In its first-ever ranking of 3D performance, Consumer Reports evaluated 14 3D television models and found that plasma TVs are better at displaying 3D images than LCD sets, primarily because they exhibit less ghosting, or double images that appear even when wearing 3D glasses. The publication reports that three plasma models from Panasonic exhibited the best 3D picture quality and the least ghosting of all the sets tested.
Using exclusive 3D test patterns developed in-house, as well as 3D Blu-ray movies and recorded 3D sports broadcasts, Consumer Reports engineers found that all the 3D televisions were capable of creating impressive three-dimensional depth. However, the overall quality of 3D varied among the 14 models that were examined. Consumer Reports declares that attributes that affect regular picture quality also affect 3D, including black level, brightness, image detail, and viewing angle. Ghosting, which is technically called "crosstalk," also plays a part in 3D quality.
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For more information on similar topics, please see our articles, Is 2D The New 3D? and 3D Glasses Don't Work On All 3D HDTVs. Also, be sure to check out our reviews for the Panasonic TC-P54VT25 3D plasma HDTV and the Samsung UN55C7000 3D LED HDTV. There is more information available in our 3D HDTV Review section.
According to Consumer Reports, Panasonic plasma sets exhibited the least ghosting of any of the 3D televisions, followed by plasma TVs from LG and Samsung. Sony's LCD televisions reportedly came closest to the plasmas: ghosting was minimal, but only when the viewer's head was kept level. On the LG and Samsung LCD televisions, images had satisfying three-dimensional depth, but ghosting, which was significant in a wide variety of content, was distracting when apparent, the publication reports. Although, all the tested 3D televisions, with one exception, performed very well with regular 2D programs.
Consumer Reports has listed several things to consider before buying a 3D TV.
Glasses are required. Some televisions come with one or two pairs of active-shutter glasses, but other models don't include any. And some Sony televisions require users to also purchase a "sync transmitter," which synchronizes the glasses with the television. Viewers must use compatible glasses that are sold by each manufacturer.
Also, 3D may not be for everyone. Some people might have trouble seeing 3D images or find that they develop headaches or eyestrain from watching it.
One of the primary issues: there isn't much content. Although some 3D Blu-ray movies have been releases, they require a new 3D Blu-ray player to play back in 3D. And many of the early releases have been tied to special bundle deals with a specific manufacturer. There are also some 3D broadcasts, from ESPN 3D and DirectTV's n3D full-time 3D channel, but programming is still quite limited.
Buying a 3D television right now makes the most sense for someone who's currently in the market for a new television and thinks they'd like to have 3D capability in the near future. Those who want to wait will have more models to choose from, possibly at lower prices, and more content to watch.