May 26, 2011 by Grant Clauser
This latest LG offering into the 3D and internet-connected TV market is an interesting one, and one worth paying special attention to. Why? First, it’s a good TV. It does everything a fully-featured TV is supposed to, and that alone makes it deserving of a second look. But beyond that, this TV marks an interesting development in—and reaction to—the realities of the 3D TV market in 2011.
So now—if you don’t already know—you’re probably asking yourself what the heck this guy is rambling on about. To answer that, let’s start with a short course in 3D history.
• First, there was reality—that began in 2D, maybe even 1D, because I don’t think the first life forms were capable of stereoscopic vision.
• Then there was Cyclops. Same problem.
• Skipping ahead a bit, movie makers in the 50s introduced anaglyph 3D in theaters. They required that movie-going stooges put on silly glasses with red and blue tinted filters to separate the right and left images into their respective eyes.
• In the latter 2000s a few movie studios even hoisted those glasses on an unsuspecting public by stuffing Blu-ray boxes with them and calling the result 3D. Even through our red/blue-induced nausea we knew better.
• Finally—with a few steps in between—the 3D@Home consortium agreed on a 3D Blu-ray standard, and the era of 3D HDTV was launched in 2010. The public rejoiced. Well …
… Back to the present. Most, meaning 95 percent, of the 3D TVs on the market today use a system commonly referred to as active 3D or active shutter glasses. Those TVs flash alternating left and right images every 60Hz or so, while a set of battery-operated shades on the viewer’s face shuts out or lets in the TV image through active LCDs built into the lenses. I’m pretty thoroughly amazed by that process—the thought that each lens is covered with tiny liquid crystals that flex themselves open and closed on command to help create a 3D image in my brain. Ingenious stuff this technology.
Yet, as impressive as that process is, it’s also a bit clunky. Many of the glasses are big, ugly and very expensive. Aside from a few promotional exceptions, active shutter glasses run around $150 a set. And what’s worse, the glasses for your TV may not work with your friend’s TV, even if they’re the same brand.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just take the glasses from a 3D cinema and use them on our home TVs?
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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