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April 19, 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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BCguy

well addressed, i myself cant find the point of owning a 3D television, and i keep finding ourselves going into the future that is the equivalent of cheesy future movies that came out in the past, with Axe coming out with there new Scent changing aroma which reminds me of those crappy mood rings, this 3d tv which will lead into the dumb hologram stuff like in the Back to the Future movie. But, im an old fashion guy, so all this technology annoys me.

April 04 2010 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pete

3-D tv is great because they say it's great. It's another technology that will be pushed upon us until we succomb. Much like Facebook, Big Macs and smartphones, it will be considered great because they say so. Our heads will be bashed in by its greatness. Resistance is futile.

April 04 2010 at 2:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason

Apologies for the long post/rant above. The topic just inspired me, I guess...

April 04 2010 at 1:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason

I sympathize with all the skepticism. Hell, I agree with the general thrust of the comments here. 3D is a being pushed on us by an industry looking for a new lifeline to moneymaking. I've seen a few movies in 3D, and the only ones I enjoyed were "Avatar" and the "Toy Story" duology. Both epitomized the key to making 3D really worth trying: depth. Every other movie I've read about or checked out has been more focused on stuff shooting out from the screen to create the 3D effect. "Alice in Wonderland," as enjoyable as it was, was frankly distracting in 3D. I saw again in 2D and enjoyed the experience much more.

But on the other hand, this is just another example of technology pushing ahead, as part of a larger trend. During the decades it took for the majority of people to switch from black & white to color TVs, you could watch the networks on either display. When you were ready to replace the older, outdated tech, you got a color unit. Same in this generation. My fairly tech-savvy dad didn't make the move to HD until 2006, when such service had been around for most of the decade. Didn't mean that we had to sacrifice standard-def viewing in the process, let alone on the other non-HDTVs in the house.

My point is this. 3DTV is in the early-adopter phase. You shouldn't feel any pressure to make the jump right now. The tech is still deep in its infancy. It will be years (or longer) before we see 3D become a viable alternative/replacement for HD (or even SD) viewing. Yes, the glasses are silly, and I long for the day of glasses-free stereoscopic 3D. But I wouldn't give up the experience of "Avatar" because the tech was a little silly or ahead-of-its-time. Cameron made a great film, and (perfectionist that he is) he accomplished a result that will stand the test of time.

(Side-note: although I greatly respect him for his films, I realize that Cameron is basically an egotistical jackass. He has his vision, and he won't let anyone or anything get in the way of making that vision happen. But he HAS made some unbelievable films, and that should be acknowledged. Would I sacrifice "Aliens", "Terminator 2", and "Avatar" (among the others) for a nicer Cameron? No. It is what it is...)

That 3D is about to encounter some birthing pains is of no importance to 99% of the population. The early adopters will still adopt, and the rest of us will still be free to enjoy The Masters and NFL coverage (etc.) in plain-jane HD (and SD!) for years to come. Will sports (or TV in general) be better in 3D? Not likely for awhile. It's still easy to pick out shows where the DPs are focused on the 4:3 format of SDTV instead of using that entire 16:9 frame seen in HD. I stopped watching in January, but NBC shows tend to be the best in 16:9, because the network has almost entirely been preferring letterboxing for SD instead of center-crop for the last decade. That's why ER, West Wing, and lately Office (and other comedies) have worked nicely visually; they are principally shot with widescreen in mind, while 4:3 is an afterthought.

Technology will continue to improve, and eventually the bulk of the industry will catch up with the technology. The big question to consider, for years to come, is: "What comes after 3D?" Holograms? Does the ultimate in "Treknology" become reality? And no, CNN mooching off of DS9's (and Star Wars' to a lesser degree) holo-communicator doesn't count. When can I actually walk on to a virtual football field while watching my Bears struggle through another loss? When can I turn on the next Star Trek series and experience a starship like never before?

Technology moves ever-forward, that is clear. Society will eventually catch up, and all this doubt will be little more than a footnote in the "books" our grandchildren read.

April 04 2010 at 1:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris

Enough is enough with all this tech coming out. I used to care about the new gizmos from stereo components to pcs. Not anymore. I'm simply done. I won't be getting a 3-D TV anytime soon. I won't be getting an iPad. I'm just going to watch the TV I have and try not to engage in too much screen stimulus. It's getting too costly to keep up and care about some new way at watching onscreen content which on the whole, sucks, from the Internet to TV shows. It's ridiculous. I just got HD and an LCD monitor. I'm done chasing the tech for a long while.

April 03 2010 at 9:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pingles

Just the idea that as I walk around my house I am going to have to keep track of 3D Glasses that I am taking off/putting on depending on what I'm watching makes me think this could never work.

This is a fun, interesting gimmick but in the long-run I can't imagine the effect is worth wearing glasses for.

April 03 2010 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

She might be barking at the moon, but she has the whole neighborhood of hound dogs howling right along with her.

3D with glasses gives me a headache.

Plus I already wear glasses, I don't really want to wear another set... particularly at home.

Nah, I'll pass on this until we can get actual non-shutter 3D... And if that's a decade? So? Hell, if that's 40 years, I don't care. I'm not going to watch shitty 3D that gives me a headache. So... Ruff.

April 03 2010 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cynmack

3-D movies make me (and a whole lot of other people) sick as a dog. I end up nauseous and with a pounding headache for 2 days. I tried to watch Coraline in 3-D because a friend had mistakenly bought tickets to a 3-D showing and I spent twenty minutes sick in the bathroom and the rest of the show waiting in the lobby for my friends. So, no thanks.

April 03 2010 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cynmack's comment
jffm

More than a few people are locked out of the 3D fad. I have a friend whole vision is perfectly fine with the exception of not having binocular vision; she only focuses/uses with one eye at a time (She has something called "Divergent exotropia"). So the two versions of the image never focus together for the 3D effect to work.

I wonder if an inability to see 3D will become a new disability someday? :-)

April 03 2010 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wulfn1

I have to agree. If I have to purchase glasses (to wear over my present glasses?) what's the sense in having 3-D tv?
It might make things look like an extension of the room you are sitting in, as Richard Lawler suggests, but it still needs glasses, and that is a flaw in my book.

Though they have noted in the news that there will soon be (if they already aren't on store shelves) 3-D tv sets that DON'T need the glasses. If they work as promised , it's a novel idea, but not one I plan to consider till it's standard and not a premium feature on all media companies (satellite,cable, over the air)

April 03 2010 at 9:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to wulfn1's comment
erroneous_nick

Well said and my sentiments exactly. No glasses, no extra cost, no having to select a specific provider.

April 03 2010 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian

This is the same complaint that occurred when HD came out. "well it doesn't come with the cords needed to watch HD, and those cost HUNDREDS of dollars."

Now and HD cable costs $15 and everyone has it.

The glasses will eventually come down in price like everything else, and everyone will have them.

The technology for non-shutter 3D (no glasses) will never really get there, at least not until we have transparent OLED technology in our TV's, and that definitely won't happen for at least 10 years. Until that time, glasses are what will be the norm.

To complain about it, and say it's irrelevant is equal to dogs barking at the moon.

April 03 2010 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Lawler

Sports in 3D is a pretty incredible experience. I would recommend actually seeing it before deciding it's worthless, just in case. Having things flying out of the TV is simple gimmickry and isn't really how 3D sports broadcasts actually work, where the extra depth and clarity caused by the extra visual information makes it a noticeable upgrade over HD. Gazing down a long fairway and seeing it more like you're actually standing there instead of staring at a flat 2D image that greatly loses detail as the distance increases is impressive, if you see it, you'll understand why they went to the effort.

Still, don't take my word for it -- actually go see it, not just some kids movie and extrapolating from there. I'll be at the cinema this weekend watching the Final Four in 3D, just like we saw the BCS Championship a couple of years ago, it's a worthwhile experience if there's a theater nearby.

Also, just a note -- there are several cable providers other than the ones listed who will be carrying the 3D broadcast in the U.S. and Canada, and it's viewable on a computer with the proper equipment on Masters.com

April 03 2010 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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