When it comes to being an AV technology early adopter - I am in need of a twelve-step program. Having bought each new technology from CD, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio, HD DVD and of course Blu-ray all within the first few months of release, many were surprised to see me sitting on the sidelines when 3D came into the picture last year. New technology is not only costly, it often has its initial growing pains, and as the video world has been the fastest growing aspect of the business in the past few years, I sat it out with 3D until I just couldn't live with my now four year old plasma. Panasonic plasmas are my favorite of the current crop of flat HDTVs and after some price shopping I ended up buying the TC-P54VT25, the top of the line Panasonic plasma with all the bells and whistles including 3D. Included in my purchase were a 3D capable Blu-ray player and three pairs of 3D active shutter glasses, one that was packaged with the display and two in the Avatar bundle that came along with my purchase. 3D was now a reality in my bedroom.
The glasses included with the TV are non-rechargeable, while the two pairs that came in the Avatar bundle are rechargeable. The two sets of glasses are different in physical shape and design. While I had no trouble getting either of the glasses to sit over my own corrective eye glasses, when I laid down to watch a movie, I was looking out the bottom edge of the glasses. The active shutter technology darkens the view through the lenses, and now in a recumbent position, ambient light in the room was distracting. To ameliorate this I tried sliding the glasses slightly down my nose, which brought a whole new problems to light, literally. With two pairs of glasses in front of me, I now had twice as many surfaces for light to reflect off, and with the 3D glasses further away, they seemed to catch any light from the rear of the room. The only way to truly solve this problem was to sit up-right in bed, something I never intended to do with this setup. Active shutter lenses are surely not cheap to produce, and this may be part of the reason for the short lenses, but with my setup the glasses need to be large enough to be used easily in positions other than bolt upright, to be practical.
While most of us watch TV in bed, sometimes laying on our sides, this position doesn't work well for 3D. The images have to come into each eye correctly to give the best 3D effect. Rotate your head and the active shutter glasses 90 degrees makes for bizarre images, and if plain 3D never has turned your stomach, I dare you to try turning your head and watching it. Unfortunately this is also a problem for the potential new passive glasses, which work by filtering polarized light; thereby turning your head will reverse the images seen by each eye, further confusing the image your brain sees. Either way you will get a distorted image and even those with strong stomachs will feel queasy to quite frankly - nauseous.
Find more about the 3D HDTV, including some positives, on Page 2.
This new plasma replaced a four year old, 42 inch Panasonic model
that cost at least as much then as this much larger, new set does
today. With this new purchase I had just entered the new age of video,
or so I thought. While the 3D effects are fun and novel, the glasses
make for difficulties when used in anything but a sitting upright
position. The small height of the lenses only further complicated
things, and forget about lying on your side as the effects are lessened
but the nausea is real.
I am ecstatic with my new TV purchase. The increase in size makes for a
more enthralling experience when I watch it. The color pallette and
black levels are far better than the set it replaced. I bought a 3D plasma,
but after a couple of 3D films I doubt I'll be watching much 3D in the
future. Thankfully, my new TV is an exceptional 2D TV that happens to
display 3D. The push for 3D is immense; at CES this year it seemed
every TV shown was 3D capable, yet this wouldn't sell me a display. At
this stage and as one video industry executive stated - 3D is a feature
on the best 2D sets on the planet today. Considering the visual needs
of many potential 3D viewers, the logistical problems with 3D in terms
of glasses and light paired with the need to sit, stand and/or watch
from one position for best results - 3D is still trying to find its
niche in the world of video. In no way am I saying that it's going away
tomorrow like HD DVD or Betamax. What I am suggesting is that you pick
the right television technology for your specific room based on 2D and
if you want 3D as an additional feature - that option thanks to what I
saw at the CES 2011 is likely going to be there for you for a few hundred more dollars.