A Buyers’ Guide to 3D TV

If James Cameron and his army of Navi are to be believed the 3D TV revolution has begun and it’s time for us all to don our specs and watch a new technological horizon leap out of our screens and embrace us. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, but you don’t yet know your Monsters from your Aliens never fear, our buyers’ guide is here to help:

What is 3D TV?

A screen and glasses combination that allows you to experience added depth of image, and even the ‘bursts right out of the screen’ experience you’ve had in the cinema with films such as Avatar and Up. The latest type of 3D TV currently available uses alternative-frame sequencing (or “active shutter” as it’s commonly known). With active shutter technology the screen transmits a signal to the glasses, projecting different images on each eye, which are then combined by the brain to produce the illusion of depth giving you the 3D experience.

Why do I want one?

The first thing to remember is that a 3D TV is a new TV, and as the newest offering from the technology giants you can bet that a 3D TV will also be a state of the art 2D to boot.  Your 3D TV will be slim, lightweight and beautifully styled, and if you take my advice really, really big – 3D TV requires the biggest screen you can buy, it’s a total immersion technology that works better the more ‘immersed’ you are. In addition to this is the possibility of 3D gaming with a download from Playstation and Xbox360. New 3D TV’s also feature HD Freeview so you can watch the latest shows in high definition as well as USB ports enabling recording in HD. You can also browse the internet, watch BBC iplayer or even YouTube and there are additional wireless functions too. Even discounting 3D, they’re pretty feature filled.

What can I watch?

At present the best home 3D experience is offered by combining your 3D TV with a 3D capable Blu-ray player (sold separately) for the full on cinema experience.  However, it doesn’t end there; some 3D TVs operate 2D to 3D allowing you to watch any 2D programme with enhanced depth of image.  Dedicated 3D channels, and many more 3D broadcasts on regular channels are on the way, with Sky l having already broadcast several football matches in 3D.

Is there a downside?

Not if you’re very rich there isn’t. Right now 3D TV is pretty expensive, especially when you take into account the need for glasses. Most TVs will come with a set, but additional sets will set you back. There is also a consideration regarding cables. As it stands HMDI 1.4 is the only cable that will carry a 3D signal, so you will need to think about buying new. Be warned about being sold over priced “3D Cables”, just look for the 1.4, they shouldn’t cost much more than a tenner.

Should I buy it now?

If you are in the market for a new TV and 3D is within your financial grasp, you have the opportunity to buy into the technology of the future today, without having to wait years to start enjoying the benefits; for those who are concerned about content, lack of available 3D material is fast becoming a thing of the past. If you are just looking for TV that won’t break the bank, and aren’t looking to add active shutter specs to your summer wardrobe, by all means, let the opportunity pass.

What types of 3D TV are there?

There are several manufacturers of 3D TVs offering a wide range. The usual suspects are there such as Sony, Sharp and Philips; however special mention has to go to Samsung who have the widest range of 3DTVs currently and Panasonic who have the physically largest 3D TV measuring in at a monstrous 65”.

Is there anything else I should know?

Don’t forget that with active shutter 3D TVs as you’re effectively displaying two separate images you need to halve the refresh rate your 3D TV states it has to find the real amount. This is important especially if you’re a gamer, sports fan or film buff as high refresh rates prevents ghosting when objects move, displaying objects on screen smoothly and crisply. 120Hz is relatively low so if you are one of the viewer types mentioned above look for something a bit more meaty such as a Samsung TV which offers a refresh rate of 200Hz or Panasonics 50” TV which features 600Hz

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