Kogan has announced it will sell a range of 3D TVs, 3D Blu-ray players and active 3D glasses, renewing the online-only retailer's competition with big-brand manufacturers Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and LG.
Kogan is offering the new 3D TV models alongside existing non-3D panels for a slight price increase — the new 46in and 55in 3D LED TVs only attract an $80 and $100 premium over their non-3D equivalents. Company founder, Ruslan Kogan, said the technology required to enable 3D playback was relatively simple and shouldn’t command significantly higher prices: “3D has been used by big name brands to continue to charge more than they should for the latest TVs. We quickly realised that the actual technology in a 3D TV that enables this feature is relatively inexpensive, and we’re entirely transparent about the added costs.”
Kogan said the only difference between a 3D TV and a non-3D TV was "a little bit of hardware," and that the big brands had attempted to make consumers think that 3D TV technology deserved a higher price.
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Kogan told PC World Australia that he personally wasn't a fan of 3D TV, but believed customers were interested. "I don't own a 3D TV... but it's all about the customer. They're the one paying; it's their opinions that count."
Kogan's main problem with the technology is a lack of 3D content, he said. He cited the poor 3D broadcast of the 2010 FIFA World Cup as an example of problems with 3D content; 3D cameras were used by operators trained on 2D equipment and camera angles were ineffective in displaying 3D effects. "There's still a lack of content, and people don't like wearing [3D] glasses."
The new Kogan 3D TVs use Full HD Samsung panels and active 3D technology, suggesting they may have similar specifications to last year’s 3D TVs from Samsung. Like Samsung’s 3D TVs, the Kogan range can convert 2D footage to 3D on the fly, allowing regular TV and Blu-ray movies to be watched with a 3D effect.
Kogan's 46in and 55in 3D TVs undercut Sony and Samsung panels by a significant margin, with the 55in Kogan model retailing for $1699, compared to $4099 for a similar sized model from Samsung or $3499 for a Sony TV. The 3D Blu-ray player that Kogan is shipping alongside its 3D TVs is priced closer to its brand-name competitors — its $209 retail price tag is not far from the $229 RRP of the Sony BDP-S480 (which includes IPTV features).
The 46in Kogan Full HD 3D LED TV will retail for $999 when it starts shipping at the end of July, but can be purchased early using Kogan's LivePrice system for $100 less. Similarly, LivePrice shows early adopter savings of $200 on the 55in TV and $20 on Kogan's 3D Blu-ray player. A pair of 3D glasses is included with every Kogan 3D TV, and an additional pair of active shutter 3D glasses is $49 on Kogan's Web site.
At the end of May, the Kogan blog asked customers whether they’d be interested in 3D TVs. Commenter response was varied — while many expressed their interest, a common bugbear was the need for bulky powered 3D glasses. A March 2010 blog post from Kogan detailed the company’s reticence at the time to investigate 3D, citing health concerns and the ‘dork factor’ of wearing 3D glasses while watching TV.
Kogan told PC World Australia that the move to release a 3D TV was born of customer demand, saying that the company had received significant interest over Facebook, Twitter and its blog. Kogan also said that the company was investigating IPTV offerings in accordance with customers' wishes. Kogan said that the company was keen to explore Internet-based TV products. An Android-powered Internet TV portal is already available through Kogan's Web site. Kogan said that customer interest would drive its future products: "Making profit is easy, but winning customers is the hard bit."
Kogan’s new 3D TVs and 3D-ready Blu-ray player will be available from the end of July, with the larger 55in TV shipping from mid-August.