3D Televisions Buying Guide

What Is 3D TV?

Three-dimensional television — 3DTV — lets home viewers experience TV programs, movies, games, and other video content in stereoscopic (three-dimensional) effect. It gives the illusion of a third dimension — depth — to current TV display technology, which is limited to only two dimensions: height and width.

How Does 3D TV Technology Work?

To understand how 3D technology works, it helps to know how human vision works. Our eyes are about seven centimetres apart, which means each eye sees a slightly different angle of the same scene. The brain takes images from both eyes, merges them and uses the difference between the images to calculate distance, creating a sense of depth. Interestingly, 3D content designed for children takes into account that their eyes are closer together (approximately five centimetres apart).

Getting the 3D effect at home involves tricking the brain into doing similar with the images from a television. A 3D TV displays two separate images of the same scene simultaneously, one intended for each eye. The two full-size images take up the entire screen and appear mixed with one another when viewed without 3D glasses. When they combine in the viewer's mind, and with the aid of 3D glasses, the two images are seen as a single 3D image.

Can Everyone See 3D?

Depending on which expert you talk to, it's believed that roughly 7% of the population suffers from stereo blindness and cannot perceive the dimension of depth in 3D video content. These people can view 3D material with no problem, as long as they wear 3D glasses; it simply appears as 2D to them.

How Many Types Of 3D Exist?

There are three main 3D technologies:


  • The original form of 3D where you need to wear the cardboard glasses with red and blue lenses.
  • Forces each eye to view slightly different images by filtering colour; the brain overlaps them for the 3D effect. Not ideal for retaining the integrity of colours.

Stereoscopic Passive Polarised:

  • For environments where the screen is larger than the viewers' field of vision (e.g. IMAX).
  • Suffers when you are either not front-on to the screen or tilt your head because the passive polarised glasses split the image, which is then lost.

Stereoscopic Active:

  • Delivers full High Definition 1080p 3D imagery, ideally suited to the home environment.
  • Sharper images and better colour reproduction because a flat screen at home is much smaller than a cinema and occupies a less of the viewers' field of vision.
  • Active glasses use shutter technology for each eye that works together with the display panel.


Do I Need A New TV?

Yes, as no manufacturer claims any of their TVs are upgradeable to support the new 3D technology.

What Options Should I Look For When Choosing A 3D TV?

3D TVs are available in Plasma, LCD and LED LCD display types, ranging in sizes from 32-inch (76cmv) through to 65-inch (165cmv).

  • All new 3D TVs offer full HD 1080p and a minimum of 100Hz refresh rate.
  • The better the refresh rate, the better the 3D experience on a HDTV.
  • For viewing fast-moving action like sport or movies on LCD or LED LCD, look at 200Hz.
  • For viewing fast-moving action like sport or movies on plasma, look at 600Hz options.


Do I Need To Wear 3D Glasses?

Most manufacturers are adopting active shutter glasses, and you must wear them to see the 3D effect. If you don't wear the glasses, images on the screen will appear distorted and, generally, unwatchable.

People who wear normal prescription lenses can experience the full 3D effect — with little or no discomfort — by wearing the 3D glasses too, which are designed to fit over an existing pair of glasses.

Viewer comfort is a major concern of 3D content producers; too much of a 3D effect can become tiresome after a while, abrupt camera movement can be disorienting, and certain onscreen objects can appear blurry.

Currently, there's no technology that lets a single TV display both 2D and 3D content simultaneously without glasses. Like any technology, expect it to improve quickly, although glasses-free 3D is still a few years away.

Do I Need To Watch Everything On TV In 3D?

All 3D TVs can run in 2D mode and still deliver an exceptional 2D picture quality.

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