Why Hasn’t 3D-TV Taken Off?

Image courtesy of LGEPR

Technology has the ability to enrich our lives and at a furious pace of change. It used to be true that a new product, especially one of an electronic genre, would require as much as one generation, or about twenty years, to be fully absorbed into the mainstream of life. Radio, television, and even personal computers fell in line with this general rule of thumb. But in today’s ultra-modern age of the Internet, Google, and Facebook, the accelerator has been floored.

One case in point is HDTV. This new technology went through all of the stages of early adoption even with high launch prices, continued interest while prices fell, and then full adoption by consumers, manufacturers, and network content providers in the span of only five years. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of 2010, purveyors of upgraded television viewing were at it again, hoping for the same adoption response rate to 3D TV offerings to consumers.

3D TV was supposed to be the big story for CES 2010. Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Sony, and a few smaller panel makers had invested billions in the technology. The viewing experiences, however, varied from decent to suspect. The oft-repeated phrase by many was “underwhelmed”. However many suppliers also presented a smaller LED approach that displayed what the future might bring in order to remind viewers that the technology has only begun and may yet evolve to something even more compelling down the road.

No one was rushing to buy these, the primary reason being that you have to wear battery-powered shutter glasses to get the three-dimensional effect. The glasses tune into a signal from the TV and alternate frames between each eye to produce the desired 3D effect. But they were the major drawback generally cited by testers. The glasses are expensive, run by rechargeable batteries, and not the lightest things around.

A recent study published this past April echoed what was already being said as the main obstacle retarding rapid 3D-TV adoption: “In the earliest days of HD, price was clearly the number one concern for people who might otherwise have an interest in the technology, but in 3D we have this added wrinkle of the glasses,” said Ross Rubin, an NPD analyst who wrote the report comparing the evolution of HDTV to 3D TV.

CES 2011 underwhelmed attendees once again. Producers appear to be divided into two camps, one supporting active shutter glasses and the other, lightweight passive glasses. Yes, there is work behind the scenes on glass-less technology, but current versions only work on very small screen types, more suitable for confined video game playing. 3D TV will evolve since these versions can mimic a normal TV.

Manufacturers will will eventually get the technology right, where ‘right’ means that consumers will flock to it and make the swtich from their existing sets.

Jason Hoerr is a market analyst for Forex Traders, an online resource for the foreign exchange market and forex news.
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