3D or Not to 3D, is that the Question?
Originally I had little to no interest in 3D TVs. I had never got around to seeing a movie at the cinema, in 3D, and so my initial exposure was a very brief demo of an early prototype, and it left me wondering what all the fuss was about. As the demo was trying to show this pre-production prototype 3DTV to as many people as possible, I only got to view about 20 seconds of a 3D game. It suffered from whats known as cross talk(where the stereo images don’t align) making it fuzzy and blurred, and this also diminished the 3D effect. Not a good way to start.
Nothing had leaped out of the screen at me, and I walked away thinking *meh* why bother. My next exposure to 3D was on a proper production model, and it was a Revelation. All the crosstalk was gone and the image was razor sharp and in full 3D effect. Now I was thinking maybe there is something to this 3D thing. I think the industry hasn’t done itself any favors, by always having things coming out of the TV (in advertising), when in reality, whats really cool about 3D is how deep into the TV the image goes. Sure you do get some things coming out of the TV screen, but what 3D does really well is the sense of depth you get into the TV screen.
As I work at a Sony Centre, all of my comments relate to the Sony 3D TV’s specifically, and not about any other type of 3D TV, and shouldn’t be interpreted as such. I have zero experience with any other brand, be they good or bad. The Sony 3D system uses active shutter LCD glasses. What’s cool about Sony’s system it is only the light from the TV, that is blocked too each eye. My understanding is that the system used in the cinema’s and by most other brands, blocks all light to each eye and although this isn’t a major issue in the darkness of the cinema, it is a major issue in a normal home under normal conditions. The reason is that it can cause noticeable flickering to occur in normal lighting and is even more pronounced under florescent lights(for example). The Sony system minimises this ( although I have seen very slight flicker on my TV when the sunshine is bright through my window. I don’t see it when watching TV, only when I look outside)
The demo 3D footage I have watched is a mix of sport(golf, gridiron, and soccer), animated movies,, movies, video games, and some documentary footage. As impressive as the video game, sport, and animated footage is, it’s the documentary footage that really impressed me the most. 2 particular scenes that involve a polar bear dining into its pool and a whale shark. Both pieces of footage are very simple clips, but both leave you feeling like you have seen something 2D just can’t portray. The circular splash as the bear enters the water has to be seen to be believed, but its the detail of the bears fur that takes your breathe away. The whale-shark footage has the camera starts at the front of this massive creature and then continues along its flanks. It gives a sense of size to this mighty creature that 2D just cannot convey.
I decided to buy a 3D TV as my faithful old Loewe CRT was well and truly past its use by date, despite it’s gorgeous picture. I wanted to go Full HD and after seeing how good 3D could be, I wanted that capability as well. After sizing up the different models I eventually decided on the Sony BRAVIA KDL40HX800 40-Inch 1080p 200 Hz 3D LED HDTV. The Sony BRAVIA KDL40HX800 is one below the top of the range in Sony’s Picture perfection range. The top of the range is the HX900 in Australia or the Sony XBR52HX909 in the USA.
I chose the Sony KDL40HX800 over the HX900 for 3 main reasons. 1 / I had trouble seeing any difference in the picture on most footage. 2/I had to go a 40″ TV as 46′ is just too big for where I view TV from (HX900 starts at 46″). 3/ I couldn’t afford an HX900 even if I wanted one 😉
The Sony KDL40HX800 features dynamic edge lit LED back lighting. This is as good as edge lighting gets. It has the ability to dim or turn of sections of the LEDs when an area of the LCD screen is dark. This is said to improve black levels and contrast. The TV also uses Sony’s deep Black LCD panel, which is their mid-level LCD panel, only surpassed by the opti-contrast LCD panel that is used in some higher end models. The Sony KDL40HX800 use Sony’s Motionflow PRO 200Hz technology (240Hz in USA). This latest generation of Sony’s MotionFlow inserts black frames between frames of picture, that’s said to help your brain forget the image it has just seen. Whether its superior to the older MotionFlow100/200 Hz system, I can’t say, as I am unable to discern any noticeable difference.
Since I have had my 3D TV, I have been fortunate enough(by way of having the luck of a day off), to watch the Aussie rules football grand final on free to air TV in 3D. This was fantastic experience only ruined by the draw/replay(long story). When asked by friends after what it was like, I could only describe it as like my TV was a window onto the game. I have also played a few games on my PlayStation 3 in 3D and am totally hooked on Stardust HD. It’s a simple but amazing game in 3D(think asteroids on steroids if your old enough)
In my opinion, going 3D is a no brainer. Yes you have to wear glasses, but most people will put on sunglasses and wear them all day when needed, and for anyone who needs them to read or see, they are just not a big deal. Sure there isn’t much content yet, but that will change very quickly over next year or so. Personally I bought the TV on how well it does normal 2D and the 3D is just a big bonus. If you don’t need a new TV then wait till you do but if you are in the market for a new telly then going for a 3D capable model just makes sense. 3D won’t change your life and definately isn’t one of those things you need in life, but it is really nice all the same. I love it, and I tend to think people who say that they just aren’t interested in it either haven’t experienced it, or would tell you they don’t like chocolate or don’t want to be rich as well. Either way, its their loss.
Bottom line is 3D is here to stay, and if you are buying a quality TV, it will come with 3D anyway. Buy the TV because of how well it does 2D and just consider 3D a way of having a future proof TV.