When are we getting 3D TVs?

Home made efforts on YouTube and the inventive stills on Flickr are all very well and good but the big question on everyone's lips is when are 3D TVs actually going to be available to us. Sky has got the broadcast side of things ready for 2010, Channel 4 has got something special lined up for this autumn and Blu-ray is all set to deal with 3D movies too, so the hardware has to be coming soon.

Fortunately, there was plenty on show at IFA 2009 to get excited about although not everyone has been as forthcoming with their developments. So, if you're planning on being an early adopter, here's a little run down of who might be the best to look out for:

LG

LG has launched the polarised light-using, 47-inch 3D-capable 47LH50 in Korea but, so far, in the West it's been a case of drip feeding us prototypes for a while. This year's IFA saw the company show off a Full HD 3D projector in order to stress LG's commitment to the technology. Pocket-lint can also reveal that LG plans to launch at least one type of 3D Ready TV next year although whether that is to be Plasma, LCD or projector is as yet undecided. What is clear is that is that the system will involve the use of glasses.

Panasonic

For traditional flat panel displays, Panasonic seems to be leading the race right now. The advantage of super fast plasma screens means that their alternate frame sequencing brand of active shutter glasses 3D works very nicely indeed as demoed on the 103" PDP display at IFA 2009. The company claims it has the best links with how the Hollywood studios are recording the material in the first place. The Panasonic system involves giving a full 1080p image to both eyes so that the resulting 3D will indeed be Full HD. No product details as yet in terms of makes, models and dates but expect to see the first ones available next year.

Philips

Philips was one of the first to get into the game at IFA 2008 with a glasses-less lenticular lens solution that managed to increase the viewing sweet spots to 21 rather than just nine. The trouble with this technology is that it's very expensive and it's going to be near impossible which is why Philips converted the firmware of the 21:9 LCD for Berlin this year and added a micro polarizing lens for 3D with passive glasses. It may not have had the sheer depth of Sony's active glasses solution for the company's Bravia line but it didn't suffer as much from the problems of the slower frame rates of LCDs.

A Philips spokesperson told Pocket-lint that the main reason they showed the 3D 21:9 was more of a statement that Philips is working on 3D but it would seem unlikely that the company will bring anything to market it 2010. Philips is currently developing a passive, active and glassesless solution at the same time and it may well be that it brings more than one of the technologies to the public eventually.

Pioneer

Pioneer is withdrawing from the flatscreen TV market in March 2010 and it seems the mouth-watering prospect of a 3D KURO plasma is not enough to entice them back. Very sad really, seeing as the company is one of the few with the right kind of tech to bring an excellent 3D TV to market.

Samsung

There's been very little from Samsung on 3D flat panel TVs which is surprising given that with all the talk about the company having a 400Hz LCD, it would make the Korean giant one of the only manufacturers with a fast enough panel to actually pull it off. Fortunately, it's all systems go with 3D DLP rear projection units which are already out there in other markets. Expect to see their arrival in time for the 3D Blu-ray standard and Sky's 3D launch.

Sharp

Sharp has offered glasses-free 3D effect LCD monitors in the States for some time now but for now it's a firm no. An official comment from the company said:

“TV has come a long way in 80 years but all the talk of 3D TV is misplaced and slightly premature. For years, TV has not been a luxury but omnipresent in almost every household in the UK – and that has been down to cost and availability.

Ultimately, the TV industry is now tailored for the masses and we feel that, for the foreseeable future, the development of new devices will be focused on bigger screens, more affordable prices for higher quality images – and on ‘greener’ sets. That’s what our customers are asking for. We’ll always be innovating and coming up with fantastic new technology but the focus needs to remain on what most people can afford and what most people want. And for Sharp, that’s the best quality, best looking and most energy efficient TVs, like our new range of full-backlight LED screens.”

Sony

Sony outlined plans for 3D TV at its IFA 2009 press conference. The company has said the it's committing to creating and releasing a 3D TV in 2010 which uses the active, frame sequential style and shutter glass systems. A high frame rate is the key and you can bet that if Samsung is on the edge of a 400Hz LCD, then Sony won't be far behind or perhaps even secretly ahead. In addition to 3D compatible BRAVIA LCD TVs, Sony will also develop 3D compatibility into many more of its devices, such as Blu-ray Disc products, VAIO and PlayStation 3, to provide a number of ways in which 3D content - from 3D movies to stereoscopic 3D games - can be enjoyed in the home.

Toshiba

There are officially no plans and no signs that Tosh is in developments with any kind of 3D TV product. It's likely thatsimilarly to a few others of the manufacturers that there isn't a huge belief that 3D is coming as quickly as some might think. Instead, Toshiba is working on the seriously impressive sounding Cell TV with its 4K resolution and ability to record six HD streams at the same time. LED backed TVs will also be arriving soon too.

Pocket-lint will keep you posted on any movements in this area. Expect news when Blu-ray defines its 3D standard in December.

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