Tuesday, August 7, 2012

3D TV: Meh

When my Sony Projection TV died at the end of June, I decided to go for a major upgrade. My AV gurus,  The Wire Masters, set me up with a JVC DL-RS55U projector. This projector features a resolution of 4K, nearly four times the resolution of 1080p. While the amount of native 4K material is few and far between at this point, the projector up-converts a 1080p picture to 4K. Playing Call of Duty has become a whole new experience.

What took my video game room to a new level was the addition of a Black Diamond Zero Edge screen from Screen Innovations. Unlike previous generation screens, which require a completely dark room, the Black Diamond screen is so reflective that it can be used in a well-lit room:

So when I upgraded, I went all in and added 3D capabilities as well. While I love every 1080p and 4K experience I have had with the new equipment, the 3D experience is a big, giant meh. I have tried 3D video games, 3D television and 3D Blu-ray movies. While it was indeed a novelty the first time I tried them, the fun and excitement of 3D viewing wore off in a big hurry. Here is the enemy:

There are two types of 3D glasses, active and passive. I have active glasses, which must be charged, but do actually deliver a better picture in 3D than passive glasses. But the problem is they are glasses. I already wear glasses, so now I have to wear two pair of glasses to see 3D. That is a deal breaker. The 3D glasses are heavy compared to my regular glasses. Even if I could get by with just the 3D glasses, I still do not like them. They are just too big and clunky.

The next problem for 3D TV viewing is the lighting. 3D TV is darker than regular TV. Noticeably darker...so it's a strain to view the picture. When I just spent the money for a 4K projector and a super-bright screen, using it for dark 3D images does not make a whole lot of sense.

The next problem for 3D TV viewing is the resolution. Going from a 4K picture to a 3D picture is like going from 1080p to 480i. In 3D, the images are soft and of the same quality when we used to watch all of our TV on a CRT. There are exceptions to that...computer-generated movies from Pixar and DreamWorks look beautiful. But how many kid's movies do you want to watch just because they look cool?

And there's the final nail in the 3D coffin. After I watch a 2-hour movie with active shutter 3D glasses, my eyes are ready for a 30-day sabbatical. You cannot believe how tired your eyes feel after 2 hours of straining to see a dark image with soft resolution through two pairs of glasses. Stick me with a fork...I'm done.

So I'm here to tell you that 4K resolution and the Black Diamond screen are the greatest things since sliced bread. It makes for the most incredibly immersive video gaming experience I have ever had. Watching movies, TV shows and sporting events (especially Formula One races) becomes a real treat. But if you are giving thought to adding 3D viewing capabilities to your household, take a pass. 3D is not ready for prime time. It's a hassle...it's a compromise...and it's no fun after the initial ten minutes of "oh wow" viewing. 

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