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October 21, 2014

Start the 3D TV Revolution Without Me

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 3rd 2010 9:00AM
3D_TV_watching_glassesTechnology is a marvelous thing, right? No, no, this is not a story about the Apple iPad coming out this weekend or the wonders it promises to bring -- just ask Phil Dunphy. He called it the first day of the rest of your life.

But no, the technology that has me scratching my head is 3D television. That's right, the state-of-the-art, mind-blowing idea that you will be able to watch television in a way you never have before. Bigger than a big screen. Better than high definition. More powerful that a home theater sensurround experience.

Next weekend, if you have invested in a first generation 3D TV for about $2,500, you'll be able to watch the Masters Golf Tournament in 3D. And you had better spend on the glasses, too, because not all sets are sold with the spectacles that make the 3D possible in the first place. Funny, you would think that the glasses were included, but apparently not. It's like some computers that ship without a power cord. Are you kidding me?

So, let's say you have plunked down the cash -- or run up your credit card -- for the 3D set and the glasses, too. You still have to pay for the service. Eventually, there will 3D networks, like ESPN 3D and DirecTV 3D and Discovery 3D, but at present, you better be a Comcast or Cox Cable subscriber -- make that a premium subscriber. Those are the cable companies that are carrying the broadcast the 3D.

Since this is the Masters and Tiger Woods' first tournament since the Thanksgiving accident and subsequent scandal, it'll be watched by lots and lots of people. If you want to watch Tiger grimace in 3D, only Comcast and Cox will deliver. No, truth be told, you'll be watching for the great images and the amazing ... what? Is the ball going to fly through the screen and land on the couch? Will the sensation of watching a putt appear more dramatic when the ball looks like it's rolling out of the set into the living room? What exactly is the plus of 3D golf?

The same goes for other sports. Will the NFL really be better in 3D? If New York Yankee Derek Jeter hit a wicked line drive, would I want to have to duck and cover because it's aimed at my head? You could get pretty bored with all that dodging and weaving after a while.

Which brings me to another issue, the glasses. How can 3D really be the next greatest thing when we're still locked into the same goofy glasses our parents were wearing in the movie theaters in 1954 to see 'Dial M for Murder?' They probably screamed at Grace Kelly's hand reaching for the scissors, but even Alfred Hitchcock couldn't make 3D that great. By the end of the decade, 3D was a fad that faded.

Today, however, the technology in the movie theaters has made great leaps, and pictures like 'Avatar' and 'Alice in Wonderland' look really cool. But you have to pay extra to see the 3D version, and you still have to wear those glasses!

Call me stubborn, but unless 3D can work without the glasses, I'm not ready for the 3D revolution. My idea of a truly revolutionary system is one that doesn't require extra equipment in addition to the set, one that doesn't cost a small fortune and the additional purchase of a special cable/satellite channel, and one that ultimately enhances all kinds of programming, not just sports or travel or nature documentaries.

Therefore, to quote the title of the 1970 Gene Wilder/Donald Sutherland comedy, 'Start the Revolution Without Me.'

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