Test Your 3D Home Entertainment IQ


Take our 10-question quiz and see if you're prepared for this current wave of 3D in the home.

Sep. 01, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

First came black and white. Then color. More channels. Better channels. Greater resolution. Wider screens. … And now, the third dimension.

The evolution of television and home entertainment can’t really top that, can it? We live and breathe in 3D every day, and maybe that’s partly why seemingly every movie released and every display manufacturer has 3D in its vision, so to speak. With each evolutionary step, the combination of TV and movie viewing has brought the medium closer to realism than the last. The transition from standard-definition to high-definition resolution, which is still happening for many U.S. households, literally opened a viewing window into super-clear, super-crisp details unlike ever before. But now we’re taking another step further, and in doing so, taking a step closer to the action—virtually into the action, in a perfect viewing world.

That’s what 3D is selling us. It’s taking over your local movie theaters, so the next phase is for it to take over your home theaters. If you didn’t have a good excuse to purchase a new TV or upgrade to a Blu-ray player before, here it is. Ten years ago we didn’t know what could possibly improve on HD. Is 3D the answer?

Take our 10-question quiz and see if you’re prepared for this future of home entertainment.

What electronics component does not have 3D capability?
A. Television/projection display
B. Blu-ray disc player
C. DVD player
D. A/V receiver
Answer: C. Rather than start you off with the ultra-simplistic “What does 3D stand for?” we went with the components you’ll need for it. Sorry, but your DVD player will not be in the equation when it comes to 3D home entertainment. Please upgrade to Blu-ray (you can still play your standard ol’ DVDs) and ditch the VCR while you’re at it. The latest and greatest components mentioned are hitting shelves, and the new TVs ought to improve on your current 2D viewing, too.

Which type of television technology does not feature “3D ready” or “3D built-in” capability?
A. CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)
B. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
C. DLP (Digital Light Processing)
D. Plasma
Answer: A. It’s 2010—why are you still watching TV on a boxy, space-eating CRT set? If you are, we’ll let it slide if it’s in a secondary room and not a living room or media room used for primary (read: 3D, in this case) viewing. The other technologies are fully entrenched in 3D now, however, so it’s taster’s choice. If you can’t hang a flat-panel TV, don’t want to spring for a stand and seek more diagonal display inches for less dough, Mitsubishi has DLP sets up to 82 inches—just make sure you reserve enough floor space. If you prefer the slickness of plasma, Panasonic is the main name. For bright LCD viewing, Samsung, Sony, LG, Sharp and Vizio have the category well covered—some LED (Light-emitting Diode) displays are starting to surface, too. Note that in some cases, like Mitsubishi, you will need a separate adapter or converter box to process the 3D effect on your “3D-ready” or “3D-capable” set. (Mitsubishi plans to upgrade some of its 3D displays to preclude the need for an adapter, according to Nick Norton, senior manager, brand marketing.)

What specification of HDMI (High-definition Multimedia Interface) cable and input/output do you need to view 3D Blu-rays and TV programming?
A. 1.1
B. 1.2
C. 1.3
D. 1.4
Answer: D. The evolution of our favorite A/V cable has brought with it support for 3D in the latest spec, which was actually updated to 1.4a earlier this year to address broadcast content and interoperability between 3D facilitation devices. Without getting ultra-technical, version 1.4a supports three mandatory formats of 3D transmission—frame-packing (for movies and games), and side-by-side horizontal and top-and-bottom (both for broadcast content).

Along with a rollicking good time, viewing 3D may also cause which of these symptoms?
A. Nausea
B. Dizziness and disorientation
C. Involuntary movements such as muscle or eye twitching
D. All of the above
Answer: D. Before you change the menu setting on your new TV from 2D to 3D, make sure you’re aware of the potential medical pitfalls. Samsung has outlined them, including the aforementioned and other risks, in a PDF download, “Viewing the TV Using the 3D Function,” which is available on its website. If you’ve ever been through a 3D demonstration, it’s easy to see why Samsung (and presumably other manufacturers that may post similar warnings) wants to ensure it has covered its bases and offered such safety information. The company goes so far as suggesting that those who have a history of seizures or stroke when exposed to flashing images or lights should consult a physician before using 3D.

Which of these is not a form of 3D eyewear?
A. Anaglyph glasses
B. Polarized glasses
C. Active-shutter glasses
D. Sun glasses
Answer: D. As in duh. But more on the actual 3D glasses types, beginning with the ones that spring to mind first—anaglyph. Those are the cheapie cardboard glasses with a red and blue, or red and green, filter over each eye. It’s common to old-school 3D viewing that also tends to dilute the image quality. Polarized glasses are what you’ll find at the movie theater (RealD is a chief manufacturer), because they’re inexpensive yet manage to create a 3D effect without compromising picture quality. These essentially filter light to project the same image to each eye only slightly adjusted, for your brain to then combine and produce the greater field depth. Active-shutter, or liquid crystal, glasses are what you’ll receive with the purchase of your new TV (XpanD is a main brand, along with proprietary technology from TV manufacturers, with average pricing ranging from $100 to $150). This type of 3D eyewear forms 3D by syncing with displays that rapidly alternate frame sequencing so that each eye gets a different perspective.

What is the definition of “ghosting”?
A. A scary 3D movie
B. An image that “burns in” to your plasma screen
C. Checkerboard images you continue to see after removing 3D glasses
D. Double images caused by 3D sync issues
Answer: D. Ghosting, or crosstalk, occurs when the shutters on 3D glasses can’t keep pace with the refresh rate of the TV to effectively block images that one eye shouldn’t be seeing, and vice versa. This can also occur with major on-screen contrasts between bright and dark images, producing ghost-like double vision or shadow images. Between active-shutter glasses and higher-refresh-rate plasma and LCD TVs (like 240Hz over 120Hz), this should be a minimal worry, but at least some folks in the AV Science Forum have found that updating the firmware and tweaking the viewpoint setting on the TV menu helps eliminate it.

Gaming in 3D is supported by all of the following consoles except?
B. Nintendo Wii
C. Sony PlayStation 3
D. Microsoft Xbox 360
Answer: B. Although the company has developed a portable 3D gaming device with its 3DS, Nintendo has no plans to bring the technology to its popular Wii console. Sony and Microsoft have announced current and future 3D compatibility for their consoles (the PS3 will also play 3D Blu-ray discs), and with the addition of technology from graphics card giant Nvidia, your computer can become a 3D gaming machine with a wealth of available games already compatible.

What kind of sound system do I need to complement my 3D TV?
A. Just use the TV’s speakers
B. A single soundbar should cut it
C. Couple of bookshelf speakers
D. Full 5.1- or 7.1-channel surround sound
Answer: D. OK, we’re not trying to be scientific about this one, but there’s a reason some manufacturers tout surround sound as “3D sound”—it’s just far more immersive and enveloping than traditional 2-channel stereo. Yes, soundbars have improved in quality and some even offer “virtual surround” experiences, but don’t count on them or the TV’s internal speaker system to match one that includes center, front left and right, rear or side left and right, and subwoofer channels that carry discrete audio information.

Which of these sports looks the best in 3D?
A. Soccer
B. Golf
C. Baseball
D. Auto racing
Answer: A. Of course, this is only subjective at this point, but all four of these sports have aired in 3D this year and the World Cup soccer matches on ESPN 3D garnered a bit more praise than coverage of The Masters, MLB’s All-Star Game and NASCAR’s Coke Zero 400. Golf and baseball need some better camera angles to take advantage of the effect, and we’d like to see Formula One road racing than the NASCAR oval for more excitement there. Multiple angles and close-ups worked well as the format bowed for soccer, and we’re guessing American football will follow suit.

Which movie sequel is not planned for theatrical release in 3D format?
A. Cars 2
B. Transformers 3
C. Pirates of the Caribbean 4
D. Star Wars 5
Answer: D. Better known, of course, as Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, we won’t be seeing it in 3D … yet. But thanks to the success of blockbusters such as Avatar, rumblings of George Lucas’ possible 3D conversion of all six Star Wars films abound. In April, LucasFilm director of fan relations Steve Sansweet stated: “George has publicly expressed an interest in doing Star Wars 3D. Right now there are a number of different technologies, there’s some criticism out there about some of the movies that have quickly changed to 3D, so you have to pick the right technology, you have to get it to a cost that makes sense, and you have to have the time of the director and producer—George—to actually go in there, because you can’t push a button and stuff goes in one end and comes out 3D… Saying all that, George remains very interested in doing the Star Wars movies, all six, in 3D, and I hope it will happen someday in the not too distant future.” As for the other three answers, they’ll be coming at you in 3D next year.

Keeping Score
Are you ready for 3D home entertainment? Number correct: 0-2 TV is in color now, you know; 3-5 perhaps you’re ready for widescreen HDTV; 6-8 you’re an HDTV expert, huh, time to install a CinemaScope screen; 9-10 3D, yeah bring it on!

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