I am sorry but 3D isn't the killer application that the video companies and consumer electronics conglomerates had hoped for. The content isn't there. The video companies are pulling back from their grandiose promises about ad spends and consumers are left saying "Do I really need to wear glasses?" and "How much extra is the set?" Unless it's using projectors or large flat screen HDTVs, 3D isn't as immersive as it is in the theater. However - right now is the best time ever in the history of televisions to buy a beaming, new, waif-like HDTV set and I have eight reasons to prove my case.
Reason No. 1: Today's 3D HDTVs Are The Best 2D HDTVs Money Can Buy
Yes, 3D HDTVs are more expensive than most 2D HDTVs but they also come packed with the latest and greatest features, the brightest 2D picture, the fastest refresh rates and all of the applications you could ever hope for at a price that makes sets from three years ago look drastically overpriced. At the recent CEDIA tradeshow and for anyone taking a stroll through a Best Buy or Magnolia store, it's easy to see that the best HDTVs are the 3D sets. I know you won't be watching Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs on Blu-ray more than once and that there isn't really that much on ESPN 3D or Discovery 3D. Simply put - you aren't going to watch a top performing HDTV for 3D. It's a gimmick. A gimmick that didn't work in the 1950s and it's not selling now, but that's not to say that you shouldn't buy a high end HDTV (meaning a 3D one) today. Panasonic's top HDTV plasmas are as good if not better than Pioneer's now defunct Kuro sets in terms of blacks. Samsung's uber-thin sets are so paper-thin that you can't believe it and their application store is the best in the business. Toshiba's 3D sets are setting a new standard for LED performance for the purist and one video company (that must go unnamed) is about to come out with a high end 3D HDTV that won't require active glasses; thus you can swipe a pair from the local cineplex or take your higher end glasses with you to the theater to see Jackass 3D which is the most important movie to come out in 3D to date from our perspective.
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You can read more information on similar topics by reading our other articles, Is 2D The New 3D?, Star Wars Returns to the Theaters - This Time in 3D, Where Is All Of The 3D Content?, and 3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films.
Reason No. 2: Energy Savings
Today's LEDs and even plasmas sip energy in ways that past models can only dream of. No, HDTVs aren't like bolting a 5-ton HVAC unit on your roof, but if you watch a lot of television it can draw a lot of power from the wall. Hell, if you have a 103-inch plasma from Panasonic or Runco - you need TWO (count em' two) 240-volt AC lines just for your set. Take that, Krell with your wimpy Evolution 900 watt amps! Today's 65 inch HDTV sets are much more responsible with power consumption and that's one reason to invest in a new set today.
Reason No. 3: Form Factor
I want a 65 inch plasma to replace my 50 inch 1080i Panasonic Professional plasma in my living room and I want it badly but the form factor of today's LEDs make a compelling argument in that I can literally float a 65 inch LED over the hole that I built my 50 inch set into and have it literally float above the fabric wall with its unbelievably thin form factor. Add in the stunningly bright LED screens and the ambient light that flows into the room - I might have to put the new 65-inch plasma in my new offices. Today's sickly thin HDTVs make installing a television more compelling and relevant than ever before.
Reason No. 4: Calibrations Are For Extremists These Days
Talk to any of the hardcore posters at hometheaterequipment.com and they will tell you chapter and verse about just how jacked up most CRT big screen HDTVs were when they shipped to stores and were installed by clients. Today that's not as much the case. The best HDTVs today come with presets that have the "burn your eyes out, in-store" mode as well as many more relevant modes that the end user can access and use without a PhD. in computer programming or electrical engineering. Now, would I own a 40-inch plus, performance oriented HDTV without an ISF calibration? Nope because I am a performance junkie - but if you can live with your BMW M3's performance out of the factory, there is no reason to tinker. If you want something more and more lifelike for your set - spend the $300 to get to the Nth degree. The fact is - today's HDTVs are shipping much closer to SMPTE standards and with presets that boarder on acceptable to professional calibrators.
Reason No. 5: Skype
I got a demo of Skype on a Panasonic Plasma that was like a cheapie version of using Cisco's Telepresence. With a small camera on top of your set, you can turn your HDTV into a videoconferencing device in ways that the videophone always aspired to. Considering most homes that would consider having a top level HDTV also have pretty good Internet - Skype is a game changer. Grandchildren are closer than ever before. The office can also be your living room and don't even get me started as to the possibilities with adult content. OK, I am sorry I even brought the last part up, but I somehow feel like I just sold 10,000 HDTVs in an odd way.
Reason No. 6: Movie Download Services
With the recent addition of Dolby Digital surround sound, movie download systems took one step towards being less ghetto than they have been in the past, but they still can kiss Blu-ray's ass in terms of overall performance. Blu-ray packs 1080p video and beautiful 7.1 surround sound that makes you want to own a home theater, but on any given Wednesday night - you can watch thousands of movies thanks to Netflix, CinemaNow or Blockbuster. Beware of the iPod phenomenon where MP3s are "good enough" because they are easy but download and streaming system are significant. They are also included in nearly every top level HDTV today.
Reason No. 7: AppleTV
Don't knock it until you have tried it. Is Kalidescape better? Perhaps, but at $99 you can glue a hockey puck sized controller to the back of your HDTV and make it a killer movie and music server. The analog output is about as crappy as an iPod but with a digital out you can pump it into a DAC or solid AV preamp and make one hell of a sound. This is no shocker at this point but the Apple graphical user interface is spectacular and any three year old can use it. Your iPad, iPod, iPhone, iMac and iWhatever can control and manage your media. It's slick. It's cheap and it's a reason to have a killer HDTV, as this type of interface used to cost a fortune or not work very well. Now it kicks ass and you need to have it.
Reason No. 8: Rhapsody Is Better Than Tower Records
I loved Tower Records. I lived right above the legendary store on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, but Rhapsody's ability to match my music with other music I might like is the new-school way of finding new music. FM radio stinks out loud. Internet radio is better but Rhapsody's ability to find you new artists is worth the download and it's on your new HDTV in nearly all cases.