3D TV FAQs the most asked questions about 3D TV

3D TV is a relatively new technology; it is therefore not much of a surprise that most consumers still lack a basic understanding of what present 3D TV technology is all about. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of misconceptions surrounding this subject, partly as a result of the misleading information that often comes out from sales reps and the TV manufacturing industry.

We do our best by presenting what we know about 3D TVs and 3D TV technology in general. These 3D FAQs answer in concise form, some of the most common frequently asked questions about 3D TV Technology.

Please note that most of the issues in this 3D FAQ list are addressed in further detail in the rest of the articles appearing under this 3D TV section. We therefore encourage you to go through the rest of the 3D TV guides for additional information in line with the links given below.

3D TV Frequently Asked Questions

Questions always crop up with a new technology; this is understandable. The real problem however with the present absence of consumer understanding is that both the manufacturing and entertainment industries are often trying to push consumers spend more on a technology that may not necessarily deliver what the consumer is after.

Luckily, more and more consumers are developing a critical attitude towards what is being pushed at them by the industry and the media in general, asking all sorts of questions prior to deciding on making a purchase.

This 3D TV FAQs page presents in concise form, answers to some of the most common frequently asked questions about 3D technology. Despite the concise nature of the answers, the overall information presented in this FAQ page may still serve as a short reference guide to all that relates to the world of 3D TV.

Answers to the most common 3D TV FAQs

What is 3D TV Technology?

3D TV is a TV technology that is capable of rendering the illusion of 3D over the TV screen; for additional information, please refer to our article here.

Is 3D at home different from 3D in the movie theater?

The impact of any 3D experience is partly determined by the screen size and the viewing distance. In the home, because of the smaller screen size, the viewer sits much closer to the screen with the result that the 3D experience at home, while still pleasant, can never match the same immersive 3D experience one enjoys at the movie theater. For more information, please refer to our article here.

Are there other 3D TV formats? Can these lead to a format war?

There are various 3D formats that have made it to the home but it seems the industry has learned from past mistakes; this is not going to lead to a format war as present 3D TVs are capable of supporting the most common 3D TV formats in use today. More details here.

What is the best 3D TV viewing distance and screen size for a more immersive and realistic 3D viewing experience?

As further detailed in our article on 3D TV Viewing Distance, you need to sit closer to the TV than what is considered the optimal viewing distance for 2D viewing. In a similar manner, a larger screen size than you would consider normal for 2D is essential for an immersive 3D experience. Going for the largest 3D HDTV you can afford and viewing at as close as possible to zero degrees along the TV axis i.e. head-on facing the TV screen, should lead to a more realistic 3D experience.

Is it true that 3D can at times cause ill effects?

The general majority of 3D viewers will not suffer any ill effects even after extended periods of watching 3D. But because 3D TV only addresses stereopsis (image separation) to deliver dept information while ignoring eyeball accommodation (focusing), the result is unnatural; in some, this may lead to severe disorientation and headaches. More details on this issue appear here.

Can everyone see 3D TV?

The simple answer is NO. More than 4% of the American population cannot see 3D the way it is implemented today. This does not mean that these persons do not have depth perception when viewing real objects in space. At the same time, it also means that it is best to check your eyesight before investing in one of the latest 3D HDTVs. More details here.

Why do I need to wear 3D glasses to watch 3D TV?

3D TV displays images intended for the left eye and for the right eye either in a sequential order in the case of active 3D glasses technology, or simultaneously on the screen in the case of passive 3D glasses systems. However for the images to be interpreted by the brain as a single 3D image, the left eye should not see the image intended for the right eye and vice versa. The 3D glasses are used to block the respective eye from seeing the image intended for the other eye. Without the use of the 3D glasses, 3D images appear blurred and may at times become almost unwatchable. More information on 3D glasses is available here.

Are 3D glasses expensive?

Prices of 3D glasses have fallen significantly since the debut of 3D TVs in 2010. Present prices for active 3D shutter glasses range from $30 to $80 depending mainly on whether they are re-chargeable or not.

Passive 3D glasses are less expensive; these are presently selling on amazon at under $25 for two pairs.

This lower pricing of passive 3D glasses renders 3D HDTVs using passive 3D glasses technology more within reach of the average household since each member of the family watching 3D has to wear one; the latter applies irrespective of the 3D glasses technology used by the 3D HDTV. More information is available here.

Are there 3D TVs that do not require glasses?

Yes in that the technology is available; these use autostereoscopic displays but these are extremely expensive, and are generally available for commercial use only.

During CES2012, Toshiba displayed a no-glasses 3D TV prototype capable of impressive results; but there is still the need for more development and a lower price before this technology can make it to the home. More details here.

What is 3D Image Crosstalk?

Image crosstalk in 3D viewing is a phenomenon where a subtle washed-out image intended for the right eye appears as a halo around the image intended for the left eye and vice versa.

This affects the 3D image detail, leading to a subtle double image effect that may at times become annoying with some 3D content. In the worst case, it may even cause eye fatigue.

3D image crosstalk can be caused by a variety of factors including lack of accuracy in the synchronization between the TV and the shutter glasses, as well as too high contrast TV settings or a high contrast image.

It is also enhanced by an insufficient pixel response time; rather this is the main culprit with LCD and LED HDTVs. Even the fastest LCD displays with their 1-msec response time, are not fast enough to eliminate image crosstalk completely. The latest 3D plasma HDTVs from all major brands have a much faster pixel response time. In particular, plasma TVs come close to around 0.001msec, almost a thousand times faster than LED LCD TVs; this is the time it takes to ignite or switch off the phosphor.

This means that image crosstalk in 3D TVs is much more pronounced on LCD and LED TVs than on plasma HDTVs. Comparative reviews of the latest 3D LED and plasma TVs show that image crosstalk on LED TVs―though subtle―is still visible; instead, with plasma 3D TVs, this is hardly an issue. In this respect, plasma TVs takes the upper hand.

Which display technology is better for 3D – plasma or LCD/LED TVs?

We have already indicated that LCD and LED TVs suffer from a more pronounced 3D image crosstalk than plasma TVs due to their slower pixel response time. This renders plasma the TV display technology of choice for 3D.

But there is even one more important issue with LCD and LED TVs that is not present with plasma TVs, and that renders plasma the ideal display technology for 3D TVs. Because of the polarizer layer used on LCD panels – both on the TV display panel and the 3D glasses, the viewer has to sit in an upright position to get the 3D effect; try to tilt or sit back with the glasses at an angle to the LCD screen and the image would go dark as the polarization plane of the display panel and that of the glasses cross each other. This is more of an annoyance problem but it can also turn out to be a major issue when considering that sitting in an upright position is not the normal relaxed position when watching TV on your couch.

Do 3D TVs use more power than 2D TVs?

Reviews of the latest 3D TVs show that once the 3D mode is activated, the 3D HDTV uses considerably more power than when displaying 2D content, with actual power consumption in 3D mode being more than double the power required when the same TV is operated in 2D mode.

The reason behind this higher power arises because 3D TVs have to increase the picture brightness to compensate for both the on/off switching action of the shutter glasses that would in effect result in half as much light reaching each eye, as well as for the reduced brightness due to the polarizing filters on the 3D glasses.

The fact that with 3D TV systems using passive 3D glasses, there is no switching involved, explains why these generally render a brighter 3D image.

Do I need a new TV to watch 3D TV Content?

The simple answer is YES. None of the 3D-ready HDTVs we have seen between 2007 and 2009 are capable of the latest full HD 3D TV. This delivers two simultaneous streams of 1080p 60Hz video, one for each eye. In addition, only HDMI 1.4 can handle the required data throughput to support two such video streams at these resolutions.

This does not mean that it is not possible to use one of the older 3D-enabled HDTVs to watch the latest 3D, but you would need some converter box. The result however would be a lower resolution 3D image than that supported by the latest active 3D glasses 3D HDTVs. Passive 3D glasses 3D TVs also suffer from the same lower resolution issue.

This lower 3D image would still look good on these HDTVs but once you start moving towards larger 55-inch screen sizes, this lower resolution leads to a more noticeable softness in image detail.

Can I see 2D content on a 3D TV?

Yes, any good 3D TV is in essence an equally good 2D TV. These 3D HDTVs work like any other standard HDTV; the only difference being that these have extra features to process 3D content, while delivering an illusion of image depth when viewing the resultant image with a 3D glasses.

Interesting here is that even Blu-ray 3D specifications (to which the latest 3D HDTVs comply), mandate that any 3D disc will also include a 2D version of the movie on the same disc.

What do I need to watch full HD 3D TV in the home?

Besides one of the latest 3D HDTVs, you also need a 3D content source such as one of the latest Blu ray 3D players to view Blu-ray 3D moves. With certain equipment set-ups, you may also need a 3D-enabled home theater receiver. These devices all come with HDMI 1.4. And obviously, you also need 3D content.

Sony Playstation 3 also made it to the list of 3D compatible devices. It requires a simple firmware upgrade to play Blu-ray 3D movies. This is basically the same with DirecTV’s satellite receivers which require a firmware upgrade to process 3D.

However, the electronics inside these devices are only intended to carry a single stream of 1080p video; in addition, both the PS3 and DirecTV receivers come with HDMI 1.3, so these will not deliver full 1080p 60Hz content to each eye. HDMI 1.3 can only support 3D at 720p60 and 1080p24.

How much does it cost to enjoy 3D TV at home?

When the first 3D TVs were released in 2010, you would had to spend an extra $1000 over and above what you would normally spend on a 2D set-up; this partly explains the flop in 3D HDTV sales during 2010.

Since then 3D TV prices have become much more affordable and more within reach as the 3D feature is now being integrated into more HDTVs at both the mid-range and premium categories. In addition, the prices of 3D glasses have fallen by more than half since the first 3D TVs appeared less than two years ago.

You still have to pay a premium to enjoy 3D at home but this is no more than a few hundred dollars (typical under $500) over a standard 2D TV setup; this should cover any extra premium for a 3D-enabled TV, the required 3D glasses for a family of four, a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player, and a subscription to a 3D content provider.

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