Should I buy a 3D TV?

We talk you through the ins and outs of 3D plasma and 3D LED televisions: How they work, how much they cost and what they're good for

Samsung's Series 7 LED model is the first 3D-capable television available.

Samsung's Series 7 LED model is the first 3D-capable television available.

3D television is the Next Big Thing — at least if you believe television manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and Panasonic, which are bringing a range of 3D TVs to market in coming months. Not all 3D televisions are equal though, with manufacturers releasing both plasma and LED 3D TVs. Then there's the matter of the active shutter 3D glasses, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D Blu-ray discs required to round out the whole package. We've put together an overview of the current state of 3D technology, to help you decide whether it's time to upgrade from your 2D TV.

If you're picking out a new television and want to work out what's best for you, read through our LCD vs LED vs plasma TV buying guide.

Confused about the difference between HDMI and DVI, component and composite? Our giant cable buying guide will set you straight.

3D televisions

Sony, Panasonic and Samsung have held launches for their 2010 television line-ups. We've already spent some time with Sony's 3D LED television and Panasonic's 3D plasma panel.

Regardless of whether a 3D TV uses an LED-backlit LCD or a plasma panel, it must be able to display video at a high frame rate. Samsung and Sony's 3D televisions use either a 200Hz or 400Hz frame interpolation mode, while Panasonic's plasmas have a higher 600Hz refresh rate due to the characteristics of plasma TVs. This high frame rate is important because 3D video footage is made up of two separate 2D video streams shifted slightly from each other when displayed on-screen.

The only special feature that 3D televisions have that's not available in normal televisions is the ability to display video content at an extremely high frame rate. The television decodes the specialised video stream from a 3D Blu-ray disc and displays each frame in synchronisation with its bundled pair of "active shutter" 3D glasses.

3D televisions are also able to display regular video just like 'normal' plasma, LCD and LED screens. They're actually even better at it than most TVs — all the tricky modern circuitry and high frame rate display abilities mean they're able to display video smoothly and without flickering.

So far, 3D televisions are looking surprisingly cheap. Sony hasn't announced pricing for its HX900, HX800 and LX900 LED televisions but Samsung's 3D LED television, the 40in UA40C7000, is only $2899. The 50in PS50C7000 is even cheaper at $2499 (and it's a bigger screen)! Panasonic's 50in VIERA TH-P50VT20A plasma will cost $3299 when it hits store shelves in June.

3D glasses

If you watch 3D video without a television's bundled active shutter glasses on, you'll only see a blurry and indistinct mess. What 3D glasses do is to block the vision from each of your eyes when alternating frames are shown on the television — when the 3D television displays a frame that's intended for your right eye, the 'active shutter' in the lens of the 3D glasses will close and block the vision from your left eye.

Tags samsungblu-rayPanasonic3d TVsony

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Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

Good Gear Guide

29 Comments

Jeff Bowman

1

3D Content has been broadcast. ie The Masters Golf Tournament was broadcast in 3D to Time Warner and Comcast customers. Still avail on demand as well. Also ESPN will air 3D in June.

RJ

2

For me, 3d fails if:
1. I have to wear glasses
2. It cannot be viewed from a wide angle
3. It is 2d with depth (as most of the 3d I've seen, is.)
Otherwise I would rather watch a very good 2d without all the inconvenience.

greg

3

I saw a Samsung 3D TV today at Harveys. The 3D was awesome (as good as or better than the movies).

It could be viewed comfortably from the side.

You needed to wear glasses,

But the picture was awesome.

Tim

4

To have seen 3D TV at Harvey Norman in Whyalla, and then take off the glasses and see the same picture in 2D, I have come to the conclusion that this is the most stunning technology to come our way in a long time! If you haven''t witnessed it, you are missing out. Don't knock it until you have tried it. The rechargeable Samsung glasses are comfortable and the viewing angle is generous. Anyone who sits on an angle too severe to watch 3D, should not be watching TV at all. Honestly, wake up!! RJ, continue to watch 2D TV mate, go on.

Brett

5

I seen a samsung 3D tv at the good guys Geelong it was amazing, I have a samsung 40" full hd tv and it has been great, went home last looked at my tv, 3D will be in my lounge room, as soon as I can afford it.

QC

6

I have seen Samsung 3D TV 55" inches TV recently in a store and my initial reaction was very good. But I suggest to watch it for atleast an hour to see whether it is comfortable for you. The actions or quick scene changes for a long time watch may not be ok for some. Anyway, it is a new technology, not enough contents available now, many improvement coming soon. Today, I heard that Hitachi will develope a 3Dmodel soon which can be watched on 3D without glasses. I am sure that price will fall within a year . So I suggest better to wait for a year , let enough contents available and once technology improved further, I am sure to buy one.

Gadget Man

7

I saw 3D at HN a week or so back, and my wife saw and fell in love with it yesterday. We took home the 40" which is as big as you would want in our lounge.
Current deals from HN are good! We watched the start of the logies in 3D and must say that by and large the recalibration of the 2D transmission was great. Cant wait to watch Top Gear in 3D.

Gadget Man

8

I loaded didgital photos onto a USB flash drive and then viewed them in 2d->3d mode on the TV. Results were really very good. Some of my garden scense had incredible depth. People groups also had great depth.
This is a winner for digi photo nuts like me. Wife may have to get another TV so she can watch her programs. (Help! i'm under attack)

RJ

9

Had a lok at one at HN very good - But I am imagining a family of four with four friends visiting (not unusual) - Thats the 2 provided glasses and $1200 more of glasses purchased - then the neighbour drops in?!?!?
If you want something like this to succeed, then this has to be considered.
Then with all these glasses lying around, someone stands on one during an ad break!
Good it may seem -Practical it is not. Sorry, but I'm old enough to have seen many fads and I now understand, that it's got to be more than great, it's got to be survivable.

Aaron

10

I bought a 2009 un46b8000 Samsung about 6 months ago and was very happy with it...until I noticed that the 2010 model is pretty much the same except for the addition of 3d capability! Anyone know if there is any chance that Samsung will release a firmware update for my tv to make it 3d capable? I know that my ps3 is about to get a firmware boost to make it 3d ready but w/o the tv to display it, it won't be worth much!

Paul D

11

I have been impressed from the 3D TV demos I have seen. I think there is some big potential for occasional viewing. The video games will have to be awesome, too.

I found this website for info on what 3D TV's and other 3D products are available right now - http://www.3dyourtv.com/buying-guide/3d-tvs

Julz

12

We purchased a 55" Samsung 3D LED TV and had it hooked up just in time for the last Origin match (Go Queenslander!) I had not intended buying 3D - just needed a new TV, but after watching the demo TV at Harvey's I couldn't resist - it was fantastic! Still waiting for the 3D Blu Ray/DVD Player by redemption (Bonus Offer from Samsung) but can't wait to watch the DVD that came with the TV in 3D. My opinion is if you're in the market for a new TV and can afford it go for it - the technology is great!

Murat

13

You got to be nuts,to buy anything else, 3D tv's have better picture quality than normal tv's ,if u in the market for a big screen tv ,go for it you guys going to Love it,the latest Models have (3D,Wifi,IPTV & Panasonic ones have even "Skype Video Chat" and Internet Access built in, the dumb box isn't dumb anymore !!!

Patrick

14

Samsung's 2009 "PN50B450" was said to be incapable of displaying Bluray-3d discs...wrong! This 3d-HDTV was designed to play Field-Sequential 3D via a computer connection. "Stereoscopic Player" and "Tridef" software are two softwares that allowed the playback of field-sequential 3d, and while it's true no known stand alone 3D-Bluray player will function with this 3d-HDTV, Cyberlink's software, "PowerDVD-10 Ultra 3D" ($99) will play the new Bluray-3d discs in checkerboard beautifully on the Samsung PN50B450 at 1368 x 760. This is my set up and I use the emitter and shutter glasses from my Tridef purchase in 2009.
Your pc will need a strong graphics card.

ed

15

I'm no expert on 3d tech for televisions but I find it abit hard to digest that the article said the 3d tvs being produced by sony, samsung and pioneer are looking cheap via prices like 2499, 2899 and the pioneer one 3299. I am certainly not a 6 figure salary man but well off as a middle classman but those prices i think are pretty high even for a 40 inch tv that goes for almost 3k. MAYBE just MAYBE that the samsung 50 inch goin for 2.5k might be a better bargain but still with prices ending up in the high 2k to mid 3k i'd expect these tvs atleast 50 + inches in size. Even so for a 40incher goin for almost 3k i rather shoot for 55 inch lcd with 1080p and 2120 hertz (i.e. samsung LN55C630K1F) goin for 2k than that unit.

ed

16

**120 hertz**

zuba

17

me and mymm wr dropinby at HN t ce outstovs ndi toughtwhile were her lets chek ooooooooooooooooooa 3D tv just 4 fu bcoz i didnt yet exprience 3D tech bu man i was awome an hour l8r we were siging papers to a 58" samsung 3D 6 3D glasses 3d bluraa n all.

awsome just got it deivered on sat its amazing all up cost us about $5500 sweet deal.

sad thng is tht theres barely any 3d movies out. ;(

John Telek

18

I have reviewed the current 3 technologies for 3D TV and the shutter glasses win hands down. The current glasses less systems have major drawbacks for the 3 main reasons.

a) The number of viewers, viewing angle and viewing distance from the set is highly confined and limited by the relevant glasses less technologies.
b) Your eyes must remain parallel to the horizontal plain of the tv in order for glasses less systems to work. ie: you cannot tilt your head or lie down.
c) Construction of the display medium is complicated by the requirement of extra lenses or parallax error using devices. this adds to the cost of the display panel.

The shutter glasses system may not allow you to see behind an object or give you true perspective but it can be watched from any distance and at any angle, gives depth perception and is cheap.

John

19

I just bought a 50" Panasonic 3D.. let me tell you, the TV is fantastic. I got two 3d movies, ice age 3 and coraline, and both movies were fantastic to watch - just imagine what the non cartoon movies would be like.
If your not looking for a new TV, then there is no reason to buy 3D at this present time as they are costly, and as there aren't many movies to choose from - if any.. it's quite hard to find them.
I purchased the Panasonic 3D TV for my room as i was in need of a TV anyway. I would suggest wait until few more movies come out and it is more popular in Australia.

shane

20

Samsung ps50c7000 is a great 3d tv .plasma is the way for 3d. The led had to much ghosting from what i have seen .Also you would be buying a great tv for the same price as a normal hd tv ,the Panasonic is probably the best by a long shot but if you dont have the cash i would recommend the Samsung ps50c7000 plasma as i have one and its great plus with anti screen burn protector you dont have to worry about burn from gaming .

Evan

21

Bought the 50" Samsung plasma 3D. Brilliant buy. I didn't care there were not many titles as I needed a new 2D anyway, so the 3D was a bonus. Bought the Samsung Blue Ray as well.

WoW!!

Skeptic no more

22

I was very skeptic at first and thought it was a joke….until I sat in front of a Samsung 58inch 3d plasma series 7….wow …what can I say its getting delivered in the morning …the 3d image is better then the movies and far better then I ever expected and the Samsung Blue Ray and glasses are a bonus ...with it..

Tom

23

I bought a 3D TV, It's so realistic! I got alot of help with the process from http://bit.ly/ceNmbz , I learned how the 3D technology works and about the different 3D technologies and most important of all I learned using this website what do I need in order to get the ultimate 3D experience at home and ofcourse saving money! So I recommend this website for all of you that interesting in 3D.

david

24

NOBODY MENTIONS THAT PEOPLE THAT GET VERTIGO WILL NOT BE ABLE TO WATCH 3D BECAUSE IT WILL MAKE THEM DIZZY REST OF THE DAY AS A WOMAN TOLD ME IN A HARVEY NORMAN STORE SHE WATCHED A 3D MOVIE AND THE REST OF THE DAY SHE WAS SICK WITH VERTIGO

Gary

25

Just bought the new series 9 Samsung LED 3D 55' !!

LOVE IT- Article is spot on.. Best 2D picture I have ever seen.

3D has a bit to go- but for what it is its Great.

I also enjoy using to 3D feature when playing my PS3- games like NFS and Bad Company

Abe

26

decission time -
Sony HX800 - 46"
or
Samsung 8000 - 46"
looking forward to your comments

Jiedstar

27

I want to upgrade to 3D tv which is better samsung or sony? I have 2 models in my mind the sony KDL-40EX720 and samsung UA-40C7000WR, which is better?

thubleau

28

I have a Sony NX8 series 55inch coupled with a Samsung BDC8900A 3d blueray player.

Here is what I found .
The TV itself is a wonder and I was taken back by the price,a lot cheapere than I expected to pay. and I have seen criticism of the plug in unit 3D that Sony offers but it makes plenty of sense to me.
What this means is that it is not all intergrated into the set itself,so in time as technology and production technic evolve I can see two things happening.The sender unit can be upgraded and the shutter type glasses can also be replaced.Remember, all sets are limited by the quality of the content offered and if you get a content that is first rate than that's what you see.
I ran Resident Evil AFTERLIFE in 3D and the effects are just as amazing as the sound produced on my audio system.

Two things that i found are necessary when watching 3D is:
The lounge chairs have to be placed closer to the screen as the 3D effect has a start and a end point,if you watch too far off the screen the reaching distance of the 3D falls way short of where you sit so a change of about 3 to 5 feet makes a huge difference.
The other thing the 2D to 3D conversion is nothing more than a gimmick ,so don't buy a set on the basis that standard tv can be converted to 3D,it just does not work to the extent of a true Blue Ray with 3D but once again it is up to the content provided but don't expect the same result you might see nothing or maybe a bit of depth backward of the actual TV screen which means it will look flat but with a few inches of depth behind .
Some reviews say the Panasonic or the Samsung sets have the best 3D effects but I viewed all these sets in store and found no difference and certainly I was not persuaded to even consider 3D until I saw it with the right disc in the right conditions.
It isn't Imax in depth but it beats it in picture quality.

thubleau

29

Further to my comment I left a couple of things out.

The Sony comes with a wireless internet service.
Once this was setup it is fantastic.i don't know how the do it but images have non of that "slow to load" problem with computers.
One of the content stations provided was all HD ,and contained Treks down Bryce Canyon simply awesome to watch in normalHD.
Also access to YouTube is provided, you can login from the tv set,and a musical channel which found me watching performances from Sydney Pubs and the Enmore Theatre, very cool..........the Pretenders were pretty good ...still.

The samsung 3D player was sent with out a remote so I have not been able to set up it's internet access.I fiddled a bit ,but think I will wait till I get the control to see how it works.

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