With the news that Sky's going 3D as of this April, many will be starting to think about getting the right kind of equipment for the job. We already know that the Sky+ HD box will be able to cope with the new transmission but just about every customer's TV won't be up to the task.
So, which manufacturers will be offering 3D-Ready TVs? Who will have them out in time for the pubs to install in April and for the public to pick up later in the year? Let's take a look at five of the biggest players.
- 7000, 8000 & 9000
- April (7000, 8000) Summer 2010 (9000)
"Design inspired by nature" is the tagline associated with these high end LED backlit TVs. So, it seems that Samsung will be starting with the best for its first 3D foray this year, despite slightly lower end LCD 3D models being on the roadmap as well. Best foot forward it seems. All three of the series will offer internet access to the full, unified Samsung app and widget store but the real money shot is the 9000 series itself.
It's as skinny as a pencil, and has a touchscreen remote control that can double as both a traditional number buttons and a QWERTY keyboard. The remote control can also display television on it while you're doing other stuff - if you're watching a Blu-ray disc on the main TV, for example. A Samsung Omnia 2 handset can function as a remote control for the television, too. It even has a proximity sensor built in that detects when you approach the device and exposes the control panel. Really slinky stuff and a serious contender for pick of this summer's 3DTV crop.
- 47-inch LD920
LG's entry into the three-dimensional market is the 47-inch LD920. Sky has picked it as the television that it'll be showing the first 3D sports broadcast on - Arsenal vs Manchester United on 31 January. Nine pubs across Britain will be showing the game - in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin - but the specific venues are being kept secret so that they're not mobbed with enthusiastic 3DTV nuts.
If you're one of those nuts, then you'll want to know when you can get your hands on it yourself - the answer is "April". That's when the television will be rolling out across Britain, relying on polarized 3D glasses, rather than the battery-powered shutter goggles beloved by the likes of Nvidia and Sony. If you're able to track down one of the pubs that have been selected, then get a good look to see if it's the LD920 that you'll be installing in your living room come April.
- Bravia LX903 and HX903
While Samsung's inspiration for its televisions is nature, Sony has opted for "monolithic" instead. Its first entries into the 3D market will be the catchily titled KDL-60LX903 and the KDL-52HX903, which employ shutter glasses instead of the polarized option provided by LG.
The LX903 is a 60-inch monster with full 1080p HD, Edge LED technology for energy savings and better contrast, a presence sensor that detects faces and motion and turns off when you're not actually watching the thing, smooth 200Hz image frequency and Wi-Fi connectivity for hooking it up to your home network.
The HX903, on the other hand, is slightly smaller than its older brother at 52 inches across. It's got a lot of similar features - the same 1080p HD, the same 200Hz image frequency. It'll also hook up to your network, though you'll need to add a wireless adaptor. It doesn't have the EDGE LED tech, relying instead on regular LED backlighting, and there's no presence sensor. While we don't have any pricing at the moment, we suspect that this will be worth considering for those with an eye on their wallets.
- VT25 series
Panasonic is keeping its cards close to its chest about exactly when its VT25 series, which it showcased at CES, will be arriving in the UK. If a gun were placed to our head, we'd go for April along with the competition, but it's impossible to tell for now.
Still, we do know a few things about what the electronics giant will be offering. There'll be three models - 50-inch, 54-inch and 65-inch options, and all will have 5,000,000:1 native contrast, four HDMI slots, 2 USB ports, WLAN capability, PC input, an SD card slot, DLNA, IPTV functionality and various widget options. They'll come bundled with a free pair of 3D glasses, and have THX certification and a massive 600Hz image frequency. Cor - that's the entire shopping list sorted in one go.
At CES the company was also exhibiting what it claims is the world's largest 3D plasma TV - a huge 152 inches - along with the world's first integrated HD 3D film camera rig that can record two different files onto the same SD/SDHC cards at once. The company is clearly putting many of its eggs in the three-dimensional basket.
- 737 and 837 Series
Last on the list is Mitsubishi's rather enormous 837 and 737 series of rear-projection DLPs. How enormous? Try 82 inches across. There's smaller versions too, though - 60-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch screen sizes are available if you don't reckon that an 82-incher will fit into your living room.
The 737 series have 120Hz image frequencies (presumably running at 60Hz when split between both eyes), a video calibration mode, deep contrast, noise reduction and a six-colour processor, which should widen the screen's palette when dealing with particularly detailed scenes.
The 837 series ticks all those boxes too, but also adds a few extra features that aren't available on the 737. There's a dynamic aperture system that promises more depth and texture in low-light areas of the picture, there's an imaging system that optimizes brightness and contrast in 135 sectors of the picture simultaneously, and there's a tint system that allows the processor to adjust colours independent of each other, and separately for every input.
While the market for 3D displays is still very much in its infancy, particularly in the UK, there's already many options to choose from. In most cases we're still awaiting hard specifications on the models, but with most packing web connectivity and exceptional thinness, perhaps Sky's 3D launch in April will be the perfect time to upgrade your display. Stay tuned for more details of all the displays above as we get them.