So, the news is out: 3D TV, introduced to the market in 2010, bombed spectacularly.
We haven’t got sales figures for New Zealand, but given that in the US fewer than 1 million sets were sold, we can only guess that purchases here were minimal.
We’re not surprised.
Now we’re told that several manufacturers are addressing the low sales with the introduction of cheaper, lighter goggles. LG, for instance, will give away four of these lighter, “passive” glasses with every set sold, which still leaves grandma, 2-year-old Sonny and the family pooch staring squarely at a blurry picture, goggleless.
It’s true that one of the biggest hurdles with 3DTV is the bulky, heavy and expensive goggles. Coming up with cheaper, lighter, passive goggles that don’t need recharging will definitely make 3DTV a little more accessible. But does it solve the problems associated with 3DTV? In one curt word: NO.
For a start, the new goggles are said to reduce the picture resolution by half. In a world edging towards true high resolution pictures and sound, this is surely a big backwards step. At the very least, it’s a compromise that reveals a large flaw in the product.
This reminds me of the onset of the compact disc. “Perfect sound forever” and all that. Trouble was, digital sound was too crisp, lacked emotional engagement, and the bit-rate madly arrived at by the product’s engineers was too low to provide that elusive ‘perfect sound’. But instead of going back to the drawing board, experts got busy with a range of supposed solutions to this fatally compromised product: improved DACs, and various post-production fixers. In essence, the compact disc should never have been let out of the factory before the raw product was improved. Instead of CDs, the world should have at least been introduced to SA-CDs, or HDCDs, which are capable of much-improved performance.
Over and over again, the consumer ends up being the victim of products that don’t get the robust R&D they should (by law) get before being unleashed on the market. It happened with various video formats over the decades, and now it’s happening with the hardware, in the shape of 3DTV.
In HDTV there’s a very acceptable product: where there’s a source signal to match with the product, it’s capable of producing beautiful pictures.
Unfortunately, 3DTV isn’t in the same ball-park. It’s clearly a product in transition, and should go back to the lab for some robust research and development. Find a way to get rid of those stupid glasses. If that can’t be done, make the glasses free or very, very affordable, so that even the dog can watch his favourite chow-down commercials. Oh, and the companies should be MADE to cross-fertilise their R&D and to make their products compatible. Then at least visitors can bring goggles from their competing brand over for a movie night with their mates. GARY STEEL