Although 3D has yet to prove the game-changer which consumer electronics manufacturers were looking for to replace HD, it is fast becoming a standard feature on all new displays with more manufacturers adopting passive glasses technology.
Research commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association suggested that 3DTV grew 9% in terms of sales worldwide in 2011 with the highest penetration in China.
“The Chinese have adopted passive glasses technology and applied that to low cost displays proving that if you price the product right it will sell,” said Steve Koenig (pictured), director of Industry Analysis, CEA. “Of course, how many of those consumers are watching 3D content is another matter but sales of 3DTVs in the US are also projected to grow largely because the technology is being added by all TV manufacturers as a standard.”
LG Electronics, for example, declared its intention to combine its 3D Cinema technology with smart TV functions in half of its product line in a bid to become the market leader in 3DTV.
At a CES press conference LG’s Tim Alessi said, “We have a track record in smart devices and in home 3D. This year we are asking the question - how smart is your 3DTV?”
LG’s 4K and mammoth 84-inch 3D smart TV features a new 3D Gesture Interface for the Magic motion remote controller.
According to LG’s Chief Technology Officer Dr Scott Ahn, “Using a 3D camera built into the TV, users can not only use their hand to emulate the functionality of the magic remote but they can play 3D games that recognise entire body gestures.”
The LG 3D Cinema range employs passive 3D glasses, a strategy which Alessi believes people want.“We are aggressive about passive,” he joked. “People do vote with their wallets. More and more consumers are going toward passive technology. Our market share has grown steadily this last year, surpassing Sony and with now Samsung in our sights.”
Panasonic showed 15 1080p LCD TVs, seven of which are 3D capable and three of those employ passive glasses – a first for the early proponent of active-shutter technology. Meanwhile Toshiba is dropping its active shutter 3D models and going with passive glasses 3D displays.
Over at Sony, Chairman Sir Howard Stringer was typically ebullient about the future of the format.“3D continues to evolve as one of the next great entertainment platforms,” said Stringer citing the $6bn in revenues that 3D theatrical releases earned worldwide last year. “While some people may be skeptical the numbers speak for themselves.”
He introduced a clip of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Men in Black 3 – filmed in 3D – and then its star Will Smith and Director Barry Sonnenfeld.
“Barry did an absolutely great job directing the movie and you did a great job paying for it,” Smith said to Stringer. Panasonic announced an extension of its sponsorship of DirecTV’s 3D channel while NBCUniversal was on hand to announce that it would air 200 hours of the 2012 Olympics (sponsored by Panasonic) in 3D. “For a new format 3D did quite well last year,” said Shiro Kitajima, the company’s president of CE marketing. “This year I am confident will be the year of 3D content.”
Indeed 93% of its plasma displays and 40% of its LCD TVs plus four out of its six new Blu-ray players are 3D capable.
Samsung also recognises the need to offer consumers more 3D content. It partnered with NBCUniversal, which will see the studio convert some shows to 3D – including Battlestar Galactica – for streaming on-demand 3D content.“Since 2010 we have sold more than 3million 3DTVs and more than half of our product line going forward will feature 3D,” said Tim Baxter, president Samsung America. “However we know there is not enough content to make it a ‘must have’ feature.”
Samsung ushered in what could be the next wave of TV technology by presenting a 55-inch 3D 1080p OLED TV to ship during 2012, price to be determined. LG also unveiled a 55-inch 3D OLED. Weighing 7.5kg and just 4mm thin it is claimed as the thinnest, largest and lightest such panel around.