3D TV Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Digital Trends

View gallery

.

You've worn the glasses. Seen the demos. Winced at objects flying out the screen. And you're ready to buy a 3D TV.

Congratulations, brave early adopter. Although the 3D TV maelstrom at CES 2010 generated a fair bit of skepticism, the technology also managed to floor many people, and if the commercial success of Avatar is any indication, 3D movies aren't going to disappear any time soon. Ready to get in on the ground floor? Watch out, it's still under construction. But our 3D TV buyer's guide can help show you how to set up shop in three dimensions. Follow along as we lay your questions on the new format to rest.

More from DigitalTrends.com

TV Reviews

Blu-ray Player Review

Best iPad Apps

 

Which new models were announced at CES 2010? When will they be available?
Just about every major manufacturer announced a 3D television at CES 2010. Here's a rundown on the big models in order of their release:

•Panasonic Viera VT25 Series Plasma (Available now)
Samsung LED8000 Series LCD (Available now)
•LG LX9500 Series LCD (Available in Korea, coming to U.S. in May)
•Sony LX900 Series LCD (Summer 2010)
•Vizio XVT Pro Series LCD (Available in August 2010)
•Toshiba Cell TV ZX900 Series LCD (Fall 2010)

With the exception of Samsung's LED8000 series (which will be trumped by the LED9000 later on), these represent flagship models. Most manufacturers are also offering more stripped down versions at lower price points. Check out 3DMovieList for a comprehensive list of models, release dates and features.

Can I watch 2D video on a 3D TV?
Absolutely. All of the upcoming 3D TV models above represent flagship models from their respective manufacturers, which means they won't just play 2D television, it should look top notch. Nothing about the tech needed to make 3D-capable sacrifices 2D images quality, so even if you intend to watch 99-percent of your programming without glasses, you shouldn't think twice about buying a 3D TV.

View gallery

.

Will I absolutely need 3D glasses? How do they work? How much will extra pairs cost?
Every consumer-grade 3D TV today requires glasses to produce a 3D effect. Although many companies have demonstrated tech demos at trade shows that show how 3D can be produced without glasses, none of them are yet ready for prime time.

Unlike movie theaters, which use polarized glasses, 3D TVs use active-shutter LCD glasses. This means a tiny transmitter inside actually communicates with the TV to block your left eye when an image for the right eye is on the screen, and vice versa, 120 times per second. This rapid-fire trickery requires electronics and a small battery, making them heavier and bulkier than the cheap polarized glasses you may have used in a 3D cinema.

Although most 3D TVs will come with one or more pairs of glasses, you should also be prepared to buy additional pairs unless you really plan on sitting in your basement watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs all by yourself. Although not all manufacturers have announced pricing for the glasses that will pair with the new models, don't expect them to be cheap. Samsung, which already has 3D displays on the market, charges $130 for a pair of its rather dorky 3D shades. Nvidia charges $149. Even if the TV you buy comes with a two pairs, that's another $260 to get the kids on board, and more if you want to invite the neighbors over to gloat. Make sure to factor the price into your purchase.

View gallery

.

What will I be able to watch in 3D?
To be frank, not that much, right off the bat. Although standards for generating and distributing video in 3D have expanded, the market is still pretty slim at the moment.

Your best bet for the time being lies in 3D Blu-ray movies. Manufacturers only recently ratified a 3D standard for Blu-ray, but a few titles are already available. Samsung throws a 3D copy of Monsters vs. Aliens in its Blu-ray starter kit, and Panasonic recently sweetened the deal for its buyers with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Coraline in 3D with the purchase of any Panasonic 3D TV.

Some TVs, such as Toshiba's ZX900 Cell TVs and Samsung's LED9000, will actually be able to generate 3D content from 2D content as well. Although the artificial 3D effect from this method clearly won't look as good as native 3D (in our demo at CES, it looked a bit like cutouts from a pop-up book, and the rendering tech causes some people to have halos around them), we still think it will be an extremely useful feature while 3D remains immature, and content scarce.

Television stations will start to offer 3D content soon, too. DirecTV will fire up three 3D stations in 2010, ESPN will broadcast select games in 3D, and Sony and IMAX are slated to start their own 3D nature channel. Unfortunately, many of the specifics remain quite vague now, so you may be better off waiting for more information before committing to any one provider.

View gallery

.

Do I need a special Blu-ray player for those 3D Blu-ray discs?
Unfortunately, yes. The same companies pushing 3D TVs have committed to producing 3D-capable Blu-ray players this year as well. Here's a quick list:

•Panasonic DMP-BDT350 / BDT300
•Samsung BD-C3900 / C6900
•Sony BDP-S770 / S470
•Toshiba BDX3000
•LG BD580

So far, it doesn't look like any previous Blu-ray players will be upgradable, except Sony's PlayStation 3, which should get a firmware update to make it happen this summer, along with stereoscopic gaming.

What is HDMI 1.4?
At the moment, a certified HMDI 1.4 cable is the only way to carry a 3D signal. That means that your existing HDMI 1.3 cables (which have been the standard since 2006) won't do the job. A new cable isn't much of an upgrade investment, but keep in mind that other HDMI accessories won't work, either, including A/V receivers. If you plan to pass your video signal through a receiver with HDMI, Sony's STR-DN1010 is currently the only model that will fit your needs.

How big of a screen do I need?
You may recall from our HDTV buyer's guide that we dismissed the caveman "bigger is better" mentality when it comes to TVs, favoring one that fits the room instead. Well, grow out your unibrow and grab yourself a club, because the reverse is true with 3D. Let's state this bluntly: You need a big TV to appreciate 3D. Immersion is the name of the game, and the more the screen fills your field of view, the more you feel like you're "there." Fortunately, TV manufacturers seem to realize this as well, since we haven't seen a single 3D set under 42 inches. If you have the extra money to throw at a luxury like 3D TV, make sure to go all the way and buy the largest screen you can reasonably afford or fit in a room, because it will drastically affect your 3D experience.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • With Donald Trump as President, Here's What Will Happen to the U.S. Economy

      Donald Trump has had a lot of success in business, but how will he be for the economy as president? Here's how his economic policies will play out.

      The Street q
    • The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn't

      While everyone's been gearing up for President Trump's inauguration, the Clinton Foundation made a major announcement this week that went by with almost no notice: For all intents and purposes, it's closing its doors. In a tax filing, the Clinton Global Initiative said it's firing 22 staffers and closing its offices, a result of the gusher of foreign money that kept the foundation afloat suddenly drying up after Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidency. It proves what we've said all along: The Clinton Foundation was little more than an influence-peddling scheme to enrich the Clintons, and had little if anything to do with "charity," either overseas or in the U.S. That sound you heard starting in November was checkbooks being snapped shut in offices around the world by people who had hoped their donations would buy access to the next president of the United States. There was a strong precedent for it in Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

      Investor's Business Daily q
    • Suspect in officer's slaying spews expletives at judge

      ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Hours after a fugitive in the slaying of a police officer told a judge he was brutalized during his arrest, Orlando's police chief released a video of his surrender and described the suspect as "extremely violent, dangerous and very unpredictable."

      Associated Press
    • 'Morbidly obese' woman drops 126 pounds and becomes fitness model

      A woman from Aarhus, Denmark, who was once classified as “morbidly obese” after tipping the scales at 268 pounds, now works as a physical trainer and sportswear model after dropping more than half of the weight in a period of four years. Mathilde Broberg, 22, lost the excess pounds partially by cutting out junk food, exercising avidly and following the “teaspoon diet,” where she measured out her food and ate with a teaspoon to ensure that the portion sizes weren’t larger than the size of a flat-out hand.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • ESPN drop commentator over Venus Williams 'gorilla' remark

      US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open -- although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla". ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele. "During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

      AFP
    • Dear Abby: 3 ways to be a happier wife

      DEAR ABBY: Many of your published letters come from unhappy married women. Some of them seem unable to get objective advice that would make themselves and their marriages happier. I’m fortunate to be happily married (33 years) to a wonderful woman who has a clear perspective. Three pearls of wisdom she could share: 1. Don’t sulk because your husband can’t read your mind. Trust him; he’d like to help. And listen to your tone as you point out how he can. 2. The way you talk about him to your friends is an expression of your fidelity. Talk about him honestly, but with respect. If you do, he’ll admire and encourage your close friendships and take a sincere interest in your friends as people. If your

      Chicago Sun-Times q
    • The Next James Bond Story Has Been Confirmed

      The next James Bond installment has been confirmed. Sadly, it's not Daniel Craig's latest frowny-faced 007 appearance, but instead the next novel from writer Anthony Horowitz. The author said that he'd definitely consider writing another Bond novel while speaking to Digital Spy last year, as he enjoyed continuing the adventures of Ian Fleming's special agent so much in his 2015 series debut Trigger Mortis. He explained on Twitter that his latest work was so exciting that it's giving him insomnia. Then, fans asked whether he was working on a follow-up Bond tale. He then confirmed that he'll start work on the new James Bond book somewhere between summer and October 2017, aiming for an October 2018

      Esquire q
    • 8 Signs Your Husband is Still Madly in Love With You (9 photos)

      Even after all these years.  From Redbook

      Redbook
    • Mark Zuckerberg fires back at ‘misleading’ articles about his $100 million Hawaiian estate

      Mark Zuckerberg fired back at "misleading stories" about the 700 acres of Hawaiian property...

      Business Insider
    • Trump's Treasury pick just doubled down on a budget trick that would steal from an entire generation

      On Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Treasury secretary took the hot seat in...

      Business Insider
    • Did Bella Thorne Just Break The Law By Sharing These Nude Photos?

      On Tuesday, Bella Thorne retweeted a collection of nude photos, posted by anonymous Twitter user @comproimse, that were allegedly of her ex, Gregg Sulkin. There were three pictures: one of half of Sulkin's face, one of a person's chest, and one of a person's penis. Provided the photos are of who the poster says they are, and since they weren't posted by Sulkin himself, it's likely they were posted without his consent. By retweeting the photos, Thorne distributed them to her 6.55 million followers. A lot of the specifics are up in the air, but this news raises an interesting question. Let's say, for a moment, these pictures are of Sulkin and they were posted without his consent. Did Thorne commit

      refinery29.com q
    • Suspected Orlando Cop Killer Goes on Profanity-Laced Rant in Court

      Suspected cop killer Markeith Loyd -- who was caught Tuesday after a nine-day manhunt in Orlando, Florida -- cursed at the judge in a profanity-laced first appearance in court this morning. Loyd, who was wanted for allegedly killing Master Sgt. Debra Clayton of the Orlando Police Department this month, was in court today charged with killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December. Loyd has not yet been charged in connection with Sgt. Clayton’s murder.

      ABC News
    • While Drama Swirls, Olivia Munn Stuns in Yellow Gown

      Olivia Munn looked gorgeous in a yellow gown with a plunging neckline. Despite the fact that Olivia Munn‘s relationship with football player Aaron Rodgers is making headlines, the actress doesn’t appear to be fazed by it. The 36-year-old was recently spotted in a glamorous yellow gown with a plunging neckline while out in New York City.

      Yahoo Style
    • These Photos of Malia, Sasha, and President Obama Playing in the Snow Are Perfect

      White House photographer Pete Souza shares a look at his favorite day with the president.

      Elle
    • Flip or Flop's Christina El Moussa struggling to 'keep it all together' after split from Tarek – report

      Christina El Moussa, who shot to fame with her design reality show Flip or Flop, is reportedly going through a difficult phase following her split from husband Tarek El Moussa.

      International Business Times UK q
    • VIDEO: Driver Licenses From Nine States Won’t Be Valid IDs for Domestic Flights in 2018

      Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, travelers from nine states will no longer be able to travel with only their driver’s licenses.

      Travel & Leisure Video
    • Mark Zuckerberg is suing hundreds of Hawaiians to protect his 700-acre Kauai estate

      Mark Zuckerberg paid close to $100 million for 700 acres of beachfront property on the island of...

      Business Insider
    • Donald Trump Is Already Tweeting Us Into War with North Korea

      The next president has managed to put himself on a collision course with Pyongyang. Can he cut a deal to stop it?

      Foreign Policy Magazine
    • Correction: Pit Bull Attack story

      ATLANTA (AP) — In a story Jan. 17 about two dogs attacking children, The Associated Press erroneously reported the breed of dogs involved. The dogs were a pit bull mix and a border collie, not two pit bulls.

      Associated Press
    • ESPN analysts Dick Vitale, Seth Greenberg reveal national-title picks

      ESPN college basketball analysts Dick Vitale and Seth Greenberg shared interesting takes on the impact of new rules and offered their midseason picks to win it all during a joint conference call Wednesday. The former Div. I coaches agreed that the new emphasis on existing rules translate to offense winning championships. “If you think about all the freedom of movement . . . you think about the five-second call, you think about you can’t bump cutters, you think about you can’t tag rollers, you think about you can’t body guys off screens, the rules are basically set up for offense.” Vitale agreed: “I think it is definitely a scenario where the scoring has become dominant.” Vitale mentioned four

      www2.ljworld.com q