3D comes in many shapes and flavors. You can buy a flat-panel TV with the capability, or go for the larger screen sizes of a DLP TV. The other option is a video projector.
All have their merits as you’ll read about in the following profiles. After reading them, you should have a better idea of which 3D formula will work best in your home.
Of course, no TV is worth a grain of salt without speakers and source equipment, so we’ve included a list of components used in each profiled 3D setup. This, combined with each homeowner’s impressions about 3D viewing, will help you put together your own 3D entertainment system.
The Entire System:
URC MX-980 remote; Peachtree Nova preamplifier/DAC; Samsung 58-inch PN58C7000 kit (Blu-ray player, two pairs of glasses and Monsters vs. Aliens
); Totem Acoustic Forest freestanding speakers; Integra Research RDA-7.1 amplifier
Plasma: Space-Saving 3D
For three years Gabe Montemurro and his wife, Elizabeth, had been using a Sony SXRD rear-projection TV - quite happily. But the thought of being able to view content in 3D was too compelling for these early adopters to ignore. Plus, since the Montemurros’ baby was now walking, they thought it would be best to buy a slimmer flat-panel display that could be pushed inside their entertainment cabinet and beyond the toddler’s reach.
Gabe had a few other prerequisites for a new display besides being flat: it had to be on the higher end of the performance scale, it had to be plasma and it had to be somewhat affordable. Samsung‘s high-def PN58C7000 TV fit the bill, coming in at under $3,000. As a bonus, the 58-incher came packaged with a 3D Blu-ray player, two pairs of 3D glasses and a 3D Blu-ray disc of Monsters vs. Aliens.
After a few viewings of the movie, the Montemurros were hooked. “3D is much more immersive than 2D,” says Gabe. “You find yourself leaning forward, sitting on the edge of your seat.” Unfortunately, there are only so many times you can watch the same movie. “Monsters vs. Aliens is the only true 3D source we own, and when we purchased the system in March there simply wasn’t much content available,” Gabe laments.
Even with the lack of 3D programming, the family still gets to experience bits and pieces of 3D just by pressing the 3D button on the TV remote control. The PN58C7000 features proprietary 2D-to-3D conversion technology, which when activated renders 2D images to near 3D quality. “If it wasn’t for the conversion technology, 3D for us would be extremely disappointing,” says Gabe.
The best way to describe the conversion, says Gabe, is faux 3D. “It’s really hit or miss. Some things you watch, you say, ‘Wow, that really added some depth.’ Other things fall completely flat.” The Montemurros have experimented with all sorts of programming and content: movies, sports, digital pictures and PlayStation 3 video games. “I watched a recording of the Super Bowl, and there were some camera angles where the action appeared 3D. The same with hockey. The 3D conversion added nothing to an animated show like The Simpsons, but gave the sense of actually riding in a car during a NASCAR PS3 game.”
They were most impressed, however, with how their collection of digital pictures looked when displayed in 3D. “Suddenly, there was so much depth and dimensionality, so much so that I went through my favorites and created a special 3D playlist,” Gabe says.
So what about the kooky glasses that came with their 3D package? “I’d rather not have to wear them,” says Gabe, “but hey, it’s worth it to experience a new technology like this.”
The Entire System:
Mitsubishi 3D starter pack; Definitive Technology speakers; Control4 TSM10GB touchpanel; Integra DTR 7.9 receiver; Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray player; Mitsubishi 73-inch WD-73837
DLP: 3D Trade-up
As a longtime fan of Mitsubishi products, Mark Capriola is benefiting from the manufacturer’s commitment to the new viewing technology. The audio and video enthusiast recently traded in his 65-inch WD-65833 Diamond DLP TV for a 73-inch WD-73837 Diamond DLP unit. In the process, he got a full 3D upgrade, “something he loved the idea of,” says custom electronics professional Dirk Dutton of Primetime Audio Video in Rockford, Ill.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.