Despite the lukewarm reception 3D tech has had before now, following our hands-on experience at CES 2011 it’s clear 3D’s here to stay. And it’s the development of glasses-free tech that’s going to ensure its success.
3D laptops, 3D cameras, 3D camcorders, 3D monitors, 3D smartphones, and yes, countless 3D TVs. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the big brands displayed their wares, and most of the time it was served up with a twist of 3D.
‘If it’s got a screen, we can make it 3D’ seems to be the business strategy. But is anyone actually interested?
3D was destined to fail
If, like me, your first reaction was to dismiss 3D as an expensive gimmick that’s simply not worth the hassle, then it could be time to start dining out on humble pie.
It all started at Samsung’s CES stand. The clunky, uncomfortable and quite honestly ridiculous 3D TV glasses may soon be a techie’s distant nightmare. Samsung unveiled lightweight, comfortable and (dare I say it) even stylish active-shutter goggles to put a whole new perspective on things.
And all those 3D cameras, camcorders and smartphones? Sure, many of them feel gimmicky, and I’ve yet to detect a groundswell of opinion demanding an upgrade to 3D. But, more importantly, it’s what these products promise. Some of the screens on these cameras displayed 3D images without the need for glasses.
What, no glasses?
We even saw the first workable prototypes for glasses-free 3D TVs themselves. Sony, Toshiba and LG all put on a glasses-free show, and though the technology clearly needs some work (it’s at the prototype stage after all) it was impossible not to be impressed.
The Toshiba and (possibly) Sony tellies work by filtering angled images to each eye, but will only work from certain angles and distances. Step too far to the side, or get too close and it just looks a mess.
LG’s TV has the same issues (it only works from 12-16 feet, and the viewing angles allow for the smallest of sideways shuffles), but hit the sweet spot and it looked truly, truly impressive. Bright, detailed and full of depth – it’s a classic case of a new technology feeling like a genuine bit of magic.
The fly in the ointment? LG’s glasses-free 3D telly doesn’t work at all as a 2D TV, and others struggle, so it’ll take a little bit more genuine magic to crack that particular nut. But the day they do (and they usually do) 3D suddenly looks less like an expensive chore and more like a hassle-free experience to be dipped-in and out of at your pleasure. Can’t wait.