Luddite Article - Three Dimensional Viewing

This month, Mark Richardson reviews the best 3D televisions on the market and ponders if 3D is really the right way to go.....
Let us all be honest with one another.....what is important in life? Family, friends, work are all a given, but I would argue that TV is an important element of day to day life. Now there may be some out there heckling my last statement, arguing that the increased reliance of television has helped in the disintegration of literacy and the using of the mind. On one hand I would agree with certain points, on the much bigger hand...I have to watch football. So whatever opinion you may harbour towards the box in the corner of your room, this review can give you a 3D insight into what 3D television is really about and if all the hype about it is indeed true.

 Before I ventured into three dimensional viewing, background research informed me that there are two types of 3D televisions – and there I was thinking it is either 3D or not. The first type, which most of the big TV brands are championing are active shutter 3D TVs. Active shutter glasses synchronise with the TV via infra-red signal and rapidly blink off and on, relaying full 1080p images to both the right and left eye at 50 frames per second. The glasses need a power source, such as a battery or USB charge, to switch on and off thus making them a bit pricey. The alternative to active shutter displays are passive shutter displays which appear on TVs such as the LG LD920. The TV display has a polarising film over the screen which separates the image into left and right types. The glasses are also polarised (like the ones you get in the cinema) and filter out the unwanted image and let only the correct image through. As you only see half of the image in each eye, 3D content will not be shown in full HD resolution.
 Now, abound with 3D technological knowledge, I was ready to go and actually see what was on offer for the 3D minded consumer.
 Affordable 3D viewing - Samsung LE40C750
 • Type: Active shutters
 • Size: 40-inch LCD
 • Price: £800
 • Extra glasses: £60 to £100 a pair
 I started with one of the cheapest Televisions around, and at £800 the price is reasonable. Ok, I am a bit of a techno snob and have been known in the past to link price with quality, however the Samsung surprised me. Firstly, priorities intact, I put the football on. The picture delivered a good sense of depth which was complimented well by a bright and detailed finish. The colours were bright and vibrant and when Rooney made a fine pass to Nani, it did appear the ball was rolling outside of the screen in the middle of my living room, which to a 3D virgin was quite remarkable. However, when we turned over to Tennis (my flatmate made the decision not me) we did spot ‘crosstalk’ which is an overlap of images – so we did see double court lines appear. The glasses are comfortable to wear, but I could not get used to feeling like Data from Star Trek sitting in my living room wearing big 3D glasses. I also think that if you are going 3D, splash out and go for a bigger screen size, 40inch is good and matches well with the price of this TV but personally I would go bigger, although my girlfriend would not agree of course.

 Top price 3D Viewing - Sharp Aquos Quattron LC-60LE925
 • Type: Active shutter
 • Size: 60-inch
 • Price: £3500
 • Extra glasses: £100 a pair
 The first thing I noticed about the Sharp was the awful picture noise. In any dark scene of the movie which we were watching, Tron Legacy, there would be terrible picture noise. There was colour banding, the colours were bland and the background seemed to judder. This TV seemed hell bent on trying to ruin 3D viewing at every turn. Angry and annoyed at watching the movie we turned back to football (thank god for Sky Sports Super Sunday’s) and see how the picture would fair with sports action. Well the result was not positive. There was often crosstalk, and as much as I like watching a well known London team lose, I do not want a double ghost image of all their players. Further to this by biggest annoyance came with the glasses. They were heavy, uncomfortable and most annoying, let of a low-level buzz when switched off. For the price you are paying for this TV you expect more but unfortunately it just does not deliver.
 Best Buy – Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20
 • Type: active shutter
 • Size: 50-inch
 • Price: £2300
 • Extra glasses: £100 a pair
 Last match of the Sunday and our final TV, straight away this TV stood out from the others. The picture was near perfect – great depth, sharpness and motion and absolutely no ghosting which was an issue with the Sharp. The picture was cracking and the 3D effect it delivered was astounding – images seemed to be right in the middle of the room. Fantastic, and a quality which was not matched by the Samsung and Sharp. However, Plasma displays do not tend to be as bright as LCD screens and unfortunately it does show in the picture of the Panasonic. The brightness and the colour are dulled and if you turn the lights up the picture becomes even darker. Another downside is the glasses were modelled on the protective goggles welders wear. Uncomfortable and heavy but fortunately the 3D picture it delivers allowed me to forget the cumbersome glasses. For 3D picture, this is the one to choose.
 Word of warning to the 3D television buyer...I was not prepared for how 2D would look on these displays. The displays are so clear that everything not in HD and in 2D appears that it has been recorded on a hand held camera – some TV ads were actually amusing due to the fact they looked so cheap and awful. This is a huge downside to 3D television. As there are only a handful of channels giving 3D, you are paying a substantial amount of money for a 3D experience you will only use occasionally; purely due to the fact there are such a limited amount of channels. Further to this the normal channels look unbelievably fake and cheap which could spoil your viewing. If you want affordable go for the Samsung, and if you want the best go for the Panasonic but if truth be told I am going to wait until the there is more choice for the 3D viewer to justify the purchase of a 3D TV, I honestly do not believe it is worth it whilst there is a lack of choice of channels and programmes. So I will be heading down the pub to watch 3D football for the time being. There is of course an upside to this....I can never run out of beer watching football at the pub.


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