Tech Guides

HardwareZone's 3D TV Buying Guide Essentials

By Andy Sim - 11 Oct 2011

3D Home Theater Setup

A Complete 3D Home Theater Setup

We've established that a 3D-capable TV is required for a 3D Home Theater setup. Fair enough. But what about the rest of the AV components? Will your current Blu-ray player suffice? Can you still rely on that cranky old AV receiver for 3D sources? What about VOD content? Will you require any additional equipment in order to stream 3D movies to your TV? Here are some of the recommended AV components to complete your 3D home cinema experience. 

A 3D TV is one of the basic requirements for a 3D home entertainment hub. That's a given. And yes, you'll need 3D glasses too. Scroll down for a list of essential AV equipment required to complete your 3D home theater experience. (Image source: Panasonic)

Getting to Know the Rest of the 3D AV Crew

To be honest, creating a 3D "ecosystem" at home takes much more than a 3D telly. In other words, a 3D display is effectively useless without an appropriate 3D source. That is, not unless you can live with 2D to 3D converted pictures on your TV all the time. To get you started, here are some AV components for your consideration before you lay your money down.


Don't worry, all Blu-ray players play DVDs too.

3D Blu-ray Player

You'll need a 3D Blu-ray player equipped with the latest HDMI 1.4 standard and Blu-ray 3D support. The older HDMI 1.3 version is unable to transport dual 1080p streams as reproduced by 3D BD sources. This applies to BD drives manufactured before 2009 mainly. The recent Philips BDP9600 (shown above) is armed with HDMI 1.4 and features a TI Burr-Brown DAC as well.



3D Blu-ray Discs

The majority of 3D Blu-ray movies are encoded using the MPEG-4 MVC format with dual 1080p streams on a typical 50GB Blu-ray disc. More importantly, these 3D titles are brand-agnostic. In other words, you may plonk them into any 3D Blu-ray player to enjoy your stereoscopic kicks.


 The latest crop of 3D AVRs supports HD audio decoding and HDMI 1.4a.

3D-ready AV Receivers

It's best to use a 3D-ready AV receiver for a 3D home theater setup. One example is the Onkyo TX-SR608 as shown above. Such AVRs are not only capable of decoding and transporting the new full HD 3D format given their HDMI 1.4a support, but they are also able to process "HD" surround sound standards, such Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio found on 3D Blu-ray titles.

Workaround: If you prefer to retain your non-3D compatible receiver, here's what you can do. Connect your 3D Blu-player to your TV via a HDMI cable. For audio, wire a S/PDIF cable from your TV to the AVR. Also, you might have to tweak the receiver's audio delay option to compensate for any lip-sync offsets. 

Cable makers are not allowed to market their cables by HDMI standard versions, such as 'HDMI 1.4 cable'.

HDMI Cables

In early 2010, the HDMI Founders decreed that vendors are not allowed to market HDMI cables based on HDMI versions. In other words, cables are now ranked according to their speed and network capabilities instead. The five classifications are: HDMI Standard, HDMI High Speed, HDMI Standard with Ethernet, HDMI High Speed with Ethernet and HDMI Standard Automotive.

The bottom line is this: as long as you have a High Speed HDMI cable to sustain the increased data throughput, it should be able to transport 3D signals between your AV peripherals without a hitch. Some of the older (HDMI 1.3) cables can work just as well with 3D signals. As such, you might want to test them out before discarding them for good.   


3D Movies via IPTV

Purchasing 3D Blu-ray discs can be a costly affair, and some of us might not relish spending our hard-earned money on something we may only watch once. If you feel the same way, then you might want to consider alternate 3D sources instead. Locally, we have the option of subscribing to Singtel's mio TV Video-on-Demand service which comes with a handful of 3D films such as "Tron" and "Tangled" in HD resolution. As it stands, a single 3D VOD movie would cost you about $6.42 for two days rental.

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