If you’re still waiting for 3D TVs to ditch those pesky glasses, Stream TV says you only have to wait until this fall.
Philadelphia-based Stream TV showed off its Ultra D TVs last week at the Consumer Electronics Association’s CE Line Show event. The 42-inch LED LCD TVs use a technology similar (but different, they say) to the glasses-free system Toshiba has been highlighting (but not shipping, at least here) for the past two years. It uses a lenticular screen to send stereoscopic images without, says CEO Mathu Rajan, any specific sweet spot needed for viewing.
Also unlike the Toshiba system, the Ultra D doesn’t require (or just doesn’t include, depending on your point of view) any head tracking system to locate the viewer. Rajan says the viewer doesn’t need to carefully position him or herself in order to experience the 3D effect.
Ultra D isn’t just the TV—there’s actually a separate box require which does the 3D magic. Unlike any other 3D TVs currently on the market, Ultra D TVs are not compatible with 3D Blu-ray players. Blu-ray players need first to be connected to an external converter, called the SeeCube, which is actually a Windows PC running Stream TV’s software. The SeeCube shown in New York was kind of a large thing—bigger than what most people want stuffed on their TV table, but the company says it will be much smaller when it ships to stores in the fall.
The SeeCube also converts 2D to 3D, something other 3D TVs do internally.
The company also didn’t say exactly how much the system would cost other than to say it would be a little more than other 3D TVs on the market.
When I checked out the Ultra D TVs myself, I found the 3D effect subtle. So subtle in fact that often it was difficult to detect. The video was soft and had a clear screen-door effect caused by the lenticular screen covering the panel. I asked, but wasn’t told if the TV was displaying full 1080 lines to each eye.
Rajan says a few public locations will feature Ultra D TVs during the summer Olympics so patrons can check out the technology themselves. A New York City sports bar called Blondies will be the first location to have an Ultra D. Bars in Philadelphia and London are also supposed to showcase the TVs.
Retailers J & R and CompUSA will be among the first outlets to offer the sets for sale.
The TVs are being manufactured by Pegatron in Taiwan.
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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. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.