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Like many of you, Insiders, I sat in a darkened theater a few months ago wearing goofy glasses and was taken to another world.
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James Cameron’s Avatar demonstrated how far 3D technology has come and what it is capable of. Though it has gone in and out of vogue over the decades, the last year or so has seen a surge in the number of films released in 3D, and theater owners are scrambling to install 3D systems across the country. Every Pixar and Dreamworks animation project on the docket will be released in 3D and Warner Bros. even did a last-minute 3D retrofit on Clash of the Titans to jump on the bandwagon.

It’s not just the moviegoing public that’s enraptured with 3D movies. Studios see them as a way to help fill the revenue gap left by declining DVD sales, as 3D shows command a significant premium over regular films’ ticket prices. As studios and producers of 3D technology line their pockets from the format’s recent box office success, it’s only natural that their attention should turn towards the next big potential 3D venue: home entertainment.

Late last year, the Blu-ray Disc Association announced that it had finalized  its ‘Blu-ray 3D’ specification, which calls for every 3D Blu-ray product to be compatible with any 3D display, be it LCD, plasma or another tech. Since then, major manufacturers such as Panasonic, Sony, LG and Samsung have announced or released 3D-compatible HDTVs.

While studios, electronics manufacturers and everyone else with a stake in the home 3D game is hoping that consumers quickly jump on board with the new technology, I feel that it’s going to be a long, slow road to widespread 3D adoption in the home. Here are the three main reasons I feel that the 3D format is not ready for prime time in the home yet:

This is by far the biggest obstacle standing in home 3D’s way. You know that shiny new 50″ HDTV you bought last year? It won’t be 3D-compatible, and you’ll have to invest in a new set that is significantly more expensive than a traditional high-definition TV set.

With the country just beginning to emerge from a crippling recession, and with the Blu-ray format yet to solidify itself in the majority of American homes, it seems unlikely that a new, even more expensive format is going to quickly gain traction.

The Glasses
While 3D glasses have come a long way since the nose-cutting, red and blue paper specs of yore, they are still required for 3D viewing in theaters and in the home. They can be uncomfortable and awkward, and aren’t cheap either. 3D HDTV sets generally ship with a few pairs, but if you have a family or group of friends that are going to be watching a movie with you, additional pairs costing up to $150 apiece will be required. Manufacturers hope to eventually provide 3D images without the need for glasses, but for the foreseeable future, if you want 3D you’re stuck with specs.

Lack of Content
Even if you can get past the expense of new equipment and the annoyance of glasses, you’re not going to have much to watch on your new 3D setup. Only a few 3D Blu-ray titles are currently available, and they are often exclusively bundled with certain manufacturer’s devices because of studio alliances. Some television channels, including ESPN and Discovery, plan to offer 3D content, but it won’t begin to be available until later this year. A large supply of content that appeals to a broad swath of consumers is, by all appearances, a long way off.

Your turn to chime in, Insiders. Do you have more hope for the quick adoption of 3D in the home than I do? What are some potential factors that could induce quicker acceptance of the new format?
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How likely are you to purchase a 3D-capable set in the near future?

16 Responses to “(R)editorial: 3D in the Home Not Ready for Prime Time”

  1. Member [Join Now]

    no 3d for me in near future!
    tech is not mainstream enough for me.

    stnd bluray is not even available in ANY redbox and we have 50 of them
    meaning no chance at source material.
    every title has to be available as it releases, i see everything.
    whats the use for only a small percentage of titles in 3d.
    dvd in 3d sucks. imax in 3d rules. there is quite a gap in possible tech.
    what will they deliver???

    waiting for the dust to settle and quite content to do so.


  2. Member [Join Now]


    After 15 minutes with the glasses on I get disoriented
    and it gives me a throbbing headache!

    Do they have a pill that goes with it?
    For a $150,
    they should.
    NO THANKS!!!

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    FalconFour [visitor]

    Hey, I’m still looking to get a huge 42″ CRT-based rear projection HDTV from 2002 up and running again. If I can get that working, it’ll be my first real HDTV experience in my own living room, bumping aside the huge wooden console TV from 1992. Looks like it’ll be another 10 years before I acquire an old, malfunctioning 3D HDTV from someone to call my own…

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Ralph Kramden [visitor]

    October 1, 1955:

    “I am waiting for 3D TV”

    April 5, 2010:

    “I am waiting for holographic TV”


    “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi your my only hope!”

  5. Visitor [Join Now]
    redroover [visitor]

    3D has a long way to go. Right now it basically sucks. Have you seen Clash of the Titans in 3d it was terrible. The dull colors the floating heads. When they get 3D without glasses and it doesn’t look like some kind of computer generated thing I may just may consider it, but everything on TV will have to be 3D. Right now we have HDTV but even with that most of the channels still are not HD. Let’s get one thing right and complete before we jump into something else that is also half ass completed. That is the problem with today’s technology they push on to something new before they really perfect the existing project.

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
    MovieBuff [visitor]

    Have you ever tried wearing 3D glasses over glasses? So uncomfortable that you stop thinking about the movie and wish it would end so you can take off the glasses.

  7. Visitor [Join Now]
    Matt [visitor]

    We just purchased a Samsung 55″ 3D and 3D Blu Ray.
    Watched Monsters in 3D last night.
    It was great!!! We laugh at the effects and the show itself.
    I wear glasses and the 3D glases over them was no problem.
    Yes, I wish more 3D was available!

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    Rich [visitor]

    Not gonna go 3-D until the technology has caught up with the idea. I still think it is a moronic idea. Most of us live in a 3-D world and want to get away from reality in movies.
    We have an HD TV and blu-ray player and I am happy. I love the “3-D” feeling that I get from the sound of the 5.1 channel mix.
    For me personally, I really enjoy movies in 3-D for about 15 minutes and then it gets to feel normal and I want to take off the glasses. I have not seen a 3-D TV and have not seen a movie in 3-D since Bolt.

  9. Member [Join Now]

    3-D comes and goes every few years. The last 3-D movie I saw was “Spy Kids 3D” in 2003. I don’t think that 3-D in the home will catch on very quickly, especially with everyone rushing out to buy an HDTV set right now, as well as the high cost. I don’t plan to buy an HDTV or a Blu-Ray, let alone any kind of 3D setup. I’m happy with my 5.1 Dolby/DTS setup and DVD collection and my 20 inch Sharp TV. The only way i’d replace any of these components is if they’d break, or if the DVD format completely dies. Until then, i’ll stick with my current setup.

  10. Member [Join Now]
    Shemp Howard [shemp-howard]

    Can’t wait for:

    “Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Pancakes”

  11. Visitor [Join Now]
    SkippyHoward [visitor]

    3D Gaming, televised sports events, and movies will drive this puppy to the bank. It’s the new have/have not definition. New console games are going to be gorgeous and have a new level of realism never seen before. I can’t wait. Bring it baby, yesterday.

  12. Visitor [Join Now]
    JJS [visitor]

    From standard to HD = Incredible
    From DVD to Blu Ray = WOW
    From Flat Screen to 3D = Nah….

    I saw a demonstration at Sears. Put the stupid glasses on and watch Monsters. Colors dull, and it overall was ho hum. Simply put, it is kinda of cool, but it is not something I would look forward to. Plus, try to either keep a pair of glasses on my kids for long, or try to get them to not break the glasses. Both seem horrible.