOU can decide if 3D is worth paying the extra premium for.

- How Do 3D TVs Work?
- Understanding 3D TV Technology
- Active Shutter vs. Polarized Glasses
- Dispelling 3D TV Myths
- 3D Home Theater Setup

(Recommended Read: If you need a primer on HDTV (the various display technologies and market trends), and things to look out for when buying one, do also check out our HDTV Buying Guide.)

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